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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Makes Your Pilates Trainer Fantastic?

For today's blog, I would really appreciate the comments, feedback and viewpoints of all of you that read and enjoy this blog. I want to hear your opinion!

I always envisioned opening a Pilates Studio were clients not only received a great workout at a lower price but I also wanted a nurturing and inviting environment that felt like home. As the client base gradually grows it is nice to see the clients interacting and motivating each other.

There are some things at the studio that I just will never change. I will always be a Drill Sargent. Without that discipline and drive I would never have had the courage to start my own studio. Classes will always start on time and you really need to be on time (a huge pet peeve of mine). Lastly, I will always expect clients to work as hard as possible within their ability.

Having that said, I am always open to suggestions or comments from others. Feedback is good! I'm always looking to make a good thing even better. I keep my ears open when client talks. Recently, I have been thanked in ways that I just never really thought possible. A client made a comment that Pilates as helped change her lifestyle and one has commented about having increased self esteem. What better thanks is there than that?

So my question to all of you is........

What makes your Pilates Trainer fantastic?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pilates Exercise Focus: The Benefits of Exercising the Feet

Today's guest blog comes courtesy of Aliesa George, and Centerworks.

The Benefits of Exercising the Feet

The first Pilates exercises taught on the Reformer are for Footwork. And throughout a traditional Pilates workout, the feet are involved in every exercise. Sometimes pointed, sometimes flexed, and on many exercises moving between these two actions - to stretch, strengthen, and lengthen the calves, improve ankle mobility, and help improve balance. Nice that we’re laying on our backs for all this to begin so there are no worries about falling down while we’re finding our center, and strengthening our feet!

Just like every other aspect of Pilates training, focusing on your footwork will help improve every other exercise and skill you do! Our feet are a long ways away from our brain – and paying attention to what’s happening from our head to our toes can sometimes be a challenge. Every Pilates exercise that focuses specifically on healthy movement and stability at the feet is helping us get in better touch with our body and improving our posture and structural alignment from the ground up!

Did you know that Joseph Pilates even invented two small pieces of equipment specifically to help improve foot fitness? One is called the “Foot Corrector”, and the other is the “Toe Tensometer.” The good news, you don’t necessarily have to have these special Pilates foot-fitness toys to get the most from your Pilates training program or fitness workouts. By paying attention, and being consciously aware of correct alignment for your ankles, arches, and toes, and by doing all your exercises with the best form possible, you can get great results for healthy and happy feet! (And the rest of your whole body too!)

Joe Pilates developed lots of different exercises on the Reformer, Trapeze Table, and Chairs that allow you specific attention to your footwork. And Pilates Matwork is great to keep the pressure off your feet and still be exercising. But you’ll get even more great benefits out of every workout if you pay attention to, and know, exactly what your feet should be doing on every rep!

Why should we even care about our feet?

Well, we only have one pair! Foot replacement surgery doesn’t sound like a very fun option. (Not sure that it’s even available yet…) Our feet have to last a lifetime to help take us where we want to go. If we’re not carrying our body weight correctly on our feet – sooner or later a knee, hip, or back problem will result. (These additional joint injuries and pains can end up costing thousands of dollars in lost work time, foot pain, knee pain, back pain, medications, and surgeries!) And fixing a foot, knee, hip, or back issue with surgery may or may not solve the problem if the root of the issue is a muscular imbalance, or improper function at the feet!

Here’s the good news… All of this can be improved with your Pilates training and the right foot-care exercises! Aren’t you glad you do Pilates! Enjoy all that barefoot time you have during your Pilates workouts. Pay attention to when your feet are pointed or flexed, and do it well! Know that with each repetition of a Pilates footwork exercise you are helping to maintain your good health from the ground up!

Aliesa George is a Pilates teacher, workshop presenter, and the founder of Centerworks. She enjoys sharing her expertise with Pilates teachers and students to tweak Pilates exercise technique, and improve health and fitness. Discover more of her great Toe Tips and check out her helpful foot care products here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

30 sessions to a whole new body?

Perhaps the most popular quote from Joe is as follows. "In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you'll be on your way to having a whole new body." Pilates Sports Center decided to put Art to the test and track his progress to see if he will have a new body in 30 sessions

Future videos on Arts progress can be seen at Pilates for the People Networking Site.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mix up the Mat

Recently, I have noticed that there has been an increase in mat class attendance at the studio. It has been a wonderful and pleasant surprise. Being a Pilates studio in southeast Michigan with a failing automotive industry can be a little unsettling. Luckily, I do have a very dedicated client base and being the sole owner and teacher at the studio, I have the ability to offer classes in sessions at an extreme discount.

With several clients opting for mat classes, it is important that the classes always remain challenging and interesting without sacrificing the method. Those of us who have been trained properly are aware that the exercise progress in a certain order. When we have clients that come in several times a week are we concerned that they will get bored? Do we then stray away from the list in order to make the class interesting? Do we add Yogalates to the schedule? Nope!

Using a small apparatus in class adds a whole new element and challenges muscles in new and exciting ways. Magic circles are a great way to add a little extra resistance. Light weights can be used for the rowing series. Thera-bands are great to use for upper body work and stretching. The dreaded thera-ball is great for is the foam roller. These subtle and easy additions keep the muscles working differently and keeps the clients working hard without losing the integrity of the method.

I don't believe anything that has proven to work for over 100 years needs to be changed. Do you?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rolling Like a Ball

Perhaps the most whimsical exercises we do in Pilates is all the rolling and rocking exercises. In the mat repertoire, Rolling Like a Ball is the first fundamental place to start learning the "rolling" concept. Having said that, the exercise should be anything but basic. Let's take a look at some different variations.

First start but sitting up on the mat with a rounded spine. Remember to never sit directly on the tailbone but slightly back so you are on the sit bones. Let's start with the hands on the outside of the ankles (elbows point wide), knees open hip width apart and the big toes together. Gaze down at the belly button to keep the neck in line with the spine. Without going on the head or neck, start to rock backwards and then rock right back up to balancing on the sit bones. Repeat 5 times.

What's the purpose? Rocking backwards helps work spinal articulation and acts as a natural spinal massage. Rocking up forces the abs to engage and works balance.

Have this version mastered? Try the same position with legs pressed tight together and the head more to the knees. Take the hands in hovering in front of the ankles without holding on. Try any of the above variations and add a teaser as you rock up to balance.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Shop Talk

It is a given to say that we are living in tough times right now. Every time we turn on the news we hear of more job losses, foreclosures keep rising, businesses keep closing and the economy keeps sinking. Most of us are watching our spending, creating budgets and have given up certain luxury items in order to stay afloat. Does this mean that we give up our Pilates too? I believe not.

As a studio owner it is always important to keep those clients coming in the door no matter what. Through a series of trial and error there are ways to peak interest and gain new and potential clients for life. What a great time to use our creative juices and think outside the box.

One trend that I've noticed is that people are most interested in the group classes because they are more affordable. In order to promote mat classes I offer a coupon on the website for a free class to new clients. I also offer mat classes in a discounted 5 week series. Another option is offering a discounted initial private appointment to a first time client. Lastly, sometimes I will offer a monthly special that allows clients discounts on certain services.

Great customer service is always a plus. All clients should feel comfortable in the studio no matter what. If they don't feel comfortable, they won't come back. I like to think of my studio as my second home....because it basically is. I enjoy seeing my clients come in and engage in conversations with other clients before and after their workouts.

Does anyone else have any other ideas to share? Keep in mind that there is also a forum for discussions at Pilates for the People Networking Site

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Celebrity Workouts

Do you ever catch yourself picking up that magazine in the grocery store that claims to shape or sculpt your perfect body in 5 short weeks? Did you start Pilates after Oprah had a spotlight on her program? Maybe after Madonna plugged it in her song? It always amazes me how celebrity workout regimes motivate the general public to get up off that couch and get in shape.

Today's post comes compliments of Recently they posted the workouts, diets and exercise routines of 50 celebrities, including Ashlee Simpson, Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry, Madonna and Niki Taylor. Further information can be found at Fitness Magazine Celebrity Workouts.

I've stressed several times before it is important to keep your workouts fresh and fun in order to avoid burnout. Variety is key! Perhaps some of these celebrity workouts will add something new or offer a different perspective to your existing routine. Isn't that why we love Pilates? Over 500 exercises in the method. In the grand scheme of things it is important to live a healthy lifestyle and live life to the fullest.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Today let's dissect another hard to perform exercise....the fold-up teaser. Since this one falls towards the end of the matwork repetoire, we need all the mental and physical energy possible to complete it.

First start lying down on your back, legs straight out in first position (parallel is also an option) with the arms stretched over the head. The back is gently flattening down into the mat. Start by lifting the arms up to the ceiling and rolling the torso about halfway and then start to lift the legs off the mat as you continue to roll up to a seated teaser (or V sit) reaching the hands towards the toes. Hold for a second. To release to starting, slowly lift the arms up to the ceiling so that the biceps are to the ears with palms facing in. Initiate a roll back thru the spine. Once the lower part of the spine presses into the mat, the arms and feet start to fold down at the same time back to starting.

Helpful hints

Keep in mind that the legs should be strong and active the whole time. It puts a ton of strain on the back when lifting dead weight. Keep rotating your first position by wrapping the outer thighs towards the inner.

Make sure that your movements are smooth and controlled. When starting to release the fold, make sure that the arms are slowly lifting and rotating. Tossing them up in the air only throws off balance.

If lifting both legs at the same time is just a little too much, try the same exercise but only lift the right leg up while keeping the left anchored on the floor throughout the exercise. Make sure to repeat on the left leg.

Remember that there are only 3 reps total. Using the mind to control the body is key. Visualize and do!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Motivate Me

Happy New Year! Most people in the New Year make the resolution to start up a new fitness program. The beauty of Pilates is that it is addictive after you get started. People generally feel better after working out when their endorphins are going high. The benefits of Pilates are endless. Most clients start feeling better as a whole both physically and mentally. They stand up straighter and have improved posture, clothes start to fit better, they gain strength to carry out daily activities, flexibility because better creating less injury and mentally.....well it's good to take time for yourself and your health no matter how busy your life may be.

Sometimes taking the jump to try out a Pilates Studio can really freak people out and be intimidating. Don't let it. Take advantage of a private appointment (usually offered at a discount) and check out a few local studios until you find one you are comfortable with. I offer a free mat class to new clients (with the coupon on the website) just to come in and see what it's all about. Grab a friend in order to motivate yourself to come to classes.

Once you get started it is easy to keep coming back for more. The health benefits and mental well being are rewarding.