Mar 26 2015

Mat Pilates: The Key to a Stronger Core

VIDA Fitness Pilates Mat

VIDA Fitness Pilates Mat

The practice of Pilates may date back all the way to the early 1900’s, but the benefits of its practice are far from outdated.

Regularly practicing Pilates (or the art of controlled movements, as founder Joseph Pilates described it) builds core strength, increases flexibility and improves muscular endurance and balance. The exercises focus on spine alignment and core engagement while incorporating proper breathing techniques into the movements.

We have a wide variety of Pilates classes here at VIDA, from standard mat Pilates, Power Pilates with more advanced options, and Pilates Reformer classes available for small group training. Whether you’ve been practicing

Pilates for years or are just starting out, the modifications available make the class perfect for people of all fitness levels.

Beginners don’t need to worry about an intimidating class environment as mat Pilates is one of the most welcoming and easy to jump into classes out there. The moves are slow, controlled and fluid and are always demonstrated by instructors beforehand. Your instructor will walk you through the exercise and also explain exactly when to contract and engage certain muscles to get the most out of the movement.

Since you’re not tied to any heavy equipment or trying to follow complex choreography during Pilates you can totally focus on form and keeping your muscles engaged throughout the class. You’re also in complete control of how far you push yourself in a stretch, how long you hold a pose, the leverage of resistance used, etc.

VIDA Pilates instructor Lauren Fredston-Hermann explains that this ability to control the intensity of movements allows you to continue to challenge your body through Pilates no matter how long you’ve been practicing.

“The wonderful thing about Pilates is that the more familiar you are with the format and the stronger you become, the more the exercises become physically challenging. Pilates is all about setting safe goals – you can go a little deeper and work a little harder every time,” says Lauren.

Pilates is also great for those recovering from injuries or easing into a fitness plan due to its gentle, low-impact nature. You won’t be jumping, running, or putting any stress on your joints during class, so it’s a great option for those with chronic joint pain. And, even those who are already very physically active can benefit from consistent Pilates training since it builds strength and mobility in your spine and core muscles.

It’s also incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating! Even though your muscles will be feeling the burn, the movements are smooth and steady and have a calming effect on your mind and body. You’ll notice after starting to practice regularly a greater sense of body awareness – being more aware of your slouched posture at your desk, for example, or noticing when your hips are unaligned with the rest of your body.

Consistency is key for seeing results from Pilates, so add a class or two to your schedule this week! You’ll soon start feeling a much more strong and balanced core, which will only enhance your performance in other areas as well. We look forward to seeing you on the mat!

Mar 25 2015

Stop Hunting for These 4 Sugar-Packed Easter Treats

easterbunnychocDo you remember our blog post way back in October about four fall treats that would wreck your diet? If not you can go read it here.

But as I’m sure you’ve deduced from the title, I’m back to share the Easter Treats you want to keep in check with Easter being just around the corner.

Even if you don’t celebrate Easter, this post still applies to you because we all know well and good that when we see pastel foil-wrapped goodies we don’t give a flip about if we celebrate the holiday or not.

With that in mind here are the four Easter-themed treats you’ll want to keep at a safe distance.

1.) Cadbury Creme Eggs

Let’s just start with the heavy hitter shall we?

Cadbury Creme Eggs are the ultimate Easter basket classic and to say I’m not going to have one this spring would be a complete lie.

However, with 20 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fat in one egg, it’s best to not indulge in this treat more than one or two times while they’re available in stores.

Although it might be tempting to buy a 5-pack because it’s a better value, just buy it individually so there’s no temptation to inhale back to back eggs.

When it’s phrased like that it sounds pretty gross, so yeah, let’s just keep it to one creme egg.

2.) Chocolate Bunnies

I’m not sure whose idea it was to create one giant piece of chocolate in the shape of a delightful forest creature, but I can be certain they were an evil genius.

Maybe it’s because the chocolate bunnies are one wholly wrapped piece of candy, but I can guarantee I’m not the only one who finds it impossible to spread out the consumption of a chocolate bunny over time.

First I start by breaking off the ears and before you know it it’s less than 24 hours later and I’m down to the bunny’s chocolate tail puff. My point is, the bunnies are hard to portion.

Advice for this confectionary treat: If you don’t have a couple people you can share it with, don’t unwrap one at all. You can have a couple of those mini chocolate foil-wrapped eggs and get your chocolate fix for a lot less damage.

And if someone happens to gift you with a chocolate bunny go ahead and melt it down for chocolate and fruit fondue to make it a tad healthier!

3.) Reese’s Eggs

Yep, Reese’s makes a reappearance.

They’ve really capitalized on holidays by creating those double-the-size and triple-the-fat (and quadruple-the-deliciousness) specialty cups, and the Reese’s Easter eggs are no different than the pumpkins or the trees. One of those is enough to undo your entire cardio session.

But again, this is a treat, which doesn’t equal deprivation, just try sharing your Reese’s egg or saving half for another day. No need to eat the whole thing at once.

peeps4.) Peeps

The folks at Peeps have tried to pull the same stunt as Reese’s by offering up other seasonal varieties like hearts, pumpkins and trees, but somehow Peeps just don’t seem right unless they’re the spring-time variety.

Since many people still regard these as only being available once a year, that means gorging ensues.

Now I don’t care what excuse you give yourself, whether it’s that the marshmallows will get stale if you don’t finish the package within a day or two or that Peeps are mostly air, you don’t need to be eating a whole package of sugar-covered marshmallow chicks.

According to Shape Magazine, “One serving of Peeps is five chick-shaped pieces, each containing 28 calories. This may not seem like a lot, but almost all of these calories come from sugar (one Peep has 7.2 grams of carbs, 6.8 of which are sugar), meaning they’re as empty as it gets.”

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, unless you can share a package or truly control yourself, just don’t buy it.

When it’s all said and done, Easter can create quite a fiasco for your eating habits and there’s just no reason for it.

Don’t fall victim to seasonal candy marketing and remind yourself that these are treats and should be treated as such. Pick your one or two favorite indulgences and be relentless about keeping your portions in check, even if that means buying a package of Peeps, eating two and throwing the rest away.

And if you’re the one who has to buy these treats for your kid’s candy baskets, try incorporating more non-edible items like small toys, tickets to a movie or some cold hard cash. Trust me, the kids won’t complain.

Mar 25 2015

VIDA Instructor Profile: George Cruz

George Cruz

George Cruz

Chances are if you’ve been a part of the VIDA world for awhile, you know who George Cruz is. If you follow him on Instagram (and you should – @geocruzerproject) you’ll see examples of his crazy plyo-pushup tricks, heavy lifting photos, and nothing but love and motivation for his clients and VIDA family. George very much embodies the type of lifestyle we promote at VIDA: fun, positive, motivating and full of hard work!

George, who grew up in the Philippines, spent his whole life playing soccer, running track and participating in a type of Filipino Martial Arts called Kali Stick Fighting – all of which kept him in great physical shape growing up.

“I think I was born doing push-ups,” he says with a laugh.

He moved to the US in 2004, started personal training and quickly found that he had a natural talent for motivating and helping people transform their bodies. After working at other gyms for several years, George was considering a move to California to be closer to family, but Verizon Group Fitness Manager Tami DeVitis found him first.

“I met Tami and the first time she brought me into VIDA I was like a little kid in a candy store. I fell in love with the facility and the people here and started teaching group fitness right away,” says George.

George currently teaches outdoor boot camp, (contact him to sign up if you haven’t yet!) TRX, VIDA Xtreme and Zumba. His classes have become so popular that he has some diehard regulars that never miss a week, which isn’t surprising due to the high-energy and motivating environment George creates.

In George’s outdoor boot camp, for instance, you can expect a competitive group setting with fun (sometimes themed) music and challenging exercises that allow people of all fitness levels to push themselves.

“My classes are hard but fun – I’m all about modifications. For example there are so many different types of push-ups you can do for different fitness levels. I would rather you have good form with a lower weight than try to do too much and have terrible form. Good form equals good results and progression is key,” he stresses.

If you’re lucky enough to train one-on-one with George, you can expect a ton of body weight exercises and compound workouts that combine strength and cardio training. A few of his favorites are TRX and battle ropes since both can be adjusted to hit different muscle groups.

Something that makes George’s teaching style unique is that his training and encouragement doesn’t end after a client’s session is over. George is known for his daily motivational quotes that he shares via email with all his friends, coworkers and clients.

“I like to share quotes that motivate me with others. But I’ll also send you a guilt email if you don’t show up to class,” he jokes.

LaShawn McConnell, a Verizon member who has trained with George, says that his positive attitude is what really sets him apart from other trainers.

George Cruz“George is such a fun but serious trainer. You can tell he has a passion for what he does, and I love receiving his motivational emails. Even though he has such a sweet personality he really makes sure you’re staying on top of your game!” says LaShawn.

Even when he isn’t teaching classes or training clients, he’s most likely still at VIDA doing his own workouts and perfecting his #floorgamefriday skills (if you don’t know what this is, check it out on Instagram and be amazed.) He’s also a big mountain biker and loves to bike to and from work every day!

George’s big personality and constant smile are two things that make him a cherished part of the VIDA family. He says compared with other gyms he’s worked for, the relationships he’s formed with the members and other instructors here are irreplaceable.

“I’m so glad Tami found me when she did. VIDA just kind of pulls you in and makes you a superstar,” he says.

We couldn’t agree more, George!

Mar 23 2015

Cats Corner: Healthy Breakfast

“You can’t think negative thoughts and expect to live a positive life.” –Joel Osteen

Start your day with a healthy breakfast! Men and women who skip breakfast are shown to have a 21% higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Be sure to include fiber and lean protein such as: fruit; veggies; whole grains; eggs; lean meat; nuts; legumes; non-fat yogurt or milk.

• Oatmeal: 1/2 cup dry oats with ¼ cup blueberries, 4 oz. milk, 5 walnuts, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.
• 1 egg
• *portion sizes vary based on energy needs

Mar 23 2015

VIDA Featured Instructor — Lauren Fredston-Hermann

Lauren Fredston-Hermann

Lauren Fredston-Hermann

If you’re on the hunt for some traditional Pilates moves coined by Joseph Pilates himself, look no further than Lauren Fredston-Hermann’s Pilates class, offered at our Metropole, Verizon, City Vista and U Street locations!

Lauren Fredston-Hermann, a New York native new to the DC area has been teaching Pilates at VIDA for several months now, with plans to start teaching Pilates Reformer, VIDA Barre and Zumba in the near future (stay tuned!)

Growing up in New York, Lauren danced for most of her life and attended the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from age 10-18. Lauren has always had a passion for dance but her time at the Theater eventually ran its course, and with the addition of a poorly-timed sprained ankle she decided to switch gears and focus on her career in social work instead.

It was while attending Middlebury College in Vermont that Lauren began taking Pilates regularly and discovered it was a perfect transition from her dance background. She trained at the Vermont Center for Classical Pilates in Middlebury where her instructor was trained by Romana Kryzanowska herself. Lauren loved that she was receiving classical Pilates training in its truest form that Joseph Pilates meant it to be.

“It’s such an awesome and safe way to strengthen the entire body while improving posture and flexibility. My studio was very traditional and directly linked to Joseph Pilates’ teaching style – very focused on technique and by the book,” she says.

After moving to DC with her boyfriend in November and accepting a position at the Georgetown University Medical Center, Lauren decided she wanted to further develop her Pilates practice and received her certification to teach here in DC.

Lauren’s teaching style mirrors the classical techniques she was taught in her classes – using minimal props and focusing strongly on identifying and developing core muscles that support the spine (back, abs and glutes.)

“All participants, from beginning to advanced Pilates students, will find and meet the physical challenges in my class. I would recommend Pilates for everyone, from runners and skiers to rugby and basketball players!” says Lauren.

After auditioning at a bunch of gyms in the DC area, Lauren says she couldn’t be happier to have ended up at VIDA!

Lauren Fredston-Hermann,

Lauren Fredston-Hermann Teaching Pilates

“I started out as just a member here – I loved the energy and variety of classes offered. The instructors are highly trained and the facilities are excellent,” she says. “The timing worked out really well with them hosting auditions right when I got certified. I feel so lucky to be working here now!”

Lauren has definitely fit right in with the VIDA community. Her classes stay packed, and she and the other instructors are regulars in each other’s classes.

“I usually take Chris’s yoga class and then he’ll stay for my Pilates right after. Also working with Tami, Colleen and Alexx to get certified in Zumba and Barre too – everyone has been so supportive!” she says.

When Lauren’s not teaching she enjoys hosting dinner parties in her Adam’s Morgan apartment or spending time outdoors (skiing, mountain biking & hiking are some of her faves!)

Whether you’re a Pilates pro or just checking it out for the first time, Lauren’s class will definitely give you the core-strengthening, leg-shaking workout you’re looking for!