Bend & Stretch
Like those who practice these disciplines, Yoga, Pilates and Barre are going from strength to strength in terms of their popularity. If you want to give one a go but don’t know which one to try, read on.
Yoga: A group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga includes breath control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures.
Pilates: A physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. The exercises consist of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements and emphasise correct postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance.
Barre: A combination of postures inspired by ballet, yoga and Pilates designed to strengthen, sculpt, slim and stretch the body.
Yoga, Pilates or Barre?
What are they and which one is for you? Alex Hasselkuss and Tali Gabai- Maiato, yoga instructors and co-owners of Lucky Elephant, and Vehia Walker, senior Pilates and barre instructor at Beyond Lucky give their insight on each of these exercises:
Alex: “Yoga is a great place to start for body awareness and balance. Often people think it is all about flexibility but it’s about strength as well. Flexibility doesn’t matter. Our beginner series teaches very basic poses so you get used to moving your body in different ranges of motion.
“Yoga also teaches you how to self-regulate. With the breathing, you naturally feel better because you’re thinking about your breath and how to slow it down.”
Tali: “There is a spiritual element to yoga, depending on the class or the teacher, but it doesn’t have to be spiritual if you prefer the physical side. Yoga is great for stress relief and mobility.
“Some yoga styles are slower paced, others fast, which aren’t appropriate for a beginner. Restorative or yin is very slow. Some hatha-style classes are more alignment based. Hatha is poses that aren’t necessarily linked one after the other. Vinyasa is a flow where you move from one pose to the next fluidly using your breath but you need a bit more flexibility and body awareness to do those classes.”
Vehia: “Pilates is very similar in terms of the philosophies behind it and the benefits. It’s a mind/body exercise and also helps with stress relief, but in a different way to yoga. It helps strengthen and stretch simultaneously.
“With Pilates there’s a big emphasis on core strength. There are Pilates machines and mat Pilates, which is more challenging and you can use props such as weights, a ball and the “magic circle.” Props aren’t for a beginner because you have to have some of the movements down.
“Barre is different. It is small, ballet-based movements, done to music and there is a lot of repetition. It targets mainly your lower half.”
Alex: “You can’t categorise who is right for yoga or Pilates because the exercises can be modified for age, ability or injury.”
Tali: “If you’re moving and enjoying it, that’s what you should do.”
Get Your Fight On
Everyone has days when you just want to hit or kick something. There is now a wide variety of fitness options, boxing gyms and martial arts specialists in Bermuda that will let you do just that and they all agree that it is one of the best ways to train and get fit.
“We’ve had really good interest in Boxfit, Kickfit and Fightfit,” says Cyril Whitter III, co-owner & martial arts instructor at Aries Sports Center. “Those classes are all based around the sports of boxing and kickboxing, and Fightfit is a merger of different types of martial arts. They provide an alternative way to get in shape and there is definitely some relief to being able to hit something without getting into trouble for it.”
Leo Richardson, who owns The New Controversy Boxing & Fitness Gym, agrees saying that boxing “appeals to people who want to release stress, get in shape and so something different. It’s a bit more body fulfilling because you’ve got to train from your head all the way down to your toes. It’s very satisfying.
“I would recommend boxing because as long as you’re consistent with it, not only will you lose weight but you will get stronger, more agile, more flexible and more relaxed. It requires patience and consistency,” he says.
At TAMA Dojo, Sensei Bob Smith, who is a 7th Degree Black Belt, teaches karate. “As violent as martial arts can look to most people, it is really about peace, preventing violence and looking out for one another,” he says. “Karate is a skill, a way of life. In Okinawa, where the art was developed, it was created for lifestyle and self-defence.
“Everyone can do karate. Not only does it help with personal protection but also fitness, goal setting, self-discipline and flexibility. The style I teach is Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate. The moves start basic and become more complex as you progress through the ranks. The basic moves involve different punches, kicks and stances. It becomes a life-long pursuit because you are always striving to be better at what you have learned.”
For full information on all the boxing, various martial arts and related fitness programmes available, please see the Directory.
“Safe, functional, efficient and effective exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. Not a punishment for what you ate.”
— Sophia Cannonier, Owner, Lotus
Follow these links to learn more about types of exercise, local classes, and which fitness program is the best fit for you: