The Body Sculpt Class - What is it? Who is it for?

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I'm teaching a body sculpt class three times a week now at Melt Massage & Bodywork, an awesome massage space that has a beautiful room for yoga, pilates, workshops and me :) For most of what they offer, the class description is straight forward or people don't even have to read it because it speaks for itself. Prenatal yoga, Feldenkrais, Reiki, postpartum workshops, Pilates... I wanted to add something into the mix that is similar but different. A class that allows people to move continuously for 60 minutes without a Bootcamp or Crossfit feel where you push through exercises, in competition with yourself and everyone else. But rather exercises in which we work together and individually, making them easier when we work together. For both of us. But with an option to always challenge ourselves, too. Every class ends with yoga to stretch the muscles that we used and open up areas of the body which may be stuck and which - once released - feel so good and thereby make our mind feel good. At the very end: Savasana... everyone loves a few minutes to relax.

Melt is set up with everything you and I need. Therabands for sculpting and lengthening, of course yoga mats, blocks and bolsters for restorative poses at the end and blankets to sit on while we do ab work. It has a great group of instructors and where else have you seen a reception area that has water, apples and candy?

So who is it for? I've seen a lot of women taking my class and I think men believe that if it doesn't involve weights but mainly your own body weight, it may be too easy for them. But that's not the case. I have seen grown men struggle when I showed them exercises, that pregnant women did with ease and grace and anywhere we work with our own body weight, it can get pretty challenging. After the session, you will already feel, that areas that we exercised feel tighter, your core will be burning, but you won't be exhausted. You will be sweaty and relaxed and proud of what you accomplished.

Having studied many different disciplines, I am convinced that each practiced individually has tremendous potential but combining them is even more effective. Because there is no set routine, your body can not plateau and get used to being worked in the same way as previously. It needs to adapt and become smarter. And that's what we want, a continuously evolving body, that is smart, strong, flexible and ready to take on any task that life throws at us. You will also gradually see your waist whittling away and your arms and legs becoming more defined as an added bonus.

The biggest advantage of working your body in this way is, that it is fun! Exercise doesn't become a dreadful chore, but we look forward to it. We see results in our strength, cardio-vascular capacity and flexibility. The positive side effects also include the influence that this kind of training has on other disciplines. So it can be a great add-on for runners, triathletes, yogis, swimmers, etc.

I hope to see you at one of the classes. If you haven't yet, make sure to sign up for my newsletter with updates on health, food, new classes and much more.

Like my FB page if you liked this blog post, comment and share.

And come stop by at Melt - more information can be found here: www.bit.ly/chittamelt

I dare you to sweat with me!

xxR

Muffin Top Be Gone Exercises (Video)

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10 minutes to help you get rid of that pesky Muffin Top. The exercises focus on strengthening the core, deep twists and finish with stretching out the area around the butt and the waist. Let me know if you like it, comment, share and be well!

Simple (Prenatal) Exercise Routine for a hot day

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It is September 11th, an important date in the US and specifically in New York City. Exactly 12 years ago this city and the world watched in horror at the events that unfolded in the Financial District and later mourned together all those who were lost and their families who were affected. Today it is also unusually hot and humid, not the weather we were expecting in September after an unseasonally cool August and people have been dragging their feet and feeling heavy and uncomfortable.

I was training with one of my pregnant clients today who is due in 3 weeks (!!!) and who is in great shape but was feeling tired like me. The following is a routine of five exercises that energized us but also wasn't too strenuous and can be done by pregnant and non- pregnant people alike.

Seesaw Stretch:

Sit in a wide legged seat and either hold hands with a partner across from you or interlace your fingers and point the palms out in front of you. Inhale straightening your back, sitting tall and exhale leaning forward as much as you can without collapsing in your back. If you do this exercise with a partner, they assist you by holding your arms up. Together you should get into a rhythm of inhaling/ exhaling sitting tall and leaning forward. Do this for 2-3 minutes.

Simple prenatal exercise

All fours / leg lift:

Come to all fours and do a few cat and cows (inhale arch your back, look up and exhale round your back and look towards your thighs). With a neutral back, lift the right leg, knee at a 90 degree angle and foot flexed. Lift the leg up and open up the hip as if you were kicking something behind and above your left hip. Repeat 25 times and then switch to the left side.

Supported side plank core work:

Come into a side plank on your forearm. Lower and lift your hips with feet stacked and legs long and strong 10-15 times on each side. When you are coming down, avoid touching your mat.

Inner thigh work:

Lie on your back and if you are pregnant elevate your hips by placing a yoga block under your hips. Turn you feet all the way out in opposite directions. Then cross them while engaging your inner thighs. Bring your legs apart and then cross them. Switch between the right leg on top and the left one. Do 3 sets of 30.

Lizard into pigeon into ankle over knee:

In a low lunge with the right leg in front bring both of your palms to the inside of your leg. Keep the back knee up and then lower down to your elbows if possible. Breathe deeply. After 10 breaths scoot your right foot over to the left and set yourself up in pigeon pose. Fold over your front leg and take 10 deep breaths. Then, swing your left leg forward and cross the ankle over the right knee. Melt over your legs and relax. Switch sides and repeat the routine on the left.

Simple prenatal exercise

Extra pose for pregnant ladies to stretch out the achy side and hips:

Stand about arms length from a wall or tree if you are outside. Face it sideways and place the inside foot outside the outside one, crossing over the front of the ankle. Place your hands as low on the wall as you can and press your hips outward. Then switch sides.

Simple prenatal exercise

I hope you enjoy the routine, that it gives you energy, some strength and relieves some minor aches and pains. Stay cool!

xxR

Words on Wednesday: 5 ways to be more approachable

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I think I have mentioned it often how important my coach was to me. He was a mixture of a friend and a father figure after my dad passed early. He was a mentor and someone I could trust blindly and still would today... Connections like these are hard to find. Admittedly I am not a very trusting person and some of my close friends now would attest to that. They all initially interpreted my (intense) personality and lack of openness with arrogance and it usually took a long time for me to let them in... In NYC where every store clerk asks you how you are doing and where people greet you with "what's up?", I used to earnestly respond to the question and shake my head saying that I had seen better days. Upon which I would realize that it was a rhetorical question and the other person had long since moved on. My bad. I am not trusting but that doesn't mean that I am a superficial brute or not interested in you. It just takes me a tad longer to let my guard down while I explore if it's safe.

And now, I'm a personal trainer and my goal is to be approachable, happy, positive and a good motivator. Last week I had asked great clients of mine for a referral/ testimonial of the work with me and they came back SO detailed and beautiful they made my heart sing. It was a major acknowledgement that I am capable of creating an environment in which people enjoy working out and trust my knowledge and guidance. And may I just say, I am very fortunate to work with amazing people that make my job something I look forward to and come out of humming!

So how did I bring about something in my professional life, that I have had trouble with in my personal life? 5 things that I am applying more and better in my personal life now, too! Here's the breakdown:

  1. Wait and See: I used to jump into relationships head first, spilling my secrets, family history and many embarrassing details way too early. In a professional relationship that's not possible and that's a good thing. Waiting to see what people are like, if we get a along and are on the same page is something that I have taken from my work to my home. And it works.
  2. Look them in the Eye: we as a society don't like it. Eye contact feels intimidating, threatening almost and must be avoided at all times. But our eyes are the windows to our soul, so how could we? Looking at people for real means seeing through them but also showing them a certain vulnerability which will make them trust us more. It helps me to see whether someone I work with is tired, happy, exuberant, annoyed, etc. And I can respond appropriately.
  3. Lower your Voice: have you noticed that animals respond to lower voices with more calm? Horses slow down when we tell them and dogs obey commands better than if they are with a young child that shrieks and acts erratic. Low voices are perceived as sexy and warm. Don't we all wish we could make everyone swoon like Angelina? Even though we may resent their effect on men, but we want to be their friend, too... Check it out: Top Ten Women with Deep Voices
  4. Touch: The favourite part of many people, is Savasana usually because I or the yoga teacher gives us a quick kneading of the shoulders, touches our temples or pulls our neck straight. Humans need touch, we thrive on it. In families and friendships and of course relationships, happy hormones are released through cuddles and other physical forms of intimacy. It makes us all sigh when we see a senior couple that still have a very tender relationship, when they hold hands and lean their head on the others' shoulder.
  5. Laugh: for real! Don't fake it. Laugh and make it infectious. Laughter is great for a strong core and sharing deep gurgling belly laughs is a connection that is almost impossible to cut. Whatever happens in the future, you can be sure that you will remember those over any argument, disagreement or extra set of reps that I pushed you through!

So now, armed with this knowledge, I dare you to deepen your relationship with that person that your intuition has told you by now is safe, look them in the eye, grab their shoulders, tell them a joke (deep voice!) and then laugh it out together.

Just writing this puts a smile on my face.

xxR

 

Monday Moves: Get back in the saddle/ Sich wieder aufschwingen

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I went riding yesterday. Unfortunately since moving to NYC, it has been sporadic and this time I was aching to finally do a little bit of obstacle jumping again. And I did. A small jump trotting and two in a row cantering. It's like riding a bicycle, you don't forget. There's the hand-eye coordination, giving the horse impulses, verbal and physical, looking at the obstacles, not turning the corner too narrow to stay in a easy canter, looking ahead, lifting out of the saddle (just a bit) and then take off :) I am the happiest person in the world today. I'm also super sore. And if this experience has reminded me of one thing it is that all it takes often to overcome set backs or difficult situations is to giddy up or to be less literal, to get back in the saddle. To try again and to ultimately stick with things until they become a routine. Then, when the routine is there... tackle something new.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Gestern bin ich reiten gegangen. Leider kann ich das nicht mehr so oft, seit ich nach NYC gezogen bin und diesmal war ich sehr aufgeregt, weil ich endlich wieder Springreiten wollte. Und ich hab es getan. Ein kleiner Sprung aus dem Trab und zwei hinter einander weg aus dem Gallopp. Und was kann ich sagen, es ist wie Radfahren, man vergisst es nicht. Da ist einmal die Hand-Augen Koordination, dem Pferd Impulse zu geben, sowohl mit Worten als auch nur mit dem Körper, sich das Hindernis anzusehen, die Kurve nicht zu eng zu nehmen um in einem leichten Gallopp zu bleiben, vorausschauen, sich aus dem Sattel erheben (nur ein wenig) und dann der Absprung :) Ich bin heute die glücklichste Person auf der Welt. Und ich habe mega Muskelkater. Und gestern hat mich besonders an eines erinnert, nämlich dass es oft nur die eine Möglichkeit gibt, des sich wieder Aufschwingens um sich von einer schwierigen Situation zu befreien oder schwierige Umstände zu überwinden. Man muss sich wieder aufschwingen. Es wieder versuchen und im Ende dabei bleiben bis es zur Routine wird. Dann, wenn die Routine wieder da ist.... tu etwas Neues.

"Mut ist nicht immer ein lautes Gebrüll. Mut ist manchmal die leise Stimme, die am Ende des Tages spricht: “Morgen versuche ich es wieder”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Words on Wednesday: Less is More

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I just stumbled across an old friend from Uni online, who commented on a Facebook post saying that "we have lost the awareness to be excited by the little things"... Ever since I left my office job, I realized that while I'm doing what I really love, time slows down. I have an awesome session with a client and the hour seems much longer (I think for them too, depending on what we're doing). No but in a positive sense I cherish moments much more.  Before, I obviously also had really great days at the office, but the simple setting which was an office that forced me to be at my desk at certain times of the day and dictated that I was to have lunch around 12-2pm made me really look forward to 6pm and the freedom that came with it.

I tried to bring food to the office to not have to rely on food chains because ultimately in a 5 day week I would have at least one, twice. I'm not good at leaving things on my plate, so the places dictated how much I was eating... Now I take my time to prepare breakfast and some of the results you see on here. I enjoy eating it, I go workout, by the time I come back I really look forward to preparing a nice lunch. And I cook most evenings. There was never really time for that before.

Even though I work physically and mentally harder getting Chitta off the ground, I run around, I work out with my clients and I try to keep up with my own exercise routine, I feel less tired than I often felt after a whole day at the desk. My anxiety levels are lower even though every new client feels like going on a first date, my hair and skin are healthier and my digestion... well, you know :)

My friend's comment was on an article about how we consume a lot these days and I must admit as a budding entrepreneur I consume much less these days. And interestingly I'm happier.

This NY Times article also weighs in on how we have become a society of consumers and how the author scaled back which - you guessed it - made him happy.

How does all this relate to what I'm doing?

I once met a client who told me she was working out six times a week, she had changed trainers a few times, she did her own cardio but still she said "I don't run faster than some New Yorkers walk".

In my trainings, I try to bring as much versatility to each session as I can. Often I switch up exercises after only a few sets or combine them and I try to squeeze the maximum result out of each proposed exercise. And I am seeing peoples' results. My pregnant ladies felt energized after sessions albeit challenged, other people have lost weight and others were able to increase their strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. All of them - if I had them do their very first session again today - would do it without breaking a sweat and hardly being out of breath.

These results make me incredibly happy! And they show that by tickling my clients with these 1-3 hours per week, which is easily incorporated into their busy schedules, we are making amazing progress in a relatively short time. Think of their muscles being excited too by the diverse, rapidly changing movement and because they are happy, they interact better, within (intramuscular coordination) and between each other (intermuscular coordination). It all creates a well oiled machine. Moreover, because the results stick, this new regimen becomes sustainable: it's fun to see yourself transform.

I strongly believe in breaking the loop of living to work, rewarding ourselves by consuming more, buying more, eating more and ultimately feeling obliged to exercise more.

I dare you to work to LIVE, then the work itself becomes rewarding, consuming becomes a luxury and eating is a part of a delicious routine that creates balance in our body... a strong body that loves to be tickled regularly.

xxR

PS: Every now and then, stop and smell the flowers...

Monday Moves: Exercises for Lower Back Relief (Video)

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I am very excited that this first Youtube video is online, now! I hope it will be helpful to relieve some of your issues around the lower back. You can increase the number of repetitions per exercise as you see fit.

And I would love to hear more from you about it, in the comments below.

xxR

5 ways to get back to a healthy back

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I mention in my about section that I suffered from sciatica... It started at the ripe age of 28 and I had no idea what was happening. I was in a very stressful office environment under a lot of pressure to make a project happen and suddenly my leg started aching. Having just run a half marathon I assumed I hadn't trained appropriately or over-trained or simply wasn't young enough anymore to bounce back without problems as I would have ten years earlier.

With more pain that wouldn't stop, other thoughts came up: "it's the long term effects of training so hard as a young person", "I have a serious injury that I keep aggravating by exercising", "maybe I should try yoga", "ouch, stretching hurts- yoga is not the solution".

I became increasingly alarmed and stopped running, by this time the pain was shooting down my hamstring into the back of my knee and all the way down into my pinky toe. The result was that I couldn't sit in an office chair for many hours a day and worse, even lying became a problem.

I spent hundreds of dollars on heat patches, arnica, traumeel, tiger balm, eventually acupuncture and a chiropractor. I tried for as long as I could to stay away from pain medication to avoid getting hooked on them. What I didn't know at the time because it had never happened to me, was that chronic pain can cause a large number of other related issues: my digestion became horrible, irregular and it caused weight gain, any meal caused painful bloating. This was closely followed by skin problems, my face became a minefield of acne that I couldn't get under control, so I stopped going 'bare' and used more make up (I don't have to tell you that that wasn't a great idea). Other side effects included fear because I didn't understand what was happening and people suggested herniated and/or bulging discs, anxiety trying to still do well in my job and ultimately a slight onset of depression because nothing worked.

I am not trying to depress you here, but this is to show you how bad it was for me... Eventually I found out what sciatica was (I was way too young for it, but it is happening more to younger people).

And here is, what helped me:

  1. Realizing that there is usually a psychological component to physical pain that becomes chronic. I had gone through a breakup, work was intense and I tried to do it all at once, all by myself, and as fast as possible.
  2. Finding out that my pelvis and therefore my hips and shoulder strap were about 2 inches higher on one side (no wonder I was in pain). An amazing chiropractor placed a finger on my right hip and then one on my left, stepped back and showed me...
  3. Accepting that anti-inflammatory medication when used responsibly to avoid pain and manage it, will help. I was always worried about addiction.
  4. Walking away from doctors that were ready to operate, prescribe incredibly strong pain medication for open-ended periods of time and generally anyone who told me that I would never be well again.
  5. Listening to myself and addressing the root of the problem, namely the anxiety that was caused by my job, the stress that came with it and learning relaxation techniques (I went back to autogenic training, tried meditation and learned how to do yoga without overstretching which can aggravate lower back issues). Also, mindfully removing those same triggers from my personal life, carving out 'me time' and not being rushed.

I get VERY few onsets of sciatica these days, a whole lot of things have to happen all at once to bring on an attack but I've also learned exercises and tools to get back to pain free. It took 2 years to get to where I am now. And I am writing this article precisely because I don't want people to wait as long as I did, to take action and hopefully avoid surgery.

The NY Times Health and Science section posted an article today on how back pain is being over-treated. I will be posting a video of a few exercises to help level the pelvis and restore balance in the hips, soon; to contribute to healing naturally and empowering individuals like you, to stop the pain.

I hope you will like it and mostly of course, that you don't need it in the first place!

Today I ask you to tuck your pelvis and engage your core!

xxR

 

 

Flexibilité - bent repeatedly without injury or damage

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I work out with a person who is incredibly poised, funny and fierce. She is French and she's pregnant. Every time I cycle home after a session with her I've noticed I'm feeling happy and strong. Our 60 minutes together are times of the day I look forward to and seeing her thrive in her pregnancy and energized when I leave her is an added bonus that leaves me profoundly grateful for the job I'm doing.

She has taught me other things than the French words she sprinkles into the session  when she's counting or explaining something, she has also introduced me to more flexibility.

Now if you've read about how the anatomy of a woman changes, you will know that she becomes flexible and stretching is much easier than before. Take a woman who did Ashtanga yoga and was able to wrap her leg around her head pre pregnancy and you have the polar opposite of my tight hamstrings.

A few weeks ago I introduced an exercise where we sit opposite each other wide legged, holding each others' hands and rocking back and forth with deep breaths. It is said that the motion releases tension in the lower back especially during pregnancy and it aids digestion.

She would laugh at the little motion that was happening on my end and ask me if she should pull me more. I said no. But within a few weeks my flexibility increased nonetheless. Which got me thinking.

I do yoga several times a week, I am an avid runner and usually stretch afterwards and I lead an active lifestyle in which I try to keep flexible as well as strong. Still, my hamstrings and hips are always my tightest areas. But there are times when I don't overthink it, when they are more open and usually that is when I'm relaxed and happy and full of gratitude for my life and my surroundings.

As a student, practicing fencing, I would do splits as part of my stretching often, I would plop down laughing into a hurdle seat (no hands) come back up to my feet turn and sit down again on the opposite leg. My coach incorporated a lot of gymnastics into my training to make it more diverse and fun and so I wouldn't notice how we strengthened my core and upper body in exactly the right places for the swimming which was also part of the Modern Pentathlon. I did handstands, cartwheels, handsprings and was elastic as a Haribo gummybear :) .

Now I wouldn't want to blame my difficulties now on age, but rather on a state of mind that these days I have to switch on more consciously. It seems contradictory to force oneself to be playful and easy but I've found that giving the brain an impulse to change direction works wonders for its physical ability, too. The tumbling and falling that results from trying things playfully, returns the favour and makes us giggle.

Somewhere along the way of growing up, I have lost some of that playfulness, I have had painful losses in the last few years and life in general can sometimes be unrelenting. Being an 'expat' has meant that I needed to adapt to a new surrounding when my friends back home were settling down. However, I have made a few drastic changes; among them the decision to pursue my passion with Chitta Wellness. So far, it has been a great change in direction and with it a lot of play has come back into my life. I am currently a work in progress in this department but with the help of old people and new people and the incredible enthusiasm they have shown for what I am building and what I continue to create, I catch myself tapping my foot lightly while humming a tune, much more often.

I dare you to do the same... Play on!