Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pilates Principles: Centering

Pilates starts at your center.  Your core (powerhouse).  All other movement stems from your torso and than moves out your limbs.  Once you strengthen your center you are able to move with grace and freedom.  Your center is your foundation.    

You should begin any action, whether it be standing up or picking up groceries, by first engaging your core.  In taking this action you avoid excess stain on the spine.  This further can prevent injury.

Learn how to engage your center anytime, anywhere click here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Field Trip: Zumba

Recently I had a day off and tried out Zumba.  I've walked by these lively classes before, seen the smiles on the students faces and decided it was now time for me to try out this form of cardio.  Created in 2001, this Latin-inspired dance-fitness program provides you hours of fun while you "party" to your favorite tunes.  In 2010, Zumba expanded into your home by being available in a fitness video game through Wii, XBox, and the PS3.

First off, the instructor really made the class.  She was all smiles and full of energy throughout.  Most of the songs were familiar tunes from the radio.  The instructor taught you to move either low impact or add in more jumping to increase your heart rate.  The moves became repetitive over time so it was easy to follow along.  I couldn't believe how fast the hour flew by and I was drenched in sweat.  I'd highly recommend this fun form of burning calories to any age or ability.  You will get fit and work your brain from dancing.  

Also there is Zumba Toning (uses small hand weights to sculpt while dancing) and Aqua Zumba.  Move to the music and feel the beat.  Try Zumba today and really enjoy your workout! 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reformer for Athletes

Athletes are a large client market.  They want to be pushed in their workouts and "feel the burn".  They want a challenge from the traditional Pilates style of exercises.  You want to make sure both their body and mind are working together in order to be productive in their sessions. 

Pilates is an excellent way to cross-train.  Your clients will see the results in their pelvis stability, torso rotation, coordination, endurance, and flexibility.

Make sure your athletes are constantly moving.  Try not to allow them any breaks and add in several variations to one exercise.  This allows them to build and grow with each new concept you teach.  As an example, once they master footwork progress them to one legged and than further to alternating legs.  However, make sure each progression is earned.  This ensures your client understands stability before mobility.

Exercise Examples:
  • Jump board Footwork (video)
  • Long Box Lying Shoulder Press (Push Ups on footbar)
    • Elbows tight or wide
    • Both arms, one only, alternating
    • Shrugs + Swan (video)
  • Seated Back Rowing w/pole in straps
    • Low/high rows
    • Add in alternating
    • Change palm position
  • Side Twist kneeling to standing (on floor) w/pole
    • Hold pole like a baseball bat, gaze at the top
    • Keep pelvis steady throughout both positions
  • Reverse Elephant
    • Regular, single leg, alternating
    • Angle to sides for obliques
    • Add in opp. arm/leg reaches in tabletop for balance test
  • Feet in Loops
    • Circle on ankles (bend/stretch, lower/lift, pulses)
    • One foot in strap for scissors

Cues should be directed toward ideas your athlete can relate to.  Also ensure each workout has varying tempos.  As an example, allow them to move quickly through Running than telling them to slow down and enjoy the stretch while they focus on alignment.  This forces them to concentrate on the control of each movement.

Keep workouts energetic and your clients will continue to return to rep the rewards of cross-training with Pilates!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Posture 202: Lordosis

Having a swayback posture may look attractive from behind, yet as seen from the side, the body is very much  out of balance.  Pregnancy naturally sets the mother in this posture in order to support her to counterbalance the baby.  However, in daily this life posture can become harmful to the spine.

People with lordosis experience tight low backs and hip flexors.  These need to be stretched on a regular basis.  Be careful with exercises such as 100, ab series, or Teasers where it may be difficult to maintain a strong core connection against the weight of the legs.  Make sure clients focus on a corset connection in their torso at all times.

Exercises for Lordosis (maintain strong core connection throughout by lacing rib cage together):
  • Half Roll Down (can put ball behind back for feedback)
  • Twist
  • Knee Folds
  • Table Top: Opp. arm/leg Reaches, Cat/Cow, Thread the Needle
  • Tick Tock
  • Short Box Series
  • Leg Circles
  • Stretch Hip Flexors: Thigh Stretch, Runner's Stretch, Chest Expansion, Single/Double Leg Kick

Monday, May 16, 2011

Break It Down: Seal

Get ready to rock and roll!  Rolling movements in Pilates are meant to rid the body of toxins and massage the spine.  This one requires more coordination and balance compare to Rolling like a Ball.  Have fun!  

4A Starting position 4B Movement while rocking
Purpose- Massage the spine, rid the body of toxins, open hips, coordination w/clapping, balance

Preps- Cat/Cow, Rolling like a Ball, Pre-Roll Up, Bridging

Form- Do not roll onto head or neck, hollow abdominals, stay in compact ball shape (keep the same distance of heels to bottom)

*Not appropriate for someone that isn't able to flex spine well (osteoporosis, disc injuries, fusion) or those who aren't supposed to be inverted (glaucoma, high blood pressure, pregnancy)

Modifications- Roll keeping heels together (no clapping/barking), Half Roll Backs

How to Advance- 1-3 claps w/heels on back and when balancing at the top

Challenges- Seal into standing position by crossing feet on floor

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Standing Leg Work

We stand for a majority of our lives yet most of Pilates is on the floor.  It's important for balance and coordination that more functional movements are brought into Pilates.  Standing leg work is a must and will add a challenge for your advanced clients.  Posture starts at the feet, so creating a strong base of support will help align the rest of the body.

Don't have a ballet bar or a chair for stability?  Place hands against a wall to help clients balance.


  • Standing leg presses with  magic circle at knees/ankles
  • Piles + heel lifts + pulses
  • Knee lifts front/side (think like knee folds)
  • Hip opener press back/side
  • Calf raises (parallel, Pilates V, inwardly rotated)
  • Frog squats
  • Squats w/ball + squeezes
  • Rom de jam (half circles)
  • Side kicks (make sure pelvis stays neutral)
  • Knee lift + leg extension

Friday, May 6, 2011

Man Behind the Method: Mr. Pilates

Let's get to know the man behind the method: 
Joseph H. Pilates

Born: 1883 in Germany

Fun Fact: Father's family originally spelled its surname in Greek manner as "Pilatu" but changed to "Pilates" upon immigration to Germany

Hobbies/Sports: gymnastics, diving, bodybuilding, professional boxer, circus performer, self-defense trainer at police schools, skiing, yoga, qigong, inventing

When Pilates (Contrology) began: around 1918 during WWI

Met wife Clara: 1925 when he migrated to the United States, opened a studio together

Famous Clients: dancers such as George Balanchie and Martha Graham

Patents: 26

Died: 1967 at 83 in New York