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Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh........The Neck Pull

Is this exercise everyone's nemesis or what? Is it because the abs are tired by the time we get to it? Let's break this one down a bit.

Start lying down on your back with feet as wide as your mat flexed (or slightly wider than hip width apart). There are two different placements for the hands. Place your hands to your forehead elbows wide or behind the neck.

Start to bring the chin to the chest on the inhale and then exhale to round all the way up and over into a round back with the head towards the knees and the belly in. Gently stack the spine to an upright, seated position on the inhale and then gently roll back down one vertebrae at a time till your laying flat on the mat. Exhale at about the halfway point of the rolldown. I'll save the flat back and twist variations for another day.

I'm taking a guess that most of you got stuck at the chin to the chest part right? Here's some helpful hints to get up past that hump.

1. Watch the position of your pelvis. It should be gently flattened with the ribcage closed.

2. Make sure to let out that exhale as soon as you begin the roll up. It is the exertion portion of the exercise.

3. Still having problems? Try securing your feet under something to keep them down. Maybe a strap, under the couch or have someone hold them down.

4. Use light weights (2 or 3lbs.) and hold them in the hands.

Keep in mind that this one is tricky for most people. Mat thickness, core strength and spinal articulation are other factors that make it tough to roll up.

Practice makes perfect. Keep pulling away at it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

the hundreds

Those of us that practice Pilates are well aware of the exercise the hundreds. It is the staple to any core training workout. There are a ton of different ways to execute the exercise. Let's take a look at a handful of different versions.

As usual, lie down on your back with your abs pulled in and the pelvis gently flattened. The upper body lifts to a crunch with a tennis balls distance from chin to chest, eyes on the belly button. Reach the arms out long by the hips with fingers reaching long.

The leg position

Working from a beginner level to advanced.

1. Feet planted on the floor with bent knees. Feet hip width apart.
2. Legs lifted in a 90 degree tabletop style position.
3. Legs straight up to the ceiling above the hips.
4. Legs lowered down at your point of control. (don't arch that back now)

Legs can be parallel together or turned out in first position.


1. The usual 5 inhales and 5 exhales ten times over (hence the word...100's)
2. Maybe try 4 inhales and 6 exhales.

Where to do the hundreds?

1. On the mat free form. Try a magic circle in the ankles.
2. On the reformer with straps in hands.
3. On the cadillac with the rolldown bar in hands.
4. Laying down on the seat of the chair.

Those are just a few different variations of the hundreds. Feel free to leave comments on your favorite version.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pilates for Pink

Don't forget that October starts the "Pilates for Pink" fundraiser for breast cancer research. Our donation mat class for the month of October will be Sunday at 11am. For further information please visit

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Pilates Experience - Amatouch

Todays guest blogger is Amatouch who was kind enough to share her Pilates experience with the world. To learn more about her please visit her blog at

Last summer, I enrolled in a Pilates class out of curiosity, I had heard about Pilates and by the sound of it this could have designated anything from a ceramic workshop to a youth club, anything but exercises. That's because the trademark Pilates derives from Joseph Pilates, its inventor. This also explains why it does not sound too technical. It's a modern discipline consisting of body movements based on a few principles more than a philosophy. You could think that the designation Pilates lacks content in comparison to Yoga, Gym, Steps which have made their name but Pilates has a reputation for being person centered and therefore you can make what you like of it and respect your own limits or ailments. I really fell into it for that reason.

The benefit of joining a class are enormous, increased flexibility and strength in muscles and articulation, better breathing and concentration and improved general well-being. I have never felt more in harmony with my own body. I am a massage therapist and as a home care advise I invariably recommend to my client to join a Pilates class.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

One of the things that I love about Pilates is how versatile the exercises can be. It is amazing how you can take an exercise from one apparatus and put it on another to give it a totally different feeling and meaning.

Have you ever taken the rowing series from the reformer and taught it with light weights in mat class? Try taking the frogs and leg circles off the reformer and put that in an advanced mat class without any footstaps. Talk about a wake up for your core!

Keep things fresh by showing clients different ways to do a familiar exercise. It's amazing how a new tweak on an exercise can become more engaging.

Monday, April 28, 2008

they love me....they love me not

When a client first comes into the studio they usually will ask if they should work with only one trainer or if they can go to several different trainers. I always let the client do what works best for them. Here are some of the pros and cons to this question.

1. The advantage to working with several different trainers is that you can always learn something new and exciting from various teaching styles.

2. Working with more trainers will allow more flexible in scheduling appointments.

3. Sometimes a specific trainer with a certain background can give you extra insight to achieve your goals. If you have certain physical limitations, a trainer with a physical therapy background can be helpful.

4. Some clients enjoy a specific type of workout and prefer to stay with one trainer. I know that my clients enjoy a challenging yet positive workout. Some clients enjoy a less aggressive approach.

5. If you are looking to switch to another trainer, it is best to continue working with your usual trainer and with the new one to make sure that you will be satisfied with your switch.

The bottom line is that you should always be happy with the progress you are making. I always make it a point to ask my clients once in awhile if they are satisfied with their workouts then I will know if my job as a trainer is being fulfilled. Again, honesty counts!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Work it all Out

When constructing a Pilates program remember it is important to make sure that your workouts are well rounded. The Pilates Method has over 500 exercise when you're using the system as a whole. Make sure to take matwork classes, equipment classes and private sessions in order to achieve the maximum results possible. Each piece of apparatus works the body in a different way so keeping things fresh is important in order to keep the muscles challenged.

Make sure you are not a client that gets stuck in a groove. Some clients only take equipment classes because it's fun to workout on the machines. Some won't take mat classes because they claim they are too challenging. The ideal client should be taking both (or privates) in order to keep obtaining their goals at least 2-3 times a week. Fortunately at the studio clients are able to work on all the apparatus' if they are taking group equipment classes. Certain studios sometimes only offer reformer classes which can limit and constrict your workouts.

Remember Pilates workouts should always be fresh and fun! Mix it up to keep seeing results.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gotta Gimmick?

A friend recently told me about a postcard she received in the mail for a Pilates for Ballroom Dancers class. Her question to me was the typical "What is the difference between the Pilates for ballroom dancers, Pilates for the golfers and just the good old classic Pilates." I really couldn't tell her. Was this just another marketing gimmick to get people interested in Pilates? Is the classical methods of Joseph Pilates just not good enough in it's own right anymore? I was under the impression that this method of body conditioning was about strengthening all the muscle groups to create an equal balance in the entire body?

OK, I really could be a hypocrite though. Yeah.....Matwork for Dancers on Sundays? Barre/Matwork classes? What would Joe think? Here's how I justify my gimmick. In my specialized classes we kick it out hard core. OK guys...I hear the giggles.....we are hard core in all classes but to varying degrees. In the Matwork for Dancers class we get all those classic mat exercises in power style and then we add even more back and extension work which the dancer needs. Please don't bring a sensitive back to this class. These are exercises the average person can't handle in large doses. Barre work is the some deal. Power matwork followed by some power barre work. Please don't bring a degenerative knee problem to barre class. That would not be wise. Hence my gimmick. Condition it all via Joe style and then maybe give it a little extra something for good measure.

Do you think Pilates really needs a gimmick in order to be fresh and attract new clients? Feel free to comment back. I'd love to hear some different views on this. In fact I'll go start a nice forum about at There is also classic footage of Joe doing Pilates there!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Videos for Home

With the Pilates Industry growing rapidly it can be difficult to know what quality videos are worth purchasing to use at home. As I stated in my Where to Begin? article, I am partial to The Method videos by Jennifer Kries just because it is similar to my teaching style and method. My favorite videos are Target Specifics and Precision Toning which are very true to the Pilates method. I also enjoy the Lotte Berk videos as well. Although they are not Pilates videos, they do compliment the method and can be a good mix to home workouts. The exercises are very complimentary to the work done in the Matwork/Barre classes.

Other popular videos out there are Stott Pilates, Winsor Pilates and Gaiam Pilates featuring Ana Caban which are all excellent in there own way. If you need a recommendation on a video always ask your trainer for advice. Usually we have certain videos that go hand in hand with what we teach at the studio.

What Pilates videos are you partial too? Let us know. Remember that you can also use Pilates for the People for more networking and advice. It's free and easy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quotable Joe

"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never sick a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world should do my exercises. They'd be happier."

What to Wear

One of the questions most people ask me before trying Pilates is "What should I wear to my session?"

Clients should always wear tight clothing that allows their trainer to be able to see and correct their form. A long time ago I gave the cue "Make sure your ribcage is closed" to a client wearing a big bulky sweatshirt. She asked me "Is my ribcage closed?" Needless to say I had to inform her that I couldn't tell because of all the layers of clothing she was sporting.

I am partial to yoga bootleg pants or capris when doing Pilates. Tank tops and form fitted tees are also good. Since I basically live in my glorified pajamas I like to invest in good quality clothing that can stand up to my busy active lifestyle. I find that Hardtail and Lucy are great brands that can take a good beating and flatter any figure.

Pilates is usually done in either socks or bare feet. I prefer to go barefoot just so that I don't have to worry about slipping around on the mat or machines. Socks with grips on the bottom are a great alternative to barefeet. Toe Sox and Crescent Moon are gaining popularity.

Have a topic for discussion? Please feel to email any questions to or visit Pilates for the People forum and start your own discussions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Studio Finder

For all you Pilates studio owners who would like some extra added publicity feel free to submit your information at to be included in the Studio Finder. It's free and easy and a good way to gain some new clients and get exposure! Free is good! That's my motto. I have many clients that go on vacation or have family members in other parts of the country that are looking for studios and could use this good resource via the website.

Networking for Pilates

In my networking efforts to get the Pilates community involved in participating in the Studio Finder I've come across some great Pilates websites. I also have developed yet another new networking website of my own.

I've developed an extension to my Pilates for the People blog which will allow users to be more interactive with one another. The site works similar to myspace/facebook where users can have their own profile page. The thing I like most about this site is that members can actually load their own videos, pictures and music right on the main page of the site for everyone to see. There is also a section for forums and groups. Go check it out when you get a second at

One of my favorite sites that I visit often is run by Kira Morris and is called This great site offers some really cool Pilates shirts, a very informative and well written blog and it also has a forum for discussions and networking. Everything on the site is always updated frequently so it is always fresh and new.

These are some great sites for networking in the Pilates community! Make sure you check them out.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Six Pilates Principles


Pilates is mind-body exercise. Make sure that you concentrate on each movement and how it is done. Concentrate on correct breathing and execution of the exercises in order to obtain real results.


Moving without using control can cause a world of injury to the body. Control each movement by using your mind. Avoid quick, jerky movements that lead to injury. Besides, those types of movements just aren't pretty.


Remember that Pilates is all about working the core or powerhouse. This is your center....abs, back and glutes. All movements should stem from your center and move outward. Keep that core tight.


Make the exercises flow. Use the previous principles about your center, control and concentration to achieve a smooth flow with the exercises and avoid those jerky movements.


Fine tune your movements and use precision when doing them. Remember 5 good reps are more important than 10 sloppy ones. Two things to remember. Quality over quantity! Less is more!


Sounds easy doesn't it? Coordinate your movements with your breath. This helps purify the body, increase stamina, reduce stress, dilute the mind of stressful thoughts and most importantly breathing helps execute the movements properly. Don't ever hold your breath. If all else fails.....just exhale.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Pilates needs to be practiced about 2-3 times a week in order to be effective.