Getting Fit in the Age of Instagram

By Devra Swiger

Not a day goes by when I fail to peruse my Instagram feed only to see long legged beauties with sleek sculpted bodies demonstrating moves that even I, with my years of dance training, would never dare do. I ask myself if I wouldn’t try it, how could I ever expect my clients to? The answer is I don’t.

I run a small home-based private Pilates studio in Huntington Beach, Ca a lovely beach community just 30 or so miles south of Los Angeles. Everyone believes that LA and Orange County are trailblazers when it comes to fitness. Everyone believes that fitness trends start in LA and then travel to the rest of the world. But do they really? When I first moved here about 13 years ago, I thought I would see only beautiful people running on the beach or roller skating in the tiniest of shorts. I was wrong. True there are a lot of beautiful and fit people at the beach, but for the most part, people look like people.

The problem with fitness in the age of social media is that everyone feels they need to look like a 19-year-old super-model before even starting an exercise program. I vividly remember a potential client calling me up asking about Pilates training. This woman then confessed that she was afraid to start a training program because she wasn’t yet fit enough. That’s like not starting a diet because you need to lose weight before starting; It just doesn’t make sense.
A wonderful way to start a fitness program when feeling somewhat intimidated by social media is to start a program with private Pilates. A one on one or even a duet Pilates session is a way to not only learn the system better but to feel less daunted by others. It’s just you and the teacher in the studio so no need to worry about the skinny blonde on the first reformer.

Huntington Beach has a lot of large group classes but starting out with private Pilates even for a few sessions, can make all the difference in the world. That extra attention to detail, the focus on learning how to execute the move correctly, the ability to ask questions and ultimately the lack of competition all make for a great start in learning the Pilates method. Even after a few private sessions, the client feels so much more confident in his or her abilities.

Instagram and Facebook are not going away anytime soon but learning how to do something the right way and not feeling the pressure to look perfect makes for a much easier start to a new healthy program. It’s never too late to get started.

The Benefit of those ‘Get fit’ New Year’s resolutions

Every year about this time, most Americans make a New Year Resolution and most of the time it has something to do with losing weight and getting in shape. “I’m going to stop eating bread and hit the gym every single day,” says one friend. “Well I’m going to enroll in a cardio class and never skip a single session,” says another. Yet around 75% of the time if not more, these resolutions get broken. Why? Because they are too hard to keep and people who are resistant to working out or dieting, are the ones most likely to set unreachable goals.

Getting fit or losing weight is more than something you do for a few weeks. It requires a total lifestyle change and we all know that isn’t easy. There are people who are born to run marathons or camp out at the gym or Pilates studio, and then there is everyone else.

Dieting is equally challenging. There are all sorts of diets out there that include eating meat, not eating meat, fasting, not fasting, and then my favorite, not eating anything at all.  As I tell my clients, don’t start a diet unless you feel it is something you could do while traveling or during the holidays. My personal favorite (and I mean this seriously) is the moderation diet. You avoid certain foods that are simply empty calories and then eat small quantities of the things you like. Small is the key word here.

Getting in shape may sound daunting and time consuming, but if you are doing something you really enjoy or doing with a friend or spouse, it can be a lot of fun. If going to the gym and pumping iron isn’t your thing, try Pilates or yoga. If you hate to sweat, there are things you can do that are not as vigorous. Walking is a great exercise too. Find a 10 to 15-minute program that you can do from home before or after work and do a little more on the weekends. The important thing is you have to really enjoy what you are doing and are able to be consistent. Also remember that some movement is better than none at all.

I am always amazed at how many people flood the gyms in January only to disappear a few months later. They start a program with good intentions, but they did not enjoy it enough to commit.

If getting fit and losing weight are your New Year Resolutions, try something new and see what you think. Cut back on high calorie foods and try to stop drinking soft drinks or eating candy. Join a group Pilates class at a time that works with your schedule. Small changes like these can make a difference.

Whatever you choose, good luck to you and have a happy and healthy 2020!

How to Stay Motivated with Exercise

Devra Swiger doing Pilates on the reformer
Thinking about starting an exercise program is all fine and good unless all you do is think about starting an exercise program. How many times have you or someone you know decided to start a brand new fitness program only to quit after a few weeks, or worse, never start at all. The truth is that most people don’t stick to exercise programs and all those beautiful fit people you see at the gym or the Pilates studio time and time again are in the minority. Yep.
How does one find the motivation to start a program and stick with it day after day and year after year?

woman performing exercises on the pilates chairScheduling is everything:
How many times do you get out of bed and say to yourself ‘Gee, I don’t have time to brush my teeth or take a shower’? Probably not very often (or let’s hope so for the sake of your friends, family and co-workers). We are all actually pretty good at setting aside time as long as it is for things we like, but not as good for things we don’t like. That is why finding an exercise program that works well for you is the best solution. Don’t enroll in hot yoga because your friend’s ex mother-in-law swears by it. Do something because it’s fun and doesn’t seem like exercise. Also, set aside some time in the day whether it is first thing in the morning (my personal favorite time), lunch time or after work. Whatever works within your schedule is the best time. Continue reading “How to Stay Motivated with Exercise”