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What is a Calorie and Why Should You Care?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Calorie is a household word, it’s heard around the office, at the gym, but if I ask the question, “exactly what does a calorie do” people have a hard time answering. In fact, most answer, “the thing in food that makes me fat.” Seems to me calories have gotten a bad reputation; are considered to be the enemy. Or it may be like many things in life…too much of a good thing can be bad. So here’s the question. How much do you really know about calories? (Yes, go ahead, take the quiz) Because, actually, calories can be your friend.

Funny…with all the talk about calories, few people truly understand what a calorie is and why it is so important to their bodies. Calories aren’t bad for you. Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories — and not burning enough of them off through activity — can lead to weight gain.

By definition a calorie is a unit of measurement; the energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. When you read that a food contains 100 calories, it’s a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking that food.

Calories are energy that fuel our bodies; much like gasoline fuels our cars. Without sufficient calories our heart would not beat, our lungs would not function, and our brain would not work. Note: I am certainly not claiming that if you eat more calories you brain will work better.

On average, most adults need at least 1000 to 1400 calories to have enough energy to fuel their key organs. This minimum number of calories is called your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and it varies quite a bit depending on age, sex, weight, and muscle mass. In order to have enough energy to live your day and be active you need more energy than what’s required from your resting metabolic rate (RMR). About 400 to 600 additional calories per day is recommended. This is the energy needed to move versus just lying or sitting still all day.

It’s really quite simple math to understand why you gain or lose weight. If you exceed the number of calories your body requires each day you will eventually gain weight. For example, if your body needs 2000 calories a day to maintain its current weight and every day you consume 2500, in one week you would gain 1 lb. And by the way, one day of overindulging does not cause instant weight gain.

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. Example: If you eat 2000 calories a day, and are maintaining your weight, you would need to burn 250 calories (30 minutes high impact aerobics for a 150 lb. person) per day to lose a 1/2 lb. in one week. If, in addition, you decreased your caloric intake by 250 calories a day, you could then lose 1 lb. per week. But one note of caution…you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Research backs up the The Simple Secret Of Weight Loss: Eat Less, Move More

Yes, you should care. My advice: Know the content and calories of what you’re eating. Get up and get moving. Make sure your physical activity is enjoyable and you will stick with it!

Looking for a way to get active? Check out the many adult dance & fitness classes offered at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School.

Bollywood Unraveled

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

I recently asked Bollywood Dance instructor Prakash Mohandas to write about Bollywood. Hope you enjoy what he has to say…

 

I am going to start this blog with the same question I ask in my classes, what do you know about Bollywood Dance?

The most common answers include Slumdog Millionaire, So You Think You Can Dance and a gesture of a light bulb being turned with one hand while squashing a bug with one foot.

My response to their comments, in this order, is always, “Wrong,”  “Well, kinda” and “Are you serious?”

While the majority of people aren’t really sure how to define Bollywood, occasionally I come across the true Bollywood fan. This person names all the movies he or she has seen, to the amazement of the rest of the class.

At this point an explanation is required as to why we’re talking about movies in a dance class. Bollywood is the name given to the Hindi film industry in India which primarily operates out of a city called Bombay (now Mumbai). So with Bombay being the self-proclaimed Hollywood of India, the term Bollywood was coined! Isn’t it ingenious?

So what exactly is Bollywood Dance and where did it come from?

Bollywood dance is, in essence, Indian film dance centered around music from Hindi movies. Bollywood dance is defined more by the music than by the dance style itself.

Bollywood dance is a genre that draws inspiration from various dance styles such as Bhangra, Folk dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary and more. The choreography of a Bollywood song and the steps that go into it are governed by the music it’s set to and how these dance styles can effectively be used to communicate the music. The advantage of this diverse dance form is that it gives the freedom for the choreography of Bollywood song to range from slow to upbeat and classical to contemporary. This is what makes it fun! In fact, there is one thing that is common to any kind of Bollywood number—energy!

So now that you really know what Bollywood dance is all about come check out the Bollywood choreography and Bollywood fitness classes on Monday and Thursdays.

Do you hear Bollywood calling?

Hello Glutes, Welcome to Today!

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

I am loving the blogs written by Schools Program Coordinator Jodi Schwaben. Here’s her latest in the Pilates journey…

 

Hello glutes, welcome to today! That’s what Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor Alex Miller said before announcing another set of leg lifts, but for me it was more like Hello glutes, quads, hamstrings and all of you other leg muscles I didn’t realize existed until just now.

Yesterday was my final Pilates session for this series of blog posts, and I must admit I’m feeling pretty good (aside from the sore thighs and abs). I’ve been doing Pilates once a week for three weeks now, and I’m noticing a difference in my stamina, posture, flexibility and overall body awareness.

Here are my suggestions for other beginners:

Take a private lesson. Before you attend a group session, it would be wise to first take a private lesson with one of Ballet Austin’s instructors. This is a perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the reformer and become accustom to the adjustments and movements that occur in every class.

Be prepared for corrections. The Pilates instructors want you to get a good workout and they also want to avoid injury, so they will correct your position if it is wrong. This is not to frustrate you or make you feel uncomfortable. To reiterate my first suggestion, a private session will get a lot of these corrections out of the way in a more comfortable setting.

Dress appropriately. At some point in your session, you will be lying down on the apparatus with your legs extended, so loose shorts are not suggested. Fitted clothing are best for a couple of reasons, first, you don’t want to worry about anything showing, second, your instructor will be able to see your body alignment more clearly. For women, I suggest a fitted t-shirt or tank top with leggings, bicycle shorts or yoga pants. For men, I would suggest a t-shirt with bicycle shorts, running pants or gym shorts with bicycle shorts underneath. You will be barefoot.

Communicate with your instructor. Before or at the beginning of your session, let your instructor know if you have any injuries or limitations, and he or she will make the proper adjustments for you. While in session, if anything hurts or feels wrong, tell your instructor immediately.

During yesterday’s appointment I was able to do some of the Pilates moves that I couldn’t complete only two weeks ago. I think it may be due to more than just my improved stamina; I think the encouragement from my instructors helps a lot. Alex and Vlada are not shy to shout out a personalized “great job” or “beautiful” as you go through the motions, and the small class size allows the instructors to give individualized attention to each student. I will definitely be back.

-Jodi

I Take Pilates with Robots

Friday, December 14th, 2012

…Or maybe Energizer Bunnies. My class is full of women and men of all ages and body types and they do.not.stop. I asked one woman how she was able to keep up without her abs bursting into flames, and she explained that she’d been taking Pilates here at Ballet Austin for a while. As the class continued, I realized I too felt more confident in my movements and the transitions became easy (well, easier), which got me thinking about my normal excuses and how Pilates seems to be the exception to my many rules.

No Energy
I’m having one of those just on my first cup of coffee, don’t talk to me type of day. I’m not sure if it’s the gloomy weather or all the calories I burned Christmas shopping at the Domain this weekend, but I just didn’t want to get out of bed. So of course, the last thing I wanted to do was shimmy into a pair of yoga pants and hit the Pilates studio. Honestly, my desires were to stay in my baggy sweatpants and hit the couch for an all-day marathon of Friends reruns. However, after an hour of Pilates, I have a burst of energy, especially on the days when we do Pilates Cardio. I can also tell a difference in my metabolism throughout the day.

Joint Issues
I was born with dislocated hips, so I’ve always had lower back and hip pain. This is my #1 excuse. High-impact classes tend to hurt my hip flexors and mat classes are uncomfortable for my lower back. However, as today’s Pilates Instructor Alex explained, if it hurts or just doesn’t feel right, let your instructor know and modifications can be made. I’ve learned in my appointments that if I am restricted from a move, it doesn’t mean I can’t still target that specific muscle group. The Certified Pilates Instructors are able to make the proper adjustments or teach a completely different move to still get the same results without the pain – well, not completely pain-free (remember the abs bursting into flames comment?)

I Cheat
I’m not trying to brag, but I’m an awesome cheater. Years of evil gym teachers made me a fantastic exercise cheater.  I can cheat, cheat, cheat without the instructor ever knowing; I can do the same move as you and feel nothing just by turning my arm a little bit. One problem, if the instructor standing over you can’t tell you’re cheating, the reformer sure can. I cannot cheat on the Pilates Reformer. If you don’t do the movement, it won’t move. It’s that simple. It’s impossible to leave a Pilates Apparatus class feeling like you didn’t get a great workout. The machine adds just enough resistance and forces you to do it right.

That sums up appointment # two in this four part series, and so far I’m sticking to my original statement: Pilates may be the workout for the girl who doesn’t work out.

Jodi

Could this be the exercise class for the girl who doesn’t exercise?

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I am turning over the BEACTIVE! blog to Schools Program Coordinator Jodi Schwaben for a few weeks. Enjoy!

I was never the most coordinated person. Alright, I’ll just say it – I was a nerd. In high school, I chose to exercise my mind over exercising my body. Now, closing in on the big 3-0, I’m noticing my metabolism slowing and my body starting to slouch. To combat this I’ve increased my activity level, which includes sticking in a pair of headphones and walking on a treadmill until I’m bored. I prefer individual activities, ones where I can do things at my own pace and without comparing myself to the athletes around me.

So when my director asked me to take a Ballet Austin Group Pilates class on the reformer, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit. Luckily, I had a week to mentally prepare for the impending hour of torture.

At my appointment time, I checked out my classmates – one, a Ballet Austin employee who could basically be a Prima Ballerina as fit as she is – I instantly felt nervous and out of place. Everyone knew what to do; they went right to work stretching on the Pilates apparatus. I felt foolish, fumbling with my equipment, but no one seemed to notice; all of the students stared ahead, focusing on their own movements. What a relief!

The class did not stop after that, shifting between core, to legs, to arms, to legs, to core – I never felt bored. Then we switched to cardio. How does one do cardio on a Pilates reformer? In the most fun and entertaining way possible! We attached springboards to our reformers and jumped, while lying down – kicking our legs out to the sides, then up and down. SO MUCH FUN! I looked at the clock after 10 minutes of class and realized I didn’t look at it again until it was time to go.

Still, I may be a Private Pilates kinda gal, but one thing I loved about my group class was the camaraderie; I struggled, it was a tough class, but I had women struggling right along with me. I felt comforted the minute a classmate grunted out “This really hurts.” Oh great! It wasn’t just me!

This is absolutely a class that you feel during and after, but I’ll be back – Not just because my boss is making me – but also because it’s a ton of fun.

Follow my progress the next four weeks as I continue to try out Ballet Austin Pilates apparatus classes!

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Somewhere along the way, it was decided that the New Year is a good time to start a fitness plan. That’s great, but to cringe and quote an old cliché, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Seriously! Do you want to start a new exercise program? Then start! Not “I should start” but “I will start”. We have it in our heads that if we wait until the first of something it will somehow be easier for us to accomplish the task. “I can start that on Monday” or “let’s wait until the first of the month”. And the big one now is “what is your New Year’s resolution going to be?” But what’s wrong with Tuesday…or Thursday…or December? If today is Thursday, don’t wait until next Monday because you think it’s better to start at the beginning of the week. Resolve today and start today. To quote NIKE, “Just Do It!”

I’m not always the best at taking my own advice. I try to stay up on significant trends in fitness. What’s new, what will provide the best overall workout, what will keep people engaged long enough to see results, and so on. I’m fairly knowledgeable about a variety of exercise programs, but other than a couple of private Pilates sessions and some Pilates mat classes, I can’t say that I know as much as I’d like about the Pilates method. I have been saying for months that I will start working out in the Pilates Center. I have not yet started.

Last week I was speaking to Vlada about plans to get the word out about our Pilates Center and the benefits of Pilates. I explained to Vlada that I had asked Jodi, one of my staff, to begin taking Pilates weekly to gain experience and knowledge to better communicate with potential clients. Vlada looked at me and said, “what about you?” Of course my answer to her was, “That would be great; maybe in January.” Her reply, “How about Thursdays at noon? You and Jodi are booked beginning December 6”. Vlada would not accept anything short of “Just do it! And do it now”. So I am.

I’m excited. Jodi and I will begin this challenge together. We are not waiting until January. We have fought and won the battle of good intentions.

Check back to the blog each week as Jodi will be blogging the pains, the gains, the challenges and benefits of Pilates.

What are you waiting for?

Dancing on the big stage!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Everyone has a story. I don’t ever want to assume that the people around me have nothing of interest to share. So I stop, ask questions, listen. I love it! People are fascinating! I am surrounded by people at Ballet Austin who could regale me for hours with their stories. Inside every one of our dancers, staff, and incredible instructors is a wealth of life experience. Today I share just one.

Vincent Sandoval teaches theatre dance, tap, and Musical Theatre workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. We sat down the other day to talk about his upcoming holiday workshop Santa’s Gonna Rock and RollNot having been a performer myself, I am intrigued by the stories of those who are.

Vincent began to paint a picture of life in New York; life on Broadway and beyond. It was a journey. Vincent shared; I listened.


When I first arrived in New York I was performing in midtown at a cabaret. It was only 2 doors down from Phantom of the Opera. I was close, just not close enough. Eventually I found my way to Radio City Music Hall,
the world’s largest indoor theater, home of the Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I performed with the Rocketts for 6 years and was then asked to be Assistant Director and Choreographer to put up the LA company. That was the year we were asked to be in the Jay Leno Show. Jay Leno! Fun memories!

My biggest highlight while performing with the Rocketts was when I was asked to be a featured dancer in the show. For a time I was the only guy on that big stage with those 38 girls and their legs. Just me; pretty awesome. The Rockettes stood posed behind me in the background; I danced. To dance on that huge stage by myself was a thrill.

Beyond the Rocketts I had the opportunity to do many wonderful shows. My favorite was CRAZY FOR YOU because I got to go on the European tour to Switzerland, Germany, and France. The sights, the people, the food.  I loved the food! Of course, there were a few times when we just craved some good ‘ole home cooking. I remember the time we toured to Japan. I grew tired of rice and soup. Being from Texas, I was missing some red meat and so I went looking for a cow. Thank goodness for Outback Restaurants in Japan! 

The other reason I love CRAZY FOR YOU is that it was a tap show, and tap is my favorite!

I remember how much I loved tap right from the start. As a kid I had to tag along to the dance studio with my sister.  It was my only way to eventually get home if I wanted a ride. My sister was the dance student. I was not. Tap was my sister’s last class of the day. I did my homework (or was supposed to) while waiting in the lobby. But the rhythm of the feet caught my attention so I would start tapping in the lobby.  One day the tap teacher told my mom, “You might want to enroll Vincent into a tap class. He’s actually better than most of the other kids.” To this day my sister still gives me notes when I dance.

So many wonderful experiences and incredible memories. I still perform at times, but through teaching dance I am able to tell my stories, share the experiences and memories, and keep the shows and performers of Broadway alive!

Join Vincent beginning November 29 for the Holiday Musical Theatre Workshop. Learn some of the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular. Can’t make that workshop? Dance the 80′s in January! Or drop in to a tap or Theatre Dance class. Learn to dance while listening to the stories of Broadway and beyond.

Is Your Kid on the Couch?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

When kids are active, they feel better, are more productive in school, make better choces, get a better night’s sleep, and like any adult, are more pleasant to be around! Exercise is such a mood booster!

But today there are more challenges than ever when it comes to kids getting enough physical activity. Technology, gadgets that mean we rarely have to get out of a chair, kids having cell phones at a younger age, busyness, overcommitment and stress at school and other other activities, all lead to children today being on track to be the unhealthiest generation of adults ever. In fact, some studies say that by 2048 100% of Americans will be considered obese. That’s staggering! And that’s our kids.

Why am I writing this blog? Because we all know this, and yet the problem grows. So today I join the conversation to make sure that if there is someone out there who has not heard that our kids are stuck on the couch more than any other generation, I will reach that person. And each of us can begin to make small changes in our own lives so that we are modeling healthy behavior to the next generation.

Over the next couple of months I will be blogging often about getting our kids active. I am committed. I will share articles and ideas as I come across them. Today I begin by sharing tips to get your couch kid to exercise.

Watch for new programming for kids coming to Ballet Austin. We are committed to getting kids active!

Looking for some “me” time while bonding with your baby?

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

You just had a baby. Congratulations! Let me get right to the point and then turn this blog over to Brittany Harpole, one of Ballet Austin’s Certified Pilates and Fitness instructors who just recently had a baby.

My point: It’s hard to find the time or motivation to work out at any time; an even greater challenge when you have a new baby.

Brittany’s baby Ava is just over 5 month old. Even though fitness is Brittany’s job, she is fully aware of the daily challenges new moms face when it comes to taking care of baby and taking care of themselves. Let’s hear from Brittany…

Besides getting a night of uninterrupted sleep, moms long to get back to their pre-baby shape. But how? When? Where?  Fatigue, time constraints, concerns about leaving the baby with a care provider, and the uncertainty of what workout is best, make post-natal exercise difficult for new moms.

Whatever the challenges, moms must realize how important it is to take care of themselves; to do something special for themselves now and then, and begin to work on their fitness as soon as possible after a pregnancy. Having trained in Pilates and fitness helped me know that as soon as the doctor cleared me, I needed to work my body. There so many benefits to postpartum exercise. To sum it up, when women are able to find the time to exercise after having a baby, they will lose the pregnancy weight and regain muscle strength, reduce back discomfort that comes after pregnancy, have opportunities to meet other new moms, and have a general sense of well-being that comes to anyone who gets sufficient exercise.

After I had my baby I started thinking about how great it would be to exercises with Ava. The more I thought about it the more I realized how it would encourage me and benefit Ava! What if there was a class for that? A class that would promote bonding between mom and baby; moms would get the exercise benefits and the babies would be stimulated by the movement, music, and watching other smiling moms and babies.

With that thought I created Mommy & Baby Fit!  Mommy & Baby Fit is not just about the workout. It’s about giving you both time together; valuable time with your child so they can begin learning the importance of movement at an early age and you don’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. But yes, you will work out!

I hope you’ll join me for Mommy & Baby Fit at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. We will work together to get back into shape and have fun with our babies!

Calling All Zombies!

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

One hour of total Thriller! Join the Zombies of Austin on the scariest night of the year and dance it out in this ever popular graveyard dance.

Ahhh…the 80′s…

I remember the birth of MTV in 1981. Music videos have come a long way, but over three decades later Michael Jackson’s Thriller just doesn’t go away.  In fact, it remains the bestselling album of all time, with 72 million in worldwide sales. Wow! And then there’s Thrill The World, an annual worldwide attempt to break the Largest Simultaneous Dance with Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And I just found out that the Library of Congress added Thriller to its National Film Registry in 2009, the first music video in their registry. And did you know that the video won for Best Performance Video, Best Choreography, and Viewers Choice at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.

How’s that for a little trivia? Needless to say, Thriller remains a popular favorite. What could be better than combining Michael Jackson, dance, and zombies for Halloween

Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without this ghoulish anthem.

If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, love Thriller, love to dance, or want to be a part of this “mob” of zombies, STOP! Take note! Save the dates!

Videodance™ instructor Kody Jauron is always game for some crazy fun, and that’s just what you can expect from October 16-31. Are you in?
  • Thriller choreography will be taught prior to Halloween at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School during Videodance™ classes October 16 – 30. Videodance™ is held every Tuesday & Thursday night from 7:30-8:30pm.
  • If you attend any or all of the Videodance™ classes October 16 – 30 you will be invited to participate in a surprise (and secret) Ballet Austin BCS flash mob on Saturday night, October 27. Email me if you’re interested! vicki.parsons@balletaustin.org
  • Halloween Thriller Dance Party! Just want to dance it with a bunch of zombies? Head over to Ballet Austin for a special Thriller hour of dance. Halloween night, October 31 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Just maybe you can take it to the streets at the end of the hour! Wear your Halloween costume to the class on the 31st and get $12 off the regular $17 single class rate. Just $5 for an hour of Zombie fun!
You may be a fan of The Walking Dead…but are you a fan of The Dancing Dead? The zombies are waiting…

Ballet Austin is on the corner of 3rd and San Antonio. Will we see you there?

 
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