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Q & A

Got a question about some aspect of mind-body-spirit fitness? Ask! It can be as earthly as "Can a heart monitor really enhance my workout?" (the short answer to that is yes) or as heady as, "Don't I need to sell all my worldly goods and go live on a mountain top to find enlightenment?" (the short answer here is no). Needless to say, we can't answer every question we receive, but we will take one every month and answer it here. If you've got a burning need to know about something, email us, and you may find your query featured next time around.

I have just begun practicing Pilates. If, after a few months, I decide to stop, will my muscles become flabby?

That all depends - if you stop doing Pilates, will you be starting up another form of exercise that involves resistance training? If not, then the answer is yes, you will most likely return to your former, flabby self. Once you get your body to the shape you want it to be, that's not the end of the story. You must either keep up the exercises you have been doing, or change to a different, but equally challenging exercise routine; otherwise you will lose the gains you earned. Muscles are not static - they need stimulation to maintain their tone.

(Article continued below.)

More importantly, perhaps you need to ask yourself why you may want to quit practicing Pilates after a few months. If you don't enjoy it, or it doesn't really appeal to you, then you should be looking into a different exercise form right now, not a few months from now. If you don't like a particular style of exercise, then there's really no use in forcing yourself to do it until you tone up. You're guaranteed to quit exercising at some point, and all that hard work will disappear. That's why finding activities you enjoy is so important. Exercise isn't a now-and-then sort of thing. Consistency is extremely important, and the only way you're going to have a consistent exercise routine is by doing what you enjoy. Maybe Pilates is not for you. Or maybe Pilates would be best for you as part of a varied exercise routine. What kind of activities do you enjoy? Would you rather be playing tennis, running, dancing, swimming or doing something else altogether? One of the best ways to design an exercise program is to pick an activity you can really be passionate about. Then you build the rest of your program around it. In other words, you target weight training and flexibility routines to enhance your favorite activity, not just to tone your body. If you love to dance, then Pilates is a logical addition to your routine. Beryl Bender Birch and her husband Thom Birch have discovered that Power Yoga and running make a great match. These are just two examples - the possibilities are endless. When you design a program so that it involves a variety of exercise styles, your body is challenged in different ways. This keeps you in better shape, and also keeps you interested in working out. If you're doing Pilates solely to look good, but you dread your sessions, you're not going to stick to it. On the other hand, if you choose an activity you really love, you'll be reluctant to stop!

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