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7 Ways Functional Movements Are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines

As functional fitness has become more and more mainstream, the fitness world – and gyms – have had to evolve to keep up. Research has shown that whole-body, multi-joint movements and high intensity workouts are extremely effective, as we discussed in our previous post.  Still, the appeal of exercise machines such as the elliptical, the stairmaster, and a plethora of other resistance machines, remains for many. Machines are easy, and routine. You can set your pace on the elliptical or treadmill and read a book or zone out listening to music. Some gyms even have movie theatres where you can plop yourself on your elliptical for an hour or so while watching an old favorite on the big screen, and leave feeling like you did a great workout for yourself. Simply said, machines make working out easy.

But working out isn’t supposed to be easy.

If we’re looking for easy, aren’t we missing the point? It’s called “working out” because it’s work. It can be fun, and I’m all about making fitness fun, but it shouldn’t be easy. Working out should, if done effectively, be challenging and stimulating to mind and body. That’s how you reach your optimal health, and your health and fitness goals, not by doing what’s easy or monotonous. Here are 7 Ways Functional Movements are More Beneficial Than Exercise Machines:

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  1. Mindfulness. Zoning out isn’t an option when you’re moving and working your body in the most effective ways. In fact, zoning out can lead to stress and injury. Functional fitness requires you to be mindful and to pay attention to your body, the mechanics of the movements, your form and your level of intensity. Being present leads to stress reduction and improved overall physically and mental health.
  2. You can do it anywhere. One of the reasons the functional fitness movement has caught on is because, let’s face it, Americans want convenience. Using free weights, or even better – body weight movements – is convenient. You don’t need to be tied to a gym or a bulky machine to get a great workout. You can literally do functional movements anytime, anywhere. That’s why they’re functional, duh.
  3. They are functional. It’s worth repeating. Functional movements are functional. Thats means they are exercises that translate to everyday activities and movements. With these movements, your body moves in three dimensions, which is how your body moves in daily life. Machines on the other hand, do not. Machines force us to move on the path of machines, rather than on the path of our bodies.
  4. Man making burpees during strength training in gym.More muscles are engaged. Through functional fitness exercises, the whole body is engaged, and more muscles are working to stabilize the weight. Machines on the other hand tend to focus more on larger muscle groups, ignoring some of the other muscles necessary for stabilizing, which can result in injury.
  5. More efficient. Functional fitness is more efficient than working out with machines. A 5-10 minute functional fitness workout can be more beneficial (and yes, burn more calories) even than an hour on an elliptical machine.
  6. They stimulate the mind. Just as functional movements work the whole body, they also work the mind. The mind and body work together to move through the exercises and various movements. Functional fitness workouts are constantly varied and high intensity, making them fun and intellectually stimulating too.
  7. It’s how our bodies were meant to move. We weren’t created to rely on machines to move our bodies. It’s really that simple. Functional fitness allows our bodies to move the way they are supposed to move, and to do movements that keep our bodies functioning optimally, despite our culture of sitting and minimizing movement. It’s a way of allowing our bodies to do what they naturally do best, and we are often surprised by what our bodies can do when given this freedom!

Curious and ready to try Functional Fitness for yourself? Contact us  to try our online functional fitness services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session!

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Self Defense: Getting Comfortable In Uncomfortable Situations

Have you ever taken a self defense class? I’m not talking about the fun girls’ night, gouge the eyeballs, kick ’em in the groin, and laugh at your friends one-time self defense class that often comes to mind. I mean a self defense class, with a well-trained instructor that teaches techniques and skills that can actually be useful in real-life situations? A self defense class that incorporates techniques from some of the most functional and effective martial arts in the world, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga. If you have then you know what I mean when I say these classes teach you to get comfortable with being in uncomfortable situations. And while some of these uncomfortable situations do incite giggles, it’s clear that being uncomfortable is not just for fun, but is a necessity for learning how to defend yourself effectively.

My First Class

I remember when I began learning self defense from Japheth, years ago, in a class with several other women who were also new to self defense. There was a lot of nervous giggling, and I’m not ashamed to say a lot of it came from me. While I enjoyed the kicking and striking parts of class (who doesn’t?) I was nervous and cautious when it came to kicking and striking pads that other women were holding. It felt weird putting all my strength into essentially fighting another person. I eventually overcame this of course, but it took some getting used to. And then came the takedowns and the ground work, and the introduction of a whole new level of discomfort. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a true art form. A powerful combination of cognitive skill, mental manipulation, and physical mastery that is unrivaled. It is a challenge like no other, not just because of the amount of mental and physical energy required, but also the level of discomfort involved. The ability to be okay with straddling a stranger or being straddled by a stranger, often bringing faces, crotches, and/or feet into close contact with various other body parts, does not come naturally for a lot of people. In fact, I’d venture to say that some women and men do not like BJJ – and often do not stick with self defense classes – for this reason. People are not innately comfortable with being put in uncomfortable situations. Psychologically and physically, we choose flight.

So Why Do It?

To answer this question, let’s come back to why you came to a self defense class in the first place. Chances are you want to learn to prevent and defend against an attack. Think of an attack that feels comfortable. Right…there isn’t one.

So when learning to defend yourself from an uncomfortable situation you must face the discomfort, acknowledge it, and overcome it.  It’s survival. 

BJJ gives students the skills necessary to defeat even bigger and stronger opponents, how to get out of inferior positions, and how to instead achieve advantageous positions. What would you do if attacked from behind? Or taken down to the ground with the attacker on top of you? Learning how to move and use your body on the ground, especially while in uncomfortable positions, is necessary in order to be successful in any type of ground encounter.

Submission choke hold

BJJ teaches real life techniques for real life situations. With a skilled and trusted instructor, in a safe environment, you can and will learn to become more comfortable with the thought and the reality of uncomfortable situations. Take it from me – and the other women in that first class that are still my friends years later, despite us sparring each other every Wednesday night – getting through that discomfort is worth it, for you and for your loved ones.

I encourage you to find an ongoing self defense class and learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn more about our self defense classes and contact us to try our online self defense services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.

 

15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence to Jumpstart Your Day!

I love starting my day with yoga, and can tell a big shift in my day, and my ability to handle the challenges of my day, when I do. For me, it doesn’t have to be an asana practice, on my mat, with peace and quiet. That’s not realistic in my life, and I’m okay with that! Sometimes my morning yoga practice is a 2-minute meditation during my shower, or a few deep breaths as I’m waking. And on those rare days that I wake before the kids do and have time to pull out my mat, it’s breathing, asana, and meditation. This 15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence is a favorite of mine to flow through when I need a little extra boost in the morning. If you don’t have 15 minutes you can shorten the number of sun salutations, and on the flip side if you have more time, add more! With each posture, take 5-10 deep breaths before moving on to the next.

By the way, here are some of my favorite yoga props and mats to help you explore the poses a little more, and with a little more ease and fun:


15-Minute Energizing and Balancing Yoga Sequence to Jumpstart Your Day!

  1.  5 Sun Salutations A (Surya Namaskara A). When ready, begin gently flowing through your Sun Salutations. Remember to modify or take breaks as needed. Here is a video of Suzanne demonstrating a basic Sun Salute A:

 

2. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I).  From your last Downward Dog, bring the right foot forward and step it in between your hands. Spin the back heel down to the floor, toes pointing slightly forward. Bend the front knee and you reach the arms up toward the ceiling and lift your gaze. Move to Warrior 3, right side.

 

 

3. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III).  From Warrior 1, Firmly root front foot into the ground and begin shifting your balance onto the front foot, lifting the back leg so that it is parallel to the mat, while simultaneously tilting torso forward, until parallel with mat also (for modified version, only lift leg and lower torso partway). Activate back leg by lengthening leg and flexing the foot, toes pointing down. Try to even the hips so one is not higher than the other. Reach arms to the side for this flying version. Repeat Warrior 1 and Warrior 3 on the other side.

 

4. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II).  From Downward Dog, step right foot in between your hands, spin back heel down, and bend the front knee as you cartwheel the arms up, reaching hands to opposite sides of the room. Root down through both feet evenly, and breathe into the pose as you gently feel the hips and shoulders softening. Move into Half Moon, right side.

 

 

5. Half Moon (Ardha Candrasana). From Warrior 2 right side, plant right hand about 6 inches in front of right foot (use a block to place hand on if the floor seems too far). Begin shifting your weight onto the front hand and foot as you gently lift the back leg, raising it parallel to the floor, and stacking the hips. Activate back leg. Left arm reaches straight toward the ceiling, creating a strong line from the left hand all the way down through the right hand, grounded. Gaze toward the ground or up toward top hand. *Modification: Keep both hands down in front of front foot foot, until you feel stable enough to begin lifting one arm.

 

6. Boat (Navasana). From Downward Dog, step through to seated. Lift legs in front of you, keeping them together, so that you make a “V” with your body. Sit up tall on your sitz bones, lengthening through the spine as you breathe. Reach the arms forward, fingers extended. Legs can be straight, bent, or you can hold the backs of your legs if needed.

 

 

7. Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana). From seated, stretch your legs out onto the mat straight in front of you. Root down into the ground as you lengthen your spine, lifting crown of the head up toward the ceiling. Activate the legs by flexing the feet, toes pointed up and pulling back toward you. Inhale lengthen, exhale fold forward, reaching for the sides of the feet or the backs of the leg. (If hamstrings are tight here, you can use a strap around your feet to assist in the fold!). Continue extending through the spine with each inhale, and melting into the fold on each exhale.

 

8. Butterfly (Badhakonasana). From seated, bend knees and bring soles of the feet together, knees out to the sides. Draw the heels in close and open up the feet like opening a book. Inhale and lengthen the spine, lifting crown of the head toward the ceiling. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold over feet. With each in breath continue to elongate spine, folding a little deeper with each out breath.

 

 

9. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). From your back, bend knees and plant feet hip distance apart, bringing the heels in close (ideally brushing heels with your fingertips). Rooting down into your feet and big toes, lift hips toward ceiling, tucking shoulders under you slightly to open through the chest and collarbone. Keep knees parallel, activating inner thighs as if squeezing a block between them (use a block if you have one, and notice the difference!). Hold for several breaths and then repeat. When done, keep knees bent, step feet a little wider, and windshield-wiper knees from side to side.

 

10. Corpse (Savasana). Lie on your back and take a little rest! Let feet fall open, arms relax by your sides, palms up. Make any little adjustments you need to make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes, bring awareness to the breath and relax here for several breaths. Thank your body for all of the amazing things that it does!

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Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

 

Everyday Kids Yoga: Spring Theme

Everyday Kids Yoga: Spring Theme

Spring is just around the corner and with the inconsistency of this year’s winter weather here in Philly, some of the flowers are confused. Daffodils and crocuses have bloomed in our yard, and last year’s chives are already making a reappearance. I can’t help but start to feel a little spring in my step (pun intended) too! So for my kids yoga classes I am beginning to add in some spring-themed poses, activities and discussion. Spring is such an inspiring season for kids yoga, as there are ample opportunities to talk about nature! Gratitude toward the sun and rain, new life beginning, budding flowers, animals reappearing after hiding away all winter. I encourage you to get creative, have fun, and try a little spring yoga with your kids. Learn more about the benefits of yoga for kids here. Here are some of my favorite spring-themed yoga poses and activities that are easy for parents and teachers to try, and hopefully they will inspire you to get creative too!

Spring Theme Ideas

Standing Poses:

  1. Warrior 1 – From Mountain Pose, step the left foot back about 2 feet. Bend front knee. Opening arms up toward the sun, breathe in the fresh air and warmth of the sun’s rays! Switch sides.

    Quinn doing Tree Pose

  2. Tree Pose – From Mountain Pose, bring the left foot onto the lower part of the right leg, with knee bent, out to side. Balance on one foot and use your arms to “make branches”. Imagine that you have roots growing from your feet down into the earth. What kind of tree are you? Repeat other side.
  3. Sun Salutation – For older children you can talk about why we’re thankful for the sun, and why we need the sun. Begin in Mountain Pose, standing tall with hands by your sides. Inhale, Reach up to the sky to say hi to the sun. Reach down to the ground to pat the earth. Deep breath in, step back to snake or cobra pose as you breathe out. Hsssssss. Deep breath in, and exhale to downward dog. Bark like a dog and wag your tail. Few breaths here. I gale jump feet back to hands. Next inhale rise back up to say hi to the sun again. Exhale back to mountain. Here is a great video demonstrating a kids sun salutation by Quinn:

 

Seed to Tree Activity

Quinn doing Child’s Pose, or “Seed”

Begin with a short discussion about seeds ad what they need to grow.

We’re going to be little seeds now who grow into beautiful trees or flowers. Have child(ren) come to Child’s Pose (seeds). Alternately announce the warm sun shining down, then rain (pat their backs with your fingers), then, as they grow, the wind (they can sway in the wind). Each round they grow a little more until they are all the way up to standing, swaying in the breeze and enjoying the warm sun rays. Ask them what flower or tree they are, what color, what smell!

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My kids love this book. No matter how many times we read it, it never gets old. I love using it in my Kids Yoga classes too, especially in the spring. Depending on the age of children you’re working with, a little discussion about new life and how things grow is a great way to introduce this story. When reading, have the children act out the different poses (i.e. Child’s Pose for the seed, inch on bellies for caterpillar) and have the young ones help you count the food. Kids love being a hungry caterpillar, finding “food” all over the room as they wiggle about, and then turning into beautiful flapping butterflies!

Seated/Supine Poses

  1. Quinn and Xavier doing Flower Pose

    Butterfly – Sit up tall, bend knees and bring soles of the feet together. Hold ankles and flap “wings”. Wear “antennae” (using hands for antennae) and fly around smelling the flowers (your feet). What do they smell like? What color are they?

  2. Flower (partner or group) – Sit up tall and press feet into your partner’s feet, or sides of the feet into your neighbor’s. Holding hands, lift legs, keeping them spread wide. Take a few breaths.
  3. Snake – Lie on tummy. Slither and lift head and chest.  Can you move without using your arms and legs?

Dandelion Breath

My kids love finding dandelions, and of course making wishes on them. For this technique all you need is imagination! Have children hold their imaginary dandelions in their hand, make a wish on the inhale and blow the dandelion seeds on the exhale. You can have them practice blowing softly and blowing in short hard bursts. Watch the seeds fly in the wind!

I hope you enjoy doing some of these Kids Yoga Spring-themed ideas, and that it inspires you to create your own as well. Have fun with it, and let me know how you and your kids get creative! Contact us to learn more about our Kids programs and offerings.

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Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

6 Benefits of Live Online Personal Training

Much like our variety of classes and modalities, our virtual – or online – services were born based on the needs of our clients. Years ago when we moved to Philadelphia, many of our clients chose to continue working with us, through virtual private training. Some of our sessions were by phone, and others through Skype. We still work with many of the clients now, years later, at a lower frequency. Many of our current studio clients also opt for virtual sessions from time to time, as they may be traveling for business, feeling a little under the weather, or just want to enjoy a session from the comfort of their own home. We enjoy getting to travel the world virtually with our clients, and helping to keep them on track to their personal health and fitness goals, no matter where they are!

Our online personal training services are just like our in-person sessions, except online. That means you’ll be working live with an instructor during each session. You can ask questions, check in about your form, your measurements, your goals, and even do a workout with your trainer right there with you! Our sessions include individualized health consulting, assessment of metabolic functioning, and an individualized plan including workouts and breathing or meditation exercises and whole foods based nutrition.
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 6 Benefits of Live Online Personal Training

Have you tried online personal training? Here are 6 reasons why you may want to consider this option for optimizing your health:

  1. Convenience of Location. This is the number one reason most people opt for online personal training sessions. No worries about travel time, trudging through snow, or leaving the house while the chicken is cooking! You can do your session from home, from work, from the beaches in Mexico, or a hotel room in Japan – just log on.
  2. Ease. Having an online personal trainer is easy. As I said, just log on. The workouts, however, are not.
  3. Individualized Workout and Nutrition Advice. Your personal training session will be live and face-to-face (unless you choose a phone call, which will be more ear-to-ear). Your workouts and nutrition guidance will work around where you are and any situations that you may encounter. Don’t have access to a kettle bell? We’ll find a substitute. Have a business dinner in Taiwan? We’ll help give you tips on eating out. Feeling under the weather? We’ll modify your session and plan based on your needs.
  4. Flexibility. You can do your workouts where you want, when you want, and wearing whatever you want! With our online training services you will get weekly workouts, recipes, and tips sent straight to your inbox, for you to access and use at your convenience.
  5. Accountability. Since your sessions are live, you will be held accountable for your progress and in reaching your goals. Our online trainers will check in with your measurements and discuss challenges and successes as you progress.
  6. Access to an Expert. Choosing a personal trainer online gives you access to trainers anywhere in the world, that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This means you can be a little pickier. Scan reviews and testimonials to find someone who is experienced, successful, and a good fit for you!
Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Keeping the “Fun” in Functional Fitness

Keeping the “Fun” in Functional Fitness

If you’ve ever tried a functional fitness class, you’ve probably noticed that it is unlike most fitness classes that you’ve done before. I remember when I first tried a Crossfit class years ago and was immediately struck by two things: 1) How unique and weirdly fun the class was, and 2) How HARD this unique and weirdly fun class was. Like many, I was hooked. I continued taking classes, learning about the style as much as I could, and went on to become a Crossfit Level 2 certified trainer. When opening Water and Rock Studio, we made functional fitness one of the fundamental components of our studio. Why? Because we believe that whole body, multi-joint functional movements are integral to overall health and performance. Read this post to learn more about the benefits of multi-joint movements. We’ve seen the results, we’ve experienced the results, and we want to inspire others to join in the fun!
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The Water and Rock Studio Approach

Our philosophy for functional fitness is as unique as the movements we use. We’ve taken what we have learned – and continue learning – and have put our spin on it. We believe that working out should be

Accessible. First and foremost, we believe in making fitness accessible to everyone: every age and every fitness level.
Empowering. We provide you with the tools to make this an ongoing part of your lifestyle, not just a once a week trip to the gym, and not something that you need to dread. Functional fitness teaches us that we don’t need a lot of equipment, a large gym, or a lot of time to get in shape, reach our goals, and have fun doing it!
Varied. We use varied movements that work the whole body, rather than isolated muscle groups. Each class is different, and you will rarely do the same workout twice!
Integrative. We provide an integrative approach to all of our private sessions and classes. Functional fitness is no different. It’s not unusual for us to throw in striking or yoga postures throughout the workout, or to end with meditation.
Intense. Research shows that short, intense workouts can be more beneficial than an hour on the treadmill or elliptical. We encourage intensity, while also honoring each student’s personal level and threshold. We want you to work hard, to gain maximum health benefit, and within our safe and supportive environment.
Innovative. We strive to keep our functional fitness sessions and classes new, fresh, and outside the box (no pun intended, crossfitters). You never know when our classes may require flipping tires on the sidewalk, egg races, reverse burpees, or running to the nearest playground to, well, play!
Fun. This is key. As I said, this was one of the things that initially drew me to Crossfit, and one of the tenets of this style that I did not want to lose sight of. We have fun creating the classes, and we want to make sure our students have fun too. That’s not to say they lack intensity or integrity, rest assured.

Intrigued? Get rid of that repetitive elliptical, step outside of your treadmill box, and come see for yourself what it’s all about! Contact us  to try our online functional fitness services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.

Yoga and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

Yoga and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

Yoga is everywhere. Celebrities credit yoga for their svelte physiques, yoga studios are popping up on every corner, and yoga pants are the new jeans. I don’t even wear jeans anymore. “Yoga” is a buzzword for sure, and most often – in our culture – used to reference yoga postures, or asanas. I find that even seasoned yoga students sometimes have difficulty answering the “What is Yoga” question, and many students come to a yoga class originally for the physical benefits: flexibility, coordination, balance, etc. That’s what originally drew me to the practice, in fact. But, like many, I soon discovered that yoga encompasses so much more, and I haven’t stopped practicing since. So what IS yoga, what does it have to do with the mind and spirit, and what is the mind-body-spirit connection?

What is Yoga?

The word “yoga” means “to yoke” or “to unite”, as in to unite the body, mind and spirit. Yoga originated in ancient India as physical, mental and spiritual practices. Later, yoga was introduced to, and quickly gained popularity in, the western part of the world as primarily a physical practice. While yoga history and philosophy are becoming more known in our culture, the stigma of yoga being simply another form of physical exercise remains. However, growing bodies of research related to meditation and asana credit yoga with significant stress reduction, improving cardiovascular health, controlling diabetes, promoting healthy mood and self-concept, and even longevity. Students of mine have touted the benefits of yoga, ranging from healing hip and back pain, to making pregnancy and labor smooth and relaxed, to diminishing significant body tremors, to improving overall stress management. You may be wondering how yoga does all of this. The answer: through mind-body-spirit connection!

The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

As yoga teaches us, the mind, body and spirit are all connected; what we think effects our bodies and what our bodies do effects our minds. Yoga postures are just as important as other aspects of yoga, such as meditation, breathing, truth, or compassion, and all of these things lead to a deeper interconnection and unification the mind, body and spirit. To say it simply, a relaxed and healthy mind and spirit leads to a relaxed and healthy body, and vice versa.

Practicing the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
Once you begin a yoga practice, you will pretty quickly begin to notice the benefits. Maybe physically at first, but if you are observant you will soon notice other aspects of your mind, your body, your life, starting to shift. Here are some examples of how the mind-body-spirit connection comes into play:

  • Physical Goals. When struggling physically, observe what the mind is doing. For example, if your goal is to improve physical balance, and you find that even holding tree pose for more than 5 seconds is challenging, you may want to observe what the mind is doing when you’re practicing tree pose. Maybe you feel anxious because you know balance is challenging for you, or frustrated with your body, or maybe you’re thinking about something else. Come out of the pose, take a few deep breaths to calm and quiet the mind, and then come back to the pose. Observe, without judgment, how your tree pose feels now.
  • Mental Health. When focusing on mental goals, pay attention to what the body is needing. For example, if stress-management is an issue for you, as it is for most, and you find it difficult to sit quietly to calm the mind, your body may need more. Try this: When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, stop, move through 5 or more sun salutations (adding in other poses if you like). Don’t forget to connect the breath to your movements. Then you may be ready to return to what you were doing, with a renewed energy and perspective.
  • Fulfillment. Check in with the spirit. For example, yoga teaches us to be kind and compassionate toward ourself, toward others, and toward our environment. If you feel disconnected somehow, or feel unfulfilled in some way, find a way to give back or to follow a passion. It can be something as simple as bringing a cup of coffee to your dry cleaner, shoveling snow for a neighbor, or enrolling in art classes. Or maybe a bigger project within the community, or sharing yoga with a local group. Fulfilling the spirit will lead to a healthy state of mind and body.
  • Lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle choices lead to healthy mind, body and spirit. Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising? Are you eating real, whole foods, and eating mindfully? Have you eliminated most toxins from your environment? Being good and kind to your body will deepen your mind-body-spirit connection, and optimize your overall health.

At Water and Rock Studio, our private yoga sessions and small group classes help strengthen this mind-body-spirit connection through movement, meditation, breathing techniques, and other yoga teachings. Yoga is an integral part of our overall philosophy of integrating mind and body to optimize health, heal disease, and reach wellness goals. Contact us to try our online private yoga sessions or yoga classes, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.
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Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Self Defense Classes: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Self Defense Classes: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Have you tried a self defense class? If not, why not? If you’re reading this post that probably means that something about self defense has piqued your interest, but have you gotten into a class yet? While Japheth is the Self Defense instructor and carries years of experience, certifications, and medals in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, and other martial arts, I also feel strongly that Self Defense should be a part of everyone’s fitness, health, and general safety routine. We all deserve to have the knowledge and skills necessary to defend ourselves and our loved ones should we encounter an unsafe situation. What would you do if you and your child were walking home and were approached by someone who held you at gunpoint? What if you were at a bus station and someone grabbed you? What if you are assaulted in a parking lot after work? What if someone invades your home? These scenarios are not meant to scare you, but to bring awareness to things that CAN happen to anyone, and can happen anywhere. What would you do? If you’re drawing a blank, or have a few uncertain responses in mind, it’s probably a good idea to get into a self defense class, and one that is ongoing.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

One thing we’ve noticed through the years is that Self Defense can be intimidating for someone new to martial arts. Jiu-Jit-what?? Krav-Ma-Who? And what is this wrestling thing that you make us do with people that we just met?! We hear a lot of nervous giggles, concern about hurting the other person, and tremendous uncertainty in the movements. For many, Self Defense is counterintuitive to how we were raised: to be kind to others and not to hurt others. We’re asking you though, to step out of your comfort zone for a bit and come back to what piqued your interest in the first place: safety, empowerment, and confidence. Self Defense Classes are a great workout, and with the right instructor can even be fun, but the purpose is to empower yourself; to learn how to be safe, and how to be confident in order to protect yourself. And remember, everyone else is there for the same reason, so no one will think you’re mean if you hit the pad hard. They will probably think that’s awesome!

A Typical Water and Rock Studio Self Defense Class

At Water and Rock Studio we believe that this is your time and your class, and we want you to feel as comfortable as possible. So if you want to sit out or watch any part of class you are welcome to do this, and can rejoin us at any time. With regard to class structure and knowing what to expect, every class may be a little different, and sometimes even themed around recent events or questions related to Self Defense.

Typical Class Structure
1) Warm-ups: While each class may be a little different, we will always begin with warm-ups, which typically include fun whole body movements like running, jumping, crawling, etc.
2) Standing Work: Our work from standing may include a striking drill (holding pads for each other to hit), situational techniques (i.e. what to do if you’re being choked or grabbed) and/or weapons defense techniques
3) Transitional techniques: We then often practice techniques that move us from standing to the ground (ie take-downs, throws, or safely falling). Falling down or being thrown down is very common in self-defense situations so we need to know what to do if that happens.
4) Ground Work: We then move into ground work, such as learning how to defend yourself in situations that happen from the ground (i.e. You fall down while attacked, are thrown down, or if an attacker is on top of you on the ground). This is a critical piece of self-defense training as it is often overlooked.
5) Yoga: We usually end class with a few yoga postures and deep breathing. We believe that yoga is an important aspect of self Defense as it not only improves flexibility and coordination, but also improves focus, concentration, and the body’s ability to handle stress. It is also a great way to end a high energy class to bring us back to a steady relaxed state.

If you’ve made it through this post then I hope you will step outside of your comfort zone and find a self Defense Class and learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Contact us to try our online self defense services, or if local to Philadelphia, a class or private session.

The Misunderstood Core

The Misunderstood Core

How many times have you heard a fitness or yoga instructor point to his or her abdominals and say “core”? As in “strengthen your core”, “activate your core”, or “this works your core”. To many clients that we see, “core” is synonymous with “abs”, which is not entirely accurate. The core, it seems, is grossly misunderstood.

What is the “core”?

The core is a group of muscles that includes, but is not limited to, the abdominals. The muscles of the core involve back, side and front muscles of the body, extending from the sternum all the way down through the gluten and hamstrings. The job of the core is to stabilize and support the spine. My guess is that the core was aptly named because it is at the core of every movement our body makes, and without it most physical movement would be challenging if not impossible.
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What types of exercises strengthen the core?

Having a strong core is imperative to a healthy fitness routine. Kettle bell swings require a great deal of core strength to stabilize the movement and support the spine effectively. When throwing a punch from fight stance, the core is working to prevent you from overtwisting or turning, and helps drive and power the strike. In yoga, the core muscles are engaged and working during every asana to assist with balance and stability, and to help keep other parts of the body stable as well.

Just as the core is misunderstood, so are core exercises. Isolation exercises targeting the abdominals such as crunches are good, but they are just that: isolated. Doing isolated movements only can actually lead to impaired performance outside of a gym. In order to improve performance our bodies must be viewed as more holistic, both in mind-body connection and in terms of muscular strength. Maximum performance comes from muscles learning to work together.

We recommend whole body, multi-joint exercises, done at a relatively high intensity, for maximum health benefit and core strength-building. These can be done with or without weights, and can be done anywhere, no gym needed! Some fundamental exercises to try are:

  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Burpees
  • Thrusters
  • Sumo Deadlift Highpull
  • Kettle Bell Swings
  • Planks/Side Planks

Here Japheth demonstrates three fundamental exercises that help strengthen and engage the core. You can try these on your own at home:

Adding weighted movements can also help work the core muscles tremendously. Here is Japheth demonstrating a Sumo Deadlift High pull:

Working with a certified personal trainer can be a great way to get started on building and maintaining core strength, and learning more about how your core works. Contact us at Water and Rock Studio if you’d like to schedule a free virtual or in-studio consult!

 

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Water and Rock Studio Opens Second Studio Location!

Water and Rock Studio Opens Second Studio Location!

Japheth and I are really excited to announce the grand opening of our second Water and Rock Studio location in Glenside, PA! After three and a half years of growing our studio in Chestnut Hill, PA, we are expanding our business to bring our cutting edge health, fitness and wellness services to the residents and visitors of Abington, Ardsley, Wyncote, Ft Washington, Jenkintown, Oreland, and of course Glenside. Our new studio is set to open March 1, 2017, and is located in the Keswick Village area of Glenside, a local and regional community that was developed in the 1920’s with the opening of the renowned Keswick Theatre. We will be located close to shops and restaurants, with a church and an open field (for workouts of course) across the street from us. Come take a stroll through the historic and quaint Keswick Village and pop in to see us! Here are some photos of the new bright and sunny digs:

Front of studio, ample parking and of course a garden!

Inside of the studio (love the checkered floors!)

Looking out the sun-filled windows

 

Our Glenside location will offer the same variety of high quality services that our current Chestnut Hill location offers, in a beautiful studio with a character all its own! Water and Rock Studio services include:

-Private Training

-Health Transformation Consulting

-Yoga and Meditation

-Functional Fitness

-Self Defense and Mixed Martial Arts

-Kids and Teens

-Seniors

-Prenatal/Postnatal

-Virtual/Online Private Sessions and Classes

Visit our website for more about us, our studio, and our services.

We are grateful for this opportunity and are endlessly thankful to all of our friends, family, clients, and community partners for helping make this happen. We are passionate about helping others transform their lives and reach their health and fitness goals and can’t wait to continue our work in another area of Pennsylvania! We hope that you will spread the word and come by to visit! 448 N. Easton Rd, Glenside, PA

Namaste,
Suzanne, Japheth, Quinn and Xavier