Top Eight Tips for Working with Pilates and Osteoporosis (the Condensed Version)

So many of us are working with Goldeners (the Active Aging Population) that I thought it would be helpful to list a few of the Dos and Don’ts of working with Osteoporosis, especially as it concerns Pilates. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this list is not medical advice, nor should it be used as such), but I weeded through a few studies so that you don’t have too.

****The most important tip is first

  1. Don’t use spinal flexion. Yes, that is a lot of the Pilates repertoire, but flexion puts pressure on the anterior surface of the vertebral bodies, and that is usually the weakened part of the bone. Flexion increased the risk of fracture in 89% of osteoporosis cases in this study.

2. Do use spinal extension. The posterior vertebral bodies have a higher degree of cortical bone and are at less risk of fracture. A study found that stronger spinal extensors led to increased bone density and less occurrence of spinal fractures.

3. Don’t side bend. Pressure on the vertebra are also excessive during side bending.

4. Do teach a hip hinge instead of flexion. It is imperative osteoporosis clients know the difference between spine and hip flexion (see #1 above).

5. Don’t twist. Again, excessive pressure on the vertebra.

6. Do teach isometric work. This is one of the best ways to get strong (and by now, you may be asking, “What can I do with a client with osteoporosis?”). Most of the isometric work can be found in the Pilates Fundamentals and are great for teaching control and strength in the core so clients don’t accidentally do little tiny twists or other contraindicated movement when moving their legs to the front or side.

7. Don’t work with a client if they can’t tell you their T-Score. Clients who have taken a Bone Mineral Density Test should be able to tell you their T-Score. A Standard Deviation of -1 to -2.5 indicates osteopenia, and -2.5 or more indicates osteoporosis. Why is this important to know? For every one point below the mean, fracture risk doubles.

8. Do teach these clients to stand and balance. They need to be weight bearing if possible. Standing weights, standing power circle, standing leg swings, and single balance work on one leg is very important. If these clients fall, they are likely to fracture, so they need to be taught how to stand tall.

Working with someone with osteoporosis can be a bit scary (and when in doubt, refer out), but it can be safely done with a knowledgeable Pilates instructor. The extension work, chest openers, standing series and the ease of adding weights to our work makes it a natural fit for the osteoporosis client. Remember, it is a silent disease, so your clients won’t have symptoms, but don’t let that stop you from following safety guidelines. Some clients like flexion because it feels good, but you need to be firm in your knowledge and confidence to tell them why that movement needs to be avoided.

Leave any additional questions in the comments below. I’ve been working with clients with osteoporosis for years and would love to help. Its a population that needs Pilates!

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Self Care for Pilates Instructors

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So how do you teach 6-8 or 9 hours straight? This question was recently posed to me and I thought I would add my ideas here on the blog. These techniques could be applied to any job that doesn’t have standard breaks, and in the gig economy, that applies to many of us. I should add that I am my own boss and I decide to teach these hours. I stack my schedule back to back from the hours of 6am-2pm so I can utilize my time effectively and then get home to take care of my children after school. I’m not looking for sympathy for my working hours. I understand that what I teach is my passion and an privilege, and I am not trying to say that this work schedule works for everyone, I’m just trying to share what works for me.

So…. the first tip is what you do the night before a long teaching day. I have gotten super disciplined about getting to bed. My usual waking time is 5am, so that means I try to wind down by 10pm. Sometimes 10pm is my first opportunity of the day to workout if my schedule has been stacked and my kids need me, so sometimes my workout is 5 minutes of wall or 10 minutes on the roller. I try not to skip Pilates any day of the week, but I will shorten the duration of the workout so I’m fresh to teach the next day. I also don’t drink alcohol the night before I teach. I find it disrupts my sleep and I have a hard time getting focused to teach. Finally, I will look at my schedule and make a rough plan for the next day. I don't write anything out formally, but I’ll take a few minutes to look at my semis and think what would work best for the group (for some people its the second or third workout of the week and I don’t want to repeat), and I have a small studio so sometimes I have to plan how to use the props or the space, and sometimes I’m just reviewing who is injured and making sure I’ve looked at what we did last time and making observations to see if they are progressing or showing signs of readiness for additional exercises. This mental preparation is key so I’m not caught unprepared. A client walking in you haven’t prepared for can take a lot of mental energy and I wan’t to make sure I’m conserving what I have for the entire day.

Second…I have a plan for what I’m going to eat. If I teach longer than five hours in a row, I have a smoothie at hour 3. I can drink the smoothie during transitions and I get more than water but protein and fat to keep my brain working. My smoothie is a banana, sugar-free sun butter, matcha, and greens. This is what works for me, and I’ve found over time that fruit in my smoothie gives me a sugar crash. What you may need to eat may be different, but I like getting the smoothie as a meal replacement that I can gradually drink (instead of trying to gulp down a protein bar all at once). If I have a break, I make a green tea. If I have time to eat lunch, I do a salmon salad with kale (I put salsa on top. It adds nice flavor and softens the kale). I always have snacks on hand, and eat while the clients clean if I feel brain fog coming on. My favorite snacks combine some fat with protein. I usually have dried buffalo bars, Trader Joe’s Coconut Clusters, RX Bars, chocolate covered almonds, or dried fruit on hand. I also like dried chickpeas and beat chips. I love dried seaweed, but I’ve found it’s too messy for a quick grab (and I have a bag of snacks in my car for the ride home in case I crash then).

Thirdly, water is super important. I’ve found that drinking enough water really helps prevent brain fog. I generally take a sip from my water bottle during the big transitions on Reformer (another great reason to teach your clients to do their own transitions). I have a water bottle I just tip and sip (no covers or lids to slide) so I can watch my clients do the transition after I say it. I won’t use a water bottle where I can’t keep my eyes on the clients for safety reasons.

And my last tip is…I try to stay off my phone. If a client is late or goes to the bathroom and I have a few minutes, it’s super tempting to check my phone. But that takes me out of the room, and most importantly, out of my body. If I do have the shortest of breaks, I first check in: Do I need to eat? Drink? Stretch my calves? Lay over the barrel? The phone will always be there after the session, and it can be a big energy suck, or I might get an email that will distract me from my next lesson. And I often remind myself, there is never an email emergency. People call or text in those situations so I don't need to keep checking email while I’m teaching. It’s better to do that at a separate time (and usually not when I’m with my kids either).

So there are my big tips. I hope they help. I’ve found the more disciplined I am in how I structure my time and nutrition, the better I can serve my clients. And the most important thing is that I am present and available to lead them through the best session I can give them that day. And with a little bit of planning, I can do that.

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New Training Offerings for 2019

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Do you need CECs or are you looking to up your skills? Join one of our Continuing Education Courses. These are open to all certification programs and levels and Pilates enthusiasts. We will be offering the Prop Shop Workshop and MVe Chair Course this winter at JSP.

Are you looking to jump start your Pilates career? Then our Peak Pilates Comprehensive Level I Training is what you are searching for. This is the foundational course to the full Comprehensive Certification, and covers all beginning exercises on Mat, Reformer, Tower, Small Barrel, Ladder Barrel, High Chair, Low Chair, Power Circle, and Wall. It’s the best way to expand on your knowledge as a Pilates practitioner and take it to the next level.

Check out all the details here.

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Chair and Barrel CEC Workshop

Want to advance your Pilates practice in the new year?  Keep your certification current?  Lean 73 exercises and how to integrate them into a session?  Check out our latest Instructor Newsletter to learn more about our Workshop January 30-31st.

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Mat Trainings Added to Schedule

Check out our newest Teacher Newsletter with details on how to learn the Basic and/or Intermediate Mat work!

Fall 2015 Teacher Training Newsletter

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The Top Three Reasons to Choose the Peak Pilates Training Program

I often get asked what makes Peak Pilates unique.  After years of owning my own studio and hiring teachers of many different backgrounds, here is what I can say for sure. 

1.  We teach Pilates by honoring the past

Peak Pilates teaches Pilates as a movement system, honoring the work of Joseph Pilates.  We don't feel his work needs to be changed, but we work hard to understand it in today's language with some minor adjustments to reflect the advancements of science and what we know about the body and mind.  You certainly wouldn't want a doctor with medical knowledge limited to the last century.  So as a Pilates instructor, it's important to understand advancements that have been backed up by science so that you have the latest knowledge to safely teach your clients and help them meet their workout goals.

2.  It's all included.

At Peak Pilates, our training is integrated.  After successful completion of PPC-I, you will know all the beginning exercises on Mat, Reformer, Cadillac/Tower, Chair, Small Barrel, Ladder Barrel, and Power Circle.  You will not pay additional money to assess.  You will pay for the four modules and material fees (and shipping).  That's it.  You will understand how to modify exercises to keep people safe with general back, knee, wrist, ankle, shoulder or neck problems, as well as how to modify a class for a healthy older client.  Everything to understand the system is included.  You don't need pre-anatomy courses.  Anatomy is included. 

3.  We teach not just WHAT to teach, but HOW to teach. 

There are a number of reputable companies that can teach you what the 100 is, but at Peak we teach you how to teach your clients to perform the 100.  That means how to spot, how to communicate, how to use imagery and touch...all the amazing things that will set you apart as a Pilates instructor.  Our Five-Part Formula for Success is unique in that it sets up people who have little to no teaching experience to achieve excellent results. Even if you have taught before, the Five-Part Formula will expand and deepen your teaching skills.

Without this system unique to Peak, it's easy for beginning instructors to get overwhelmed.  Imagine, you've spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours taking exercises apart and discussing the nuances of movement.  So what do you do when you get that first new client in front of you?  If you share everything you know about an exercise, they will very quickly be overwhelmed.  How do you know what to say and when to say it?  How do you cue a body in motion to stay in motion without music?  How do you safely progress clients?  As a graduate of a Peak Pilates training program, you will know how to do all these things.  And because you have this knowledge, you will stand out, and you will get excellent results.

So start your Pilates journey will all the information necessary to succeed -  check out our latest trainings and get started today!

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Why I Won't Let you Berate Your Body at JSP

After I had my first child, my husband banished me from using the words "muffin top."  And I thought, "Why can't I say muffin top?  I have one!  Can't you see it?  I hate my muffin top!"  But I am at heart a rule follower, so I did what he said and stopped using that phrase.  And you know what?  My muffin top didn't disappear overnight.  It took months of Pilates (thank you Ab 5s and Side Sit Ups on the Reformer!) and focused eating.  But by just stopping the negative self-talk, I think I made a significant change in my head for the better, which helped me work out in a more focused way.

And that's the reason I think negative talk just doesn't work.  Sure, we all have conversations with ourselves in front of a mirror - I hate this, I hate that.  But I don't think those conversations inspire us to change.  I think they actually hurt our ability to change, because if you are so intrinsically flawed, why would you try?  If the part of your waist that meets your jeans after having a baby (or just a few too many not-so-great food choices, or a hard genetic hand) makes you rename it something hideous, doesn't that take away your power to own your body?  You've just separated yourself from a part of you that, like it or not, has carried you and helped you move (and yes, maybe expanded a bit from time to time).  But it's not a muffin top, it's your waist.  And your waist isn't even your waist (that's for another post).  Your waist is an invention of the fashion industry to sell pants.  You don't have a waist bone.  You don't have a waist muscle.  You have many muscles that connect your pelvis to your torso, so don't oversimplify the wonderful machine that is your body into one part you dislike. 

I've written a lot about mantras here, so I'm a deep believer in self-talk.  How we talk to our bodies, even in our heads, is important.  And I'm sure as anything not going to be that Pilates teacher that tries to make you feel bad about your body to workout.  Not only because it isn't kind, but because I don't think it helps.  Do you really think you'll go deeper into your Powerhouse by renaming it after a high-fat pastry?  No, you'll disconnect from it more.  But a little bit of self-love goes a long way, especially when you're sitting on top of the Short Box in front of a mirror and see your thighs squoosh out to the sides.  Yes, I've finally written about the Pilates exercise we all hate to see ourselves do. 

So, here are your two choices: 

1.  Wow, I hate my thighs.  Look at how big they are.  I shouldn't have eaten/drank that. 

2.  Hmm.  I think I'm losing my seat.  Maybe I should pinch/perch. 

Guess what?  Number 2 is always the better choice (because it works!)  Through the eyes of a skilled teacher, none of our bodies are flawed.  They are just still evolving.  And we need to be that guide for ourselves, too.  See something that's not right?  You probably need to change how you are performing the exercise, not how your body is put together. 

So, that's why I don't want to hear about how much you hate your butt, or your thighs, or arms.  Sure, we all want to grow and change and shape our bodies, but let's choose the path of least resistance, shall we? It's simple, just correct to the positive.

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I love it, Sir!

So my son recently started taking Taekwondo, and one day as I was observing class, my son and the instructor had this conversation while he was trying to do the splits.

Master:  How are you doing, Ty?

Student:  Not so good, Sir.  It hurts, Sir.

Master:  Oh no, Taekwondo Kids do not say, "It hurts."  Taekwondo kids do not say, "Ow."  They say, "I love it, Sir."  Say "I love it, Sir."

Student:  I love it, Sir.

So what to make of this?  Well, initially I was a little worried.  Is my son being taught to ignore pain or his feelings?  I wouldn't want that. 

But on second thought, it seems the lesson is that you can frame thoughts in your head so that you don't defeat yourself.  This reminds me of my mantra, "I love the burn." or why I need to do the exercises that I "hate."  But maybe I don't "hate" them anymore.  Maybe I "love" them.  Because they're making me stronger. 

How we talk to ourselves is very important.  How you talk to your clients is important.  Honor that something is challenging.  Much of Pilates is.  But find the joy in the struggle, the love in the work.  Pilates is difficult enough.  Adding negative energy won't help you find depth in a stretch or connection in a movement.  But maybe "loving" it will.  And it will make the journey that much more pleasant, so go ahead - love the burn, love the stretch, love your body and the effort you're putting into it each time you approach the work.  And who knows?  Eventually, your self talk may turn into actual self love.

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Mat Vs. Equipment Pilates - Which is Better?

People often ask me which is better - mat or equipment Pilates.  Or people will tell me, "I hate mat" or "I only do mat."  So which is better?  Well, let's start by looking at what makes each unique.  As I say to my children when they complain that someone got a bigger piece of something or a longer whatever, "You are not equal, you're unique."

Some things that make mat unique:

1.  It's portable.  You can do it just about anywhere with very little equipment.  See Keeping Up Your Workout While Traveling.

2.  It's affordable.  You'll probably pay $10-15 for a mat class, while equipment classes will run you about $25-60, depending on how many people are in a class.

3.  It's what Joseph created first.  It's the beginning of the work.  It connects you to the largest equipment available - the earth.  It's is the foundation to everything.

4.  It's done using your own body for stability and is more open-chain (exercises where the hand or foot is free to move).  This means that you will have to work in your core a lot to hold your body still or mobilize it during an exercise. 

5.  Mat has more flow.  Since you're not getting up to move a box, change a spring, or attach a bar, you can just keep moving from one exercise into the next.

So how is Equipment Unique?

1.  It uses more resistance.  Most equipment (outside of the barrels) have springs.  These springs give resistance in both directions to every exercise.  So, if you're looking to strength train and up your metabolism, the equipment will help.

2.  If you need more support and alignment cues, equipment has the edge as well.  On reformer alone, you have a head rest, shoulder blocks, and a foot bar so your teacher can easily see exactly how your body is moving.  I call my Reformer the diagnostic piece of equipment.

3.  There are more exercises on equipment.  There's about 50 mat exercises, and on reformer 250, chair even more than that.  So it's great to help keep variety in your Pilates routine.

So which is better?  It's important to understand that Pilates is best as a system.  If you've always done the hundred on the mat, imagine pumping your arms with resistance (that's Reformer).  If you've always done Short Spine with springs to help you, imagine doing it without them and you'll really build up your Powerhouse and train it how to lift your pelvis while performing the Roll Over on the mat.

I've seen it time and time again, clients who only like one or the other, and they don't progress as much as clients who perform the entire system.  What you learn on one informs your body on the other.  You'll build newer connections faster and deeper if you do both.

And sadly, whichever one you "don't like" is probably the one you have to do.  Sometimes tighter people don't like mat - it's a lot of sitting or straight legs extended in the air if your hamstrings are tight.  But guess how you help lengthen your hamstrings?  By performing mat.  People who don't like equipment because it's too much stopping and starting probably have a hard time connecting their mind and body without distraction.  But guess what helps with that?  Unlocking the rhythm sections on Reformer.

So, yes, I love my two children equally.  Does one get on my nerves sometimes?  Do I feel more connected to another at points in my life?  Certainly.  But that doesn't mean I stop loving one or the other.  So challenge yourself to explore new exercises on the mat, or try an equipment class.  You may just find that it helps push your body in a new way help you go deeper into the work.

 

 

 

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In Defense of Pilates as Movement System

So I read this on a blog the other day, and, well, it kinda made me sad:

"One casualty was Lisa Brinkworth. Lisa is a resident of Buckinghamshire, England and the mother of three small sons. Last year, she started taking Pilates at a local studio and was inspired by a fellow student to sign up for a twice weekly “planking” competition. Initially she was excited by the planking event and did her best to hold the pose longer and longer. Around Christmas, Lisa began suffering what she describes as an “excruciating pain in the left side of my chest.” The pain was so bad that she feared she was having a heart attack or had developed breast cancer. Doctors finally diagnosed her condition as “costochondritis,” an inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone. “How many of us,” she wondered, “are putting ourselves at risk of such a painful unnecessary injury?”

Now, I want to be very clear.  I do not want to start to compare Pilates with barre classes.  I take barre workouts and enjoy them.  The first class I was ever certified to teach was the New York City Ballet Workout, which could easily be described as a barre workout (without the barre, it's all done standing in center).  So let's not go there.  This is not about what is better or worse.

For me, this is about Pilates and how we teach it.  Did you see the pictures of the planking on the blog?  It's bodies piled on top of each other.  How is this Pilates?  What part of Pilates should involve a competition? 

I believe that Pilates should be taught as a movement system.  I believe Joe taught it that way.  It's one of the things that makes Pilates, well, Pilates.  So what is a movement system?  It's process-oriented, non-competitive, and non-intimidating.  A movement system should stimulate the senses, the mind, and motor skill development.  It should focus on breathing and regeneration of energy.  I think you could ask any of my clients and they would say this is how we teach Pilates at JSP.  But I teach it that way because I think it honors the way Joe taught it.  Contrast Joseph Pilates' quotes below with the experience that poor woman had:

"Contrology (Pilates) is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.  Through Contrology (Pilates), you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then, through proper repetition of its exercises, you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities."

"Beginning with the introductory series, each succeeding exercise should be mastered before proceeding progressively with the following exercises."

or my favorite:

"A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion."

If we honor Joseph's work, we must teach Pilates as a movement system.  Even if we cannot agree on imprinting or order or neutral pelvis, can we at least agree on this?  I don't want to ever see Pilates mentioned in an article entitled "The Good and Bad of Extreme Workouts."  Really.  If you're teaching something that extreme that you are putting bodies on top of one another, working people past the point of exhaustion, and competing one person against another, can you please just not call it Pilates?  Because it really isn't.

The saddest thing about the blog post?  I agree with the author's point.  She writes, "The best way to transform your body remains training under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher and committing yourself to regular, focused practice."  I couldn't agree more, I just would call that "Pilates."  

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Powerhouse Cues!

Here are the latest Powerhouse cues from the clever ladies that met this weekend:

100 - draw in and down like an anchor on your pelvis; like being strapped to the floor

Roll Up - like going down the stairs, step by step,b one by bone; bone by bone like a strand of lights; like rolling up and over a beach ball

OLC - hold your pelvis still like you're wearing a girdle; anchor your spine like it's a tree trunk; move your leg like folding in egg whites

RLAB - pull in and up like a zipper; round out from your center like spokes on a wheel; make a shape like a bug protecting itself

SLS - press down to the floor like flattening a pancake; extend your legs like reaching the pedals for a bike that's too big

DLS - like a clam opening and closing

Scissors - keep your pelvis still like you have a tray of drinks on it

Lower & Lift - Hold you Powerhouse strong and rooted to the floor like an old tree; like tightening a corset

Criss Cross - Still your pelvis like you're stuck in mud; rotate like the roots of a swaying tree

SSF - stacking bone by bone like building a house brick by brick; round up like a flower coming back to life

Saw - sit tall like a tree trunk; lift up like you're wearing a corset

Side Kicks: Front & Back - move front and back like you're ringing a bell

Side Kicks:  Up & Down - press down through honey

Side Kicks:  Inner Thigh - Press leg up like you're offering a drink with your foot, hold your foot like the base of an electric mixer (circles)

Seal - roll down like a wheel pushing from each tread

Standing Roll Down - up and over a mountain

Check out other cues here!

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More! Powerhouse Cues

100 - Bowling Ball on Pelvis

Roll Up - Roll Pelvis like a Wheel

OLC - Imprint Spine like a Brick Pressing Down, Lie in Wet Cement

RLAB - Tilt pelvis like a bowl back and forth

Single Leg Stretch - Maintain Rectangle Box

Double Leg Stretch - Melt back in like chocolate

Scissors - Drop weight into lower back like a ship dropping an anchor

Lower Lift - Drop spine into mat like a heavy bike chain

Criss Cross - Wring out a wet towel

Spine Stretch Forward - Roll forward like a slinky down a stair

Open Leg Rocker Prep - Balance on your tailbone like a diamond in a ring setting

Corkscrew - Press hips down to the mat with super glue, Stir a pot

Saw - Turn and lift like a top

Swan - Snake coming out of a snake charmer basket/move head like the sun coming up and over the mountain

Rest - Turtle your tailbone under

Bridge - Curl lower back up like a scorpion's tail, Lift up like a wedge is sliding under your spine

Side Kicks - Front - Swing your leg like a saloon door

SK - Up and Down - Draw leg down through mud, Stretch leg like a rubber band on way down/Spring it on the way up, Lift a mile/Push away a ton of weight

SK - Circles - Stir a pot, Light a match

SK - Inner Thighs - Keep abs up and in like two panes of glass on the front and back of your body, Keep your body in a toaster

Beats - Wrap your thighs like bacon over a date, Beat feet like you're fanning a fire - Put the coals out

Teaser One Leg - Hold flower between knees, curl up to smell it

Teaser - Lift your chest like you just won an Olympic medal

Swimming - Swim through sand

Leg Pull Front Support - Head to heel like a piece of steel

Mermaid - Press hips down and separate ribs like a shutter on a window/Two opposing magnets/Block of ice on hips

Seal - Hold a bowl in your empty space - Don't loose your bowl

Push Ups - Open your scapula broad like a book

Find more cues here

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The Top Three Things to Remember when Working with the Power Circle

1.  It's a Three-Dimensional Picture of Your Powerhouse.  However how hard you press the circle, that's how hard you're scooping.  The Power Circle isn't isolated work for your arms or your thighs, it's work for your entire body.  So don't forget to connect to your center.  It's not a workout for your peripherals, it's a workout for your Powerhouse.

2.  Press the Circle, Don't Squeeze.  You wouldn't choke your dance partner, would you?  So don't squeeze the circle.  Press it (with long fingers and not a death grip).  Just like we don't sit on the Pilates Chair, we sit in it, we press the circle toward our center to bring our awareness there as well.  There's no prize if you break it.  Work into your body by bringing your upper thighs in toward your pelvis or your scapula onto your ribs.  Don't squeeze with your knees (This is not Suzanne Somer's Thigh Master)!

3.  Work Without It.  After you've used the Power Circle to deepen the work in an exercise, take it away and try to find the connection without it.  The circle is a tool to help access your critical connections, but ultimately you should be able to work without it and find the same connections. 

 

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More Powerhouse Cues

100 - Balance a teacup between your pelvis and hip bones

Roll Up - peel up like a wet spaghetti noodle off the mat, round over a beach ball

One Leg Circle - Pin hips down

RLAB - Be like a ball, eyes on the prize

Single Leg Stretch - Draw a line with your legs in and out

Double Leg Stretch - Glue the lower back to the mat, wrap the legs, funnel the ribs, knit the ribs

Scissors - Lengthen your heel to your seat

Double Leg Lower/Lift - Draw it in

Criss Cross - Wring out ribs like a towel

Spine Stretch Forward - Lift over a beach ball, Lift up and and over your three anchors

Saw - Saw open your back, spread the scapula like wings, wring out your ribs

Swan - Don't smash the mouse in your house

Rest - Round in the spine

Shoulder Bridge Prep - Feel lifted to the ceiling, Lay buttons down on the mat

Side Kicks: Front - Glue hip to mat

SK: Up and Down - Move through Peanut Butter for resistance

SK:  Circles - Abs Lift/No Shift

SK:  Inner Thighs - Lengthen out leg like a laser

Beats on Belly - Mouse in the House

Teaser One Leg - Roll Bone by Bone

Swimming Prep:  Mouse House, Lead Core

LPFS: Abs up and into Core

Seal:  Roll the abs up and in

Push Ups:  Roll down bone by bone

More cues here, and here

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You Are More than Your Body

I was reading this blog today and this line really struck a chord with me:

"Stress trumps all.   Even when the diet and movement are right, you can be undermined by a mind that's bearing a heavy load." 

Isn't that true?  Every time I've had a major injury, it's been during a very stressful period in my life.  I've taken to preemptively doing energy work before a stressful event because my body manifests stress so strongly physically.  When I last sprained my ankle, I was a Graduate Teaching Assitant, was completing my Masters, was teaching full time, and completing the highest level of Pilates certification.  So was it the movement in the ballet class that injured me?  No, it was the heavy load I was carrying in my brain and in my heart.

So, how are you planning on taking care of your mind this year?  How can we lessen the load for each other? 

This may be my New Years Non Resolution .

A Warrior's Strength

Lies Within.  If you cannot find your center, you cannot stand tall.  Check out my latest video in honor of Toe Talk's Warrior Chick Sock $2 discount this Monday 12.29.  Enjoy a wonderful sock discount and learn to work your Powerhouse in celebration.


The Top 3 Reasons Why Men Should Do Pilates

I know Pilates has gotten a girly reputation, but Joseph Pilates was not a dancer - he was a boxer!  How more manly can you get?  But I can't tell you how many times people have asked me if I have any male clients.  Yes, and do, and here's why.

You get to stretch without taking a yoga class with a bunch of hyper-flexible women.  Many of my guy clients know they need to stretch (and did you know that a tight psoas can lead to erectile dysfunction?) but they don't want to be surrounded by super flexible women (women tend to be more flexible than men) with their feet touching their heads while they struggle with straps and blocks to approximate the same position.  In every exercise in Pilates, there is a stretch and a strength.  So in Spine Stretch Forward, you're working your abs but at the same time you're stretching your hamstrings, but you get to move and flow in the position.  You don't have to sit and hold something that may feel intense for 3 minutes.

It helps to open your chest.  Many men focus on developing the muscles of their chest, but that can lead to overly tight chest muscles, even kyphosis (and hey, staring at that smart phone all day isn't helping!).  Without stretching the chest, over developed chest muscles can cause lower back pain, and tight hips (see reason #1 above for a sneaky way to stretch without forcing yourself into Cobra).  Pilates extension for the upper back focuses on opening the thoracic spine without loading the low back - it's more of a sternum lift than an arch of the mid-back.  If you're really tight in your chest, deep back bends will only cause more pain.  The smaller, more strategic extension in Pilates will help deeper postural changes take effect.

You'll perform better at your favorite sport.  Many of my clients (male or female, for that matter) remark on how much more lung capacity they experience after starting a regular Pilates practice.  The lateral opening of the side body coupled with the lift of the rib cage in forward flexion is unlike any other exercise system.  This means that in your Pilates lesson, you are lengthening your ribs off your pelvis in two directions - to the side (which is easier and will give your body more stretch) and when you round forward (which is much more challenging).  But if you can master that, you are training your internal, deepest abdominal muscles to support the carriage of your rib cage.  If you can do that, you'll make more space to breathe, helping you increase your endurance for whatever sport you do. 

By now, we all know that King James does Pilates.

Are you ready to join him?  Or are you already a male student of Pilates?  Share your story in the comments!

Breathing Video and Discount

Often, my clients ask me how they can breathe in Pilates.  "If I'm pulling my belly in, how do I inhale?"  Watch this short video to learn how to breathe in honor of my toe talk inhale/exhale socks which are $2 off this coming Monday 12.15!

 

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More Powerhouse Cues

100 - Anchor your pelvis into the mat like an anchor on your PH

Roll Up - Pearls, Bone by Bone, Beach Ball, Candy Cane, Roll your Pelvis Like a Wheel

One Leg Circle - Paint the letter "D" on the ceiling; your leg is the brush

RLAB - Scoop to catch a ball in midair

Single Leg Stretch - Pull/Lengthen in leg like taffy; Reach opposite leg out to edge of cliff or edge of pool

Double Leg Stretch - Tuck like a diver

Leg Pull Front Support - Push the ground away and become the roof of a house

Mermaid Stretch - Don't touch the porcupine and come up and hug the puppy

Seal - You're a row boat filled with water, tip back and let water out for three

Push Up Series - Someone is playing tug-of-war with your head and your heals

Need more?  Cues here and here.

 

 

 

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