Monthly Archives: May 2013



“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle—when the sun comes up, you’d better be moving.”

—African proverb, as quoted by Maurice Greene (five-time world champion, four-time Olympic medalist, former fastest man in the world)

Movement is not a matter of survival only for gazelles and lions; it’s also a matter of survival for humans. It’s the pump for life, it’s what makes us keep going—and I’m not talking in metaphors here. When we move, blood and lymph circulate, nutrients are delivered to our cells, waste products are cleared away, digestion improves and so on.

Keep in mind that I don’t mean exercise, weights or cardio specifically. Rather, I mean movement in general—from a boy playing with his toy truck to octogenarians doing tai chi. There are various forms of movement: from ballet to power lifting, from swimming to rock climbing, from yoga to Judo. They are all valid, and they all have their pros and cons.

Here’s a way to classify movement:

1. Things we like: These movements should make up the bulk of our activities, for various reasons—but especially because the sense of joy and accomplishment they bring us encourages us to do more of these activities, and helps us avoid getting frustrated and giving up. If you ask a swimmer to dance, you will understand the importance of this kind of passion!

2. Things we dislike: These movements should be done from time to time, because we can bring balance to our bodies by trying different challenges and working on weaknesses.

3. Things we need to do: These movements are normally generated by doing too much of #1, or by not moving enough in general. Do you feel like stretching? How is your back today?

4. Things that we should be doing: These are movements we do to avoid getting stuck with #3. What about going for a bike ride for a change? Hot Yoga?

Yes my dear, move. As simple as it sounds it is quite effective. Move frequently do the thinks that you like and dislike as well as all in between and you will be able to move much better and much longer.

Weights vs. Cardio vs. Yoga

confusion1When we check out the media outlets, we see a lot of conflicting information about fitness. One day, Pilates is the cure for potbellies. Sagging bums are dealt with Yoga. Weight loss? Hot Yoga. Weight training for muscle tone, running for stress reduction and whatever is “in” at the time, whatever bias the person presenting the idea has or whatever is being sold at the publication/media outlet. And they always have willing experts giving their expert ideas that will back up whatever the writer is trying to convey.

So, let me give you my not-asked-for opinion about a few of those common myths:

Weights will make you bulky and look masculine.

Very few people actually can bulk up that easily doing weights. When you see people that have a higher degree of muscle development, it means that they’ve been working out for years, eating in a certain way and/or have the right genes for that look, in the same way that some people have the genes to be tall, exercising or not.

That misconception makes people have negaive prejudices towards weight training, thinking that they will get big fast or get too big.

Weights, when done properly, will help to shape and harden your body, burn more calories from fat and improve posture; without necessarily adding muscle, making whatever muscle mother nature gave to you to be pumped and toned, instead of sad and saggy.

Yoga will give you a nice round butt.

I could just go on and on, about the fact that there are many types of Yoga, how old this practice is and so on. Therefore making a blanket statement like this is, at the very least, inaccurate. In my opinion you should do Yoga because it can be calming, because you want variety or because you like it.

But any person that knows something about Biomechanics and exercise, or even better, anyone that makes a living out of getting results will say the same thing: if you want a beautiful lower body, nothing is better than squats, lunges and deadlifts!

Pilates will flatten your stomach.

I am sorry if I am biased on this one as I am a Pilates instructor.

The great thing about Pilates is that it makes you consciously engage your breath, abdominals and pelvic floor, therefore making all layers of your abdominal wall work together and get stronger and tighter. The tighter the abdominals, the smaller the belly.

The problem is that there are other factors that make a person to have a potbelly -everything from food sensitivities to hormonal unbalances and if they go unresolved, they will limit the results from a good exercise program.

So do it, but don’t have all your eggs in only one basket.

Cardio will make you thin.

Not necessarily. Cardio will definitely help you loose weight and that weight is not by default fat; it can be water or muscle, and loosing muscle is just a faster way to produce fat.

What cardio will definitely do is raise your cortisol levels, as it is a stressor to your body and extra cortisol means more fat production and storage. Therefore, even though cardio can be a very good toll to help with weight loss, it must be used properly in order to help you to go forward instead of creating frustration.

All these modalities have their benefits and disadvantages and instead of thinking that one is better than another, you should think more about integrating these modalities, in order to get whatever results you are looking for. So, forget about weights vs. yoga vs. cardio. Start thinking about weights + yoga + cardio and enjoy the benefits.