Fusion Workouts: Fitness, Yoga, Pilates, and Barre - Helen Vanderburg (2016)

Part I. Foundation of Fusion Workouts

What are fusion workouts?

Getting started

Mindfulness and intention

Fusion workouts are the perfect blend of exercises based on fitness, yoga, Pilates, and dance that take a mindful approach to give you optimal results. Understanding the philosophy and training principles before learning the exercises will ensure success in your exercise program.

Core conditioning is one of the hottest topics in fitness training. You will understand how to train the core and progress through your core work. You will learn breathing techniques that will enhance your core workouts by linking breath and core engagement.

Before you begin your workout, follow the simple guidelines to set yourself up for success. Learning to set intentions and being mindful of your thoughts during your fusion workouts empowers you to take control of your health and well-being. You will gain an appreciation for how the mind affects your body and physiological systems and ultimately your results.

Chapter 1. What Are Fusion Workouts?

Fusion workouts are an exciting and innovative way to get fit, build strength, change your body composition, and feel good. This unique way to train optimizes the best of a variety of exercise forms including fitness, yoga, Pilates, and barre, providing endless workout programs that are effective, challenging, and fun. The distinct blending of fusion workouts is an efficient way to gain strength, muscle definition, endurance, flexibility, and balance. And it will never get boring because the combinations of exercises are endless. Whether you want an invigorating or restoring workout, fusion workouts are versatile and will meet your daily needs.

Fusion Workouts provides a wide range of exercises and workout plans that are motivating, safe, and highly effective regardless of your experience, fitness level, or interests. Best of all, no specialized equipment is necessary—just your body!

You will learn a simple system for choosing from more than 100 exercises to create a complete workout. Mix and match the exercises to build your workout for the day or follow the preplanned workouts based on your available time, goals, interests, or fitness level.

This book will give you the knowledge to succeed by providing exercise photos, movement descriptions, and well-designed fusion workouts. Each exercise description includes simple yet effective instructions, photos showing how to perform the exercise for maximum results, and tips and modifications that make the exercise adaptable to a variety of exercisers.

Benefits of Fusion Workouts

Fusion Workouts contains a complete program for mind and body conditioning. By blending the best of yoga, Pilates, fitness, and barre, fusion workouts provide the yin and yang of mind and body training, offering both physical and mental challenges balanced with a sense calmness and restoration. This nonimpact program will define, strengthen, restore, and nurture your body and soul.

A unique feature of fusion workouts is the variety of exercise sequences that challenge the body to adapt and change, leading to incredible results and a leaner, more sculpted physique. By frequently changing the type of exercises, the sequencing, and the intensity of the work, the body is continually stimulated to make changes, producing better results over time. It is well documented that regularly changing your exercise routine keeps the body adapting and helps you avoid exercise plateaus.

Functional training is a buzzword in the fitness industry. The movement toward better function refers to the ability to perform in your everyday life with ease, strength, and endurance. One of the best ways to train functionally is by mastering the movement of your own body against gravity. This is referred to as bodyweight training. Fusion Workouts is a bodyweight exercise program that builds strength, balance, and flexibility for everyday life.

The fusion methodology teaches you how to master the movement of the body to get the best results. The foundation of fusion exercises is quality of movement. Exercise experts agree that quality of movement is essential to achieving the best results. Exercises done with poor technique, alignment, and posture place undue stress on the joints and eventually cause strain. You also run the risk of not achieving the desired training results. Like any activity, the better you master the movement using ideal alignment and technique, the better the outcome.

The program outlined in Fusion Workouts is designed to help you overcome the three biggest barriers to exercise: time, accessibility, and boredom.

Save Time

Fusion workouts are efficient. You get the best of yoga, Pilates, fitness, and barre all in one workout. You control how much time you allocate to your workout each day. With the flexibility of the workout plans, you do not need to skip a workout if you do not have an hour to dedicate to it. Simply use the fusion five-step system and create efficient workouts in as few as 20 minutes.

Access Easily

Convenience is an important factor in keeping your fitness program on track. Whether at home, in a gym, or on vacation, you can practice fusion exercises to improve muscular strength, stability, balance, flexibility, and endurance as well as to improve mindfulness and create peace of mind. With no specialized equipment or experience required, fusion exercises allow you to tailor your own workouts.

Fight Boredom

Doing anything too much and for too long will lead to boredom. A benefit of fusion workouts is that they can vary as much as you would like. The fusion system is unique in that it offers more than one way to exercise, including 15 easy-to-follow workouts based on fitness level, time, purpose, and activity. You will never get bored doing fusion workouts!

Best of all, Fusion Workouts gives you a wide selection of exercises at various intensities that can be done every day depending on the workout you choose. In this book, you will learn how to design your daily and weekly workout plan by using the fusion system, keeping your workouts interesting and effective.

Integration of Fusion Practices

Fusion workouts blend a variety of movement disciplines—yoga, Pilates, fitness, and barre—to harvest the benefit that each has to offer for a well-balanced, total-body conditioning workout.

Yoga

The yoga postures have been specifically chosen to increase strength, balance, mobility, and stability. The control, focus, and mindfulness at the heart of yoga will enhance the benefit of each pose.

Pilates

The Pilates exercises focus on body awareness and core conditioning. At the foundation of Pilates is quality of movement, controlled breathing, and body alignment to build a stronger core and better posture.

Fitness

The fitness conditioning and flexibility exercises will complement the yoga postures and Pilates exercises. This will balance the overall training benefit for you to achieve a strong and toned physique.

Barre

Barre refers to the handrail ballet dancers use during their warm-up. Although none of these exercises are done holding on to a barre, you should strive for a dancer’s grace, tall posture, and ease and precision of movement. Exercises should flow from one to another. These exercises will elevate the heart rate and increase the overall challenge.

Within each of these practices, your workout can be vigorous or calming by changing the repetitions, tempo, and selection of exercises. By combining each of these practices into one workout, you get the best that each has to offer. This is the beauty of fusion workouts.

Principles of Fusion Workouts

The three principles of the fusion workouts are alignment, movement, and breath. When you incorporate all three principles, you will achieve greater results by learning to move your body with greater awareness. Through the practice of these principles, you will gain more benefit from each exercise you perform.

Alignment

The body has an ideal alignment and posture that enables you to move with ease, strength, purpose, and grace. When the bones, joints, connective tissue, and muscles are in symmetry, the body is in balance. However, alignment is frequently out of equilibrium as the result of tension, lack of mobility, weakness, poor habits, lifestyle, pain, or injury. Whatever the cause may be, finding ideal alignment and proper posture during exercise will enhance your exercise results, decrease strain, and ultimately increase function. The fusion exercises aid in attaining proper posture by strengthening the muscles that tend to be weak and lengthening the muscles that have a tendency toward tightness. The best alignment for each fusion exercise is explained in the descriptions that follow in chapters 4 through 7. Remember to focus on mastering the alignment and the quality of the movement before performing the more challenging variations.

Movement

To get the most benefit from exercise, you want to perform the movements using good technique to expedite your results. When your body is properly aligned during exercises and the movement patterns are correct, you will move toward a stronger functioning body. Exercise should be challenging, but it should not hurt. Moving through a pain-free range of motion is essential for success. At first, the exercises may be difficult to perform through the full range of motion, but with practice, the movement will become easier, allowing you to take on the next challenge. The fusion exercise descriptions provide variations and progressions so you can find the intensity and exercise modification that will meet your needs.

Breath

Proper breathing will help build control and ease of movement during exercise and activities of daily life. Deliberate breathing techniques change nervous system responses and will increase strength when needed, activate the core, or release tension. Thoughtful breathing techniques will change the outcome of the exercise to invigorate you, focus the mind, or create relaxation. Using the fusion breathing techniques, you learn how breath and movement are linked and how effective breathing during movement will give you better results.

Fusion Five-Step System

All fusion workouts in this book follow the fusion five-step system. In each step you will learn a series of exercises and yoga poses to build multiple workouts with endless possibilities. Each of the five steps has a purpose with a desired outcome to advance you through a safe, effective, and rewarding workout.

All workouts begin with an intention followed by a warm-up and move into strength, balance, core, and flexibility, both standing and on the floor. The workout finishes by calming the body and mind.

Step 1: Intention

The fusion five-step system for workouts begins with an intention. Determine an intention by deciding on an action or desired result. Set a purpose and focus for your training. Thinking about what you want to accomplish in your workout each day and setting your intention before beginning the exercises will enhance your outcome. Setting an intention is a simple way to bring mindfulness to your workout. The focus of your intention will vary depending on your needs and your mental state.

Step 2: Warm-Up

The second step in the fusion five-step system is the warm-up to prepare the body for the actual workout. The fusion workout warm-up exercises take the body through a range of movements in multiple planes of motion and body positions, all at an intensity lower than in the actual workout. By the end of the warm-up, the heart rate and body temperature are elevated, the muscles and joints are mobile, and the nervous system is turned on to increase coordination and performance.

The length of the warm-up varies based on the intensity and type of exercises you will perform in the fusion workout. Generally, the more intense the workout, the more time you should take to warm the body. For a high-intensity workout, the warm-up should last 5 to 10 minutes.

The length of the warm-up and speed of the exercises during the warm-up vary based on your intention. For a higher-intensity workout, begin with slow movements through a full range of motion and, as you progress, increase the tempo. For a restorative workout, the warm-up can be short and the tempo should be slow and relaxed throughout.

Time of day will also affect how long you may need to warm up. Typically, in the morning your body will feel stiffer and will need more time to prepare for the workout. Later in the day, the body is warm, so your warm-up can be short and quick.

The most important factor in warming up is to consider how you feel. How you feel physically and mentally determines how long and how vigorously you warm up. If you feel stiff from previous workouts, spend more time warming the body. If your mind is not into the workout, give yourself permission to take it easy and gradually increase your intensity. If you need more time to feel warmed up, take as much time as you need. There is no harm in warming up longer. Fusion warm-up exercises and techniques are discussed in detail in chapter 4.

Step 3: Standing Exercises

The third step in the fusion five-step system are the standing exercises, which develop strength, balance, stability, and flexibility. Standing exercises are performed from a standing position on two feet (e.g., squat) or balanced on one foot (e.g., single-leg balance). As the standing exercises typically require more energy than other exercises and are vigorous, performing them earlier in the fusion workouts enables you to execute them well before you become fatigued. The standing exercises are described in detail in chapter 5 and are organized in a manner that you can progress and flow from a base exercise (e.g., fitness lunge) to variations of the exercises (e.g., yoga crescent lunge).

Depending on the number of repetitions, the exercise combinations you choose, or the duration of an exercise, you can lessen or increase the demand on the cardiovascular system and the intensity of the workout. Each exercise in this section has a suggested recommended number of repetitions or length of time to perform the exercise. Determine what is right for you and progress as you gain strength, skill, and fitness.

Step 4: Floor Exercises

The fourth step in the fusion five-step system are the exercises performed on the floor in a kneeling, planking, seated, front-lying, or back-lying body position. These exercises offer a higher degree of training for the core and upper body and incorporate flexibility. The floor exercises are presented in chapter 6 and are grouped by body position, making it easy for you to shift from one exercise to the next or to link exercises together for greater challenge.

Depending on the number of repetitions, the exercise combinations you choose, or the duration of an exercise, you can lessen or increase the demand on the cardiovascular system and the intensity of the workout. Each exercise in this section lists a suggested recommended number of repetitions or length of time to perform the exercise. Determine what is right for you and progress as you gain strength, skill, and fitness.

Step 5: Restoration

The final step in the fusion five-step system are the exercises to restore, rejuvenate, and revitalize the mind and body after your workout. These exercises are presented in chapter 7 and are slow, controlled, and calming in nature and focus on stretching, releasing, and resting. This step is as important as, if not more important than, warming the body before working out. For a complete workout, do not skip this step as the body needs time to recover from the workout.

Each of the steps in the fusion five-step system is essential for the best results. When planning your workouts, include exercises from all five steps to ensure a complete, effective, and safe workout.

Understanding the components of the fusion workout system will improve your workout experience and results. As you move further into this book, remind yourself of the three key principles of fusion workouts—alignment, movement, and breath. Practice these principles in your daily workouts. The fusion workout five-step system provides an easy-to-follow structure for your workout. Always begin with an intention, then a warm-up; perform the standing exercises followed by the floor exercises, and finish with a restorative series of exercises to complete your workout.