The Principles

There are six guiding principles of the Pilates method of exercise that can help you develop a  solid workout. You might hear about these principles as you take a Pilates session and for a good reason, they do indeed, contribute to a powerful and effective workout. 

Breathing - Without breath, you would not be alive. This is one of the most important principles of Pilates and exercise in general. Breathing helps us oxygenate our blood and increase circulation. In general, you inhale as you prepare to move, and exhale as you execute a movement. Not all Pilates exercises focus on deep breathing, but breath should be a part of all exercises. Go ahead, fill your lungs with a deep breath and empty the lungs, it feels good!

Concentration - Concentrate on you, while you workout. It's key to keep the mind focused and present to get your body to move effectively. Remember that mind-to-body connection and how powerful it is when used. 

Control - Pilates was called "Contrology" or "The Art of Control" by its founder, Joseph Pilates. Years later it became known as Pilates. Contrology was developed on the idea of muscle control. By working with control, there should be no haphazard, or sloppy movements that often lead to injury, and instead you'll get positive results and stay injury free. Control also helps to develop consistency in your body, and that training will lead to effective workouts. 

Centering - Your center, your core, your powerhouse, these are all the same thing. They are your foundation. Your center is where you have a large group of muscles, that if trained properly, will help develop stability and strength in your limbs. 

Precision - When we move in Pilates, we move with purpose. There are no wasted movements, or half way done exercises. The more precise you make your movements, the more value you create in your exercises. Soon this will become natural, and especially when combined with the last principle, flow. 

Rhythm & Flow - Rhythm and Flow is one of the principles that makes Pilates really work for me. It is a continuous movement, that is not fragmented or meant to be isolated. It is not just an abs workout, or just a leg or arm workout. The body should be working in many areas. If you bring a rhythm and flow to your workout by continuously moving, you will truly enjoy and reap the benefits of Pilates, in my opinion. Find a good flow, but remember to incorporate all the guiding principles as you do. Over time they will come together easily. "Rome was not built in a day." Keep it simple. 

Hello body, hello mind - can we connect today?

The mind and body connection has the potential to be powerful. The mind can be very healing for our bodies, and it can also wreak havoc. The mind and body are already connected, in fact they are inseparable, and what goes on our in minds, is often translated to something physical in our bodies. If I see something that frightens me, my heart starts to race, my pulse quickens and my body tightens up. On the other hand, when I think about something that makes me feel happy, a little bit of adrenaline picks up the excitement level and I feel lifted. Finding the way to use the mind to create meaningful actions in our bodies takes a little bit of effort.

How can you access that mind-body connection and use it in your Pilates session? Here is what I do on those days I just can't get started or excited to work out. I think about how I want to feel today. I take a step. I move my body. My mind starts to pick up the energy and I get dressed for class before I change my mind. And then...I walk out the door towards my class. Ok these are simple mind games, but they work for me. I think first about the good feelings, then my body is already in a better mood and it's easier to move.

Here are some practical thoughts on how you can make the best of your session, and come out feeling powerful. 

  • Think about what you want to achieve today. Make the best of your time, think about all those awesome benefits from working out. Be present in your class. 
  • Come a few minutes early, rather than feeling rushed and unprepared.
  • Still your mind a few minutes before class. Don't look at your phone, take a call, or text anyone a few minutes prior, so you can clear your mind. 
  • Take a walk around the block, before you step into the studio. Clear your mind.
  • Breathe. Breathing is one of the principles of Pilates. The breath helps the mind focus. 
  • If you find you want to chat while you workout, try to get the chatting done in the first few minutes you come in, and then settle in and focus on your body. 
  • Be the driver. Your teacher is there to guide you, but you need to think about how to get your body moving and blood circulating. Stay focused on yourself. Give yourself some props and cheers along the way. 
  • Think of something positive, pretty, happy, energetic. Get your mind off of anything negative that may have happened recently. Make an effort to connect positive thoughts to what your body does today!
meditate

 

 

Sit. Stand. Sleep. Move. How to reap the benefits of good posture.

This is the time to think about your posture. Don't wait until next week, or next year to start improvng it, because you can start today, after you're done reading this short post. 

Take a look at this video (it's only 4 mins 26 secs) and find a little inspiration and motivation to correct any poor posture habits you might have.  The benefits of good posture: http://t.ted.com/NGJ4aTI . I recently came across many articles and videos on posture, so you know this must be a growing trend and concern, and there must also be good benefits to better posture. 

Take a mental look at how you sit, stand, sleep, work, and move. Maintaining good posture requires a little effort and changing a few things in your life, but it can also reap good benefits.  How is your desk set up? How do you sit when you are at your desk, or driving to work, or when you are watching television? How do you sleep, do you wake up feeling good, or all tight and crunchy?  Are you engaging those core muscles to help you stay upright and lift your spine? Things to think about. 

A few benefits to good posture: 

  • Improved back health and less pain. 
  • Less wear and tear on joints and ligaments. Bad posture makes muscles work harder and they become tight and inflexible, which cause wear and tear on joints and ligaments. 
  • Improved lung capacity. Slouching can hamper the efficiency of your lungs.
  • Improved confidence - you look so much better, standing straight then all hunched over, how can that not bring more self confidence?
  • You can ward off that growing hump on your upper back from too much hanging of the head while looking at your phone or just looking down. The head weighs a lot. That's a lot of stress on your neck and shoulders. 

I have noticed significant benefits to my self confidentce when I sit up straighter, stand taller, and walk with my head up. My tight neck and shoulders don't bother me anymore, because I pay attention to how I hold my head. I used to feel the need for a neck massage all the time. Now, although I'd like to have a neck massage every day for the sheer joy it brings, I just don't need one like I used to need one. Better posture sure beats looking down at the ground or at my phone all the time, and I actually see what is going on in the world!

 

 

 

Thank You...Wishing you good health and lots of happiness in 2016

I just want to thank you for a lovely year. For each and every one of my students, I put on my thinking cap every day before your session and thought long and hard about what exercises were best for you and what I could do to allow you to progress and grow. I hope you all benefitted from Pilates and saw some kind of positive change in your body. 

My thanks and praise to all the interesting people I have met and that have passed through the doors of the studios where I work; some have stayed long and worked really hard, while others found it not to be their thing, and moved on. I learned from all of you that life is good and it can be challenging, and through all the ups and downs, there is something good to be taken from each moment. I am grateful I had the opportunity to meet you, work with you and learn from you. 

I wish you a very happy, successful and healthy 2016!!! 
My best to you all,

Jackie

Seasons change and so do humans

There is a little bit of a love-hate thing going on between me and Fall. I love the beauty that Fall brings with its crisp air, blue skies and glowing moons. What I don't love are the short days and cold nights. Who does? It just takes my body so long to get used to the change and by the time December rolls around I am missing Summer like crazy (I'm a Southern Californian who grew up next to the ocean), and I just feel like hibernating. I don't feel like walking the dogs as far, I start to feel tired earlier in the day and I start to eat heavier foods. As we get into winter, my mind starts to wander into the holidays and all the things that surround them, like family, friends and celebrations that distract me from my fitness goals.

This year, I'm approaching this seasonal change in a different way. My fitness goals are staying on top. Instead of letting myself fall into the traps of coming home to get cozy, I am booking my schedule with commitments to myself. I have committed in advance to numerous Pilates sessions that I normally book just days prior, I've committed to spend more time learning more and more about Pilates, I've also committed to going to a class with a friend, and I've gotten all the lights and jackets I need to walk the dogs further when it gets cold and dark out. I've given myself no chance to skip out on exercise. In addition, I'm also making sure I do some fun things with friends, and put them on my schedule, so I don't get so overloaded with just me things. If I make plans, than my goals are so much easier to accomplish. . 

So, just booking yourself silly with work out appointments doesn't necessarily mean success. In addition, you've got to change your mindset and your overall behaviors. If you find yourself going home to a warm sofa and resting after work, more often than heading to the Pilates studio or gym, then pack your workout clothes in the morning and take them with you. Don't cancel appointments for a moment of comfort. Don't let yourself have an excuse to go home first to get changed or bail out on class at the last minute. Look at your goals again and re-ignite what it was that drove you to write those goals and commit to them. Find ways to change your mind and get excited about working out. After all, how many of you feel good after a workout? Almost everyone does!! Don't miss out on that feeling of euphoria after a good workout in exchange for getting home early to rest. Rest will come. It always does. Maybe just an hour later. That's the beauty of Pilates, it's easy to prepare for a session and it only lasts an hour!  So change your mind, and change your body. You are capable of change!!

Form and Function

Two words that mean a lot in Pilates - Form and Function. Pilates teachers guide you to use correct form when working out and that allows you to use that form, in real life, away from the studio, making it a very functional tool. I was thinking about this the other day, when I realized just how I get in and out of the car, or sit down. I don't just flop down anymore, I find myself engaging my core and easing my way in and out. I'm still working my core when I get into my chair to look at the computer and using it even more to stay upright and get out a few emails. I just love how all the work I'm doing when I work out translates to my every day life, without much thought anymore. It's just part of my life now. And yours too! 

Anyhow, that leads me to some blog reading I've been doing...

Here is a post that was written by WellandGood.com in response to a New York Magazine article called "Pilatespocalypse," about how the method is declining in popularity. I think the WellandGood post picks up on a few really good points about why Pilates is so well loved.

"Both Drushal and Ungaro cite lots of examples of fit enthusiasts turning to Pilates to correct the imbalances they’re picking up as they fling themselves from CrossFit to barre. You’ve heard the buzzy term “functional fitness,” I’m sure, and Pilates says it’s the original. “We train you to perform optimally during workouts and in life,” Ungaro says. 

I agree, It may not be the trendiest fitness method, and it definitely doesn't subscribe to the method of louder equals better. In my opinion, Pilates teaches you good form in addition to all the other health benefits it brings, and Pilates teaches you how to relate that to real life movement, as well as using it in other forms of exercise. It goes beyond the Pilates studio. It seems it is time-tested and here to stay .

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think. 

How to Make Things Happen

When we're setting out to change something in our bodies, some times you have to know how to make those things happen. It's not easy to just dive into something without a plan. 

For me, I think setting goals are great for making things happen. I need to know what I want and then warm up to it. It's like starting a car, I have to turn the engine on before I drive. If I'm taking on a new sport, or exercise routine, I want to think about what I want to gain from it. Otherwise, I might just start out strong and end with a whimper when I get a little bored. If I just think ahead before I enter into that new routine, I can set some goals that keep me going. I want an awesome plan for me. I deserve it. You do too. I really want to make something happen, I don't want to waste my time. It's all just a little psychology that our minds need to get our bodies to stick with the program. 

Specific
Here are a few ways to help you get started...Make your goals specific. Don't just give yourself one goal though, surely there is more than one benefit from the exercise routine you are about to start. Identify those specific goals and let yourself have more than one. For example: I want to work out X times a week and lose X amount of weight. I want to work on getting rid of my bad posture and sit up straighter (this takes some core strength and even some flexibility). I want to strengthen my core, so my chronic back pain is alleviated. I want to get an all around body workout and see some muscle tone in my body. Come into your class or session prepared to reach some goals. 

Measurable
Once you set some specific goals, how will you measure them? If you want to look great and fit into your clothes better, how long will give yourself, how will you measure the results and how often will you measure?  Make sure you set measurements in place. Write down your results on your calendar, or in a notebook, and check in on yourself. Do measure them. Don't skip this part, because If you can't measure your goals, you may never see them clearly or feel like you've achieved anything. Did I get better posture today? That one might be harder to measure than losing a pound, but I can look in the mirror and check my posture, I can think about it while I'm at the computer, I can also feel it in my body and so yes, I can measure it. 

Attainable
Did you set goals that were attainable? I hope so. There is no use in setting goals so high that you can't reach them before you give up. High goals can be attained, but just take those steps to get to them and make those steps reasonable. I want to have a stronger core in two months. This is attainable if you put the work into it, and perhaps doing a little work at home in between your sessions. I want to get much stronger shoulders and arms, and be able to do 6-10 push ups with collapsing within a few months. I want to learn how to limber my hamstrings and strengthen my back in ten sessions. These are all reasonable and attainable goals for most people. 

Realistic
When setting your goals this one is pretty simple to do - make them realistic. It's a little like attainability, but one step further and that is do your goals fit your lifestyle? I want to build strength in my core and get more limber in my back and hamstrings, by doing Pilates twice a week. Is that realistic for you? Are you willing and able to do that? A realistic goal needs to be one that you are willing to take on, and one that you are able to do, within the boundaries of your lifestyle.  

Time
Give yourself time to achieve your goals, and check in on yourself often. I want to achieve X in three months and then I want to work on Y.  For example, this week I want to focus on learning the intermediate reformer routine and gain some strength in my arms, maybe even focus on my balance. By the end of the month I want to be strong enough to be able to learn more intermediate exercises. Give yourself a carrot to chase and let yourself get there.  If you don't give yourself a decent timeframe, it may never happen.

Accountability
Make yourself accountable. It matters. Have I dropped the ball? Did I feel tired last week and skip my exercises for a few days? If so, no big deal, but get right back on the "horse." Don't spend too much time kicking yourself over a little break. Sometimes we need them. 

Stability and Staying Power
Transforming your body into something different takes a little time, it also requires stability as well as staying power. Without those two things, that carrot will be hard to get.  Don't stop if nothing happens at first. Hang in there. Be consistent and stay with it and make things happen for you!

In short I call this being a S.M.A.R.T.A.S.S. (the good kind)

Set some specific goals, make an awesome plan for yourself = S
Make your goals measurable = M 
Make your goals attainable = A
Make your goals realistic = R
Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to achieve the goals = T
Make yourself accountable = A
Be stable and have some staying power  = SS

Stay with it!
#makethingshappen for you!! 



 

Pilates for Everyone

Yes, even surfers take time for a little Spine Stretch Forward on the beach

Yes, even surfers take time for a little Spine Stretch Forward on the beach

One of the cool things about Pilates, is that almost everyone can do it. From young to old, injured to athletic, we can all do it and gain benefits from it. 

A lot of people think Pilates can only be done on a fancy piece of equipment found in a studio or gym. But, Pilates can be done at home or wherever you travel and can find a mat. Pilates can be so beneficial when you do it without equipment, because you are using your own body strength to do the workout. Taking a private or small group equipment class with an instructor is always the best way to get yourself going, but if you can't attend a session more than once a week, a simple mat workout is a great workout to add to your routine.

Some benefits of a regular Pilates workout: 

Develops true strength
Improves athletic performance
Increases circulation
Limbers the spine
Improves posture and alignment
Strengthens the core, also known as the "powerhouse"
Strengthens the limbs too
Strengthens the pelvic floor through proper engagement of the core
Develops flexibility
Increases mental focus and body awareness
Increases lung capacity through breathing
Develops good balance and coordination
It is a low impact exercise, great for those recovering from an injury
 

So go on, do your body a favor and try Pilates. 

#Pilatesforeveryone

Pilates & You

The five signs you might need a little Pilates in your life.

  •  You've developed "tech neck" or as some people call it "text neck," from looking at your phone all day. You can't straighten your neck and now you've got tight shoulders too. The head weighs a lot and all that constant looking down at our phones and leaning into our computer screens is putting a lot of tension in our upper bodies. Pilates is excellent for building good posture. Pilates counteracts many damaging effects from work-related postures and motions, by strengthening the "powerhouse." Learning to lift and lengthen the spine, using your powerhouse (core) muscles when sitting to prevent slumping, and standing tall; these are all things you can learn how to do through Pilates. It takes practice and commitment, but good posture is achievable! Just ask a me, a former sloucher. 
     
  • You have an injury from doing a little too much.  Bootcamp, H.I.I.T., hot yoga, ultra marathons, spin class, or just lifting too many boxes. You name it, we all want to do it, and lots of "it".  There is a lot of "ultra" exercise going on around us, and there is so much to choose from. How much can you do in on week? Many of us, have gone at our exercise and lives with such gusto, that we've gotten injured along the way. Maybe we did a little too much, too fast, or, didn't engage the key muscles when we started heaving those weights. Pilates is the exercise method many physical therapists recommend for injury recovery and even preventing an injury.  Why? Because Pilates is a safe way to work out and builds strength using precision and control and encourages engagement of the proper muscles. So if you're injured from over doing something maybe take a minor step back, insert some Pilates into your life, and then get back to your life feeling stronger and remain injury free. 
     
  • You feel super stiff and inflexible. Bending over to pick something up has become a bit of a chore lately. Your back and hamstrings are so tight that you walk like a wounded penguin at times. The good news is, most Pilates exercises incorporate oppositional stretch in the exercise. Pilates is not just about strengthening your core, there is a lot of stretching going on as well as increased circulation, all so good for stiff joints. Take the Roll Up exercise, for example. As you roll up and over using your core muscles, you also stretch to your toes and as you are, you are simultaneously pulling your abdominals back in opposition, getting a deeper stretch in the shoulders and hamstrings. Keeping your spine flexible through articulation will help you keep that youthful feeling in your body. How nice is it to be building strength in your body and stretching? It's very nice. 
     
  • You find yourself needing more strength. As we age, we all lose a little strength in our bodies. Maybe carrying that heavy backpack has worn you down, or you don't have quite the stamina you used to have, or want to increase your athletic performance. In a Pilates session you may use a piece of Pilates equipment like the Reformer or Wunda Chair in your routine, but you will also tap into a lot of your own body strength to perform an exercise, and you won't need to do a high number of reps. Pilates is a great way to build stamina and strength in your limbs by using the core. Strengthening the "powerhouse" allows the whole body to become stronger, connecting all the weaker areas to your strong "powerhouse." A strong core, is essential for improving mobility in your limbs. Exercises initiate from the core and our limbs and the rest of the body gain the benefits too. How would you like to gain a lot of strength? Try some Pilates. You will get stronger. 
     
  • You're an athlete and you wish you could just...pull yourself up to that rock a little faster when you're rock climbing, or stand up and balance better when surfing, rotate a little more in your golf swing, run using better body mechanics, or just stay strong and rooted when hitting that tennis ball -  then life would be so good. Pilates is a perfect complement to the sports you already do. Pilates will help you develop a stronger core, which allows your limbs to have more mobility and gain strength. You will learn to work with control, precision, and gain better balance, all leading to improvements in your sport.  Pilates has helped professional athletes and dancers around the globe become better at what they do, and it can help you too. 

 

#5signsyoumightneedpilates

 

Link to an article from MIndBodyGreen on why you should try Pilates: