Ballet Austin Community
Posts Tagged ‘physical activity’
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!
Friday, October 12th, 2012
As a couple of old sayings go, “time passes much more quickly when you’re having fun” and “there’s strength in numbers.”
Right off the bat some of you might argue that there is nothing fun about a workout. I counter that thought with the fact (yes, there is research to back it up) that friends who exercise together get better results together.
So if you are one of those who considers exercise the “necessary of two evils” (better than being dead), and the fun of Bollywood or Zumba® isn’t enough to get you off the couch, buddy up!
A study of 3,000 women revealed 61% find it near impossible to find enough motivation and energy to exercise alone. However the same proportion enjoy working out with a friend, and say they actually push themselves harder if they have company.
Having a friend who is interested in keeping fit and toned can help keep motivation high. Workouts becomes less about the sweat, or how many calories you burn, and more about catching up on the latest news, and sharing time together. Social support encourages physical activity, provides feedback, and makes the exercise time more fun. I think that’s why the fitness apps are so popular today. They challenge us, motivate us, encourage us, make our workouts more interesting, and give us the feedback we need to keep going. I just wish I had an app that kept me from reaching for the white chocolate chip cookie!
So buddy up! Grab your friend and get started this week. It’s $5 Friend Week at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School! Bring a friend to any BCS Drop-in class between October 15 and October 21 and both you and your friend can take that class for only $5!
What are you waiting for? Over 60 classes are offered 7 days a week! Buddy up and experience the positive side of peer pressure!
See you in a class with your friend this week!
Saturday, September 29th, 2012
Recently I have been asking people a question as they leave our BCS dance classes, “Why do you dance?”
I get the many expected responses, “Dancing is an excellent form of exercise. It burns calories and tones my muscles.” “I love the music and the movement.” “I have danced for years.” “I have always wanted to learn.” But today I had someone pause after I asked the question. She looked up, looked around, and then turned a happy face back to me and said, “I dance today, I smile today.”
I am not sure if it was her words or the infectious grin that gave me a warm feeling inside. I too smiled. It made me happy just to hear her response…“I dance today, I smile today.” I wondered; if she didn’t dance today would she not be smiling? Would she be smiling regardless of the activity? Somehow I didn’t think so.
I started to wonder why dance can create such an overall sense of happiness. I know that exercise involves movement and that all exercise releases endorphins. But I also know that when I finish a 5 mile run, while I might feel good about my accomplishment and experience a relief from the stressors in my life, the run itself doesn’t cause me to light up my world with a smile. No, it’s more than just the physical activity. Is it the music? Well, I know that as soon as I hear music playing it’s not long before my foot starts tapping. Turn music on in a room full of children and they naturally start to move. Yes, music is also known to stimulate pleasure. But music can ignite other emotions as well. I wonder if the blending of the two, movement and music together could be the key. There is extensive research that gives evidence that both music and dance make us happy. Our brains are stimulated and we are overcome with a sense of well-being.
Today, however, I prefer to set aside the scientific data and lean on how I feel. When I watch movies such as Happy Feet and Madagascar, I feel good. I catch myself smiling. When I watch children dancing to music it makes me happy. Today I caught myself smiling as I looked into the faces of the people leaving a dance class, most with a big grin; some even laughing out loud. Hmm…if being an onlooker can bring me such happiness, imagine the heart of the dancer!
You too could dance today and smile today.
Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School offers dance & fitness classes for adults 7 days a week. Come smile with us! All ability levels welcome.
Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
Can you stand on one foot for 15 seconds with your eyes closed?
Before you even think about answering, try it.
How did you do? Were you able to last 15 seconds without opening your eyes or holding on to anything? Were you surprised that it was more of a challenge than you thought? Here’s the facts: After age 25, our sense of balance slowly begins to decline. Standing on one foot may seem fairly simple. At age 45 the ankles start to shake and you may find this a bit more of a challenge. When we reach our 60s, balance declines rapidly. Standing on one foot for 15 seconds with eyes closed without holding on is tough.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States and 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.
September 22 kicked off Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Why set aside a week to bring awareness to falling down? Because preventing a fall is much more effective than treating a fall; a public health problem that is largely preventable. A fall can change an individual’s life instantly and although associated with getting older, a fall is not a normal part of aging.
Our bodies have an amazing and complex balance system that requires attention throughout life to keep it healthy and maintained. Most of us don’t think about exercising our balance when we think about healthy aging. In fact, balance is the most overlooked element of fitness; overlooked until we have a problems.
So what’s the easiest way to reclaim balance and prevent falls? For the most part, it’s child’s play. Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember challenging friends to see who could hop the longest on one foot? Or who could walk on the edge of the sidewalk the longest without falling off? Hopscotch, jumping rope, tossing balls…we didn’t call it exercise or balance training as children, but that is exactly what we were doing. Those activities helped us develop our balance and stability as children, and similar activities can help keep the brain and muscles working together as we age.
A favorite part of my week is teaching the Better Balance & Movement Workshops here at Ballet Austin. The participants range in age from about 40 to 80. I love it! Together we challenge our brains and our muscles to do what we want them to do. And then we laugh when they don’t always cooperate. I especially love to see people coming back each week sharing how they practiced at home, and the improvement they notice in their balance.
Thanks to partial underwriting from Scott & White Healthcare, Ballet Austin is on a mission to bring better balance to adults as part of its core value to encourage lifelong health and well-being. We desire to provide programming that will motivate and encourage people of all ages to be active! I once read this quote, “Movement requires balance. Sitting does not.
On September 13, 2012 the US Senate passed a resolution declaring September 22, 2012 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day set aside to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults.
There are many ways for people of all ages to stay active at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Interested in the Better Balance & Movement Workshop? A new session begins October 31.
Sunday, September 16th, 2012
A good workout is better than a half done workout and a half done workout is better than none at all.
We live in a time when it’s all or nothing. We apply the “all or nothing” mentality to how we eat, sleep, and work out. This past week there was a day I was not able to go for my 60 minute. Instead of going for 20 I stayed home and sat on the couch.
Think about that for a minute. For example, does it really make sense that if we eat healthy all day and then blow it with a gooey candy bar in the afternoon, we just throw up our hands and say, “oh well, I ruined my diet for today so might as well eat junk the rest of the day”? Does it really make sense to commit to exercise every day, do great for weeks, and then laziness sets in so motivation goes out the window and you turn into a couch potato again? It happens so quickly! We miss a workout, eat unhealthy, and so on. Defeat leads to derailing.
It’s easy to make excuses not to exercise. Even when we know how good it is for us, we just find it easier to not. We’re too busy, too tired, too…whatever to exercise. And rather than put in even half the time or half the effort, we do nothing.
I know how easy it is to get trapped into the “I give up mentality. If I can’t do it all, then I will do nothing.”
So let’s flip our thoughts.
What if we look at it this way: In stead of focusing on a goal to exercise for one hour a day, we focus on a goal to limit our sitting and sleeping time to 23 hours a day! Sounds a bit ridiculous but it just might work. Out of 24 hours in a day I can only sit or sleep for 23. Maybe I’m not too busy!
Adding a bit of practical advice to this thinking; when you are in a slump, catch yourself quickly and choose to get back on track right away. So you have slacked off a bit lately; no big deal! It happens to all of us. Accept it as a part of the ups and downs in life. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The key is to get back on track before it becomes a lifelong habit. When it comes to food, instead of eating the whole carton of ice cream, feel terrible, defeated, and give up, realise you made a bad choice, and then follow it up with a new one; a better choice. Put a stop to your defeated thoughts before they stop you! Sometimes it’s harder to do than others, but once you recognise it’s a problem, it gets easier.
Start again and move on. Your success is the accumulation of continual good choices and effort over time. The key is to make sure you have more good days then bad ones! Don’t let a bad moment, day, week, or month undo all your hard work. Start each day fresh. And remember, doing half as much is still better than doing nothing at all.
What kind of a workout will you have this week? What will you do each day to limit your sitting and sleeping to only 23 hours? Make a choice!
Looking for something new and fresh to motivate you this week? Check out Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School’s dance & fitness classes and state-of-the-art Pilates Center!
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Vicki Parsons, Director of Schools Operations & BCS Program Director
You have heard from several Ballet Austin staff members about their likes and dislikes and challenges when it comes to working out. Now it’s my turn.
Let me go on record. I do like to work out. My story begins with a quote I posted last month on the BCS facebook page: “Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
The quote was for me. While my body loves a good workout; needs to be challenged physically, my brain and my body don’t always agree. My brain has a mind of its own. My body loves to move anywhere. My brain knows the importance of a good workout, but has a people and group exercise fear. The staff fitness challenge to get Ballet Austin staff into BCS group classes was my idea. I went into it knowing that I am not a fan of group exercise. I love to run and hike, but I go solo. I exercise for the physical benefit, the stress relief, and time to get away and think. I don’t need people around when I sweat. It’s out of my comfort zone. But…I had committed to this challenge.
Dreading it for a week, I finally went to Turbo Kick®. And that’s when the conversation began between my body and my brain.
Brain: “Will they wonder why I am there, try to talk to me?” Out of my comfort zone; I felt the fear.
Body: “Do it anyway! Yes, there were other people in the studio, but stand in the back and nobody will notice you.”
I tried hiding behind Kody Jauron, Ballet Austin II dancer and BCS instructor. Music started, instructions were shouted out, and there we went…hard core cardio-burning 45 minutes!
Body: “Doing okay…although this is a mean workout.” I discovered I am a bit uncoordinated (my colleagues might laugh at the phrase ”a bit”) I was definitely challenged!
Brain: In intimidation and resist mode, assuming that everyone already knew what to do, “Turbo Kick® is easy for them; they are probably laughing at me.”
The intimidation factor is why I dragged not only Kody, but my husband Mark to the class. We could all struggle together; I would not be alone in my inadequacies. Brain winning the battle? Almost! But Brain begins to come around…
Brain: “Everybody else in the studio is far too busy worrying about getting it right to notice me. No one is trying to talk to me. Maybe if I am so self-conscious, imagining every eyeball is focused on me, somebody else might be thinking the same thing.”
About halfway through the class I looked around and realized that everyone was sweating and breathing hard. We were all in the same place…sweat dripping, muscles screaming, dying!
Brain overcoming! “WHO CARES what other people think? Maybe in their heads they also hear, ‘I’m embarrassed! I think I may throw up! I can’t do the moves right. Is everyone staring at me? Why am I here?’
Brain and Body: “In the end it doesn’t matter. I got one of the most awesome workouts of my life! I felt the fear. I kept kicking and boxing and pushing my muscles. I burned hundreds of calories.”
The 45 minutes flew by and at the end…I was ready for the end…I walked away with memories of the fun music, the encouraging and challenging words of Tara, BCS Turbo Kick® instructor. I survived! And I felt a sense of camaraderie with my fellow survivors. Admittedly tired, my body felt great. When I stepped outside and felt the 100 degree heat hit my face it crossed my mind that an indoor workout is a great thing during summers in Texas.
Whatever your challenge, find the workout that fits your fitness personality, your interests, and your schedule. The workout where your brain and body will agree.
“Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Friday, July 27th, 2012
I do not have another colleague at Ballet Austin who has more enthusiam than Eric Caruthers. Eric worked in the Schools Office at Ballet Austin as the Registrar for several year before recently joining the Production Department, but not before winning the staff “Woo Hoo” award! But Eric is the first to tell you that the spirit of “woo hoo!” is not enough to conquer his many excuses for not working out. As a participant of the ”Get Moving Challenge” Eric figured out what it would take to get his workout in…
Eric Caruthers, Ballet Austin Production Assistant
“I am too busy…I don’t have a clean workout outfit…I just ate…I’ve done enough exercise this week…I’ll start tomorrow…I’ll start next week…”
These are my excuses. I own them. I use them daily to tell myself to avoid or put off exercising.
Funny thing is, if I don’t listen to myself, and I actually do workout – whether Zumba®, running, yoga or biking – I love it!
I especially love group exercise. This might be partially due to the fact that I am an extreme extrovert. A room full of people completely energizes me. But if that’s true, then why is it I’m hardly ever in class…a room full of people exercising? Because there’s a voice in my head. It feeds me excuses – and I listen! It’s that voice that stops me from getting my move on.
So knowing what I know about myself – that I love people and that when I actually begin my workout I have a great time – I have figured out how to conquer the voice. People! If I invite a friend to go with me (or 2 or 3 – the more the merrier) it not only makes it a whole lot more fun, it adds accountability to the mix. I am not going to let a friend down!
That became my strategy during the staff “Get Moving Challenge“. I roped in Melissa, Tim, and anyone who would join me to take a class. And it worked! I went and had a blast!
Now I have figured out that is what makes the BCS a perfect place for me to exercise! It’s full of people! I have taken Beginning Ballet, Feldenkrais®, Theater Dance, Zumba®, Jazz Fit, Body Sculpting, Ballet Fit, and Turbo Kick®. My personal favorites are Zumba® and Turbo Kick® because of the energy and sense of fun.
I am not the most graceful person when it comes to dancing, but that’s ok because for me it isn’t about grace – it’s about moving! It’s about having fun! It’s about moving and having fun with friends. I love it! That’s what I love about taking classes at the BCS.
It is time to STOP the excuses, call a friend and commit! Dial 512…
Want to come take a class with me?
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
I’m a bit envious of my colleague Pei-San Brown, Ballet Austin’s Community Education Director. Besides being able to walk down the hall from her office to take a class, in the evenings and on weekends she just walks across the street for a great workout! No excuses for her! And as you will see, she takes advantage of every opportunity to take a class. See what Pei-San has to say about living downtown and working out…
Pei-San Brown, Community Education Director
Moving downtown was the best thing I ever did to increase my opportunities for fitness. Everything I need on a daily basis is within a 15-minute walk of either work or home, and because I’m a person who prefers taking dance and fitness classes to working out on my own in a gym, having access to classes and workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School is absolutely ideal. There are so many different kinds of classes and workshops at various times of the day, I’m always finding new ways to challenge myself and to work out muscles that I never knew I had…I get to do so with my neighbors, who are a lot of fun!
It’s hard to pick my favorite class. I love Ballet Fit, Zumba®, Turbo Kick®, Below the Belt, and Arms & Abs. The best part is that because they are drop-in classes, anyone can attend them at a moment’s notice! Ballet Fit appeals to me because I can take a basic ballet barre and get my abs, arms, and glutes worked out at the same time. I love Zumba® and Turbo Kick® because of their strong emphasis on choreography (although they’re easy because you don’t have to memorize anything – just follow along!). Turbo Kick® is especially good for increasing my stamina – it’s my new favorite class! And I’m a die-hard fan of Below the Belt and Arms & Abs! I would NEVER work out these groups of muscles by myself for 45 minutes straight – it’s so much more motivating to work out with a great group of folks like my fabulous neighbors, and an instructor who pushes you to challenge yourself!
I also love all of the Pilates workshops, which are offered in 4 to 6 week increments. Pilates Mat Workout, Pilates Theraband® Stretch, and Pilates Ballet Barre Workout are staples in my weekly fitness routine. The great thing is that they are offered 4 days of the week, so just like the drop-in classes, I can pick the workshops that fit my schedule and simply walk over to Ballet Austin just a few minute before class starts.
My personal fitness goals are to walk everyday for at least an hour, and to take dance or fitness classes five times a week. Because of my proximity to the BCS and the dynamic class and workshop schedule offered at the BCS (including Saturdays and Sundays), I’ve found that fulfilling (and sometimes exceeding) these goals is a piece of cake and a lot of fun!
Do you work or live downtown? Join me for a class!
Thursday, July 19th, 2012
We are going to be wrapping up the Ballet Austin staff “Get Moving Challenge” soon. Several of my colleagues have already shared their challenges with you. It’s been fun and motivating to read their stories! Next on the agenda is Ballet Austin’s new Marketing Director Tim Dillon. Quite an initiation for Tim! Check out his blog…
Tim Dillon, Marketing Director
I am one of the newest employees at Ballet Austin and the staff challenge is the first time I’ve taken classes at the Butler Community School. After agreeing to participate, I found myself staring at the expansive list of drop-in classes available, wondering where to start.
As someone who is not a fan of the typical gym workout, I tend to find the repetitiveness of lifting weights and running on a treadmill a bit boring. As a result, I’m always looking for a workout that mixes cardio along with building muscle. So, I was immediately drawn to the class offerings of Pilates, arms and abs conditioning and below the belt.
With the clock ticking on my assignment due date and no decision made on my part as to where to begin, my colleague Eric Caruthers walked past my office one day and asked, “Jazz Fit class tomorrow night?” Without really thinking about it, I responded, “Sure!” What I didn’t think through was the fact that I have never before danced to choreography. Of course, I’ve spent many, many nights “cutting a rug” on a nightclub dance floor, but have never followed dance steps to the instruction of someone else. This was going to be interesting.
The very experienced Meghan Gill Bowman leads the 60-minute Jazz Fit class. We started with a 30-minute warm up similar to a fast-paced Yoga class. We did a lot of full-body stretching and lengthening in yoga-esque moves, and went from twists, to push ups, to lunges and beyond so fast that I worked up a sweat immediately. Just when my body was giving in and tired, we started the choreography, dancing to one of Madonna’s most recent releases “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” (One of my least favorite Madonna songs of all time, but that’s commentary for a different blog.) I learned one thing really quickly: I’m not very good at remembering choreography., and sometimes had trouble remembering what was supposed to come next… Was it a kick, or turn or a shimmy? But it didn’t matter that I couldn’t remember. I was laughing, sweating and thoroughly enjoying the class. Later, and especially the next day, I could feel the results in my tightest muscles, the hamstrings.
My second class was chosen mostly out of convenience. I normally find myself being fairly lazy on Sundays, but Ballet Fit at 1:00pm seemed like a perfect fit. Being late enough in the day makes it easy to take care of errands and eat a full meal beforehand. And it’s fairly low impact so I didn’t expect it to wear me out. Plus, I was also excited to learn some of the ballet lingo that is so often used around the office.
The very graceful Kaitlyn Moise leads this fun class that again had a very familiar feel to Yoga. Kaitlyn had us go through fast rounds of stretching and warming up, much of which I found myself unable to keep up. When Kaitlyn would call for and count 10 push-ups I could make it through 6 or 7, but it was okay. Again I was laughing and sweating, and felt the burn again in my hamstrings, so I knew I was getting a good work out.
For my final class in the challenge I thought I better get back into my comfort zone and steer away from choreography this time, so I took Arms and Abs Conditioning – a very popular weekday morning class. Led by the sweet and passionate Brittany Harpole, the class uses a lot of props including a rubber ball, weights and various tensions of Therabands. Brittany led the 45-minute class on a fast-paced round of various exercises that focused, of course, on our arms and abs, but I also felt the workout in my back, shoulders, and legs. It was high energy and fun. Again, I found out there were some reps that I could not complete, but it just gave me motivation to want to come back again and again until I can do it all.. It wasn’t until two days after the class that I felt the effects… Especially when I coughed or laughed.
This staff challenge was the perfect motivation to throw myself into classes that I may not normally have considered. I encourage you to think outside your comfort zone and come try a drop-in class at BCS soon.
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
If you haven’t noticed, the Ballet Austin staff “Get Moving Challenge” has revealed the challenges people face in their quest to to to be active on a regular basis. Today we get to hear from my colleague Eleanor Bartosh who works in the Marketing Department at Ballet Austin.
Eleanor Bartosh, Digital Media Manager
I am a planner, through and through. Whether its meals for the week, Saturday morning errands or vacation agendas, you name it and it’s probably on my calendar somewhere… most likely a few weeks in advance. Because of this – on top of being just plain busy – it’s often hard for me to just “hit the gym after work” on any given day.
Enter in the BCS Staff Challenge. I filled the role of your typical 20-something overachiever: I work a lot, and outside of the office, my free time is usually spent running to happy hours instead of running on the trail. Clearly things had to change.
For the challenge I took Zumba® (insert hip shake), Body Sculpting (not as scary as it sounds) and I tested out a workshop called Pilates Thera-Band® Stretch (my favorite).
All of my friends and co-workers are well aware that I’m not cardio person (my gym time is spent on a yoga mat), but I’ve been dying to try Zumba® for months now. It looked like a fun way to work up a sweat and target your ‘problem areas’ – and, yes, even 24-year-olds have those. It proved to be both of those things and more. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, but it didn’t matter as I shook my hips and wiggled across the floor for 45 straight minutes. Our instructor Rebekah Fowler was sassy, sweet and totally inspiring. Tip: Bring a water bottle and a friend and laugh at yourselves in the mirror.
The next day found me in Body Sculpting, another of our drop-in fitness classes. Thankfully I spent the morning on a mat rather than tripping over my tennis shoes, doing a variety of Pilates-inspired exercises designed to target muscles ALL over your body. I loved the full workout and my hips and shoulders were pleasantly sore later that evening. Tip: Dress comfortably (workout tights are great) and don’t worry about wearing sneakers.
To switch things up just a bit, I sampled one of our popular Pilates workshops called Pilates Thera-Band® Stretch – and let me just say… it was INCREDIBLE and by far one of the most enjoyable workouts I’ve ever done next to yoga. Despite getting sweatier than expected (sorry in advance to my 2pm coffee date), the 45-minute lunchtime session FLEW by and I found myself smiling the whole time… even while my legs were shaking and my abs were cramping. Taught by Company Dancer Elise Pekarek, it’s quick, fun and effective. I will definitely be back (and you should come, too!). Tip: Bring a towel and your own band if you’re allergic to latex.
It’s Thursday and I can’t believe I’ve already worked out three times this week – or that I can already feel the benefit! With every class I feel stronger, I’m sleeping better and my abs are starting to show some definition again. Which makes me wonder: Maybe this whole ‘exercising regularly’ thing IS worth it after all…