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Give Pole Dancing Fitness Classes a Whirl

Lisa Johnson is a fitness blogger at LisaJohnsonFitness.com. She has been teaching Pilates since 1998 and owns Modern Pilates in Brookline, MA. She can frequently be found on Twitter @LisaJohnson.

I’m standing between an adorable blonde wearing red, sparkly boy shorts and a lanky brunette with a gorgeous, flowing ponytail and a tank top that says “Survivor.” I’m feeling the very awkward duckling.

I grab the tall, shiny pole with my hand and yank my t-shirt sleeve up over my shoulder so I can show more skin. This isn’t to be sexy; skin is stickier than cotton and it will help me to stay up longer. I take two big steps, my other hand grabs the pole, feet go in the air, and I whiz around once, twice, and then land my two feet almost gracefully. Success! I give out a little squeal because I finally did it on the tenth try.

“Good,” smiles Star, my instructor/torturer, as she nods approvingly. “Next time, step bigger.”

I’m bruised, I’m sweaty, my hands hurt from gripping the pole so hard, and I know my shoulders and legs are going to feel it tomorrow. And I’m only halfway through my first Pole Fitness class not sure I’m going to make it.


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Drums Alive: Burn Calories to the Beat

When former professional dancer Carrie Ekins’ body was sidelined to due hip surgery and a wheel chair, her creativity kept flowing. Being restricted to arm and hand exercises only, Ekins randomly began hitting boxes in her basement. This odd development has lead to a new workout trend, Drums Alive.

Eventually Ekins grew strong enough to stand once more and moved from basement boxes to exercise balls, drum sticks, and a variety of upbeat music. Drums Alive was created and found to be more than just a a workout for fitness. Hitting the exercise balls produces immediate stress relief for starters. However, the seemingly primitive routines can also improve coordination. As drumming engages both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain, coordination can be boosted. And finally, current studies have noted that drumming can contribute to increased immune functions along with improved moods and creativity. That’s a lot of punch for one workout session.


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Take Off the Weight With a Hoopnotica Hula-Hooping Class

By Tish Merritt for FitBottomedGirls.com

Hula hooping may seem more like playtime than a workout, but if we know anything, it’s that you’re more likely to stick to a workout when it’s actually, you know, fun! And don’t get it twisted — working out with a hula hoop isn’t a walk (or a swivel) in the park…

I met up with Jackie Hesley, hoop dancer extraordinaire and Hoopnotica instructor, on a beautiful Saturday morning in the Santa Monica, Cali., area and basically got a nice slice of humble pie served to me on a hoop for breakfast. My boyfriend scoffed the hula hoop, stating it wasn’t the kind of workout a guy could get sweat to. Hmph. He came back from running around the park and saw his girl, hula hoopin’ and sweating like I do in his boot-camp classes (he’s a personal trainer and tortures me regularly in class) and his mouth fell open. Score one for the hula hoop.

Don’t get me wrong, the class is totally fun. Jackie plugs up her iPhone to a small speaker system, and we party like it’s 1999.  Plus she’s hilarious and nice to boot. She teaches a hodge podge of folks (men and women), so she’s used to different levels of hula-hoop hossness being in her mix, thankfully. I personally hadn’t hooped since probably kindergarten when my boy crush hula-hooped up to me and said he’d marry me if I could hoop for longer than him. I tried. I really did! But, alas, no love connection.
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Yoga vs. Pilates: What is the Difference?

As a teacher of yoga and Pilates, I am aware that some people stick with either one method or the other as part of their exercise program. Even in our modern era of fitness, where crossover classes such as Yogilates are the latest rage, some choose to be loyal to their preferred modality.

While there are many similarities between yoga and Pilates, the differences that exist may be enough to tip the scale of favoritism.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a 5000-year-old discipline steeped in spirituality. The practice of yoga- however diluted by modern culture- still involves a whisper of self-reflection and divine connection. Good for the mind and the body, yoga rises above the realm of exercise because of its intention to elevate the consciousness of those who practice.


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Exercising in Heels is More for Fashion than Fitness

We’ve all seen it, the little girl (let’s say she’s four) clomping around the house in her mother’s high heels. For some women, an obsession with shoes starts young and for others, it doesn’t emerge until the teen years, if ever. Personally, I always saw my mother in her high heels and the clicking sound they made as she walked across the floor made me think she was the most beautiful and powerful woman in the world. I love that sound even now and regardless of how irrational it seems to you, it makes me feel gorgeous.

When I first heard about high heeled workouts, my initial reaction was “heck yes!” and then reality set in. The fact is, working out in high heels adds an entirely new level of possible injuries to your regimen. Consistently struttin’ your stuff in heels has been linked to weak muscles in the calves and ankles. Back and knee injuries also seem to be more common in women who regularly wear heels. Besides the more complicated physiological dangers, something as simple as your balance can be compromised when raised up on high heels. So then why the sudden surge in heel-based exercise classes?


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