When it comes to Miami’s fitness community, there is certainly no shortage of options. From boutique studios to big box gyms and everything in-between, our city is filled with the latest and greatest trends fitness has to offer.
But what if I told you that getting in shape is not always about what kind of class you take or even how hard you work while you’re there? Might sound counterintuitive, but the fact is that since most of us are not high-performance athletes (who push themselves 120 percent with the goal of running faster, jumping higher and lifting heavier), it’s not necessary to exert yourself to this level, particularly if your main goal is to lose weight, tone up or maintain.
It’s a tough concept for many fitness enthusiasts to grasp because we’ve been taught for years that it’s all about “no pain, no gain.” But the reality of maximizing your fitness routine (and saving your joints while you’re at it) is to work out smarter, not harder. You do not build more muscle by killing yourself with endless reps and weights that are too heavy. In fact, your body burns fat most optimally at low to moderate intensities of activity, especially if you are just beginning an exercise routine.
Another common misconception is that working muscles in isolation is the smartest way to exercise. Machines are a great way to isolate muscle groups, but to make the most of your workout, try to involve multiple body parts per exercise, which translates to increased calorie burning and muscle building. And that’s just one reason why Pilates, which uses several different muscle groups at one time, is such an optimal way to exercise.
Another tip for working out smarter is to avoid the dreaded exercise plateau, when your body gets too accustomed to a fitness routine and goes into autopilot. Even if you’re breaking a sweat, you generally are not building as much strength or burning as many calories when you reach this point. And that’s another reason why I often recommend Pilates, which provides your body a new workout every time, and keeps your body and mind guessing.
And perhaps the most important way to work out smarter is to perform your routine with proper form. You aren’t doing yourself any favors when you cheat or get sloppy because form is one of the most important factors for results in both weight and cardiovascular training. For example, while weight training, if you lose proper form instead of targeting the desired muscle, you will use compensatory muscle groups, which often leads to joint breakdown and injury. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s counterproductive. You are much better off decreasing the resistance and executing the exercise with proper form. Not only is it safer, but you’ll also notice greater definition and tone in half the time.
Bottom line: it’s easy to get distracted by the hot new fitness trends constantly popping up all over our city. But don’t let yourself lose sight of the health and wellness goals you have set for yourself…especially if you have your sights set on results.
ABOUT CHRISTA GURKA
An orthopedic physical therapist specializing in Pilates-based fitness, rehabilitation, injury prevention and weight loss, Christa Gurka’s reputation speaks for itself. With two decades of experience training those of all ages and fitness levels, the founder/owner of Miami’s Pilates in the Grove, which serves the Coconut Grove and South Miami communities, believes in offering her clients personal attention with expert and well-rounded instruction. For more information: 305.446.6899 / http://www.pilatesinthegrove.com/