December 2018

Exhale Spa: Free Yoga Classes Plus Advice from Their Yoga Guru

In honor of National Yoga month, Exhale Spa is celebrating their second annual namasDAY on Thursday, September 20th, with FREE yoga classes at locations nationwide. Cristi Christensen is the Yoga Director of Exhale in Los Angeles and she unleashes her passion by teaching a variety of classes and workshops there. She has studied with world-renowned fitness gurus and traveled the globe spreading her knowledge and enthusiasm for yoga and all things fitness. I caught up with Cristi after spending time with her at the amazing Exhale Spa retreat in Santa Monica last week. She gave me an insider perspective on practicing yoga and shared some of her health and beauty secrets.

 

MM: There are many different types of yoga classes available today. How do you differentiate between them and what are the most popular practices? Any tips on how to choose?

CC: There are many many different types of yoga; the key is finding the one that is right for you! Exhale’s yoga program falls under the Vinyasa style of yoga which is certainly amongst the most popular growing yoga in the U.S. Vinyasa is a rhythmic, flowing style of yoga with an emphasis in linking movement with breath. Vinyasa helps to not only build strength and endurance, but also enhances flexibility and brings the body and mind into a more relaxing, meditative state.

 

MM: What advice do you have for someone who has never taken a yoga class but is eager to try it?

CC: Start with a few beginner classes so that you can learn the basics of each one including the alignment techniques and the language; this way you can find the style that resonates with you. Let the teacher know you are new to class too so they can take extra good care of you!

MM: What yoga class do you suggest for the toughest physical challenge?

CC: Believe it or not, some of the most challenging classes I have taken have been Level 1 (beginner) as you are holding poses for a really long time! Level 2/3 classes usually move at a faster pace which definitely get your heart pumping and energy flowing! Vinyasa yoga is generally a very athletic practice- which will detoxify your body and take you to your edge!

 

MM: What are some of the benefits of yoga and what has it done for you personally?

CC: There are so many amazing benefits to this practice – physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.

To name just a few…Strength, flexibility, balance, focus, youthful body and spirit, calm mind, deepen connection with self, inner peace, compassion, and joy.

Personally my yoga practice has become part of my life and lifestyle. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of the practice have helped me become more centered, grounded and connected into my self and my personal power. My body is as strong and subtle as it was in my athletic days and through my practice I have become more present and more joyful in each moment. My yoga practice truly feeds my mind, body and soul.

 

MM: Paddle boarding and surfing have become very popular and I know you enjoy mixing them with your yoga practice. How do they complement each other?

CC: Two of my passions are both yoga and surfing, and more recently I have been enjoying SUPing. There is nothing that makes you feel more alive then being totally engrossed in the present moment, and when you are in the ocean you have no choice but to be present. Yoga, in addition to building strength, body awareness and agility, helps build focus and concentration-all things you need in the water!!

Exhale Spa’s Elisabeth Halfpapp and Cristi Christensen with group from their Santa Monica retreat after a morning of paddle boarding

MM: You have the most gorgeous hair. What products do you use to keep it shiny and healthy?

CC: Thank you! I use Pureology shampoo and conditioner. I also eat a lot of avocados and coconut oil!

 

MM: What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

CC: I love Keen-wah coconut almond bars, apple slices with raw almond butter, raw kale chips, and dark chocolate!

 

MM: How did the idea for namasDAY develop and what do you hope people get out of it?

CC: September is National Yoga Month & namasDay is all about celebrating yoga and introducing yoga to as many people as possible around the country!

 

 

Celebrate namasDAY on Thursday at your nearest Exhale Spa location. Free classes will be offered throughout the day, capping off with a celebration of live music, healthy cocktails, and giveaways in the evening.

 

Cristi is the Director of Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, CA, where she is a passionate yoga and Core Fusion teacher. A former elite-level gymnast and platform diver, she earned her degree in Kinesiology while training with the Olympic diving team. After an injury cut her Olympic dreams short, Cristi shifted her focus to helping others improve their level of fitness through personal training, Pilates, Core Fusion + yoga. In 2004 she joined exhale, and has since studied extensively with world-renowned teachers, including Saul David Raye, Shiva Rea, Seane Corn, Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito. Cristi has combined her teachings, practice, and bright energy into a dynamic and unique classroom style that translates into an infectious energy that her students can’t help but feel during each class. Cristi has brought this energy across the globe, leading workshops, retreats, and bringing positivity with her to every corner of the earth. When Cristi isn’t teaching, globe-trotting, or keeping exhale Venice as the number 1 ranked yoga studio, you’ll likely find her surfing, playing in her Venice backyard, or doing back flips on Venice Beach!

Fab Beauty Products and Accessories That Give Back

Shopping is one of our favorite things to do especially when it’s guilt free. We found some fabulous beauty products and accessories that teamed up with various charities and outreach programs to give back. When purchasing these products, you will not only look good, but feel good too!

Mac Viva Glam Nicki, $14.50
M∙A∙C and Nicki Minaj teamed up to create this limited edition VIVA GLAM Nicki lipstick. This creamy lipstick’s bold color is amazing if you are looking for that perfect pop of color. What’s even better…every cent from the sale will aid women, men, and children who are living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

How-to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Tips from Exhale Spa’s Nutrition Intuition

In the health and wellness world, March is the month dedicated to nutrition awareness and at exhale we decided to celebrate with a day of awareness entitled NUTRITION INTUITION.

I was joined by two of exhale’s healers: Laura Benge, our National Spa Director and Rachel Lustgarten, R.D. nutritionist, Keri Glassman, nationally recognized nutrition expert, Katie Lee, Cookbook author and lifestyle expert, and Jeremy Bearman, Executive Michelin- starred Chef of Rouge Tomate NYC for a panel discussion on how to incorporate good nutrition, simple cooking and tasty food  into your life on a daily basis.

We spoke on the difficulties of maintaining a healthy lifestyle day to day and some takeaways on solving those challenges; tips like how to cook a nutritious meal in less time than ordering delivery! Prepare raw foods as soon as you bring them home from the market: clean the greens, wash the lettuce, chop the vegetables and store them in containers to be used during the week as dedicated meals or reliable sides for chicken or fish.

Keri made the point that a holistic lifestyle is key to a lean, sexy, happy body. And that it’s not just the food that you eat but your sleep, stress reduction techniques and peacefulness of your home space will all factor in to maximizing health and wellness. According to Keri, a spritz of lavender in the bedroom is a great start to a sleep worthy space! Katie suggested to start your week with a good nutrition plan and if you cheat a little on the weekend, you can start again on Monday. She also shared that preparing foods in advance, like boiling a pot of rice, quinoa or lentils, or steaming a bunch of broccoli and refrigerating are easy ways to stay on track.

Rachel Roy: What Every Woman Needs in Her Wardrobe PLUS Travel, Style and Beauty Must-haves

Rachel Roy is a dynamic fashion designer whose pieces have been seen on every leading lady from Michelle Obama, Diane Sawyer, Jennifer Garner, Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson. I met Rachel at a recent event and was blown away by her support of entrepreneurial women and charity. The gorgeous native Californian, whose personal beauty shines through every one of her designs has worked in the fashion industry since her teenage years as a sales girl– which she calls her early market research! Before designing her own line, she styled magazine shoots, music videos and was creative director for Rocawear. Since the launch of her Rachel Roy line in Spring 2005, Rachel has had a whirlwind of success including being inducted into the CFDA, appearing on Oprah, and launching RACHEL Rachel Roy, a diffusion line sold exclusively at Macy’s. Rachel shared with me what she has been up to lately and offered some of her best tips and products picks!

MM: You have a very interesting background. How has that influenced you as a designer?
RR: I’ve always loved fashion and taking risks in both what I wear and what I design as this has been a guiding principle for me. I’ve never let fear paralyze me but rather let my passion drive me. One of my goals is to help other women realize this as well.

MM: We are so excited about your new collection, what was your inspiration for FW 2012?
RR: My fall 2012 collection is inspired by the documentary Women in the Dirt which highlights the works of seven award- winning women who have made their mark in the field of landscape architecture and are changing our world. From this, the idea of modern landscape architecture and the influence of nature was really interesting to me– balancing the clean lines of landscapes and natural colors and interesting material combinations and details.

MM: What are 3 items you always have on hand during fashion week?
RR: Yoga mat- I practice yoga two to three times a week. The meditation helps me stay centered. Music- it’s one of the quickest routes to dream and always inspires me. Candles- the comforting and continuous glow of a Jo Malone candle while I work is a must.

MM: How do you unwind after such a whirlwind week?
RR: Take a breath, thank my staff and then off for some R & R. First I sleep and then I have a proper meal since I have been living off coffee and sugar for the past two weeks preparing for the show. I’ll spend some quality time with my daughters, visit the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at the Plaza Hotel for one of my favorite facial treatments, and lounge at home and watch re-runs of The Office or Modern Family. Then it’s right back into designing the next collection!

Be Chic When You Sweat: Stylish Workout Wear & Accessories

The New Year is a great time to get into shape and there is no better way to do so than with the perfect workout gear. From stylish activewear to motivational yoga mats, become a fitness enthusiast this year and look chic even when you sweat!

1. Molami Bight Nappa Black and Gold Headphones, BUY NOW, $200
Molami is the ultimate in sleek headphone design and quality headphones can really make or break your fitness routine! The brainchild of industrial designer Maria von Euler, these headphones are sculpted to frame and enhance the feminine face. From their braided textile-wrapped chords to their gold and silver plated accents, no detail is overlooked. The Bight Nappa Black and Gold style is futuristic chic with excellent sound quality. They’ve only recently launched in the United States and have already been spotted everywhere from the runway to Style.com‘s fashion radar.

2. Blake Brody In-Studio Footwear, BUY NOW, $98
Blake Brody makes extremely stylish In-Studio Footwear designed specifically for use while practicing your dance moves, yoga poses or Pilates. People Magazine, Vogue and Allure have featured these flats, which are ergonomically designed to compliment the foot’s natural range of motion with their elastic collar and padded footbed for comfort. These adorable flats are on every yogi’s radar and recently caught the attention and foot of fashionista, socialite and Marie Claire blogger Amanda Hearst.

3. Red Daisy Ginger Low-Rise Long Pant, BUY NOW, $95
The Red Daisy Ginger Low-Rise Long athletic pant is a stylish long tight with special side panels engineered with horizontal and vertical stretch that provide light compression throughout your legs. Their double fabric technology contours the body, slimming your silhouette to make your butt and thighs instantly look thinner! They are a total style upgrade and their fabrication gives you a more efficient workout than regular cotton leggings.

4. Alo Uber Cozy Hoodie, BUY NOW, $89
Layering is crucial for staying warm and healthy while working out during the winter months and I love this Alo style. The zip front hoodie is lined with super soft sherpa and is great for an outdoor run or post work-out cover up. Jessica Alba, Eva Mendes and Ellen Pompeo are notorious Alo fans and have been spotted in the activewear while working out and running errands around town.

5. Yogamatic Keep Calm Personalized Yoga Mat, BUY NOW, $89
A great way to practice yoga is atop the motivational mantra to “Keep Calm and Carry On” on Yogamatic’s personalized mat! Did you know this recently popularized slogan originated in 1939 as a way to ensure the people’s awareness that King George VI was adequately defending the country? And although I love this style, Yogamatic will custom make any image into your favorite yoga mat. The personalized gear are favorites of celeb yogis Halle Berry, Kate Bosworth and Molly Sims, whose mat is an adorable picture of her dogs.

6. Anatomie 3/4 Sleeve Henley in Pink, BUY NOW, $89
This 3/4 sleeve Anatomie Henley is one of my favorite tops to wear over a workout tank when going to the gym or exercise class. It is super soft, perfect for layering and has snap-button details for added style. Jennifer Aniston’s yoga teacher, Mandy Ingber loves their stylish and high quality designs.

7. Red Daisy Princess Camisole Tank, BUY NOW, $81
Designed out of the overwhelming need for a sleek and supportive workout bra, Red Daisy specializes in creating sports bras that provide excellent support from inside the bra cups rather than relying on bulky straps. Their comfortable and strong fabrics are made out of patented material from EuroJerseySPA, a specialty Italian mill and have been featured in both national and international publications like Women’s Wear Daily. I love the color of The Princess Camisole Tank, it is feminine and chic with great overall support.

8. Primsport V-Neck in Watercolor, BUY NOW, $72
Notorious for their intricate patterns and stand out designs, Primsport is perfect for spicing up a drab workout wardrobe. In fact, it was born out of three women’s passion (including the wife of Vogue veteran Tom Florio) for fitness and a vision to put the life back into traditional tennis clothing. Their V-Neck in Watercolor design is stylish and a great option for the fitness gal on the go as it looks like a regular shirt when worn with jeans.

9. Lululemon Power Y Tank in Lilac Heathered Coal, BUY NOW, $52
Lululemon’s Power Y Tank is one of many great pieces from the activewear line which has a cult following of everyone from Michelle Obama and Kelly Ripa to Gisele Bundchen and Jennifer Lopez. The body skimming fit ensures that this top won’t ride up, regardless of the intensity of your workout. This sleek activewear looks feminine in lilac and has a built in shelf bra that is lined with COOLMAX technology to wick away sweat. These tops are preshrunk so they run one size small.

10. Things Remembered Stainless Steel Water Bottle, BUY NOW, $25
Water bottles are essential to every fitness enthusiast. They are not only better for the environment, but unlike plastic, the stainless steel bottle makes sure water tastes pure with every sip. This 16 oz. design has a unique flip-top straw and the bottle can be engraved, so you can choose to etch on your favorite motivational mantra!

11. SPIBelt Small Personal Items Belt, BUY NOW, $19.95
The SPIBelt Small Personal Items Belt is a must have for runners! These slim pouches won’t bounce or ride up during the most rigorous of workouts, so it’s no wonder that it has become a favorite of marathon winner Jeanette Wang. They stretch tremendously to fit your phone, iPod and keys, and come in a variety of colors to suit any workout wardrobe. I am loving mine and they sure beat the look of a fanny pack.

Key Winter Health Tips by Dr. 911, Robert Glatter, MD

Robert Glatter is an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, New York. He also has a medical house call and wellness practice in the city called Dr. 911, which operate 24/7. Dr. Glatter does medical exams for Manhattan filmed movies, is a doctor on Gossip Girl and other television shows on the CW network. Dr. Glatter is on the editorial board of Medscape Emergency Medicine (WebMD), a contributor of NBC and CBS networks, and an active member of children’s foundations like Stop Caid Now and the Worldwide Children Foundation. Here are some of his key tips for maintaining your health during the chilly winter months.

1. Avoid holiday weight gain. Before you start filling your plate at a party, scan the selections to make healthy choices. Even though it is a holiday, the rules should still apply when selecting your meal. Try to choose low fat turkey (white meat), lightly dressed green salads, and plenty of whole grains. Your attention to portion control will help minimize weight gain during the holidays. Always remember to drink plenty of water prior to eating, which limits the amount of calories you consume. It’s unreasonable to completely avoid all sweets, alcoholic beverages, and fatty foods, but it certainly helps to have a sensible plan for eating in a smart, portion controlled, and responsible fashion.

2. Take a vitamin D supplement. Up to 80% of people do not get enough vitamin D, especially due to reduced sunlight during winter days. Studies have demonstrated that if patients increase their intake of vitamin D, they can reduce their risk of cancer and heart disease by up to 25%. Vitamin D specifically helps to reduce risk of breast and colon cancer. When you can’t enough sun, you can also eat foods which are known to be rich in vitamin D. This includes oily fish such as salmon and sardines, or vitamin D fortified foods such as milk, oranges and cereal. The main issue is that it’s difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from these foods to fulfill daily requirements so a supplement of 1,000 units per day would be highly recommended. If you are already taking a multivitamin, you may want to reduce your dose accordingly.

3. Make sure you exercise- even indoors during winter. Walking, using an elliptical trainer or treadmill for at least 30 minutes a day will help to promote blood flow and boost your metabolism during the winter days. Other alternatives can be to practice yoga, utilize resistance bands or routine stretching, to elevate your heart rate and break a sweat.

Fashionable Workout Wear: How to Go From Lunge to Lunch Without Changing


I realize you may wear a suit to work or some kind of formal office attire that requires you to change before hitting the gym, but what about on weekends? Or when you leave the gym after a workout? Save time by dressing in fitness apparel that’s more transitional–something you’re proud to be spotted wearing. I’m talking about sportswear that’s sleek, comfortable, and stays dry so that you can easily go from lunges to lunch.

Nux USA makes beautiful seamless body-wear and cover-ups for a stylish, layered street-wear look after the gym. The Refresh Poncho ($40) is a perfect example because it dresses up leggings and a tank. Nike Lunarglide+ 3 Shield shoes ($110) are great for running outdoors because they’re built with reflectors and enhanced water proofing. When it comes to your favorite scene-y lunch spot, their fashionable gray color makes them easier to get away with and it also hides any sign of dirt.

IMPORTANT TIP: The best way to create a transitional look is to invest in activewear that is built to reflect everyday fashion-wear trends. I like to look at fabric construction, embellishments, and fit.

Here are a few trends that will help you shop for some great Fall/Winter pieces:

  • Snakeskin prints
  • Drape-y cover ups (“the new hoodie”)
  • Motorcycle biker chic inspired leggings & accessories (with zippers and faux leather)
  • Jewel tone colors like sapphire and ruby reds mixed with shades of gray

See how I’ve mixed some of these trends in the fit look below. The gym bag shown is the Stella McCartney for adidas “Fun Bag” ($40)

Stella McCartney for Adidas also has these great Snakeskin Print Ballerina Shoes ($90) (sold in-store) which are beyond comfortable and easy to slip on and off before yoga or pilates. I’ve been wearing them everywhere and they’re easy to throw in your gym bag because they’re light as a feather. Toesox makes these great grippy socks which you can wear during pilates/yoga (for those of you who don’t like to go barefoot), and you don’t have to take them off after class. Just throw your sneakers back on and you’re off.

I’m always talking about BodyRock Sport because their collections are consistently delicious and eye-catching, like their Moto Jacket ($125), pictured at the top. Don’t be scared to push the envelope with pieces that have funky embellishments like shoulder chains. Workout clothes are usually pretty understated and a dressy item will step up your look (people won’t be able to guess that you were just at the gym).

I like to pair the Moto Jacket with a colorful capri or legging but if you want to stick to dark bottoms (which are usually more flattering), I recommend Splits59’s Nova Capri Tight with Sports Lame’ ($98). The vertical lame panels give your legs a longer, leaner look. Plus, it looks like leather, which I love! Both the jacket and capri bottom are made with spandex for stretch and moisture wicking…so even if you did get a little sweaty at the gym, you won’t look like it. And with this outfit on, you certainly won’t get kicked out of your favorite lunch spot.

Last but not least, these Menziessi Runner Shoes ($150) by Stella McCartney for Adidas leave me speechless. The snakeskin silicon print on the outside is trendy but subtle, and the shoe itself is more of a warm-up shoe than a bulky sneaker. Black sneakers always look dressier and the slimmer the shoe, the less attention they call to your feet or to the fact that you were just at the gym.

I think I’ve proven my point, ladies. All it takes are a few transitional items to make getting to the gym (and getting out of the gym) less of a hassle. The more you love your activewear, the easier it will be to pencil in that workout. I promise!


Bianca Jade is the Founder and Editor of fitness, fashion and wellness website, MizzFIT.com. Featured on the Today Show as a Fitness Trend Expert and Celebrity Sportswear Stylist, she brings her readers from around the globe the latest trends in fitness apparel, gear and accessories. Bianca is committed to furthering a movement of feel-good exercise and female empowerment through her writing and webisode series called Fashionably Fit with MizzFIT where she teaches women how to Style Up 2 Shape Up.


Designer Yigal Azrouel Teams Up with FITiST for a Fashionable Fall

Two things we are all about at PageDaily are fashion and fitness. That’s why we just couldn’t help but share that one of our favorite designers Yigal Azrouel has teamed up with FITiST, a unique new fitness membership plan incorporating multiple studios and classes, to create a “Fit for Fall” plan that’s a great deal. Instead of just having a membership to one gym or many memberships to studios that offer different kind of classes, the invite-only site allows you to manage your memberships to some of New York’s hottest workout destinations on one platform.

With “Fit for Fall” you get 6 Indoor Cycling Classes, 4 Performance Classes and 4 Yoga Classes for a total of 14 classes a month for $350. These are some of Yigal’s fave workouts when he isn’t surfing. Plus, he’s hooking FITiST members up with $100 to spend at his Meatpacking boutique and one of his signature scarves, for free! Stylish perks for staying fit? Yes please!

The Benefits of A Yoga Practice

When you think about why people exercise, a major reason is to reduce stress and to improve their overall health.  It is the mindful breathing and single minded focus that takes you into a “flow mentality”.  You create an opportunity to escape from your thoughts which will shift your energy and changes your perspective on your life and problems.  It’s not that problems go away, you just change the way you look at them.  As a dear friend once said to me, “When you move a muscle, you change a thought”.

In yoga, the physical poses are called asanas and these poses can be done in a progression so that even the most inflexible “tin man” can find his way by using various props and modifications.  For me, the experience was quite challenging and in some cases helped me to learn how to over come my fears.  I remember my first hand stand (at the wall) like it was yesterday!

Practicing yoga will help you to evolve yourself so that other areas of your life will benefit.  When you work on your physical challenges be it flexibility, strength or balance, other areas of your life will improve.  But, this means checking your ego at the door because you will probably be working on things that you are not very good at initially.  Like a chain, you are only as good as your weakest link so your challenges may be more about patience, perseverance and consistency when you start your journey then it will be about how many push ups you can perform in 60 seconds.

Yoga is for life.  It is a lifestyle movement program.  When you practice yoga, you start to feel movements from the inside out; you don’t “think” about movements, you “feel “them.  You stop competing with others in class, you no longer need to see yourself in a mirror and the superficial aspect of exercise becomes less important when compared to the sacredness of your practice and your experience.  You will begin to nourish yourself with food more mindfully and you will be more aware of how to incorporate your learning off the mat as well as when you are on your mat.  If you can’t make it to a class, try using DVD’s for a home practice.  Our Core Fusion Yoga DVD (Buy Now, $9.99) is popular because it is broken down into 10 minute sections, if you have time constraints.

Regardless of your degree of commitment to yoga, be it once a week at home with DVD’s or at our studios practicing with a trained teacher, your benefits will include:

  • Stress Reduction
  • Mindful Awareness
  • Increased Flexibility
  • Improved Strength
  • Improved Suppleness in your spine
  • Better Sex Life
  • Better Energy
  • Improved overall health and well being

It’s National Yoga Month…Exhale Spa and PageDaily are teaming up to offer you a complimentary yoga class at any Exhale Spa for the rest of September (first-timers only). Mention PageDaily when you make your reservation! Enjoy!

Fred DeVito, Health & Fitness Contributing Editor
For over 30 years, Fred DeVito has taught New Yorkers to live healthier, leading fitness classes at the acclaimed Lotte Berk Method Studios, and more recently, at Exhale Spa, where he serves as Executive Vice President of Mind Body Training. With his wife and partner, Elisabeth Halfpapp . . . Read more about Fred DeVito

There is More to Exercise Than Just Cardio!

As an exercise professional in the fitness industry for almost 30 years, I have seen a lot of fads, trends, and crazes regarding classes, programs, and equipment.  From high-impact to low-impact to step to spin; the constant focus on “cardio” has been and still is a very important component in the movement plan of many people. What’s easier than throwing on a pair of sneakers and going for a jog or a brisk walk?  The gratification of cardio exercise is almost instant as you work your heart and lungs, challenge your breathing, endurance, break a sweat, and build detoxifying heat. Plus, the activity helps you to reduce your stress and relax.

If you are one who craves a group class rather than the lonely road there are the ever-popular spin classes where you ride a bike with a small group of other determined spinners to see who can go the fastest, ride the hardest, breathe the heaviest, sweat the most, and do it in a club-type setting with great music and atmosphere. Plus, even the most uncoordinated, tight-hamstring, slightly soft male can get on a bike and compete. The ladies are happy because now they can get their guys to accompany them to an event both social and physical: A spin class.

As a teacher who has worked with thousands of students who are on a mission to change their bodies and lives, I can honestly tell you that there is more to fitness than cardio workouts.

Almost like the media scares us into thinking we need flu shots, the public is also greatly misinformed when it comes to types and styles of exercise.

Is there any real need to work our heart muscles to an extreme over a 45-minute period?  Does the heart muscle get stronger with such challenge? What are the systemic benefits of regular heart-muscle and cardio challenges like this? Am I healthier? Leaner? More fit? More flexible? Will I have a better chance of living longer because I do regular cardio exercise?

In most cases, the answer to all of these questions is either no, or not necessarily so.

Let’s take a look at what cardio exercise means:

Cardio is short for cardiovascular, which refers to the heart. Cardiovascular exercise, or “aerobics” as it was referred to in the ‘70s, is exercise that raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for a period of time. The kinds of exercises that are associated with cardiovascular workouts are things like jogging, fast walking, spinning, and swimming, where there is no break in the routine. Exercises that emphasize stretch and strength, like pilates or yoga, are generally not considered cardio exercises, although both of these exercise systems can be performed with a “cardio effect” with the right pace and flow, and can certainly be combined with cardio workouts to great effect. There are more and more hybrid-style classes these days. At Exhale we teach our award-winning Core Fusion Cardio and Core Fusion Boot Camp classes, which combine cardio-type pace and flow with light weights and strengthening moves.

The benefits of cardio workouts

There is a hefty list of health benefits associated with doing cardio exercise. Here are some top reasons to include cardio in your workout routine:

  • It strengthens the heart
  • It strengthens the lungs and increases lung capacity
  • It boosts the metabolism for the hour and helps you burns calories and lose weight
  • It helps reduce stress
  • It increases energy
  • It promotes restful sleep

A true cardio workout is when you are working at around 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate for a minimum of 20 minutes. Simply stated, you should be able to talk while you are working out.  If you are too winded to speak comfortably, your heart rate is probably too high and you need to slow down. The fat-burning cycle needs a very specific heart-rate zone, otherwise you won’t burn fat calories and will switch to an anaerobic energy cycle, which is more intramuscular energy supply and results in a different effect.

For the average American, walking is the exercise of choice, and if the walk is brisk and purposeful over time, a person can get the required cardio benefits needed to maximize his or her health. The need to push to extremes with intense cardio does not necessarily give you proportionately greater cardiovascular results in the end.  It is the spirit of fun and competition that drives the hard-core runner, spinner, cardio junkie. They love the cardio high from exploring and challenging their limits, but in the end, their net results are no greater than the purposeful power walker who is choosing an activity that is much less stressful on the joints than running or jogging. Eventually, the knee, hip, and ankle joints of the runner could suffer from the pounding effect of the activity. Other forms of cardio exercise, like swimming, begin to make more sense.

What’s important to remember when choosing a movement plan is that the single most important component in fitness to maximize results and create life-enhancing changes is strength training.  With a resistance-training program, such as weight lifting, pilates, some forms of yoga, our Core Fusion® classes at Exhale, and other techniques, a person has the potential to increase lean muscle mass. As one ages, the three deficits that grow annually are muscle density, bone density, and muscle elasticity, which reduce our range of motion.

A program that incorporates resistance training will increase muscle density, lean muscle mass, and, most importantly, it will raise your resting metabolic rate, or RMR. This is the rate at which you burn calories round the clock, 24/7, not just the one hour that you are on the bike or going for a run.

By having a body with a high percentage of lean muscle mass, all of your other exercise choices including cardio will be more effective and safer. Muscles support joints, so if muscles are stronger, the joints have more integrity. By incorporating flexibility exercises into your strengthening work, you are promoting suppleness in the body, which is especially important for the muscles that line the spine. As Joseph Pilates once said, “A supple spine is a youthful body,” and in the end, isn’t that why we exercise, to stay youthful, energetic, and vibrant?

You would be wise to make exercise choices that will enhance your lifestyle and make these exercises a part of your lifestyle. Do the exercises that you need to do that will pay off a year from now and should be looked at as an investment. I am talking about the exercises that you know that you need, not necessarily the exercises that you look good doing.

I have trouble getting the competitive male to sometimes take Core Fusion® classes simply because he cannot get into the positions. Hamstrings are too tight, stomach a little too soft, back too tight, but the biggest problem is usually the ego being too big. If there is a will, and humility, a person can start building a physical foundation that simply improves over time. There is not much instant gratification sometimes, but with patience, perseverance, and consistency, it is possible to be in better shape in your 50s than you were in your 20s.

Lifestyle exercise that reduces stress, shapes your muscles, and builds strength and flexibility, all while simultaneously giving you the needed cardio benefits, will go a long way in enhancing your life.

Fred DeVito, Health & Fitness Contributing Editor
For over 30 years, Fred DeVito has taught New Yorkers to live healthier, leading fitness classes at the acclaimed Lotte Berk Method Studios, and more recently, at Exhale Spa, where he serves as Executive Vice President of Mind Body Training. With his wife and partner, Elisabeth Halfpapp . . . Read more about Fred DeVito
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