Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Descriptive Cues

Cues are essential when teaching any type of fitness class.  What you say can have an effect on how the entire class moves.  Try to keep you cues simple yet descriptive.  Images are usually most helpful to provide a visual for your clients.  Here are some common cues in Pilates with variations to use:

"Navel to spine" (Scoop)

  • Pull on a pair of jeans that are too tight
  • Rest a brick on your belly
  • Feel like someone's hugging you down to the floor/mat
  • Narrow side to side and front to back
"Shoulders down"
  • Engage your lats
  • Reach your shoulders down to your back hip pockets
  • Squeeze your bra straps together
  • Grow up through your head/neck
"Articulate/move bone by bone"
  • Peel off like wall paper
  • Move like a strand of pearls/bike chain
  • Melt through your spine
  • Massage your spine
"Squeeze your thighs"
  • Pull everything into your center
  • Hold your magnets together (legs)
  • No dead air/daylight
  • Pretend there's a zipper attaching your heels to navel (low abs)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pilates Principles: Concentration

Concentration is a skill that is difficult to obtain in our fast paced society.  We are constantly having to multi-task.  Pilates asks that you set your day aside and instead focus on each movement from the inside out.  This is not an easy principle.  It is asking for your attention for the full time you workout (up to an hour in a class situation).  Even transitions.  Mindful movement.  

You will get more out of your workout the more you pay attention to each time you twist, turn or bend.  Learn which muscles tense up when they don't need to work or recognize when you hold your breath.  Details make up the whole.  Anyone who knows Pilates realizes its like the game of golf; very hard to master.  However, the more you may attention to how your body feels and looks during each exercise, the greater the benefits.  Quality over quantity. 

So next time you pop in that DVD or are in your class, remember your workout is all about you.  You must be mentally and physically present to rep the rewards.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Silver Pilates

Pilates for the aging population is a bit complex.  Training I've had through the Stott program stresses functional movement.  This is a category of people who want to stay as independent as possible.  They want to be able to move with ease when reaching for groceries out of the cabinet, walking up stairs and bending over to tie their shoes.  Pilates can assist with keeping their flexibility, strength and balance.

Make sure you extend the warm up when teaching classes for a group of older adults.  Also avoid having to change positions often.  Focus on using a lighter resistance in a smaller range of motion.  This will work more on core stability and balance which are key to optium function.

Also keep in mind most older adults have several injuries and their bones become brittle.  Try not to choose exercises which are weight bearing on the wrists or include flexion of the spine.  This will ensure you protect delicate areas of their body.  Below are some suggested exercises to include in your program.


  • Footwork on Jumpboard (no jumping): Feet Flat, High Half Toe, Train (similar to lower/lift), Single Leg
  • Puppet arms, Scissors, Shoulder Mobilization
  • Spread Eagle (Cat/Cow or Hammock)
  • Scooter/Eve's Lunge
  • Breast Stroke Preps on Long Box (Scapula Shrugs, Mini Swan, Arm Presses)
  • Magic Circle (thigh squeezes, posture work, side bends, balance lifts on toes)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

DVD Review: 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels

She's been in the spotlight on Biggest Loser for the past few years.  Now Jillian Michaels is taking a break from the hit show by branching off with some DVDs, adopting a baby and educating the public more about fitness as part of an everyday lifestyle.  In her DVD 30 Day Shred, she challenges you to loose those extra lingering pounds and get off the couch.

The workout is a challenge!  This routine can be super intense, but how else to you expect to get quick results with about 25 minutes a day (60 if you do all levels)?  Broken down into 3 levels of progression with modifications for each move make this a top pick for an educational circuit DVD.  Each workout includes 3 circuits.  Each circuit includes 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs.  Just when you think you're about to die you get to switch to another move.  Your arms will fatigue from the hand weights and planks/push ups.  Your cupcakes (bottom) will feel the burn days after; this I promise.  

Fit this in on days when you are crunched for time and want a great full body workout.  Do the whole program along with her healthy meal plan you find online to get in shape for those graduations, weddings or big events in your life.  You deserve to have the body you always wanted and Miss Michaels will be there to motivate you every step/hop/lunge along the way!

Click here for more Pilates DVDs to add to your collection. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Field Trip: Myofascial Massage

Myofascial massage is an excellent way to get a self massage in the comfort of your own home.  I took a class at Core Sport which taught me using "The Grid", a product from Trigger Point Therapy.  This grid is a smaller version foam roller that has groves in it to mimic that of the palm, forearm or fingertip pressure.  

The Grid

We began with our calves, worked up to the quads, IT bands, hips & bottom, then finished with the back & neck.  Starting from the bottom up helps your body re-align.  You can roll out one leg at a time or increase the pressure by crossing on leg over another.  Also adding in ankles circles or pausing on a pressure point help to break up fascia in your muscles.  Think of your tight muscles being knots in your hair.  The more you comb your hair, the nicer and more healthy it looks.  Massage has that same benefit on your muscles.

I've purchased a Grid for my at home use and find it to be a wonderful way to recover quicker from my runs.  My muscles are able to remain looser and I have less aches throughout my day.  Many pro athletes such as the Dallas Cowboys football team use these products and save money being able to do at home self massages after their training sessions.  Discover the benefits of myofascial foam rolling and you will be hooked!