How to Start a New Exercise Program When You’re Feeling Intimidated

How to Start a New Exercise Program When You’re Feeling Intimidated

woman stretching on ground
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Kierstin Elliott

Maybe you were an avid gym-goer, cross fitter, or yogi and then you got injured. Or maybe fitness has never been a part of your life, but now your doctor or PT has told you that a fitness regimen is necessary in order to help you feel like yourself again. Whatever the case may be, you just don’t know where to start, or you feel intimidated to return to what you were doing in the past because that is how you got injured in the first place. My advice is to start slowly. Educate yourself on how and why you got injured and what the next steps are on your road to recovery. Set goals on what you need to accomplish and build a plan to achieve them. Last but not least, train smartly. If you follow this check list, then you should definitely feel more confident moving forward!

It is imperative when you are transitioning from injury rehab to the fitness world, or starting a new exercise program for the first time, that you build a foundation. It is so crucial you stay true to your journey and not compare yourself to others. Trust that progress takes time. Resist the urge to jump right into something new if you’re unsure about form, alignment, and technique.

The first step would be to invest in private sessions. Educate yourself on what you’re getting into and find an expert in what you want to master. Having a coach who devotes the entire hour to your body and your needs will help you garner a deeper understanding of how your breath, body, and mind connect. Learning the proper form with a watchful eye on alignment, will ensure you have a strong foundation to move forward or join group classes.

Once you’ve gained confidence with your new (or old) exercise program, set some fitness goals. You’ve laid a strong foundation and now it’s time to build a skyscraper! Do you want to improve strength, flexibility, endurance? Once you have clear goals set, create a timeline. Establishing a realistic timeline will hold you accountable to sticking with your exercise program and crushing your goals!

The point I’ll end with is to train smartly. No matter what discipline you train in, if you are not focused on form, alignment, and breath control, you are only setting yourself up for future injuries. If you are in a group class, don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear, doesn’t feel quite right, or if you know you need a modification. If you are doing an at home workout on your own, try to do it in front of a mirror to check out your form. If there’s no mirror accessible, simply take it slow and use the knowledge you’ve acquired from a trainer, coach, or PT. Take notes. Practice. Your exercises won’t be perfect the first time you attempt them. Be patient and mindful. It’s all about the journey 🙂

Pilates with Kierstin! Scissor Kicks

Kierstin Elliott

Exercise: Scissor Kicks

Set Up: Lying supine on the mat, press your back into the mat, legs in table top with hands behind the head.

Execution: Inhale to prep, exhale to curl head to your chest, neck and shoulders off the mat driving your naval closer to spine. Inhale to extend your right leg out 45 degrees and left leg straight up to the ceiling. Switch legs, with continuous emphasis on length and control from the psoas. Inhale for two kicks and exhale for two kicks.

Focus: Focus on stabilizing your pelvis and lumbar spine with your core while lengthening through energized legs. Your neck and shoulders should not be holding any tension.

Importance: Stability and strength! While this is primarily a core exercise, the psoas gets the opportunity to strengthen and lengthen with each kick as well.

Modifications: For extra assistance, bend the knees slightly to lessen the load for the core. You could also keep head on mat and place hands under pelvis for greater lower back support.

MAMA’S 101: Exercise for Post-Partum Mama’s

Hello! Check out our final class in this season’s series of Mama’s 101, “Exercise for Post-Partum Mamas”. This class will be great!  Learn specific exercise tools to help with diastasis recti, urinary incontinence, prolapse, and other common post-partum conditions with PT, Dr. Stephanie Stamas. Come ready to move and feel free to bring your baby!

Time and Date: October 3rd at 1pm

Location: 156 Williams Street, Suite 800 NY, NY 10038

Register Here!

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Mama’s 101: Recovering After Birth

On September 26th at 1 pm scoop up your baby and join us for our FREE educational seminar hosted by Dr. Joanna Hess as she provides the inside scoop on how to get back to leak free, bulge free movement.

Address:

Beyond Basics Physical Therapy – Downtown

156 William Street

Suite 800

New York, NY 10038

Date:

September 26th at 1 pm

Mamas 101 Flyer_Jpeg

Pilates with Kierstin! Split Lunges

Kierstin Elliott

Exercise: Split Lunges

Set Up: Stand with right foot in front and left in back, hip distance apart. Pelvis should be square to the front. Weight is primarily in the front foot while the back heel is lifted acting as a kickstand. Hinge forward from the hips slightly to maintain neutral pelvis.

Execution: Inhale to bend both knees as you angle the tailbone to the back wall sitting back into a squat-like position- keep lengthening through the spine. Exhale to stand following the same forward angle that keeps the crown of your head in line with the back heel, squeezing gently into your right glute. Repeat 10x and switch to left foot in front.

Focus: Primary focus is the right glute. Keep front knee stacked over ankle the entire time. Be sure to maintain length in lower back while keeping lower abs engaged. Taper ribs toward hip bones while keeping hips square/level.

Importance: Great exercise for glute strengthening, balance, and stability.

Modifications: To make it easier, use a chair, or wall to hold onto until balance improves. To make it harder, add free weights to incorporate some arms simultaneously, or simply transfer weight solely to front leg as you stand floating the back leg off the floor for a little extra balance challenge!

Pelvic Health 101 is back! Come to Our First Class on September 18th

 

On September 18th, at 7pm we will be kicking off our fall semester of pelvic health education class, we call Pelvic Health 101 (PH101). In our first class we will be introducing you to the pelvic floor muscles, where they are, what they do, and how they relate to the health and function of your bowel, bladder, and sexual functioning. We will also be covering how things such as alignment, posture, muscle tone and nerves can affect your symptoms. This course is a great starting point to help you understand your pelvic floor and pelvic floor symptoms.

Please join us at our office at:

110 East 42nd Street, Suite 1504

New York, NY 10017
Register at: pelvichealth101.eventbrite.com

Here is our line up of this and future classes

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Pilates with Kierstin! Abdominal Bracing

Kierstin Elliott, Pilates Instructor

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What is it? Abdominal bracing is an activation of the core muscles that help provide support and stability for your trunk. This brace is commonly called upon in almost every single Pilates exercise and is essential for building tone within the deep and superficial layers of the core. Let me take you through two different scenarios where the core should naturally brace on its own.

Scenario one: Imagine kneeling on the floor with one foot forward and back toes tucked. Now if you were to lift the back knee two inches off the floor, how do you prep for that movement? I bet you would find yourself naturally bracing your core as a response to your body calling for additional stability to lift the back knee. Try it. If you do not feel the core engage naturally, it may take some deliberate asking from the brain to activate the core.

Scenario two: Imagine you tripped, but caught yourself! Chances are your whole body tenses up and your abs engage. Your body has to instinctively muster up as much stability as it can manage to prevent you from falling. This is another example of abdominal bracing.

One common question I get when introducing abdominal bracing to clients is, “How do I breathe when I’m bracing?” Don’t expect to get a full belly breath while under an abdominal brace, but do allow your abdomen to stretch and fluctuate a bit to accommodate to the task at hand. If the task is strenuous, strive to find a three-dimensional breath. Expand through the back of the ribs on your inhale. On the exhale while you exert the most force, start to knit your ribs together, draw your pubic bone up and gently pull navel toward spine (finding your brace). This will provide adequate support for your system. If you need prolonged stability throughout an exercise, your breath pattern may feel a bit short and more shallow than a full expansive breath.

Note from a PT

An abdominal brace is a useful tool for you to support your spine and pelvis during moments where you may have to lift something heavy, stabilize yourself from a jossle or bump, or to allow you the stability through your body for explosive athletic movements. That said, it is important not to grip constantly, that can invite a whole host of issues including pelvic floor dysfunction! A good abdominal brace is really like a seasoning. Think cilantro, it may be tasty in small doses on top of a burrito, but you certainly don’t want to eat a salad of it! We are often taught to grip because it pulls in our flab and men and women alike have been taught that “fluffiness” around the waste line is icky for some reason. But it is truly important for your health to let go when you are at rest.

Breathing under an abdominal brace directly impacts our intra-abdominal pressure which leads me to another common question I often get when asking clients to brace, “Is it safe for my pelvic floor?” Yes, bracing but not gripping is safe for your pelvic floor. In fact, not bracing for certain movements could lead to hernias, prolonged diastasis, or more severe pelvic floor issues. Learning the proper way to activate the various layers of your core and then coordinating that activation with proper breathing techniques will take you far; not only in functional daily movement, but in all of your active fitness dreams! If this peaks your interest, or you find it hard to find an abdominal brace on your own, schedule a session with me at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, and we’ll have some fun exploring abdominal bracing!