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Exercise Archives | Ingrid Johnson
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Exploring Healthy Movement Patterns

By | Exercise, Fitness, pilates, Training

Often people come to train with me when they are in pain. Being in pain usually means that there is a faulty movement pattern in the body.

It is therefore imperative that we begin training by observing and analyzing current movement patterns, to see if they are healthy or not. It is important to accept this fact without judgment, in order to move past current state.

After this Initial step, the work begins. We Explore efficient movement patterns, and how to implement that in our bodies. I work with cueing, and promoting healthy breathing to produce a fluid and healthy movement pattern again.

Having said this, Moving from pain to freedom of pain takes a bit of refinement discomfort. This is nothing to be afraid of, and those who move past this experience great gains and joy of movement again.

Holiday Cheer with a little Exercise

By | Exercise

Holiday Cheer can come in many ways – and one of the best ways is to Exercise at least 10 minutes per day! Research now shows that people who exercise as little as 10 minutes per day are more cheerful than those who don’t exercise at all.

The idea that moving has a  beneficial effect on your mood is not a new one –  it helps to lower the risk of depression and anxiety. But what about people who are already psychologically healthy? How does it affect them? Does it improve their mood as well?  In a research Published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in March, 2018 at University of Michigan ( my U)  they decided to look at the correlation between working out and happiness levels . They dug up as many previous research studies as the could, which turned into a combined representation of over 500,000 people. All these observational studies showed that there is a strong link between exercise and being happy!

The type of exercise didn’t seem to matter, whether jogging, walking, yoga, or lifting weights… even how often they exercised didn’t matter… some once a week, some more. They all felt happier than people who didn’t. People who exercised 30 min /day, on most days of the week were also 30 percent more likely to consider themselves happier than people who did not.

What is not clear from this study is whether people who exercise become happier, OR , if people are already happy and therefore exercise?!

Certainly happiness is subjective, and whether it is derived from the social interaction,  solitude, fresh air or music, during exercise is not clear either. What is certain is that exercise improves health, and healthier people are happier. Exercise creates new brain cells and changes brain chemicals that produce positive emotions.

And THAT is something to Cheer About!!!

Antidote for Sitting- Stiffness

By | Exercise

If sitting stiffness, is a thing, then most of us have it, after being quarantined due to COVID-19.

The symptoms are hip tightness, low back pain neck strain, and increased round shoulders.

The Pilates system is designed to systematically lengthen your spine, your legs long from pelvis, your arms long from the shoulder blades and your neck long from crown to ceiling.

There are a couple of exercises that create a perfect flow, and build on one another to improve the strength and flexibility of these areas. These exercises are: Single leg stretch, Double leg stretch, Scissors, to Sidelying series, including Clam Shells and Clamshells with pulses.

By this time, your Hips and Hamstrings should be nicely stretched. You can finish this little miniseries with with Prone leg lifts and/or Bridges.

Training for Climbing and Bouldering

By | Exercise

Training for Rock Climbing


While there are many variables that go into becoming a better climber, such as mental strength, climbing skills, strategies, and techniques,  genetics, nutrition and equipment, I believe you can better enjoy this activity with just a little bit of extra strength training.

Climbing is a social sport and injuries, fatigue and lack of adequate strength can really hamper your participation of this fantastic experience.

This course focuses simply on the strength and prehab portion of climbing,  as physiology is my expertise, leaving the other areas  to those more skilled in them.

As I have mentioned before in my other writings – Working out, and Training are two different things. Training involves practice and consistency, while in “working out” you move from one exercise or activity to another without a precise progression. There is nothing wrong with this kind of  “general conditioning”, and in fact serves a very good foundation for training, but to achieve specific results, you need specific training.  

10 minute Dynamic Warmup should consist of big arm circles 10 forward/10 backward, elbow circles, wrist circles, waves,” motorcycle” stretches, finger stretches and wrist lateral stretches. Finger isolation stretches, shoulder,chest and biceps stretch ( like crab on the floor) Rhomboid stretch,  tri/lat stretch and the upper torso the “eagle”stretch in yoga. Hamstring and a butterfly stretch for the groin is good too and a seated twist and cobra stretch is never a bad idea.

Prehab and Base camp:

Rotator cuff internal external, side internal, side external

Bentover single arm rear flys

Db kick back


Db wrist curl  and reverse wrist curls 2×15

Pronator curls with hammer 2×15-20

Upper body:

Db shoulder press 2×20-25 r

Db Chest press 2×25

Dips 2×15-20


Hanging knee or leg raises 20-30r

Side hip raises 20

Superman 20 r

Hold straight body on Pilates Cadillac for 3 minutes, legs on trapeze

Horse stance to standing horse stance

Plie lunges 10-30 ea leg.


Climbing is not particularly a power or aerobic type activity, so endurance training whether it be on a bike, rower or hiking has the most carryover to climbing. Endurance training lasts anywhere from 45-90 minutes.


A lot of Cadillac and Wunda chair exercises would lend themselves well to Climbing Conditioning.




By | Exercise

Why can I claim that Pilates is the best exercise modalities for mobility, brain activity and health?

While we may have a predisposition to certain weaknesses and illnesses, we are still in complete control over if we are turning them on and off by our choices.

For starters, only 20% of our health comes from genetics. 80% comes from our movement patterns, what we eat, how much we sleep, our stress levels, our higher purpose and connection to a family friends.

Our physical and cognitive decline is increased by stress, which increases the inflammation in our bodies. We simply need to destress, rest and heal.

In Pilates, we work on complex cognitive activities, such as : Gait, sit to stand, reach and bend, posture, flexion and extension, side bend and rotation. Dynamic balance, Calf stretches, and contralateral movement patterns.

Are you contracting or collapsing?

By | Exercise, Training with Pilates

Often when performing Pilates exercises that
Involve forward bending, or side bending, from
Seated or standing positions I notice people simply Collapsing their upper body onto the lower body. This neither improves posture nor strength. While Forward- or side-bending, keep your mind focused on contracting the muscles that are shortening, and elongating the muscles that are lengthening, on your side or back. Doing this with your mental awareness will achieve both improved flexibility and strength!


By | Exercise

While teaching a fitness class for Parkinson’s patients, I noticed some very uncoordinated foot movements. I started observing this tendency more closely and started doing some research. I found out that delayed nerve transitions through the pathway from the brain to the foot and back can be one reason for this.

According to research, proper timing an automatic activation of dynamic stabilizers are more important a strength for functional stability. Pain and fear of falling actually affects posture to the point that the muscles do not fire in proper order. Learning to activate The core, (transverse abdominals and multifidus) and keeping it strong, is vital for postural stabilization.

Another issue is proprioception. Proprioception is Another name of the sensory system, the communication system between eyes, ( ocular nerve) and muscles.

It’s a feedback loop that helps maintain balance during walking and standing. It tells you where you are in space and in what direction you are moving. Again this system can have some firing issues, and become delayed.

The stiffness that accompanies Parkinsons, can in a sense block this proprioceptive feedback system, thus impacting gait, coordination and balance significantly.

Mirrors can help to give visual feedback for movements. Repeating the cues verbally to yourself is another one. Breathing is also important, as holding your breath stiffens your body and tells your brain it is in danger, further stiffening and blocking the neuropathways for effective movement.

Simply Working on gait, forward, backward walking, crossover and sidestepping are good exercises. Also arm movements- lifting The arms with palms facing in, facing out, up and down our great variations for improving the neurological connections of the brain and body!

Training in 2020

By | Exercise

1. Training apps.
There is no shortage of training apps to download from the internet, and I must say, these apps have completely revolutionized training. People that would otherwise never have worked out while at home or travelling are now happily exercising with their apps. When getting stuck in a rut, find a new app. and instantly update your workout. Not only can you get great workouts, but there are apps. that can analyze your technic, making sure your are moving correctly.
2. Outdoor training.
More and more people are moving their training outdoors, as sunshine and open air is healthier than indoors. Weather walking/running/biking, alone or with a small group, we are realizing that fresh air has many health benefits. Fitness equipment is also becoming more portable, like TRX suspension training. Sling it over a tree branch and you have an instant gym. Mats, weighted balls, BOSU are great tools and easy to transport.
3. Small Group personal training
Being alone under the constant watch of a personal trainer can be intimidating and expensive. People are choosing to train in small groups of 2 or 3. There are many benefits to this, and more fun as well!
4. Health coaching
Coaching is on the rise of all kinds, and especially in the area of health and fitness. People want more than just a fitness coach, they also want help with diet and healthy lifestyle.
5. Yoga
People of all ages, shapes and sizes are discovering yoga. Yoga studios, outdoor and online yoga classes are on the rise. The benefit of a more flexible body and relaxation is appealing to most everybody, as it also improves your immune system. More gyms are offering yoga, and people are doing yoga in parks, beaches, anywhere they can throw down a mat.
6. Training with technology
There will most likely be more fitness activity measuring devices to wear in the future. Weather they improve your fitness level or not, they bring much more awareness of your lifestyle to the forefront.
7. Fusion Fitness
Many places are now offering a fusion of activities for a total body workout. Orange Theory is offering both cardio workout and strength training. Les Mills is offering “THE TRIP”, a Cycling/sculpting/entertainment combo.
8. HIIT training
HIIT has been popular for a while now, and shows no sign of slowing, especially since it is being more and more adapted to a wider population. After all, high intensity is very subjective, so everyone can do it. Very effective especially if you are short of time.
9. Training for Seniors
As the population gets older, many are working longer and want to stay healthy and fit. Active-age for seniors, Silver sneakers, silver and fit, are just some programs that are seeing an increase in participation.
10. Body weight training
The trend of using only your body weight for training, brings several other trends together The outdoor workout trend, the HIIT, Yoga, Pilates, Senior fitness, and more. Body weight training can be done anywhere and a few short exercises gives you body a great fitness boost, any time of the day. Weather trademarked programs such as Animalflow, Lotte Berk, Bootilates or bootcamps, these are making the fitness industry to a new creative and exciting level!

Are you Training, Toning, Working-out or just Playing?

By | Exercise

Many people set out to add some exercise into their daily lives, not knowing the difference between training, toning, working out and active-play- also known as exergames. Worse, they hire a trainer for a lot of money, not really knowing what they are getting for their money. The lack of being specific can not only drain your wallet, waste valuable time, but leave you without the result you desire.Let’s go through what each of these words mean in the exercise world, and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.

First, the word training: Are you Training? The word Training means to ” learn a special skill, through practice and instruction”. It involves repetition, and yes, practice, practice, practice… You want to be training if you are preparing for a specific sport or event, say a marathon or to become a better golfer, skier, enter the Olympics etc. Training has a specific point or aim. An early verb sense, from Latin, to pull or draw, was the basis of making something grow into a desired shape. The word trainer, comes from this concept, and that is what I would describe myself to be.

To be a Trainer, in the true sense of the word, one must first understand the requirements of the goal of the student. Secondly, a trainer needs to be skilled in the science of exercise progression, and third a knowledge of proper exercise selection that is valuable to meet that result. That is why I train people for golf, ski etc. because I understand those sports and understand the progression it takes to improve and get good results.

Second, Working out:  To work out, you are performing a particular set of exercises involving several different muscles in one session.  It usually involves a plan to improve ones fitness level, be it endurance, strength, flexibility,  or just to exert oneself to better movements.  I would put most “trainers” in this category – they provide a workout for people that involve all or some muscle groups, in random order, in random progression. People sweat, feel good because they moved, weather with proper form or not, and go on with their day. After a little while people feel that their muscles are tighter, and that is a given, hopefully not injured. Some of these trainers are better than others, but no special intelligence or skill needed there, just some creativity And basic understanding of exercises. I would put CrossFit in this category.

Third, Toning: This is for people who already have muscles that they like, body fat levels they are happy with, but like a little extra “shape” to their physique. Since you can’t tone fat, only muscle, it is important to already have some muscle on you body. Most toning involves body weighted movements or light weights/tension, and I would categorize yoga, Pilates, barre, ballet or dance in this group. If you are lucky enough to have the body shape and bodyfat levels of a runway model, then this type of workout is for you.

Fourth, and lastly, Active Play. Getting yourself and others up  and moving may sometimes take a game to do it. Enter the concept of Exergames. Whether done organically, or with electronic devices, you are having fun and don’t even realize that you are working out. Exergames come in forms like sprints/games of tag, throwing a ball, cone runs or whatever hits your creativity. I would put running/walking in this category as well. You won’t tone a particular muscle, grow bigger biceps, improve the length of your golf drive, but you will burn calories, have fun and feel your body get stronger.

In conclusion, all these exercise forms are valid. You just have to pick one that meets your need and your goals. And doing so with knowledge is a valuable step to choosing what is right for you! Happy Exercising!