The Women's Journal

Is The Thought Of Pilates Gut-Wrenching?

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By Nancy Hawkins Rigg,
Founder and Owner, Forever Fit Foundation


Inflammation in the body is a basic way the body reacts to injury or irritation. There are two types; acute and chronic. Acute is like having a cold and your body is quick to fight off the intruder. Chronic is a result of a bad diet, lack of exercise, stress, and smoking. What makes chronic inflammation so bad is that the damage it does flies under the radar. Maybe no obvious pain or symptoms. When it happens in the arteries, you create plaque. When it happens in the brain, you see loss of cognitive function.

Did you know?

  • There are more than 100 million neurons in your intestines
  • Your small intestine functions as your second brain
  • The small intestine contains more neurons than any other organ besides your brain, and as many as the spinal cord
  • After your brain, your small intestine experiences the greatest range of emotions, in which case can manifest itself in the form of gastrointestinal distress
  • More than a trillion bacteria live in your intestines, most are helpful but at least 500 species are potentially lethal
  • About 95 percent of your body’s serotonin is found in your intestines while your central nervous system has only 2 to 3 percent

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Inflammation happens on many different levels and through different mechanisms, many of them having to do with food. Not only can you get inflammation through allergies to food, but you can also get inflammation in the rest of your body. There is a chemical reaction of inflammation that happens within your bloodstream and is an underlying cause of weight gain. This process is like a “rusting” of our bodies. Just like metal rusts when exposed to oxygen, inflammation is caused when oxygen “free radicals” attack innocent bystanders in our body. The liver has to respond to saturated and trans fats in addition to toxins like cigarettes and stress. In turn, these inflammatory responses can cause things like hyper-tension, high cholesterol and insulin resistance which can lead to heart disease.

There are many benefits to having a healthy gut. Protection against metabolic disorders that affect 25 percent of American adults, production of certain vitamins, and immune system support to name a few.

So, how can we improve our gut health? Eat healthy anti-aging foods, maintain a healthy weight, reduce sugar and processed foods, lower our stress levels, improve our sleep and get regular EXERCISE!

Research has discovered a link between exercise and the bacterial composition of the gut. It seems regular exercisers have a greater diversity in their gut “microbiota.” Enter Pilates!

A consistent Pilates exercise routine can improve lymphatic flow and help flush toxins out of your tissues into your circulatory system to be detoxified. Pilates prepares us for a dynamic, unpredictable and multi-dimensional lifestyle. During a Pilates session, the body works from the inside out and the abdominals are made to move and stabilize the body from beginning to end. Once the “center” is connected, the risk of injury decreases and the level of body awareness increases. The “center” is the point from which all movement flows. Long before we heard of the “core,” there was the center, which Joseph Pilates himself talked about. It is a foundation of movement. We can’t build a house without a solid foundation, otherwise the walls would not stand tall and strong.

Let’s remind ourselves of the 6 Pilates principles: coordination, control, centering, precision, flow and breath. In each session we address the needs of our clients based on their abilities and limitations. Focusing on movements which strengthen the core will greatly improve posture and alignment (as well as keeping the plumbing in check). Use your body’s center and be mindful when engaging in all activities, whether you’re in a mat class or just walking down the street. This will not only strengthen your abs and lower back, but it will keep your body and mind in alignment. You will look and feel more confident and powerful, not to mention less bloated and gassy!

Give us a call or stop in to any of our 3 locations to say hello and receive a free half hour consultation for new clients. Get and stay gut healthy!

Nancy Hawkins Rigg is the Founder and Owner of Forever Fit Foundation, a personal training business specializing in Pilates, Gyrotonic, Gyrokinesis, Yamuna Body Rolling and sport specific training. Forever Fit Foundation accepts clients at three sites: Dover and Rehoboth, Del., and Mendenhall Station, Pa., just over the Delaware line. A certified athletic trainer, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and her master’s degree in exercise science and sports medicine from Miami University in Ohio. Please call (302) 423-1816 or (302) 698-5201 to schedule an appointment or for more information.