(Elaine Winslow-Redmond trains The Rockettes. Credit: MSG Entertainment)
As 2014 begins, we asked our favorite fitness trendsetters to share wellness tips for the new year. From the Rockettes' athletic trainer to Jenna Dewan-Tatum's meditation teacher, we've got insider wisdom to help you embrace your healthiest self.
Balance Your Strength and Flexibility
"I really recommend that the ladies balance their bodies with strength and flexibility," says Elaine Winslow-Redmond, head athletic trainer for the Rockettes, whose background lies in exercise, physiology, and nutrition. "The dancers tend to be more flexible, so we emphasize strength. For the average person, most of them are tight, and maybe weak, so finding that balance of flexibility and strength is ideal."
As Elaine points out, there's no need to fear those muscles. "Women in general should take a look at strength and not be afraid of it," she explains. "By increasing your muscle mass, you're going to increase your metabolism and it's going to have a wealth of benefits, women always think that they're bulking up––that's just not going to happen if you're consistent with your routine."
Certainly, in addition to weight training at the gym, other strength-building workouts like Pilates, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can transform your lifestyle over time. "You can use your own body weight; it doesn't have to be actual weights. Anything that adds resistance of some sort." As for eating right to fuel that active lifestyle, "I still stick with the premise of doing six small meals throughout the day, watching portion size, and adding a protein and a carb, along with great hydration."
Emily meditates on New York's Times Square subway platform
"Before teaching meditation I was on Broadway for ten years, my last show was very intense and the stress was giving me insomnia," says Emily Fletcher, a Vedic mediation teacher whose Ziva Meditation students have included actresses like Jenna Dewan-Tatum. "I started going gray at the tender age of 26. On the first day of my meditation course I slept through the night for the first time in 18 months, I have every night since––and that was eight years ago. Since then, I stopped getting sick, stopped getting injured, and started enjoying my job again. Meditation up-leveled my life so dramatically that I felt inspired to share it, so I quit Broadway, went to India, and trained for three years to be a teacher. Now, I wake up everyday to emails from my clients sharing how the practice has made their lives easier, more fun, and they actually seem to have more time even though they take the time out to meditate."
Learn more about Vedic meditation through Emily's #PDM Campaign (Public Display of Meditation.) "I want to give meditation the coming out party it deserves by outing all of these hyper successful people who already meditate," she says. "Basically I am reaching out to all of the celebrities and CEO's who meditate and asking them to do a photo shoot of them meditating. We also have hundreds of photos coming in on Instagram of people meditating in public."
(Mahri in action)
Make a Star Chart
Mahri Relin is the professional dancer turned personal trainer and fitness instructor behind Body Conceptions by Mahri; a full-body lengthening and sculpting method that combines the principles of dynamic movement and muscle exhaustion, much of which she learned from dance. In addition to making small promises to yourself, like "cutting that one food out of my diet I've been trying to quit for ONE day a week," or "adding one new one-hour fitness class to my schedule per week," Mahri suggests making yourself a Star Chart to help motivate.
"Remember when your parents gave you stars every time you accomplished little goals," she says. "And then you received a prize when you earned a certain number of those stars? Why not try that for yourself? Come up with little goals that are easily accomplished, and make sure you take note of achieving those goals. After looking back and realizing that you accomplished them, give yourself a reward that celebrates your accomplishment and also makes you feel great, like a day at the spa, a massage, or a full evening all to yourself. When you look back, realize that you're a capable person, and maybe you've permanently changed some bad habits without even realizing."
Mix it Up
"Create your own exercise hybrid," says Kat Ellis, a fitness and dance professional originally from Virginia, who now teaches at New York's Uplift. "Our bodies are highly intelligent at adapting, and won't work as hard once they establish a specific muscle memory. If you want to see changes, find a fun mix of workouts that increase your heart rate, enhance your muscular strength and endurance, and facilitate better flexibility. Not only will you have more fun and avoid plateauing, you will see changes more quickly and will stick to a program longer because you'll never be bored."
Kat suggests trying cardio that doesn't require a machine. And why not? "In daily life, we move in multiple planes of motion," she explains. "From running, to picking up our kids, to playing sports, our body performs multiple tasks. Machines don't allow for three-dimensional movement, and they assist the work, rather than you creating the challenge and using your muscles and cardiovascular system to increase your heart rate and flush out toxins. So if your joints are healthy, try a cardio bootcamp, HIIT class, run a race, or explore a new dance class that challenges your body on a whole new level."
What are your wellness tips for 2014? Let us know.