Ree-Balance is a programme specifically developed to combine the benefits of Pilates and true stretch. People will have heard of the term core training, and normally to a lesser extent pelvic floor training, but can find the thought of attending a Pilates class somewhat intimidating. Whether this is due to a belief that to do the class you have to be flexible or not be aware of the terminology used in class.
They may already be used to utilising other group exercise offerings in the studios for other classes or be looking for the motivation and fun that classes often bring.
Ree-Balance offers the benefits of Pilates and stretch, coupled with the motivation of a group class where technique is continually monitored and controlled by a suitably skilled instructor, giving them a safe and effective workout. In addition to this the repetition utilised in each track means that people become familiar with the moves very quickly.
Benefits of Pilates Training
It builds muscle strength and tone. Humans lose 5lbs of muscle every decade after the age of 30.
The number of muscle fibres declines with age. From age 30 to age 70 we can lose more than 25% of the type 2 muscle fibres in our bodies (type 2 fibres are our strength fibres). Resistance exercise can slow down or even reverse the aging process by building muscle mass and strength.
It's been shown to build bone. Osteoporosis, a condition of accelerated bone mineral loss which leads to fractures, can be a crippling disease, particularly in women (although men get it, too), and research on resistance exercise suggests that it can build bone even in the elderly.
It can improve your posture.
There is some evidence that resistance exercise helps lower moderately high blood pressure.
It can improve your joint mobility.
More strength can lead to fewer falls in the elderly.
Resistance exercise can raise metabolic rate, an important factor in maintaining body weight.
It's never too late to start. In one study of elderly men and women (mean age 87) who lifted weights three times per week for 10 weeks, strength increased a whopping 113%! The improvement in strength enabled the elderly participants to also walk faster (12% faster than before the study), climb 28% more stairs, and it even caused the muscles in their thighs to increase by more than 2.5%.
Whilst group exercise Pilates classes have become incredibly popular over the years, there are still some concerns from potential attendees that would may need to be overcome. Like any group exercise class these range from fear of the unknown to feeling silly at not being able to keep up.
As Ree-Balance utilises Pilates inspired movements, we predominantly utilise lateral thoracic breathing patterns. This emphasises the lateral expansion of the rib cage while maintaining navel to spine abdominal contraction during different phases of a Pilates exercise. The ribs move outward and upward like a bucket handle.
The reason that lateral breathing is used in Pilates is to help maintain the abdominal contraction while the exercises are performed, as a stable and strong core is important to ensure the exercise is performed effectively and safely.
The principle of breathing can be difficult to explain to your participants. While it is an important part of Pilates inspired movements, would you rather they breathe perfectly with incorrect technique on the exercise or perform the exercise well and occasionally you have to remind them to breathe? Obviously, the latter offers a safer more effective workout.
Mechanics of Breathing
Air is drawn into, and subsequently removed, from the lungs by increasing or decreasing the size of the thoracic cavity.
As the volume of the chest cavity increases the pressure inside drops and as the air outside is now of a higher pressure it forces air into the lungs. The muscles for increasing the chest cavity now relax, reducing the cavity size and as such forcing the air out of the lungs.
The lungs are a pair of spongy, air-filled organs located on either side of the chest (thorax). The trachea or windpipe conducts inhaled air into the lungs through its tubular branches, called bronchi. The bronchi then divide into smaller and smaller branches (bronchioles), finally becoming microscopic. The bronchioles eventually end in clusters of microscopic air sacs called alveoli.
In the alveoli, oxygen from the air is absorbed into the blood. Carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism, travels from the blood to the alveoli, where it can be exhaled.
Effects of Training on the Respiratory System
The size of the lungs does not increase as a result of exercising/training, but they do become more efficient. We start to use more of the available space in the lungs, known as your vital capacity.
Putting It In Practice
To feel the effects of lateral breathing try this exercise:
Place the palms of your hands on your lower ribs along the sides of the body.
Breathe into the sides and back of the rib cage while maintaining navel to spine contraction.
Feel the rib cage expanding into the palms of the hands.
Ree-Balance aims to bring the benefits of body weight training with the appeal of group exercise to all levels of ability and experience of class attendees. It utilises both compound and isolation exercises, it offers both strength and flexibility training, whilst maintaining the ethos of instructor led fun challenging workouts.
Ree-Balance – The Programme
Is designed to offer a balanced, safe and effective workout. As such it is important to follow the format of the pre-designed programme. It is possible to substitute tracks from other Ree-Balance releases, but they must always be like for like and in the correct order as released.
Each release has been designed to specifically work the body in a pre-designed format to ensure the full body is utilised and then a deep stretch sequence ends the class.
Each release covers the major muscle functions, works opposing muscle groups and offers the body a balanced training programme.
Ree-Balance – Class Structure
Each release is designed with a 60-minute class in mind, but that said the music doesn’t run for the full time to allow set up and clear down in line with clubs that have a back to back approach of fitness classes.
The track order is established to offer a balanced, safe and effective workout and whilst like for like tracks may be switched in from other Ree-Balance releases, they cannot be swapped for alternative styles of tracks.
Below is a typical Ree-Balance release showing the track order:
Track 1 - Mobilisation
Track 2 - Mobilisation
Track 3 - Balance
Track 4 - Lower Body Strength
Track 5 - Transition / Upper Body Strength
Track 6 - Abdominals, Back and Core
Track 7 - Floor based strength
Track 8 - Stretch
Track 9 - Stretch
Track 10 - Stretch
As with any class the individual need or ability of the attendee should be considered.
As in: Is it there first class? Are they injured? Etc’
The goal is to Challenge the Body but be able to Maintain Control throughout the tracks.
Should a 45-minute class be required then you would simply miss out two tracks. The tracks that should be removed are Track 4 – The lower body strength track and Track 8 – The first stretch track, since these utilise muscle groups which are in use as support / secondary muscles in other tracks.
It is also good practice to periodically offer taster classes, this is particularly good in new teaching environments or to increase interest in attending a full class. Or as part of a showcase of class offerings to raise general awareness of your skill set and offerings.
Ree-Balance – Class Components
Each session must consist of the following:
A mobility phase
A balance and strength phase
A deep stretch phase.
The Mobility Phase
As the title suggests this phase prepares the body for exercise. It takes the body from its steady state (the state our body functions in for normal day to day activities) to a level where it is better prepared to cope with the stresses which are about to be placed on it during the balance and strength phase.
The aim of the mobility phase is to:
Gradually increase heart rate.
Increase the blood flow to the muscles.
Increase core temperature.
Increase mobility of the joints.
Mentally prepare the participant.
Decrease the risk of injury.
The Balance and Strength Phase
It is during this phase that the training affect is achieved. The exercises performed in this phase are specific to the desired results. There are numerous exercises that can be performed during this phase, each of them has benefits and can result in different physiological changes based on the principles of specificity and adaptation. Ree-Balance has a format that ensures all major muscles are worked during the session, this is why it is essential that you always follow the same format of muscle group selections, although you can pick the track from any of the Ree-Balance releases.
The Deep Stretch Phase
After the balance and strength phase, the body needs to recover. Recovery assists the body in returning the body to a normal state.
This recovery is what is referred to as the deep stretch phase.
During the workout the muscular systems are in a highly active state. These systems need to gradually decrease their activity level and return to normal. The systems should decrease gradually to prevent any adverse side effects to exercise occurring.
The aims of the cool down are:
Gradually decrease the heart rate.
Removal of lactic acid build up.
Prevent blood pooling in the muscles.
Prevent muscle soreness.