By SpaFinder | May 7, 2013
By Cassandra Cavanah
I rocked up to my regular Saturday morning yoga class outfitted top to toe in Asquith London. And I have to say it made my yoga experience feel even better than usual! The bamboo jersey leggings fitted perfectly (and are long enough even for my extra long legs!). The fabric is truly as soft and breathable as promised and I felt comfortable and covered when getting in and out of poses that can leave you feeling exposed at times. Combined with the extra long bamboo long-sleeve top, I felt fabulous. The real surprise and delight was the embellishment of a discreet row of Swarovski crystals on both pieces, the Asquith signature. I chose leggings in black – my staple colour – but opted for a top in “fire”…a colour as delightful as it sounds.
SpaFinder has teamed up with Asquith London for a competition this month – enter to win one of three 3-piece yoga outfits, worth £150 each! A delight for anyone – whether you’re a devoted yogi or just like fabulous, comfy weekend clothes! Enter now
By SpaFinder | April 16, 2013
By Jessica Remitz
Workdays can turn stressful in a matter of moments and before you know it, you’ve been stuck at your desk for eight hours straight. This spring, make a point of taking a little time on your lunch break to de-stress and re-energise yourself for the rest of the day with these seven simple exercises that can be done anywhere. Do two to three rounds of each for a comprehensive 30-minute workout that targets every area of the body.
“An outdoor workout at lunchtime is not only great for exercise, but it can help clear your mind and revitalise you so that you are more productive in the afternoon,” says Amber Edwards, group fitness manager for Equinox SOHO in New York City. “Fresh air and physical exertion are a fantastic combination to stimulate the mind.”
Jacks to Mountain Climber Cardio Burst
Get your heart beating with this cardio combination that can be done anywhere and augmented for added intensity. Edwards explains: Start by doing basic jumping jacks in place for 15 seconds, then switch to mountain climbers for 15 seconds. While doing the mountain climbers, keep your hands flat on the ground and your back flat, and pull your knees in towards your chest quickly, alternating right and left. Repeat each set of jacks and mountain climbers three times for a 90-second interval.
Try this move from Paula Procida, personal trainer at CLAY Health Club & Spa in New York City: Hold on to the edge of a bench (front or back depending on ability) and hold your body flat, supporting yourself with your arms, which should be shoulder-width apart. Inhale and lower yourself into a pushup. Exhale and push back up into your starting position. Keep your abs drawn in towards your spine and your shoulders away from your ears. Repeat 15 to 20 times for two to three sets.
“It may seem that doing a push up or a dip does not translate to sitting at your desk, however, these types of exercises can keep your posture strong,” Procida says.
She continues: Position yourself in a seated stance off the edge of a bench, supporting all of your weight on your hands as you hold the edge of the bench with your fingers pointed toward you. Inhale and slowly lower yourself down, bending your elbows backwards about 90 degrees and keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your abs tight. Exhale and straighten your arms again into your starting position, keeping your body as close to the bench as possible throughout. Repeat 15 to 20 times for two to three sets.
“These are one of my favourites because they are great for both strength and cardio, and they can be done anywhere, on either a flat surface or with a step or bench,” Edwards says.
Start with your right food in front and your left leg behind you, with your knee bent just over the ground. Using power, jump in the air and switch your legs so that the left foot is in front and the right is in back. For a low-impact option, step the feet together to switch legs instead of jumping. Continue alternating legs for 30 seconds, completing as many repetitions as possible. Repeat three times.
Sit to Squat Jump
This power move from Edwards uses your abdominal muscles in addition to your glutes and hamstrings. Use a step or bench to complete the move. Begin in a seated position on the step with your feet flat on the ground and toes pointing forward. Contract your lower abs to help you stand up from the step without using your hands for support, then slowly sit back down into your deep squat position to return to the step. Complete as many repetitions as possible in 30 seconds and repeat for three sets. Make this more challenging by adding a jump squat with your arms raised instead of standing, or by holding a medicine ball or weighted object with both hands in front of your chest.
Single-Leg Dead Lift with Wide Row
This can be done without equipment, but if you have light weights (or even a few full water bottles) you can enhance the strength benefits to your core muscles, hamstrings, and upper back. Begin standing with your body weight on your right foot and lift your left leg directly behind you as you bend forward with your arms straight and aimed towards the floor. Once you’re parallel to the floor, open your arms out to the sides (with weights in your hands if you have them) and squeeze your shoulder blades in toward the centreof your back. Lower your arms and return to a standing position before repeating on the left leg. Complete 8 to 12 reps on each side, Edwards says.
Plank with Knee Lifts
“We live in a world where schedules are constantly changing and shifting. If you have a half hour, step out and do what you can,” Procida says. “You don’t have time to do two sets? Do one, but don’t forgo the workout!”
Procida continues: Place yourself in a plank (or push up) position on the edge of a bench. Keeping your abdominals tight, bend your right knee towards your right elbow and bring it back down to the starting position. Repeat on your left side for a total of 20 reps (10 on each side) and complete two to three sets. Keep your shoulders away from your ears throughout and your back straight.
Images courtesy of Jessica Remitz
By SpaFinder | April 16, 2013
By Andrew Wolf, M.S. ED., exercise physiologist, Miraval Resort & Spa
As creatures that evolved in an environment that obligated constant movement the notion of sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours a day is totally unhealthy and foreign. Unfortunately, the last time I checked no one is really excited to pay me to go on monster hikes and epic bike rides five days a week. So I spend a fair amount of time in front of a computer, just like most of you. However, being in front of a computer does not mean that you do not have to move at all, you can engineer sneaky ways to move even in the modern work space. Here are 10 exercises you can do right in the office!
1. First things first, let’s not let our computer time wreck our posture. I always suggest that people get their screen up higher. Have a colleague come over and help while you raise your screen. You are looking for the centre of your screen to be at least at eye height when you are sitting up straight. This will keep the muscles of your neck and back engaged in a balanced manner that helps fight neck and back pain from sitting.
2. You can also work on your legs even if you are sitting. Reach down and place an open palm on the outside of each knee with your knees together. Spread your knees apart while resisting with hand pressure. Do this 10-20 times.
3. You can also work on the inner thighs by using something as simple as a cheap playground ball. Simply place the ball between your knees and squish it 10-20 times. This way you will also have a ball at work when the office gets playful.
4. If you do enough computer work you can look like the hunchback of Notre Dame. To combat this you need strong rhomboid muscles (the ones that pinch your shoulder blades together). Sitting at your desk reach out to either side of your with straight arms such that you make a T out of yourself. Rotate your hands so your thumbs are pointing behind you. Then pinch your shoulder blades together by trying to move your hands even further behind you.
5. If you trust the structural integrity of your chair you can grasp each armrest and lift your pelvis off the chair, count to five and let yourself back down. Not only does this work your triceps but it decompresses the lower spine.
6. Speaking of the lower back, we do much more forward bending that back bending and this can be detrimental. By simply scooting forward in your chair, placing your thumbs on the bony part of your lower back and then bending backwards you can even the score a bit.
7. If you can afford to get up and find an uninhabited corner of the office you can do my favourite move, “the snow angel in the corner.” Face a corner with about 1-4 feet between your toes and the corner. Straighten your arms and reach out to each wall with locked elbows. Now keeping your fingers on the wall make a snow angel. If you have to bend your elbows you are too close to the corner. If it feels to easy get further into the corner.
8. If you must have powerful pecs you can always do a simple isometric move that is proven to keep muscle tone. While sitting at your desk with exemplary posture place the palms of your hands together at the height of your solar plexus. Push your hands together with all you have for 5-10 seconds, pause and do it again.
9. The other thing you can do are simple squats. Push back from your desk, sit on the edge of your chair and look up at a slight angle. With your arms at your side stand up and sit back down. Make sure your chair is not rolling away as you do this because it could be embarrassing. Do 2-4 sets of 12 throughout the day.
10. If you happen to be employed in an enlightened work place think about lobbying for tread desks. If you spend three hours answering emails or crunching excel spreadsheets all while walking at two miles per hour it will never seem hard and you will not sweat. In three hours, walking at two miles per hour burns 600 calories that you would have never burned just sitting.
What are some of your favourite workouts to do at your desk? Let us know!
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Earning his Master’s Degree at the Human Performance Lab UT Austin, Andrew Wolf specialises in exercise performance enhancement as well as diabetes treatment and prevention through enhanced metabolic function. Wolf’s expertise can help guests gain a deeper understanding on how their fitness levels may be impeding or aiding in the prevention of some of today’s most common and preventable diseases
By SpaFinder | April 16, 2013
By Wendy Toth
If the term aerial yoga immediately brings to mind visions of inverted tricks being performed from fabrics 20 feet in the air, fear not. Aerial yoga uses fabrics as an aid, not a way to perform death-defying feats.
Aerial yoga builds on yoga postures and sequencing, but from a brand new perspective.
“The aerial fabric facilitates deeper stretches, greater stability in balancing poses, a wider range of strength and conditioning techniques, and makes inversions safe and accessible,” says Sandhi Ferreira, an instructor at Om Factory in New York City. “The combination of Vinyasa yoga with aerial fabric promotes comprehensive fitness, including joint and spine mobility, a healthy posture, flexibility, core strength, and greater body awareness.”
As with any yoga class, the dress is comfortable, fitted clothing that allows range of movement. However, since silks are involved, aerial yoga comes with a few extra rules. Keep your midriff and thighs covered. “We also ask students to remove jewelry for this class so as to not tear the fabric,” says Ferreira. Lotions, perfumes, and colognes are also to be avoided.
And to fully ensure you’re comfortable in that outfit, take your before-class diet into consideration. “It is recommended that one eats a light snack about two hours before class and arrives well hydrated,” she says.
Finally, since the class includes inversions, it is not recommended for students who are pregnant, have high or low blood pressure, loose retina, recent injury to the spine or head, or glaucoma and heart conditions.
Say It… For Motivation
For starters, the programme is structured in a progressive format, says Ferreira. You can start with a foundation, or beginner-level class.
And secondly, it’s fun! “We’ll be there to support one another, laugh together, and encourage one another to be adventurous,” she says.
Find It… Near You
Find similar classes in the UK by researching “aerial yoga” and “cloud swing”. Aerial Yoga London and Flying Fantastic offer a range of classes in the capital suited to your abilities. Antigravity Yoga can be found at Virgin Active Health Clubs and they are opening new studio locations nationwide.
“The most common excuse we hear from people is that they aren’t strong or flexible enough,” says Ferreira, “They see others practicing in the fabric and assume it’s not possible.”
But you can trust your teacher to provide you with the building blocks to practice safely. “Since our foundations-level class hovers just several inches off the ground, students build the confidence to overcome fear progressively,” she says.
Just like your regular old grounded yoga class, the postures can be modified to suit the students’ needs and abilities.
“It is incredibly inspiring to see people overcome their own limiting belief systems about what is possible and feel empowered and transformed through the experience,” says Ferreira. “That is what yoga is about: a transformative experience that engages the mind, body and spirit.”
Photos via OM Factory
By SpaFinder | April 3, 2013
By Rachel Chemerynski
With the passing of the first day of spring, and even though it may not feel like it for UK residents, spring is most definitely in the air. The question is, are you ready to welcome the new season? The time has come for some spring cleaning, and no we’re not just referring to cleaning out that space in your garage you’ve been meaning to get to for the past three years. We’re talking about some serious cleansing for your home, kitchen, body, and even your mind. With these simple de-cluttering dos and don’ts, you’ll be basking in the joys of the season in no time!
Spring Cleaning for Your Home
Do: Purge your wardrobe and drawers, setting aside a pile of clothes to give away or donate. Once you’re through, you may even want to consider colour-coordinating your closet to add more order. Plus, it’s the perfect way to showcase all your favourite brights!
Don’t: Hang on to every last pair of skinny jeans or old tees. If you haven’t worn it in a couple of seasons, it’s time to say goodbye.
Do: Recycle used magazines and newspapers to create a comfortable, clean reading space.
Don’t: Let your mail pile get the best of you. Set aside some time to organise: read, sort, or shred!
Do: Go “green” by purchasing some eco-friendly household cleaning products.
Don’t: Be a beauty product hoarder! Check the expiration dates, and clean out that over-stuffed makeup bag once and for all.
Spring Cleaning for Your Kitchen
Do: Plan ahead. Dedicate Sundays as your day to get most of your grocery shopping done for the week. Make a list so you know exactly what ingredients you need in order to prepare your favourite meals. Hey, maybe you can finally make use of all of those drool-worthy foodie pins on Pinterest.
Don’t: Purchase more than you need (or can afford). Stick with the basics and buy more as desired throughout the week.
Do: Organise your fridge, tossing expired items to make room for the new!
Don’t: Order take-out or fast food for a week straight.
Do: Clean your plate, and no we’re not talking about licking it clean; rather we encourage you to “eat clean” utilising fresh, wholesome ingredients.
Don’t: Fall victim to a shelf-load of packaged, processed, or artificial foods. Go for the real deal!
Do: Play with fresh herbs — like parsley, dandelion root, and milk thistle — all known to help detox and cleanse the body from toxins.
Don’t: Let your herbs wilt or dry out. To keep herbs fresh longer, try storing in an herb keeper, glass jar on the counter, or wrapped in a damp paper towel in the fridge, depending on the type.
Spring Cleaning for Your Body
Do: Eat with the seasons, filling your plate with fresh spring fruits and vegetables like kale, asparagus, peas, kiwi and cherries.
Don’t: Consume the same foods every day. Add some variety to your plate!
Do: Try a mini cleanse or detox that works right for your body and lifestyle.
Don’t: Use a cleanse as a permanent “diet.” Rather, they’re meant to be treated as a healthy jump-start.
Do: Book yourself a much-needed massage. Don’t know where to go? Lucky for you, we’ve got hundreds of spas to choose from right here on SpaFinder. Sort by service or location, and use our handy massage guide to find your perfect fit.
Don’t: Forget to drink your water and stay hydrated, especially important after a massage.
Do: Detoxify, hydrate, and relax with a DIY sugar body scrub or revitalising facial to start the season off on a fresh note.
Don’t: Use harsh, unnatural chemical-laden products on your face or body. Check your inventory and see which products you could go without. We’re suckers for natural deodorant!
Spring Cleaning for Your Mind
Do: Practice mindful eating, at the very least for your breakfast.
Don’t: Rush through meals…or life for that matter.
Do: Book a holiday to one of our Top 10 Wellness Retreats for a healthy reset.
Don’t: Overbook yourself; embrace saying “no” when you need to.
Do: Take time to unplug by curling up with a good book before bed, going for a long walk/run or just simply being.
Don’t: Spend the hours right before bed hooked up to your TV, iPhone, iPad, or favourite gadget.
Do: Incorporate meditation into your daily life, as it’s known to reduce stress and cleanse the mind.
Don’t: Lose sleep over it! Catch up on your Zzzs with relaxing spa treatments — like acupuncture, reflexology, and essential oil based facials — all designed to promote healthy sleep habits.
Do: Take an afternoon breather at the office. Enjoy lunch outside, go for a walk or simply stand up to stretch.
Don’t: Let stress get the best of you at work. Try these simple stress management tips!
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Rachel Chemerynski is a certified health coach and freelance writer living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the founder of Healthy Chicks, a wellness community dedicated to inspiring twenty-something women to live happier, healthier, more satisfying lives.