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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The Best Pilates Exercise for your Lats

ballet stretches.JPG

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.

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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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The Top 3 Things I Learned at WDS

This is the sight that greeted me Saturday at the World Domination Summit, which tries to answer the question, "How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?"  Here, my top three ways:

1.  If you tell someone "no," and they react in anger, it means you made the right decision.  Oh wow, where do I start with this one?  How many times have you said yes because you were afraid to upset someone?  And you went against what your heart was saying because you were avoiding a difficult conversation?  What if instead of fearing that reaction, you decided that it was validation you made the right choice?  I like this quote from Jon Acuff because it's another way of looking at fear.  It can teach us and direct us in what is our true path.  But we have to lean into it, and try to explore what it's teaching us instead of avoiding it.

2.  Apparently, I have the characteristics of a healer.  Lissa Rankin talked about the characteristics of a healer - hearing a call to help others at a young age, to want to take care of animals and the earth, and having empathy.  Check, check, and check.  What is your calling?  Is it justice?  Service?  Order?  It was nice hearing someone speak to what I've always felt deep in my heart, that teaching Pilates changes people's lives for the better, and that's what motivates me to keep investing in learning more and more about this work.  Joe said that if people practiced his work, there would be less war.  On first hearing that, I thought it was a little far-fetched.  But think back to that last time you were in pain.  I certainly had a short fuse and was pretty miserable.  It's difficult to not pass that negative energy on to others.  Sure, I might not start a war, but I'd certainly want to cut someone off in line.  Healing the body heals the soul.  Movement heals.  Those of us who get to practice Pilates should remember how lucky we are to be part of this healing energy in the world.

3.  No Mud.  No Lotus.  This is actually a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, who wasn't at the conference, but this was shared by Vani Hari.  I love this quote because it reminds me of the struggle that is involved in transformation, and that we don't need to fight the struggle.  We can love the struggle, we can love the mess, we can love what makes us imperfect.  And it reminds me of one of the first things I learned:  don't run from the hard stuff.  Embrace it.  Know that it's teaching you something.  Maybe the resistance you're feeling means you're on the right track, that you're breaking through something deep in yourself that's been holding you back - maybe in your career or your relationship.  But we can also think about this with our Pilates work as well.  How often do we "hate" an exercise?  Avoid doing what's uncomfortable?  What if we embraced the mud?  The messy, sloppy exercises might be what we need most to break through.

So thank you, WDS.  I learned so much.  I learned I'm on the right path.  I learned to embrace the struggle, and I learned how to hug a few strangers in the process.

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My New Secret to Keeping Healthy

At the end of a long day, I used to sit down with a piece of dark chocolate.  That was my "reward" for working so hard.  But after awhile, I started to rethink my idea of "dessert."  Often, when I was working out my clients, they would remark how good it felt to stretch, and I would say, "That's your Pilates dessert." (For example, after Teaser on Reformer, when you drop the straps into the well and arch back, that's dessert for doing Teaser).

So, what if my treat at the end of a long day is to reward my body?  To thank it for the hard work it did to carry me through my workout, run around with my kids, fuel my brain?  What if "dessert" meant taking care of myself?

But who has the time?  Don't I deserve a few minutes to sit?  As a Pilates teacher, I'm constantly on my feet.  As a mother of two young kids, I'm rarely sitting down (unless I'm driving them somewhere or reading a book to them).  Who has the time?

Then it hit me.  I love to eat my little bit of chocolate while watching TV.  You know, those shows you're addicted to?  (And I've already shared a lot of myself on this blog, but I'm not ready to share my guilty pleasure I like to watch at the end of the day.  Let's just say we all need a mix of high and low culture).  What if I use my time watching TV to use my roller?  That's 22 minutes treating myself really well, stretching my muscles (and I always feel really good after).  My kids are already in bed, I watch my shows on the computer when I want...it wouldn't be hard to just change what I'm doing while I'm watching. 

And that small change made a difference in my life in that I'm rethinking what a "reward" is.  A "treat"  treats myself well.  A dessert doesn't have to come in a tub of ice cream.  And I've started looking forward to my roller (almost) as much as I look forward to my chocolate (hey, I love a good dark chocolate).

So has this helped me drop 10 pounds?  No.  But it's changed my thinking about my body, and that's just as important to me.

And the chocolate?  Yeah, I still eat that too.  It's all about balance.  Only I don't label it as a "treat" I've earned.  I think the more we separate ourselves from food labels, the better.  If it's not a treat, then I don't eat it just because I had a rough day.  I eat it because I want to and I enjoy it.  I'm aware that it's what I desire, not what my emotions dictate.

So, what's your definition of Pilates dessert?

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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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Keeping Up Your Workout While you Travel

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.

3.  Did you know I have workouts here?  All free, all fun, and a great way to take me with you on the road!  They're all listed here.  You can also find the JSP youtube channel here.

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.

 

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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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Training Center Reduced Rates

Did you know JSP is also a   Peak Pilates Education Center  ?  That means a nice savings for you if you are a generally healthy person and new to Pilates.  Apprentice teachers are working towards their certification, and teach private Pilates sessions for $20.  Level I certified instructors have completed the first level of three toward full certification, and teach private Pilates sessions for $40.   ** These sessions are for beginners with healthy bodies only

Did you know JSP is also a Peak Pilates Education Center?  That means a nice savings for you if you are a generally healthy person and new to Pilates.  Apprentice teachers are working towards their certification, and teach private Pilates sessions for $20.  Level I certified instructors have completed the first level of three toward full certification, and teach private Pilates sessions for $40. 

** These sessions are for beginners with healthy bodies only

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Heal Inflammation from the Inside Out

Do you often treat muscle soreness with pain medicine or creams?  Why not try to make your own tea with healing properties?  It's made with food, so it will nourish your body without any side effects, and it only takes about 5 minutes to make.

I love to make a healing tea with lemon, ginger, and tumeric. 

Lemon is a alkalinzing fruit.  Most Americans have a high acid content to their diets (from eating dairy, meat, sweets, and caffeine).  Lemon can help balance pH levels in the body which has been linked to better digestion, mood, and less pain.  More information on alkaline diets can be found here.

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, and can also help to aid digestion.  It's also an antioxidant.  It's ability to help with nausea is well documented as well.

Finally, the active ingredient in tumeric** (what gives curry it's yellow color) is curcumin.  It has strong anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties. 

So, to make the tea:

1.  Heat some water (I usually just make a single cup for myself)

2.  Squeeze half the juice of one lemon into the water (don't worry about the seeds, you'll strain it later)

3.  Grate about 2 teaspoons fresh ginger into the water

4.  Grate about 2 teaspoons fresh tumeric into the water (peel and grate the tumeric as you would the ginger)

5. Wait about 5-7 minutes, then strain out the ginger, tumeric, and lemon seeds

6.  Enjoy a glass!  If you want to add some sweetness, I recommend honey.

** Tumeric can be found in most health food stores in the produce section, usually by the ginger

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Inspiration

Thank you Ton Voogt for sharing this quote when I took the Super Advanced Reformer Workout at the Pilates Empowerment Summit!  I'm still thinking about this!

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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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Is this Going to be Your Excuse or Your Story?

I recently finished reading Misty Copeland's memoir, and it made me think:

Of all the girls who study ballet, how many actually become professional ballerinas?

Of those ballerinas, how many dance with American Ballet Theatre?

Of those that dance with ABT, how many become soloists?

That accomplishment, in itself, is remarkable.  But Misty also had to overcome an instable home life, a very late start for a dancer, and prejudice.  Oh, and toss in a highly publicized custody battle with her ballet teacher.

All her life, Misty had a million great reasons to quit, to give up on herself, but she didn't.  Instead, she kept going, so now those roadblocks to her dreams are just a part of the narrative of her success.

So, what is it gonna be - your excuse or your story?  How many things are holding you back from becoming your best self?  Are they the excuses you make that will prevent you from realizing your potential or will they become a part of your story?  The things you'll recount when you talk about your amazing accomplishments?

What is it going to be?

 

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Spring Training Dates Finalized

Find them all here.

In addition, PPC-2 Continues!  Register here for our March/May modules.

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Mama Morning Shake Recipe

Many of my clients ask me what I put in my morning shake, what my kids call "Mama Morning Shake," so I thought I'd share it with you below.  It's not a recipe exactly, and that's what I like about it.  It's very flexible so you can use what's on hand in your kitchen or keep it vegan, add more greens....it's really up to you!

One banana (you can freeze it the night before to make the shake more like a milkshake in consistency)

Frozen berries (about a cup) But sometimes I use whatever is on sale that week - frozen pineapple and mango work nicely

About a cup of some kind of liquid (ha - how's that for specific?  I like coconut water, but you can do almond milk, cow's milk...even a juice if you prefer)

Handful of greens (Kale, spinach, stay away from mustard greens - I found that out the hard way and my son almost never trusted a green smoothie for awhile after that)

A scoop or two of a good protein power (I've been liking the SunWarrior Protein Classic Vanilla - it's vegan and not too chalky or sweet)

Blend that baby up and enjoy!  My kids like to drink theirs with matching straws.  I feel like this keeps my energy up more than anything else I have for breakfast, and I love knowing I started the day with some fruit and veggies - you can never eat enough of them!

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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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Power Circle Workout

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?



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Sock Wardrobe Winner and Island Getaway!

Laura is our big winner of the Toe Talk Sock Giveaway!  But wait, you can still win a tropical getaway! 

Check out what Laura said about breathing here in the comments section.  It's a really great reminder we all need from time to time - inhale, exhale, repeat.

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