Do you have a mantra?

With my recent gig as a toe talk ambassador, I've started you have a mantra?  You know, something that helps you through the tough times?  The hard times, the times you want to give up?  How we talk to ourselves is important.  Language is important.  Kind self-talk will help create the movement you want in your body to move with grace and ease.

Every toe talk has a story - Inhale/Exhale, Warrior Chick, Be Mindful... and the stories we tell ourselves are important.  The way you move tells your life story.  Do you breathe with your spinal articulation?  Do you let your spine unwind?  Tell yourself you can and you will.  Are you strong and determined?  Do you love a challenge?  Then you are a warrior.  Tell yourself you are and you will be one.  The stories we tell about ourselves become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But if you could choose a mantra, what would it be?  It's easy to pick any of the Six Pilates Principles - Concentrate, Be Precise, Center, Control, Breathe (There's a sock for that!), or Flow.  Ones I've used in the past include:  I Love the Burn, Just Four More (to be used when there is more than four), and Sprint to the Finish. 

But do you know what the most effective one was?  After I had my daughter, it was. so. hard.  Hard to find time to workout.  Hard to find the energy.  Hard to build my connection to my body back.  I wasn't used to it being that hard.  And do you know what I did when my workout was particularly challenging?  I would close my eyes and picture her smile.  Seriously.  And if I could see her baby joy in my mind's eye, I could do anything.  So maybe my true mantra is Love.  Or Joy.  Or Giggle.  What's yours?

Did you know that toe talk socks is taking suggestions for new sock mantras?  Why not suggest yours?  You just might be wearing it in your favorite class soon!


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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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This will Seriously Change Your Life

Do you remember life before kids? Before college? Before full time work when you could lie around in an epsom salt bath?  It helps to release toxins from your sore muscles so after a tough workout you could just soak, add an essential oil or two, and sip some coconut water so you don't get dehydrated?  Oh, and while we're at it, your maid cleaned your house and your chef prepared your meals for the next day?  Wait, you never did that?  Well, why not, epsom salts are so good for you!

The benefits of epsom salts are well documented.  They are full of magnesium and sulfate, minerals that help to detoxify the body and ease muscle cramps.  And while a bath every so often isn't practical for most of us, did you know that you can just rub them into your skin in a shower?  I got this advice from a client of mine who is a nurse, and I've been doing it for years, and it definitely works.  I just keep my epsom salts near the shower, then rub them into any sore or tight muscles.  Then I can get the benefits without having to take the time to run a bath.

Someday, I'll return to baths.  But until then, at least my body doesn't have to miss out on all the benefits.  And now you don't have to, too.

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Go big go long or go home?

I'm often asked by clients how far or long to reach a leg or arm during an exercise, and that's where my often spoken, "Range is determined by form" comes from.

It's most important to keep your critical connections in Pilates - so if by reaching your arm you cannot keep your ribs to your scapula and your scapula to your ribs, you've gone too far.  If you don't feel your three anchors, your legs have dipped too low.

But how do you determine where this end range is?  It can be different from day to day, and hopefully with improve with time as you commit to your Pilates practice.  In general, stay where you are working in your Powerhouse, and let that connection build in a smaller range of motion before taking it bigger.  Start at the center, at the Powerhouse, not in your arms or legs.  You should feel your arms and legs lengthening out from your Powerhouse connection.  Stop when you loose that connection.

My first Pilates teacher made me make the tiniest One Leg Circles I had ever performed, but when I did my hip stopped clicking.  I kept working on my Powerhouse connection and one day she said, "I think you can make them bigger now."  But it was important for me to keep them small so that the larger motion didn't distract me from my Powerhouse.  Momentum is not a muscle group, and it certainly isn't one of the Pilates Principles.

So stay inside the exercise and your body.  Really listen to see if you are finding your connection.  And don't be afraid to make the movement small and controlled (that one is a Pilates principle)!

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What to do when a client no shows?

 It's 6:10 am, do you know where your 6:00 client is?  Um, I didn't and I was staring at my pretty new   Warrior Chick   socks and my pretty polished concrete floor, and do you know what I thought?  Reformer!  Mat!  Stay tuned and I'll share with you what I did for less than five minutes that got my heart pumping.  Disclaimer:  I'm an Ambassador for   toetalk   and absolutely love their socks.   

It's 6:10 am, do you know where your 6:00 client is?  Um, I didn't and I was staring at my pretty new Warrior Chick socks and my pretty polished concrete floor, and do you know what I thought?  Reformer!  Mat!  Stay tuned and I'll share with you what I did for less than five minutes that got my heart pumping.

Disclaimer:  I'm an Ambassador for toetalk and absolutely love their socks.


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More Powerhouse Cues

100 - Box heavy like cement

Roll Up - String of pearls

One Leg Circle - Stir leg w/in hip socket, hips heavy into floor

Rolling Like a Ball - Keep chin to chest like a laser, Eyes focused on pelvis

Single Leg Stretch - Don't rock the boat

Double Leg Stretch - Scoop to reach out, Wrap your hips and scoop belly, Hold an orange between your thighs

Scissors - Scoop out belly with ice cream scoop

More Cues Here

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The doctor of the future

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Introducing Jennifer Cree!


Jennifer was first introduced to Pilates at a local gym while in dental hygiene school. She instantly fell in love. While working dental hygiene, a rewarding but physically repetitive job, Jennifer found herself turning to Pilates to offset and balance the stress on her body and support her goals as an endurance athlete. She decided to attend the Advanced Teacher Training Program in Boulder, Colorado under the mentorship of Carey MacNaughton and Teresa Lee to become a certified Pilates instructor. Jennifer is especially passionate about helping others utilize Pilates to improve their movement patterns during sports, work-related, and repetitive-stress pain. Pilates is Jennifer’s inspiration in life and her way to relieve stress, have fun, and share her passion for movement and health with her community.

  • Advanced Teacher Training Certified, The Pilates Center, Boulder Colorado 2014
  • Pilates Method Alliance Certified, 2014
  • Peak Pilates Basic Mat Certified, Jessica Schultz Pilates, Portland Oregon 2014
  • Trigger Point Performance Certified, SMRT-CORE and Myofascial Compression Technique 2013

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Have I told you about the painting yet?

One of the things I love about the new space for JSP is the great light.  The last studio got a little cave-ish and dark.  So I wanted to bring in a painting that would help create a little welcome area.  My client, Jolie Guillebeau, said she had something that would work, color-wise and size-wise. 

"What's the title?"  I asked.

"String of pearls."

I knew right then and there I had to have the painting.  Lay your spine down like a string of pearls is one of the most popular Pilates cues for spinal articulation.  I wish my spine looked this pretty.

And do you know the best part of this story?  Jolie didn't know the cue.  She was newer to Pilates and we hadn't talked about it yet. 

So there you have it.  I hope to give this painting a good home.  Stop by and see it sometime and lay your spine down, pearl by pearl. 

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Fall Training Schedule

We're gearing up for another busy fall at JSP!  Do you want to start by tipping your toe into Pilates teaching or just firm up your personal practice?  Join us for Basic Mat this September and December!  And don't miss out on our full certification beginning October 3rd - this certification includes mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Barrel, Chair, and Small props like Wall and the Power Circle.  Do you need CECs?  Two fabulous ones to choose from are Lengthen and Strengthen with Elastic Bands and Jump Board Intervals, both October 26th.  Hurry, space is limited!  Make your passion your career!

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Why I Don't Workout with my Clients

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.

S:  Oh. 

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.


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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!  


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New CEC in July!

Peak Pilates® Props Shop (4 Hours)


Set up shop and gain new skills to increase support, resistance and proprioceptive feedback and help your mat students understand and get more out of their workout. Don’t just grab any old prop—develop a thought process that will help you to decide why to choose which prop, how to use them to full advantage, and how to work with flow. Balls, bands, circles, rings and more!

Sunday, July 27th 9am-1pm

Register Here


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Powerhouse Cues

Can I share with you one of the best things about leading Teacher Trainings?  There's a workshop Peak Pilates does that shows you how to create your own exciting, dynamic Powerhouse cues.  Every instructor has moments where we feel like we're repeating ourselves, and Peak has a systematic way to brainstorm new ways to engage your client's core.  And after leading a training, I get to keep all these new cues...but now I've decided to share them with you!  They're just too good.  So thanks to Jennifer, Emily, Tia, and Denise!  I'll add more as I lead more trainings.  Why not share your best ones in the comments?  Words are important, they have power, and if we all get together and share the best ones we'll have more to choose from to keep the work alive for our clients!  Enjoy!

100 - Low spine like lead

Roll Up - Bone by bone, button by button, unroll the mat and roll it back up

One Leg Circle - Body in Concrete, lead torso

Rolling Like a Ball - Roll like a wheel

Single Leg Stretch - Pulley the legs

Double Leg Stretch - Solid body with liquid movement

Spine Stretch Forward - Deflate and inflate

Saw - Upper back is the lid to a jar of jam and you want to get it open

Inner Thigh Circles - Teacup on your ankle and keep it upright

Inner Thigh Lifts - String attached like a marionette

Seal - bowl shape to your pelvis (don't change the shape or the water will fall out)

Standing Roll Down - Drip down like water out of a faucet 

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Have you checked your feet lately?

I was working with a client today, and she was mentioning how Pilates was helping her feel that her core was getting stronger, but it she still had knee pain when she was walking.  We started our usual workout, then after some exercises on Cadillac, I asked her to walk across the floor, and what I saw on Cadillac was I also saw in her stride right away.   When she was working on Cadillac, her springs were veering right, and so was her right foot when she was walking.  So we started adjusting her gait by paying attention to how she was placing her foot, and guess what?  It. changed. everything.  Suddenly she had better posture and weight transfer as she was walking.

So what does this teach us about our Powerhouse?  Change starts at the center.  If she hadn't put the time in to strengthen her Powerhouse, it wouldn't have mattered how we placed her feet.  But her strong center let the change happen.  Without the lift in her core, we wouldn't have been able to adjust where her placed her feet.   Without stability in her hips in leg springs, I wouldn't have been able to see that her feet were veering right, it just would have looked unstable over all.

Change in Pilates is systemic.  It will start with one thing - some strength at center, some elongation in the torso, and then slowly change will happen.  Not all at once.  This client has been taking Pilates for about a year.  She started her lesson saying that her knee pain hadn't gone away yet, even though she's stronger.  But with a trained eye, a teacher can watch and see, and then gradually guide more change.

Pilates can change what we've done all our lives.  The new foot placement was so unfamiliar, so odd to feel, my client thinks she's been walking out of alignment for years without noticing.  A fun project is to look at pictures of yourself as you've grown up and watch for posture changes.  When did your feet start to turn out?  When did you start to slump?  Do you see the same posture mirrored in your parents or siblings?   

But no matter what you see, honor the journey that your feet have traveled, then take a closer look.  What have they been up to down there? 


So as you can tell by my feet, I'm getting excited for my brother's wedding because my toes never look this good, I've done some dance with my baby bunion, and been getting some sun with the kids.  Some good space between the toes now, thanks to Pilates.  What about your feet?  What story do they tell?

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Anatomy for Pilates Instructors Part Three

And here it is, the framework...

Skull - Cranium, Maxilla, Mandible

















Cervical Vertebrae (7)


Thoracic Vertebrae (12)

Lumbar Vertebrae (5)



Check out anterior muscles here and posterior muscles here.





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Anatomy for Pilates Instructors Part Two

Posterior Muscles to Identify (some are repeats from Anterior):



Teres major

Latissimus dorsi

External oblique

Gluteus medius

Gluteus maximus

Vastus lateralis

Biceps femoris





Extensor carpi ulnoris

Flexor carpi ulnaris




Achilles tendon

For anterior muscles click here, bones click here.



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Anatomy for Pilates Teachers Part One

Of the over 200 muscles that puts our skeletal frame into motion, focus your study on:

Anterior Muscles:


Orbicularis oculi

Orbicularis oris


Pronator teres


Flexor carpi radialis



Vastus medialis



Pectoralis major


Rectus abdominis

Rectus femoris

Vastus lateralis



Tibialis anterior


Paroneus longus


For Posterior Muscles click here, Bones to know click here.

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