The Best Broken Heart Workout? Pilates, of Course

Pilates for your Broken Heart
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Few things send more people to the gym than a broken heart. If you're already a workout junkie, a bad breakup can totally derail a solid workout regimen.

Regardless of your regular health kick, romantic failures have a significant impact on our well-being.  Some of us opt for hiding out under the covers and some find solace in a pint of frozen goodness. The company of best friends is critical and good movies can be a great way to occupy your brain space.

When the dark cloud of the first few weeks finally lifts, you'll need to get back to doing what's good for your body, albeit in a completely new way. Enter Pilates.

Any exercise is better than none, but the unique properties of Pilates can be uniquely effective for emotional recovery in specific ways. The distinct combination of targeted focus and mental multi-tasking serve as a respite for your mind in a way no other exercise even comes close to matching.  

We Turn Off the Music

The last thing you need is to be weeping on the gym floor as you hear Adele's raw desperation through the speakers. Welcome to the world of classical Pilates where music is off the table.

We want you listen to the instruction and cueing we give and the sound of your own breathing and heart rate. We'll provide enough sound and rhythm that you won't even miss the music and there's no risk some crooning melody will tug at your heart strings.

It's quiet, but in a whole new way.

EXAMPLE: The Hundred

  1. Lie on your back on a mat and draw the legs into your chest with a hug of the knees.
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  2. Lift your head, neck and shoulders, coming into an abdominal curl.
  3. Shoot your legs up and out to a 45-degree angle keeping your abs hollowed out.
  1. Reach the arms long by your hips.
  2. Begin pumping your arms up and down in time with your breath; five pumps to inhale and five pumps to exhale.
  3. Work your way up to 100 breaths or 10 breath cycles before returning to your start position with the knees into the chest.

Above all, listen. Listen to your breath. Tap into the sound of the deepest exhales. There's plenty of sounds to focus on without any music at all.

You'll Workout with Low Repetitions

The longer you do one thing over and over, the more likely your mind is to wander. With wandering comes feeling and memories. Not so with Pilates.

We cap off our reps at about 10 and link each move in the sequence so you are always concentrating on the move before and the move after. Low reps keep you working at your highest quality for short periods of time so you concentrate fully but only for limited snippets of time.

EXAMPLE: Ab Series

If you are new to Pilates, hop over to this article on the Pilates abdominal series (also known as the Series of Five or even the Stomach Series).

Whatever label you prefer, these five moves done in series each day are enough to keep your core in tip top shape. It will also hold your waistline accountable with a group of moves that max out at 10 reps each.

Connecting this series together keeps your brain engaged and allows you to maintain your highest intensity for each variation. Once your form starts to decline, you immediately shift to the next move, reset and begin again.

This briskly paced structure works like dance choreography or martial arts where you are highly engaged mentally throughout the entire experience.

We Focus on Your Form

Speaking of form, this is the flip side of low repetitions. Low reps with high specificity give you just enough time to focus hard and then suddenly you're on to the next move.

Within any given exercise we will challenge you to multi-task. That means you'll have at least a dozen important details to focus on at the same time. With all of your mental energy focused on several different parts of your body, you'll have no time for lovelorn thoughts.

EXAMPLE: Double Leg Stretch

  1. Lie on your Mat once again with your knees into the chest and curl up as you did for the Hundred.
  2. With your head lifted and Abs scooped, extend your legs up and out to a 45-degree angle and reach the arms backward as though you were an elastic band being pulled by your hands and feet.
  3. Keep the legs tightly together and work the gluteals by squeezing the heels together letting the toes open slightly. 
  4. In one sweeping motion, bring the knees back into the chest and the arms back overhead to hug the ankles strongly.
  5. Repeat 5 - 10 times.

Your form is the key here. Work your abdominals inward and upward. Concentrate on the tension you create as you pull your arms and legs in opposing directions. At the same time, fix your gaze towards your low belly. Your visual attention is a huge factor in keeping good form.

You'll Have to Use Your Memory

Empty spaces between exercises are the dreaded dead zone in any post-relationship workout. Instead of concentration, your mind is subject to random thoughts, memories and feelings.

Your Pilates workout will suck up all the empty spaces if you commit segments to memory and work on the ordered sequencing prompted by your instructor. 

EXAMPLE:  First 10 Exercises

Follow the first 10 exercises as laid out by Joseph Pilates in his book on home exercise, Return to Life. Memorizing the order of each move and the individual steps within each move strengthens your focus and memory and fills the quiet space in your mind with continual dialogue as you work out. As an added bonus, this routine is a go anywhere anytime workout that will work every part of your body.

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Feel Better and Look Great

That cliche about dropping the dead weight from your life and then from your body is a cliche for a reason. Scores of newly single people show up at the gym hoping to burn off the feelings of a failed relationship and earn a little muscle tone in the process.

Although fat burning and muscle building can take time, Pilates offers some immediate benefits that are visible the moment you walk out the door like posture, for instance. When you feel your spine lengthened, hips opened, abdominals lifted inward and upward you'll walk taller, prouder and happier. Which may just get the eye of a brand new suitor, or two.

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