Join us at The Pilates Barre Portland October 21, 2017 at 10:00am for a Donation Mat Class taught by Master Instructor Jessica Schultz. Donate what you can. Every dollar will be given to the American Red Cross to aid continuing hurricane relief efforts. Any Peak instructor attending will receive 1 CEC no matter what they donate. This class is open to the public. Love wins!!! Let's do this people!
I made this video for a client of mine who recently sprained her ankle, and thought I would post it here as well. It's a great series of exercises to do to strengthen your ankles for dance or sports conditioning, or if you've been wearing too many heels this holiday season! Because ankle and foot flexibility play a key role in allowing the knee to move in a healthy range of motion, these exercises can also help with knee pain. I recommend doing this set of exercises daily (if you're a runner or a dancer, do them before you move).
So, that title was total click bait. Sorry, there are no Pilates exercises for your lats...not that Pilates doesn't work your lats...let me explain...
Someone asked me the other day for an exercise to work their lats. And I was stumped for a little bit. What should I give them? The arm weight series? Row Series on Reformer? Pull Up on Chair? And then it hit me why I didn't have a quick answer. All Pilates exercises work your lats. And more importantly, in Pilates, we don't break the body down into segments.
Your lats (or latissimus dorsi) are a major posture muscle and connect your trunk to your pelvis. They also help to rotate your scapula (shoulder blades) downward, which is important since most people are becoming kyphotic due to smart phone or computer use, or overworking their chest muscles. If you have a kyphotic posture, your shoulders generally rotate inward.
But in Pilates, we don't isolate the lats and then work them separately from the rest of the body for 10 minutes, or have a "back" day and a "leg" day. We are continually trying to depress the shoulders for good posture and alignment (not the entire way, but only say, 80%). So, the 100 becomes a lat exercise. Even a "leg" exercise like Footwork on the Chair uses your lats to help keep your trunk elevated and stable. See those ladies working above on the ladder barrel? They're working their lats, too, to help keep their balance.
And that brings me to the bigger realization I had when I was asked this question. In Pilates, we don't think of the body as separate parts. We think of the body as a whole. We want to strengthen our lats so they can help us stabilize our trunk, not just to have strong lats, or to have a good-looking back. It's important to see how all the muscles connect, not to just work them in isolation. It's this connection that makes Pilates so functional. That way, your lats help you lift your child, lift weights, and execute the Pull Up on Chair. We don't want to separate your muscles from the movement your body needs to perform, and that's what makes Pilates a movement system.
So, go ahead and work your lats. Every exercise, all the time. Your posture will thank you for it, and you'll be stronger and more supported in all you do.
I once had a conversation with a client and I told him that I figured out my body could go three days, four tops without Pilates or I would start to feel some tightening in my SI joint. His reply to me was, "It sounds like you're addicted. It's like Pilates is your crack." I do think my body does go into withdrawal when I don't do Pilates, so whenever I travel, I have a plan. Here are some simple ways to keep up your workout while you're away from your favorite studio.
1. Did you see those cool note pads from Pilates Nerd? It has the classical mat order, power circle, wall, toe work, and space to write more notes! It's perfect! I write out my client's workouts on these papers, and it saves time since I only need to fill in reps or modifications for them. Some of my clients even take a picture with their smart phone so they don't even have to travel with the piece of paper.
2. Have you made friends with classical Pilates yet? All you need is a mat and your brain. You barely need much space at all. You can even travel with a Power Circle easily to do a Power Circle Mat. Or what about Reformer on Mat? This very challenging workout will take your Pilates to a whole new level. Have a certified Pilates instructor teach you it before your trip. If you know the Classical Reformer order, it won't be hard for you to remember how to practice Reformer on the Mat.
4. Other options that cost money include: a skype lesson with your teacher, or drop in on a Pilates class where you are traveling. Find a list of Peak Pilates certified instructors here.
Here's a short workout guaranteed to tone your low belly and inner and outer thighs. Enjoy! Want more? I'm teaching a Power Circle CEC class February 1st. I'd love to see you there! It's an open class for Pilates enthusiasts, not just certified teachers. Why not learn new ways to challenge yourself at home?
In Pilates, we don't really have shavasana. But you can still relax and stretch your body. Here's a video with a short roller workout to stretch and open your chest and hips. I promise you'll feel like you just took a nap...well, you'll definitely feel more relaxed then you did when you started! Enjoy!
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.
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!
I can't tell you how many times I have had this conversation.
Someone: What do you do?
Me: I teach Pilates.
S: Wow, you must be in such good shape! You get to workout for your job!
M: Actually, I don't workout with my clients. I lead them through a workout.
That's right, I do not get paid to workout. As a Pilates instructor, that is not my job. It's not about my workout, it's about my client's.
Here are some other compelling reasons why I continue to teach this way:
Head and Neck Issues. Most of Pilates is done on your back. If I'm demonstrating, you have to crane your neck, most likely to one side, to see me perform an exercise. That's really unsafe for your neck. A majority of the mat work is done on your back with your head lifted, and it's just not safe for my clients to try to look to see me while they workout.
Range of Motion. When I was teaching the New York City Ballet Workout, the instructor I was training under told us not to use our longest leg extension when taking class with our students. She said that it would lead the people in our classes to try to match the height of our leg. For most people in the general population, it's really hard to toss your leg up high in the air without crunching your back or rounding your spine. If your clients are watching you and you are really flexible, your clients may try to match your range of motion. Range of motion in Pilates is determined by form. But that means everyone's range is different, and a high leg may not be better, especially if you're using your quad to lift it instead of your Powerhouse. So it's better not to look around a room and compare yourself to anyone during a Pilates class, not even your instructor. It's better to stay in your body and make sure you are in the exercise, not performing the exercise.
Pilates Is Mind/Body Work. Many of us are visual learners, and rely on that part of our brains to learn movement. When we turn that off and really listen to our instructor's words, it forces us to go internal for movement correction, instead of external. This is the essence of mind/body work. I don't want to cheat my clients of that experience. It may take them longer to learn an exercise, but it will be better for them to take the time to figure it out than to just mimic my movements.
I Want to be Safe, Too. As an instructor, even if I'm demonstrating, part of me is watching the class and thinking about them. How do I stay connected in my body during my Pilates work if my brain is concentrating on myself and my clients? I'm more likely to injure myself if I'm not concentrating on my body, or worse yet, just jumping in and out of exercises to demonstrate. I'm not aware of my own limitations or flexibility or strength that day to be safe in my own practice.
It Makes Us Human. I have not discovered some secret to being in shape. I have to juggle my workouts like any other mother, teacher, woman, or student around work, life, love, children, school.... Making time to workout helps me empathize with my clients when they fall behind in their homework to keep up with their Pilates practice on their own. It also helps me help them brainstorm ideas as to how to stay fit and healthy in this world where we are all so busy. As a Pilates instructor, I don't have eight hours a day to think about my body and workout, but I do have eight hours a day to devote to the work of Joseph Pilates. For that, I consider myself lucky. That's what inspires me to pull out my mat at the end of the day, sometimes at 11pm, to do the mat work. That's what devotion to Pilates is. That's what I teach, and that is my job.
Peak Pilates is challenging people to make a change for the next 100 days - it can be a workout, a healthy eating choice...anything to help you live a fit lifestyle and make yourself a priority. I'm using it as a personal challenge to do Pilates. Every. Single. Day. I'm posting my workouts on the JSP facebook page to keep myself accountable. Why not join me? Post with your workouts as well. 100 days of Pilates? Why not? It can just be the Ab Fives!
So check out this video of my 2 year-old playing at my studio on the foot corrector.
What does this teach us about the way we move?
Well, first of all, Joseph Pilates did study babies' spines and thought we needed to regain the flexibility we had at birth. I think we've all marveled at a child's ability to squat, jump, and move with relative ease. But did you notice how much your child moves throughout the entire day? As I write this, my 5 year-old son is drawing, but as I typed this sentence, he squatted to pick up some markers, walked over to me to ask a question, and is standing up to draw. I've only been sitting since I've started this post. We need to incorporate more movement into our everyday lives.
My daughter used her intuition to explore the Foot Corrector. I didn't tell her how to place her foot, but she placed it squarely under her hip. I didn't tell her to bounce, but the spring gave her that motion and she went with it. She barely bends her knees to bounce - just enough to get the motion going, and then she controls the movement from her center. Her shoulders don't hike as she holds the Cadillac in front of her. We need to listen to our bodes to help us inform how to move. What I love about Pilates is how I feel when I leave - I always feel better. Therefore, do more Pilates. Is your run hurting your knees? Change how you run. It's a short movement poem with one line: Listen.
Kids naturally do interval training. My son at the park will run there, climb, then take a break and do some imagination play, then grab his scooter, take a break and collect some leaves for "spider stew." Nobody told him about the latest HIIT research. His body just knows about taking a rest so he has the energy for quick bursts when he needs it. This is something else I Iove about Pilates. I actually think there is a lot of Interval training built in. Work the tempo on your Footwork and Hundred, then slow down a bit for Short Spine to really get a stretch. How about slow, thoughtful Roll Backs followed with high energy, accented Single Leg Circles to really scoop? Push and pull your tempo, just like you push and pull your springs.
It's been said before, but are we teaching our children or are they teaching us?
And, um, yes, and if you must know, that is mud all over her pants from playing at the park, and now that she's two, she dresses herself, so yes, her shirt is on backwards. But that's the way she likes it, thank you very much.