Spinning Playlist – August 30, 2012

We made it to another Thursday night – and it feels even better when there’s a long weekend (and college football kickoff) coming up! But before the games begin, here’s the playlist from tonight’s ride:


Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4)

Rolling in the Deep – Adele


Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8-9)

Let’s Go – Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo

Animal – Ke$ha

DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again – Usher

My Hero – Foo Fighters


Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)

Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown

Tommie Sunshine’s Megamix Smashup – Katy Perry

Blackout – Breathe Carolina

Lighters – Bad Meets Evil


Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 7+)

Scream – Usher

What the Hell – Avril Lavigne

Night of Your Life – David Guetta ft. Jennifer Hudson

Desert Rose – Sting



Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine

The A Team – Ed Sheeran


Have a great Labor Day weekend (for those of you in the U.S.) – enjoy those last few “real” days of summer – and see if you can catch the “blue moon” tonight! College football technically kicks off tonight, too, so good luck to all of your teams. My Clemson Tigers meet the Auburn Tigers on Saturday night, so here’s hoping we can repeat the result from our meeting last year!

Roll Your Way to Strong Abs

After yesterday’s post on the importance of core muscles, I figured it was time to share a few more Pilates exercises that target these super-important stabilizing muscles specifically.

Pilates rolling exercises are a great exercise for improving not only the strength of your abdominal muscles, but many other elements that can be used in other activities, as well. When done correctly, you can also gain more control within your movements by being aware of the movement of your muscles and the rhythm of your breath.

As with most Pilates exercises, there are options to make them easier or harder – just depends on your level or how your body feels on any given day. Listen to your body, because it will tell you how far it can be pushed. Remember, it’s always best to start at the least difficult level, and gradually work yourself up, making modifications when necessary to keep good form.

Here are four rolling exercises to get you started:

Rolling Like a Ball

Start balanced on the sit bones, knees together, with hands on the hamstrings, opposite knees, or rested on top of the shins. Pull pelvic floor up tight, bellybutton to the spine, with a C-curve through the spine. Inhale, rocking back onto the shoulder blades, and exhale to rock back up to start.

Hint: The closer the legs are to the body, the harder it is to get up.

Hint: Think about controlled motion – you want to use your muscles, not momentum, to bring you up to the top. Don’t throw the legs – you should be able to let go and the legs stay where they started!

Open-leg Rocker

Same body positioning as Rolling Like a Ball, except legs are hip-width apart. Knees can be bent table top, extended straight, with the hands resting behind the legs, anywhere below the knee, or extended straight, yogi toe hold (thumb and first finger wrapped around the big toes).

Hint: The farther from the body the arms get, the harder it is to get up. Make sure your legs are only positioned about shoulder width – any wider, it will throw you off balance.


Start balanced on the sit bones, ankles crossed in front, with one hand holding each ankle. Draw belly button into the spine, and keep a C-curve in the back. Inhale, rolling back onto the shoulder blades, release and uncross the ankles, then recross. Exhale, and rock back up to start.


Start balanced on the sit bones, toes touching in front, with one hand holding the underside of each ankle. Draw belly button into the spine, and keep a C-curve in the back. Tap toes three times, inhale, rolling back onto the shoulder blades, and tap the toes three times behind the head. Exhale, and rock back up to start.

Good luck with these exercises – they’re harder than they sound! If you find yourself struggling with these, I always suggest one of two things to my classes: first, you can hold the seated position, eliminating the rocking and instead focusing on the feeling within your abs and your pelvic floor. A second option, if you have access to a BOSU, is to put the BOSU on the floor, black side down, blue side up, sit on it in the center, and simply pick up your feet (hold if you can). It’s actually really tough!

Strong Core = Strong Body

A woman approached me following my Piloxing class on Sunday morning with a good question: “What should I be doing to work my core?” The fact is, just about any kind of physical activity will work your core – how much depends on your form, any resistance added, and making a conscious effort to keep your core muscles engaged throughout said activity.

Now, exactly what do I mean when I say “core muscles”? For starters, they are a lot more than just your abs – they include most of the trunk of the body, including the hips and mid- and lower back. As these muscles make up the center of the body (hence “core”), greater strength allows you to become more stable and balanced throughout your entire body, which plays a huge part in maintaining proper form in your activity of choice.

From harvard.health.edu

One way to become more in tune with your core muscles is to focus on your breathing. Controlled breathing is the cornerstone of both Pilates and yoga practices – and it is directly related to strong, stable core muscles. Focus on the way your core feels as you inhale and exhale – you’ll feel your muscles engaging as you fill and empty your lungs (think of trying to take every ounce of oxygen out of your lungs on your exhale – this forces the body to engage the abs in order to release those last few sips of air).

But breathing and core awareness are important in a number of different activities, as well. For example, when we are riding through heavy climbs in my cycling classes, I encourage the class to tuck their belly buttons into their spine, and feel the difference in their low abdominal muscles as the knees drive up to the body and back toward the floor. The feeling should be similar to that of a bicycle crunch … because essentially, it is (which saves you a little time lying on the floor – and you’re probably getting more work out of it due to the weighted wheel). Another added bonus? Heavier resistance forces harder work from the hips and glutes, too.

When you are strength training, losing control of your core can present huge risks for injury – one of the first things to go when the weight gets a little too heavy is the lower back (which is bad for you, and good for the chiropractor). But by strengthening the lower back muscles, it is easier to keep the balance between the front and back of the body, meaning that you are more likely to maintain proper form throughout each movement.  Breath plays a huge part in instance, too: if you exhale on the hardest part of the motion, you naturally engage the abdominal muscles, making it easier to avoid arching the back (which is not just dangerous from a potential for injury standpoint either … it’s cheating, too!)

That said … another thing to keep in mind is that most people do not do the correct proportion of back exercises to abdominal exercises. We are usually more focused on the abs, because, after all, they are the “vanity” muscles. But from a strength standpoint, the back muscles tend to need to endure more than the abs – meaning that they need at least at much work as the abs, if not more.

Remember, too, that just like any other exercise, you want to balance the time spent working on all of your core muscles – not just your abs. The more balanced your core becomes, the stronger you will be, the easier your exercise or sport of your choice will become … and you will reduce your risk of injury, too.

Spinning Playlist – August 25, 2012

Last weekend before the start of college football season … anybody else counting down??

Here’s this morning’s playlist, straight off the saddle:


Warm-up (Flat Road; Start resistance 3-4)

Good Time – Owl City ft. Carly Rae Jepsen

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8-8.5)

Touch Me – Smash Cast ft.  Katherine McPhee

Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz

I Don’t Want to be in Love – Good Charlotte

Dirrty – Christina Aguilera ft. Redman

Building Blcok #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8-9)

Turn Me On – David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj

Starstrukk – 3oh!3 ft. Katy Perry

Repeat – David Guetta ft. Jessie J

Come to Me – Diddy ft. Nicole Scherzinger

Burn It Down – Linkin Park

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8)

B.O.B. – Outkast

Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

Part of Me – Katy Perry

Uprising – Muse


Not Like the Movies – Katy Perry

Turning Tables – Adele


Enjoy your second to last “real” summer weekend (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere) – take advantage of the warm weather while you still can!

Spinning Playlist – August 23, 2012

Happy Thursday everyone! Brought back a couple we haven’t heard in a while tonight – enjoy!

Tonight’s playlist, fresh off the bike:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4)

50 Ways to Say Goodbye – Train

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5-5.5, Build to 8-9)

Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown

When I Grow Up – Pussycat Dolls

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

My Hero – Foo Fighters

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)

Born Too Slow – The Crystal Method

Scream – Usher

I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry

So What – Pink

Inside of You – Hoobastank

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 8, Back Down to 7)

Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes

Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears

Blow – Ke$ha

Rocketeer – Far East Movement ft. Ryan Tedder

Desert Rose – Sting


Wide Awake – Katy Perry

Shake It Out – Florence + the Machine

Have a great night, and enjoy your weekend! Remember, I’m back on Saturday at 8:30 a.m., with another playlist to follow shortly thereafter.

Excuses Will Not Get You Fit. Commitment Will.

Excuses. We all make them from time to time. But when it comes to your workout? Most of them are just reasons NOT to achieve your goals. I came across this slideshow on iVillage, detailing some of the most common … Continue reading

BONUS! Spinning Playlist – August 21, 2012

I’m back filling in for Alissa again tonight! Here’s tonight’s playlist, straight off the saddle:


Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a scale of 10)

We Run the Night – Havana Brown ft. Pitbull


Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)

Animal – Neon Trees

Without You – David Guetta ft. Usher

Maneater – Nelly Furtado

The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder


Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9+)

Good Time – Owl City ft. Carly Rae Jepsen)

Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown

Good Feeling – Flo Rida

Telephone – Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce

Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolph


Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)

Untouched – The Veronicas

Touch Me – Smash Cast ft. Katherine McPhee

Dirty Little Secret – The All- American Rejects

Meet Me Halfway – The Black Eyed Peas

E.T. – Katy Perry ft. Kanye West



Not Over You – Gavin DeGraw

Next to Me – Emilie Sande


Since I’ve been teaching so many classes the last few weeks, I got to thinking … I need some new music! Any great suggestions out there that would be a great compliment to my playlists?  I’m up to looking into anything that will get my blood pumping and keep me (and the rest of the class) excited!