Barefoot Tiger Blog

Sitting Pretty

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

 

The anti-sitting movement is all the rage these days. Of course too much sitting is bad for you and we are excited to see the advent of standing and treadmill desks. But when you ARE sitting, there are a few things you can do to make it less hazardous to your back health.


- Avoid sitting in a weird position. I used to sit on my right foot whenever I worked at the computer, until one day my back went out. Looking at the patterns of my posture, I realized how I was sitting (and how many hours I was sitting) in a weird position. My left hip was high which shortened my left lower back, which made my right upper back work too hard to stay upright. Ack! It felt comfortable, but it was only comfortable because my muscles were used to being in this stressed position. That's not good!

Sit in a chair and have someone take a picture of you from behind when you are most comfortable. Notice the alignment of your hips - if they are out of line, it's very likely your back muscles are working overtime to compensate and keep you upright.

- Stand up every 10 minutes to stretch. But don't just stand up, do a few extension exercises to counteract the forward flexion of sitting.

Stand tall and take the right leg back to a high lunge. Lift your right arm overhead and stretch to the left, making sure you press your hips forward as you stretch. Imagine stretching from your right fingertips all the way through the right heel. You should feel lengthening in the front of your right hip. Switch legs and repeat on the left side.


- Stretch your chest. You can even do this sitting, and it feels great!

 

 

5 Benefits of Doing At Home Yoga

Monday, December 22, 2014

  

Seeing the number of yoga classes available these days, it might be surprising to know that yoga began as a practice taught one-on-one. As yoga became popular in western culture, The benefits of at home yogaclasses have become the norm to enable more people to experience the benefits of the practice.

Taking it back to its roots, practicing yoga at home has many benefits!

1 -  Personal attention to your alignment and form - If you feel lost in a crowded yoga class, have injuries, or are just getting started with yoga and need a more personal attention, at home yoga might be for you. A private yoga teacher can focus all of her attention on your alignment and design a class specifically for you, on that specific day. Which leads us to...

2 - Flexibility (and we're not talking about your own...) - When you practice yoga at home with a private teacher, there is more open communication between you and and teacher. At times the session can feel like a conversation and practice of exploration rather than a follow-the-leader class. It's a two-way communication focused on what you need that day rather than doing what the teacher feels like doing (which is often what her own body is craving, not yours). Have a  specific ache that needs attention one day? A private yoga teacher can center the entire class around helping you feel your best by the end of the session.

3 - Privacy - Big classes and gyms can feel overwhelming and overly public, especially if you are new to the practice. As you explore how your body works, doing yoga at home can give you the comfort to let go of inhibitions and work through your poses with confidence. Plus, you don't have to worry about comparing yourself to a 20-year old gymnast doing pretzel moves on the mat next to you.

4 - Ease of transition - Practicing yoga at home with a teacher is a great way to encourage an at home practice on your own. Once you have created the space for your practice, you are more likely to return to it again and again, with our without your teacher there.

5 - No rushing to class - It's the ultimate yoga paradox: leaving work at the last minute and running to yoga class, making it just in time to sit on your mat in meditation...completely out of breath. If you're practicing at home, you have the joy of rolling out of bed and right onto your yoga mat, no rushing needed. Who could ask for more?

Interested in doing yoga at home? Give us a shout and we'll set you up with a fantastic teacher!

Choose from Personal Training, Pilates, Yoga, Massage Therapy & Nutrition in your home, at our studio, or at your office.


What you DON'T Have to do to be Healthy...Forgoing Sweets

Monday, October 06, 2014

  

I'm asked about what I eat a LOT. Yes, I eat a lot of yummy salads, veggies and grains (what some friends call 'bird food'), but I also eat french fries and chocolate-covered anything. I know, GASP and not very healthy of me...or is it?

We all know deprivation can wreck havoc on the best intentions. Swear off chocolate for a week and it's all you can think about. You end up with your face in the closest bag of chocolate you can find.

The good news is, you don't have to eat only veggies and grains to be healthy - you can indulge (and eat sweets!) too.

Obviously, what you eat is the most important part of diet.

But how much you eat counts just as much, if not more.

Most food falls in the less-is-more category. Veggies? Eat all you want. The other stuff that tastes oh-so-good? Follow the "palm of your hand" rule and you'll be eating well - and indulging a little - in no time.



What You DON'T Have to do to Be Healthy...CRUNCHES

Thursday, September 04, 2014



You have my permission to never do another crunch again.
For the rest of your life. Hooray!

Before you start celebrating though, notice that I didn't say 'any abs.' I know, Boo! Core work is still vitally important to your body's function, and it's the type of core work you do that is of utmost importance.

Straight crunches are one of the least effective exercises for strengthening the core, yet we see everyone doing them. All. The. Time.

Why are they ineffective? A little anatomy lesson:

There are four muscles that make up our 'core' - the deepest being the transverse abdominals (think of them as a corset wrapping from your spine to your navel), the internal and external obliques (which rotate), and the rectus abdominus (the six-pack abs; or eight-pack if you're Tatum Channing.)

Unfortunately, crunches only work one muscle out of the four; the rectus abdominus. I have a feeling crunches became so popular because they only work the muscle we can see (or want to) - the six-pack.

The problem is, working this one muscle is not helpful for creating a strong core. In fact, it can weaken your overall stability by pulling the muscles in the front of your core too tightly, leaving your back very vulnerable and unstable. The last thing we want from our core workouts is to cause back issues, but that's often what happens!

What to do?

Forget crunches. Seriously.

All you need is this one ab exercise, which I call the ‘corset pull.’ From this one exercise, you can access your deep core muscles to support your spine, and then slowly integrate more movements on top of this one technique to create a solid, healthy core.

How to do it:

‘Corset’ ab work – (also perfect for both pre- and post-natal core health):Transverse abdonminal exercise

o    Lean against a wall with your feet about a foot away from the baseboard. Your upper body and hips should be against the wall. Alternatively, sit on a stability ball.
o    Put your hands on your stomach and take a deep breath, filling your stomach out as you breathe.
o    As you exhale, make a ‘SSSS’ sound through your mouth and draw your navel back toward your spine at the same time. Keep exhaling to the end of your breath until you feel all the muscles of your core pulling in – in the front, on the sides and around the back.
o    Repeat 20 times, puffing out your stomach on the inhale, and drawing the navel back strongly during the exhale.
o    For more of a challenge, do this exercise on all 4’s.


Here is an image to help you visualize what muscles you are working – the transverse abdominals - the most important ab muscles you will ever use! (Excuse the sideways picture. Imagine laying on the ground!)

Wrapping around your torso like a corset, they support your spine, back muscles, posture and aid in proper breathing. 

Once you can properly engage your corset muscles, try incorporating the deep corset contraction into planks, side planks, one leg lowers, double leg lowers, side chops, squats, lunges, walking, running, yoga...basically any exercise you can think of!

The best part of all of this? This one exercise can help whittle inches off your midsection. How's that for motivation?


Barefoot Tiger is in New York & Los Angeles! Choose from Personal Training, Pilates, Yoga, Massage Therapy & Nutrition in your home, at our studio, or in Group Classes

What You DON'T Have to do to Be Healthy...Cardio?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

 
 

We're starting a new series called "What You DON'T Have to do to be Healthy." And it's just that - things you can scratch off your most-dreaded list when it comes to going to the gym, eating healthfully and living the good life.

First up, cardio! Cardio Health

We're not saying you shouldn't do cardio at all - cardio is good for heart health. But what you don't have to do to is spend an hour on one machine (or several), waiting for the clock to count down to zero. In fact, spending an hour, or even 30 minutes, on one machine at the same pace is a complete waste of time.

Here's why.

Your heart is a muscle just like any other muscle in your body - you have to put it under (good) stress to make it stronger.

When you do steady-state cardio and the resistance and your effort are steady throughout the entire workout, the heart muscle adapts very quickly and doesn't have to work very hard. You might see some improvement in your heart health at the initial outset of a steady-state cardio routine, but it quickly diminishes, especially if you're doing the same steady-state you did 3 years ago.

What to do?

Simple. Cut your cardio time in half or even 1/4 (yes, really!) and add in interval sprints. Alternate between very high and lower effort every 30 seconds to 1 minute, eventually decreasing the recovery periods and increasing the sprint time (and resistance!)

The great news is you will end up burning the same amount of calories in 30 minutes that you would in 1 hour, PLUS you'll burn more calories after your workout is over. Bonus.

How do you know if your heart is getting stronger?

The best way to tell is by your heart's recovery after a really intense sprint. If your recovery heart rate is 120 bpm, you get your heart rate up to 170 bpm during a sprint and it takes about 30 seconds for your heart rate to go back to 120 bpm after a sprint, you're in business!

Need help coming up with your own quicky-cardio routine? Give us a shout!



Barefoot Tiger is in New York & Los Angeles! Choose from Personal Training, Pilates, Yoga, Massage Therapy & Nutrition in your home, at a studio, or on set.

Carpal Tunnel..Solved!

Thursday, August 21, 2014



Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We like to call it 'techno tunnel.'

We spend so much time typing and pressing our big fingers on to tiny screen keyboards that many of us have created a spindle of pressure in our hands / arms / necks.


CTS is caused by compression of the median nerve found in the wrist, and can also stem from tightness in your arm and neck. (Who knew?!)**


Fortunately, you can do a lot to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome before it starts. First, consider that your arms and wrists often express the positioning of your shoulders and back. If your shoulders are hunched over, what will your arms and wrists do? Focus on stretching not just the affected area, but the connecting areas as well.

If you're like most of us and type / email / tweet / post all day long, try doing these several times a day to stretch your arms and back:

- Interlace your fingers in front of your chest and turn your palms to face out. Push your palms forward stretching the base of your palm as much as possible and round your back. Lift your palms toward the ceiling, straightening your back and dropping your shoulders. Exhale and reach forward, inhale reach up. Do a set of 15.

- Sitting up or standing tall, reach your right arm out to the side with the palm facing up. Extend your hand down toward the floor and stretch the fingers long. Place your other hand on your right ear and gently pull your head to the left, stretching your neck and shoulder. Take 10 breaths, then switch to the other side.

- Standing next to a desk or sitting on your knees, turn your palms up to face the ceiling with your arms straight. Bring your fingertips to the floor or desk a few inches in front of your knees or the edge of the desk. Gently press the base of your palms to the surface away from your knees, stretching out the inside of your forearm.- Stand facing a wall and raise your right arm out to the side, parallel to the floor. Slowly turn your feet and body away from the wall so the shoulder of your outstretched arm is being stretched. Breathe here for 10 breaths. Turn back toward the wall, take the hand higher on the wall, rotate away and repeat for 10 breaths. Finally, turn back to the wall and lower your arm toward your hip on the wall, rotate away and repeat for 10 more breaths.

 **Before assuming that you have carpel tunnel syndrome, it’s a good idea to have a doctor look at the inflamed area to get a diagnosis. Information in this post is not to be considered medical advice.
 

Balancing Act: Find out Your Risk of Ankle Injury

Monday, August 04, 2014

 

For the weekend warriors out there, listen up! You can find out your risk of suffering an ankle injury with a simple test. Try to hold your balance on one leg with the other leg bent and eyes closed for 10 seconds to see if your ankles need to be strengthened.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 230 high school varsity and intercollegiate athletes were asked to perform the balance task. Those who had balance problems during the drill were two and a half times more likely to suffer ankle sprains. The athletes who lost balance but didn’t tape their ankles were 9 times more likely to face an injury.

The bottom line? If you have a hard time keeping your balance during this test, incorporate balancing exercises into your every-day life to strengthen the 'bootstrap' muscles of your feet and ankles. A great tip: stand on one foot while you are brushing your teeth!

Choosing the Best Personal Trainer for Your Needs: Part 3

Thursday, April 17, 2014

 

Part 3 of a 3-part series:

We know how important it is to choose the right personal trainer. You'll be spending a LOT of time together and it's a big investment. 

In Parts 1 & 2, we explored the first important traits to look for in a trainer:

* Certifications.
* A strong knowledge of anatomy.

* Ability to listen to you and understand your goals.
* Willingness to work with you on your goals, not theirs.
* Flexibility
.
* Encouraging and willing to help you feel successful.

* 100% focused on you, 100% of the time you're with them.
* They genuinely care.
* Can tell you why they are choosing a particular exercise, and what the goal is.

Which all leads to:

1. They teach you strategies rather than making you dependent on them. One of your personal trainer's goals should be to help you discover how your body works, what strategies to use to keep injuries at bay, and teach you how to exercise efficiently and safely for your body / conditions / injuries. Which also leads us to...

2. Learning new techniques and being interested in learning more is one of their top priorities. Your personal trainer should be learning all the time. Research and trends change constantly in the health and wellness industry, so it's very important that your trainer stay on top of them and always be curious...so they can teach you more too!

3. They are ok with saying "I don't know, I will find out" Nobody knows everything. A great trainer should be willing to admit when they don't know something, and have the interest to look it up and learn the things they may not know.  

4. Using proper form and your safety are top priorities. Sure, there are people out there who love to be screamed at and tortured in the gym. But most of us are not into the yelling and hardest-workout-ever techniques, and for the majority of us, it's just not safe. A great trainer will help you correct imbalances in your functional movements, give you exercises that are beneficial for your body, and take your individual concerns and injuries into consideration.

5. Last but not least, they know their scope of practice and refer you to a medical professional or another practitioner when necessary. Ideally your trainer is part of a team of practitioners, both fitness and medical, whom s/he can refer you to if you have pain or an issue that pops up. Be it a physical therapist, medical physician, massage therapist or acupuncturist, your trainer should be confident enough in their abilities (and aware of their scope) to know when to refer to another professional. This will also help you heal faster, so you can get back to working out sooner rather than later!

 
Barefoot Tiger is in New York & Los Angeles! Choose from Personal Training, Pilates, Yoga, Massage Therapy & Nutrition in your home, at the office, on set or in the Park!

Choosing the Best Personal Trainer for Your Needs: Part 2

Thursday, April 10, 2014

 

Part 2 of a 3-part series:

We know how important it is to choose the right personal trainer. You'll be spending a LOT of time together and it's a big investment. 

In Part 1 we explored the first important traits to look for in a trainer:

* Certifications.
* A strong knowledge of anatomy.

* Ability to listen to you and understand your goals.
* Willingness to work with you on your goals, not theirs. 

And to continue:

1. They are flexible. Say you had a bad night's sleep last night because your dog kept you up all night, or your back feels a little 'tweaky.' A great trainer can switch things up at the last minute if you need them to and tailor the session to meet you at your energy level and ability that day.

2. They are encouraging and help you feel successful. Your personal trainer should be your biggest cheerleader. Even if you have some setbacks toward your goals, they are always encouraging and right there with you to keep you motivated. A great personal trainer will also choose exercises that fit your level of ability, so you always feel successful.

3. They are 100% focused on you, 100% of the time you're with them. A great personal trainer is completely focused on you during your session. Their cell phones should be nowhere in sight and you should feel like the only person in the room when you're working together. If their focus is elsewhere, how can they keep you safe?

4. They genuinely care. You know that comforting feeling you get when you spend time with someone you really like? That's a great way to feel about your personal trainer and a good trainer will go to great lengths to help you feel well cared-for.

5. They can tell you why they are choosing a particular exercise, and what the goal is. Your personal trainer should be able to communicate the purpose behind a specific exercise. S/he should be able to tell you which muscles  working to help you feel it in the right places, and help you understand what you're trying to accomplish with the exercise. Which leads to:

Part 3...coming soon!
 
Barefoot Tiger is in New York & Los Angeles! Choose from Personal Training, Pilates, Yoga, Massage Therapy & Nutrition in your home, at the office, on set or in the Park!

Homemade Hemp & Chia Seed Quinoa Granola

Monday, April 07, 2014

  

Who knew raw quinoa could be so delicious in granola?!

After an unsuccessful quest to find a high-protein, nut-free granola on the shelves in the grocery store, I decided to make my own. I didn't realize it would be crazy delicious, super easy to make, and much cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff in the store. Not to mention that you can tailor the ingredients to fit your own tastebuds. I'll definitely be making this a LOT!

I was inspired by this recipeQuinoa Granola

Ingredients:

2 cups whole rolled oats
1 cup raw, uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup shelled hempseeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup whole flax seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients: oats, quinoa, hempseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds. Stir to combine and mix well.

Warm and melt the coconut oil together, being careful not to cook or boil it. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add cinnamon, raisins and cranberries and mix well.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the granola mixture out over the baking sheet. Cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure everything cooks evenly.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool. Once cooled off, break the granola into bits and keep in an airtight container. It will last for up to a week, if it's not eaten before then!

 

Praise From Our Clients…

I took a GREAT class today! It was a good mix of stretching and strengthening. Jessica was great. She did some adjustments that gently took me deeper into the poses, and she gave a little shoulder massage at the end that was amazing. I can't wait to do pilates!

- Laura F. | New York City

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