Exercise! - Pilates, Elliptical, and Yoga questions from a dingbat...

09-11-2003, 12:33 PM
1.) Is it possible for someone who needs to lose 100 pounds or more to do yoga? Is there such a thing as yoga for beginners?

2.) What the heck is Pilates and Elliptical???????

3.) What are the differences between all these and which would be better or worse for a beginner? Why would or wouldn't I want to do these?

Please keep in mind, when I say beginner, I mean a person who is more sedementary than the average sedementary person. I have no exercise in my lifestyle at the present time and haven't in a very long time.

Thanks for all the help,


09-11-2003, 02:53 PM
Lisa, Please, don't let your weight stop you from doing yoga! I'm 100 pounds over my ideal weight, and when I went to my first yoga class, I was terrified. But what I found there was the most body-accepting and modifyable-for-any-fintess-level workout ever.

I took my first class at my company's gym. They had just hired a yoga teacher, and she offered several levels, including an introductory level. Now that yoga is becoming so popular, you should be able to find a beginner's yoga class just about anywhere: not only yoga studios (I'm lucky to live in an area swarming with them, but also regular gyms and places like the Y. Generally, there are people of all fitness levels in a beginning class.

The nicest thing about yoga is that it's not focused on losing weight; the practice is about becoming in touch with your body and training it, along with your mind. Yoga is a great weight-loss exercise, but it's also a contemplative practice that puts you in touch with your body: it's needs, capabilities, and demands. Most of us who are overweight have lost touch with our bodies. I tried all kinds of exercise classes before yoga, and I was always miserable: sweating and jerking myself around to keep up with the aerobics instructor. Yoga gave me a chance to slow down and pay attention to what was happening to my body as I moved it in various ways. I think you'll be surprised at how much more satisfying it is to work out when you are not pummeling your body or beating yourself up for being unfit, but instead asking your body in a kind and loving way to perform movements that, though they may be demanding, are healing and strenghtening.

Another great feature of yoga it that you can completely modify it for your level of fitness. Every pose in yoga can be performed at its most advanced level (I'm sure you've seen images of people in pretzel-like positions), or it an be modified to something very manageable. As you continue to practice yoga, you'l slowly work up to more advanced forms of the poses. Most beginner classes start you with modified poses. If there is ever a pose you just can't do, ask the teacher to show you a modified form of the pose.

There are many different types of yoga, which can get confusing if you're just starting out. Astange yoga is one of the more common: it uses a series of poses that flow into each other, and focuses on coordinating the breath with the movements. Most "Power Yoga" is based on this, but tends to be more quickly-paced to include a cardiovascular workout. There is also Hatha yoga, which focuses more on the spiritual and Buddhist aspect of the practice. Birkham yoga is performed in a very hot room; it is believed that tis allows deep-muscle work. A quick google search on types of yoga should yeild you plenty of resources that will explain each yoga practice in detail. If you're just looking for a place to begin, look at the local gyms and Ys. Most classes taught there will be some form of power yoga. If you can find a yoga studio in your area (look in the yellow pages under buddhist temples if you can't find a listing for yoga studios), you can just call them and ask them to explain what kind of yoga they teach.

If you don't want to commit to a class or hate working out with other people (although the people in a yoga class tend to create a very welcome, loving environment), there are tons of videos out there. Rodney Yee's video series is popular, and you should have no trouble finding some of his tapes (my library carries them). I think he was featured on Oprah recently.

Sorry this reply has gotton so long, but I hope it gives you a sense of where to start with yoga. Please feel free to email me if you have more questions. Sorry I can't help you with information on pilates or elliptical. I did check out a pilates video from the library this week, and it looks promising. I'll let you know if it's any good! Good luck!

09-11-2003, 03:24 PM
No apologizes needed! You have been so informative!! Thank you so much for giving me somewhere to start.


09-11-2003, 09:25 PM
You aren't the only one who has been raising couch potatohood to an art form. ;)

In the 4 months since I started this, I've rediscovered a whole bunch of muscles. Some of what I've found out:
1. I found the class in my local rec center to be like an aerobics class, and have gone to DVDs to learn what I need to know. My knees have no cartilage, and it's a challenge, but I like the centeredness and spirituality.
I use the AM and PM yoga DVD, and Rodney Yee does the morning section. Aside from being adorable, he does a good workout.
My husband gave me Yoga for the Young at Heart with Susan Winter Ward for my birthday -- I'm 55, and still over 90 lbs over where I want to be. The menopause workout is awesome. One thing that I really like about it is that, as the end of the workout, they summarize the alternate poses, showing how you can do interesting things even when you aren't real fit (like shoulder stands!)

2. Pilates is a stretching and toning workout. I love the feeling of it, but I studied dance for many years as a kid, and I do remember what it felt like. I'm so bad at it now, though! Still, every day I do get better, so this is a good thing.

3. Elliptical trainers are machines that you can work out on that put no strain on your knees -- which I need. Ask the instructors in the workout room of a health club which machines they recommend for you -- try all the different machines and see which ones you like. Then, you may be able to find a home version, if you wish to have a home exerciser.

09-11-2003, 10:06 PM

I am including a picture of one brand of an eliptical glider machine. I have one that was given to me just a couple weeks ago. As you can see from my stats, I am a BIG lady and I still have 170 lbs to lose. The one I have has these piston looking things that you can attach and it gives resistance for walking. When I started, I did 15 minutes WITHOUT the resistance. My hip would hurt, but I found that after a few minutes it actually went away. The only problem I had was in the beginning after about 7 or 8 minutes my feet would hurt from standing still on them (part of that I think is that I am flat footed) but I didn't give up and that too quit after a few days of exercising. I did 3-15 minutes sessions a day and now do 3-15 minute sessions WITH the resistance and will work my time longer and longer as I get more and more endurance. It really relieves stress from the knees and I have a knee that I damaged several years ago and still have problems with and this does not seem to bother it at all like bouncing up and down with aerobics or something like that would. The one thing I would suggest is that you combine it with other things because I don't care what they say, I don't think it is a good overall workout. I do upper body resistance training every other day for just a few minutes to build up my arms etc and I also walk 3-4 times a week.
Hope this provides the info you need. PM me if I can answer any other questions!


09-11-2003, 11:41 PM
Cool, Faye!

I didn't realize that the Gazelle was an elliptical trainer -- I thought they were only the items like the expensive bikes and gliders at the health club, like the Power Glide.

09-13-2003, 12:20 AM
It is not an eliptical.
An eliptical machine is a machine that mimics the natural stride without impact on the joints. you stand on peddles and your feet never leave them. You can change incline ad resistance so you can have a WO you can live with.


Suzanne 3FC
09-13-2003, 02:33 AM
Here's an image of an elliptical. I've been curious about them! My brother has one, but I've never seen it or tried it out. Looks like fun.

09-13-2003, 10:16 AM
Thanks to everyone for all your help, now I don't feel like such a dummy.



09-14-2003, 09:19 PM

Don't feel like a dummy! You can't learn unless you ask questions! So don't hestitate to ask anything.

I was a total couch potato. This January I made up my mind to exericse. I started at 256 lbs. At first all I could do was ride my exercise bike for five minutes at a time. By March I worked up to riding for thirty minutes at a time. Then I decided to do exercise videos.

For beginners, Leslie Sansone is excellent-there's no jumping, she always has someone modify, and the workouts are four basic steps.

I really liked starting with her for cardio. I've since moved up to more intense videos (but not really intense) I keep hers for days when I don't want any choreography.

As far as yoga, I REALLY like Crunch: Candlelight Yoga. The instructor is great. Her name is Sara Ivanhoe. She has someone in the class modifying to show easier poses.

But, before yoga, you may want to start with a stretch tape. My absolute favorite is Tamilee Webb Total stretch for beginners DVD. It has one thirty minute workout, and three ten minute stretches-one seated in a chair, one on the floor, and one standing.

If you're interested in videos, visit two websites:

collagevideo.com They have descriptions, reviews, and video previews of hundreds of videos.

videofitness.com- a group of people who love to exercise with videos. There are message boards, tons of reviews, and information on getting started with videos.

If you have any other questions, please ask.

BTW, I've lost 48.5 lbs since January, and a lot of it is due to exercising.

Take care,

09-14-2003, 11:30 PM
Thanks a bunch Sherry, I will look into them if these ones for the library don't work for me. ( I doubt they will)


09-16-2003, 08:54 AM
Forgive me for leading you astray. I was told an eliptical was any non impact with the ground machine. I apologize and I am sorry I caused you more confusion.

09-16-2003, 11:05 AM
No apologies necessary, I still thank you for your good intentions in trying to help me out. :)