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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Point of Control

Happy Holidays to All!

So I have to tell all of you that I am totally geeked to be a Pilates Trainer right now! After much blood, sweat and tears about growing the studio over the last few years I was able to finally take a vacation last month (the first in about 6 or 7 years). I think it did some good because after I returned a bunch of new mat class clients jumped on the Pilates bandwagon. It is so weird to have a class full of new people in December!

Since this boom of new people, I thought I'd go ahead and clarify the infamous phrase that I use a thousand times a day.....your point of control. Again, I've taken for granted that my "normal" verbage isn't so normal to my newbies. Take for example the exercise "the hundreds". After I have the client prepare the legs up to the ceiling I usually give the cue "if you are able to advance this exercise, please lower your legs to your point of control". Huh? What's the mean? What's my point of control?

I generally use the imprinted spine when the legs are up in the air (a gently flattened back and pelvis). I tell the client that their "point of control" means to lower the legs down to just that point before you loose that gentle flatness and the back wants to arch and take over the movement. Core work = ab work. Not back strain work. Someones point of control could be lowering the legs a few inches to maybe 45 degrees towards the floor. Since everyone's spine and pelvis sits differently and everyone's flexibility and strength is different, each client will have a different point of control. My super duper lordotic, sway back, duck booty doesn't allow me to do lower my legs to far down in my "hundreds" position when doing matwork. I'm the couple of inches down girl. When I actually get a chance to practice what I preach (Pilates 2-3 times a week) I can get those legs lower to the floor. Until that day, the higher the legs stay to the ceiling the easier it is to keep it in the abs and protect the back from pain. This "point of control" concept can apply to exercises like the hundreds, double leg stretch, double straight leg stretch and bicycle.

Remember, Pilates is all about core strength and in order to achieve this all the exercises should be executed with precision and accuracy. It's not about competing with your mat class neighbor.....even though those advanced clients are quite impressive!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Okay....So you can probably tell by the title that today's post will not be your typical Pilates article but it will be a complete and total sound off about the ethics of blog writing and taking other peoples work. I thought about apologizing for this rant....but I can't and won't. I still believe that this article will be informative. Maybe even spark some good conversation.

Most of you that follow this blog know that there is usually a new post about every month and half about something related to Pilates. Most of the content on this site is written by myself and does consume an ample amount of free time in order to compose. The other articles not written by me are from other individuals that have contacted me and offered to contribute an article. They have also approved their work after the post is made. They get links to their website.

So, I recently decided to start a twitter account and see what all the fuss was about. After I created the account I added a few Pilates professionals and other individuals I found interesting. When I logged in Saturday morning I noticed that someone I was following had several threads that were promoting articles from my blog. COOL.....I though someone really loved my blog and was using my new twitter buttons to share the love. I clicked the link assuming I would end up here but the links took me to another "Pilates" blog that wasn't mine. I found that the most of my articles (that took me a few year to accumulate) were pulled of this site and added to theirs in a matter of a day. All the content on this particular site was not original work but the posts of other Pilates bloggers. Of course there is no valid email address to contact this individual. My comments requesting the removal of my articles were ignored. Nice!

I would like to state right now that the content of my blog belongs to me! I have no problem with links and I certainly don't have a problem with someone interested in posting one of my articles with my permission and appropriately crediting me for my work. I don't believe it is ethical to cut and paste other peoples hard work onto your own blog. It's actually pretty cheap that you have nothing original to say for yourself. Well, why don't you go ahead and steal this article too!!!! Or better yet....why don't you just remove my articles off your site instead of stealing over half the articles on my blog.

I am totally appalled at this. Am I in the wrong here?

For those of you that network in the Pilates field, could you please go ahead and pass this article along to other Pilates bloggers or writer. I'm not the only one that is having my feeds pulled by a splogger.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Pilates Ring

In the past I have posted several articles discussing matwork and keeping the exercises new and exciting without sacrificing the integrity of the method. A great way to keep things fresh is to incorporate a small piece of apparatus into your workout. This can definitely be a love/hate relationship for some clients. One of the best ways to mix up the mat without diluting the method is to incorporate the Pilates ring also known as the magic circle.

Recently, I had the pleasure of being able to test out a new Zenzu Pilates ring compliments of Americas Nutrition. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this product and the price tag that went with it! Those of us professionals in the Pilates field are well aware of how overly priced equipment can be. The machines are thousands of dollars and even a Pilates ring can run up to $65.

I have used other rings on the market which are comparable in price (23.99) and I find that I prefer this brand due to it's strong resistance level. I've found that other rings of similar quality lack a heavy resistance level and it is easy to bend the ring right in half. I like the fact that it took some effort on my behalf to squeeze the ring with my biceps or inner thighs muscles as I was performing certain exercises. Another cool feature is that the foam handles make it a little more comfortable to use....especially when doing the lower body work. The ring also comes with a little exercise chart to get you started.

The Zenzu Pilates Ring can be found at Americas Nutrition as well as other health and fitness products.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Osteoporosis and Exercise by Michelle Aultman

Give me five minutes and I'll show you some training suggestions to prevent osteoporosis

About ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass, (osteopenia). A disease without symptoms, osteoporosis affects about 20 percent of men and 80 % of women. Given that the bones gradually become weaker, they may break in a minor fall or, if left untreated, even from simple things like a sneeze. The commonest fracture sites can be hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in your body could be affected. A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis may be scary, leading a number of people to stop exercise because of fear it will cause fractures. The reality is that people with low bone mass should make sure to exercise often. Being active is shown to not only aid the prevention of osteoporosis, but slow bone loss once it's already begun. Before beginning a workout program, you should talk to your doctor for guidelines, as level of bone loss determines what type of exercise is best. Physicians can assess bone mineral density and fracture risk by scanning your body using a special type of X-ray machine. In conjunction with exercise, treatment may include dietary modifications and/or estrogen replacement therapy. The more knowledge you get concerning this condition, the more you can do to help prevent its onset.

To create strength and bone mass, both weight-bearing and strength training work outs are ideal. Weight-bearing work outs are the ones that require the bones to fully support your weight against gravity. Examples are walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing or using an elliptical exercise machine. Non-weight bearing exercises include biking, swimming, water aerobics and rowing. Weight-bearing activities including walking as little as 3 times per week may benefit the bones. Strength training places mechanical force (stress) on our bodies, which increases bone density. Start by lifting light weights, moving in a slow and controlled manner, increasing resistance as you become stronger.

It is recommended that individuals with osteoporosis avoid the following kinds of activity:

* Step aerobics and high-impact activities for example running, jumping, tennis.
* Activities that involve rounding, bending and twisting of the spine.
* Moving the legs sideways or across the body, particularly when performed against resistance.
* Rowing machines, trampolines.
* Every movement that involves pulling on the head and neck.

Exercise Tips:

* Even if you don't have osteoporosis, you should check with your health care provider just before you start an exercise program.
* Be sure you warm-up before beginning and cool down at the end of each exercise session.
* To get the best benefit to your bone health, combine a number of different weight-bearing exercises.
* When you build strength, increase resistance, or weights, as an alternative to repetitions.
* Make sure to drink a lot of water whenever exercising.
* Vary the types of exercise that you do weekly.
* Combine weight bearing and resistance exercise with aerobic exercises to help you improve your overall health.
* Bring your friend along to help you keep going or in addition to this, bring your family and encourage them to be healthy.
* Add more work out to your day; take the stairs vs. the elevator, park further way, and walk to your co-worker's office rather than emailing.

Put LIVE into action!

L - Load or weight-bearing exercises make a difference to your bones
I - Intensity builds stronger bones.
V - Vary the types of exercise as well as your routine to keep interested.
E - Enjoy your exercises. Make exercise fun so you will continue into the future!

Certain factors raise the probability of developing osteoporosis. While a few of these risk factors are controllable, others won't be. Risk factors that may be controlled are: Sedentary lifestyle, excess intake of protein, sodium, caffeine and/or alcohol, smoking, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies and taking certain medicines. Body size (small frame), gender, family history and ethnicity are risk factors that can't be controlled. Women can lose nearly 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause, which makes them more vulnerable to osteoporosis. It is never too soon to start thinking about bone mineral density. About 85-90 percent of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys.

Nutrition and Exercise for Healthy Bones in childhood and Adolescence

Much of the reserve of healthy bone is built in youth and before the age of 30. Women might be more susceptible to an inadequate foundation process at this time than men. Sufficient calcium intake,a balanced diet with a lot of vegetables and fruits and load-bearing exercise are the tips for solid bone growth when you're young. Then, with continued exercise into old age - and this benefits men too -- bone density decline could be kept to a minimum. Although women will be the main focus of data about osteoporosis and low bone density (osteopenia), some men are also seriously afflicted by this problem. In case you do all the right things while becoming an adult and into adulthood, your inherited characteristics - your genes - can present you with bones that are susceptible to osteoporosis. This is even greater reason to maximize your lifestyle to prevent poor bone health.

About the Author - Michelle Aultman writes for the elliptical workout blog, her personal hobby blog dedicated to suggestions to prevent osteoporosis through workout at home.

Author's note: The info provided on this document are designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Michelle Aultman has no business intent and does not accept direct source of advertising coming from health or pharmaceutical companies, doctors or clinics and websites. All content provided by her is based on her editorial view and it's not driven by an advertising and marketing purpose.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Get Toned Arms for the Perfect Dress By Kloey Hanson

New brides often find it challenging to balance the wedding planning with finding the time to take care of their bodies. After all, this is THE most important day of your life and all the eyes are going to be on you. So, between invitations and flower arrangements for the big day, the last thing you may want to do at the end of a stressful day is workout. But, who says working out has to be hard and tiring? The right Pilates workout allows you to tone up your trouble spots without wearing you out. Here are five moves that we suggest you do to tone your arms up for that perfect dress!
1. Water Drop
Seated on the edge of a sturdy chair, keep your back in a straight line and constrict your abdominals. Using your water bottle or canned food as weight, lift your arms over your head while holding the weight with both hands. Lower the weight behind your head by bending your elbows until you feel a strong resistance or the weight touches your back. Slowly lift the weight back above your head, keeping your abs tight and your back straight. Repeat.
2. Easy Arm Extensions
Grasp a weight in each hand while keeping your abs tight and your knees slightly bent. With back straight, lower your upper body by hinging your hips forward to about a 45 degree angle from your lower body. Extend your arms back as though you are handing your weights to someone behind you, all without moving your upper arms. Slowly curl your arms back into the starting position and pause before repeating.
3. Twisted Raise
Stand again with your feet hip-width apart, while slightly bending your knees and holding your weights in the palms of each hand. Let your arms hang naturally by your sides with your palms facing the side of your thigh. Keeping your shoulders down, lift your arms straight out from your sides, keeping them in one vertical plane with the rest of your body. Rotate your arms, turning your palms toward the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds before rolling your palms back toward the floor.
4. Triceps Dips
Seated on the edge of a chair, place your hands behind your hips, using your palms to support your body weight. Angle your elbows outward before lowering your hips slowly toward the floor. Keeping your body angled slightly forward, straighten your elbows, but stop the motion before they are completely straightened (do not lock your elbows).
5. Slow Row
Sitting on your towel or yoga mat with your legs straight, wrap a T-shirt or towel behind the soles of your feet. Grasping one end of the shirt or towel in each of your hands, push your shoulders and elbows back so that your elbows are behind you. This motion should provide enough resistance to give the shirt or towel a firm stretch. Slowly return to your starting position and pause for a few seconds between repetitions.

Kloey is the owner of Hot Body Pilates, a nationally acclaimed Pilates studio in the heart of the Gaslamp.  Learn more:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A First Time Experience

Today's blog post is courtesy of Rachel Hunter about her first experience in a Pilates Class.

If I spend one more day on an elliptical or treadmill I will scream so loud I’ll break the mirrors in the classrooms, I remember thinking when I arrived at the gym that day.  Hmmm… speaking of classrooms... maybe I should try one of the classes.  I walked to the main desk and consulted the list of scheduled classes for the day.   Pilates was scheduled to start in 15 minutes.  Perfect!
Pilates… pilates what do I know about pilates? I racked my brain for any background knowledge I had acquired regarding it.  Sort of like yoga, but not really; strengthens the core; popular with dancers; and involves the use of a ball… or I am I confusing that with something else? With that much knowledge and forethought I embarked on my first pilates class!
The teacher arrived, turned on some soft yet somehow upbeat music, and we were on our way.   After a quick warm-up, we started working the arms.  First observation- exercises are done slowly.  Plenty of time to feel the burn!
After a series of exercises targeting muscles I didn’t even know existed in my arms, we moved into strengthening the abdominals.  Second observation: the exercises burn, but cheating results in an exhausted neck! Especially when doing exercises such as “the hundred.” For that reason, it’s better just to work at an individual level. 
For the last portion of class, we worked on our lower body.  When we put our feet on top of the ball (I was right, there is a ball involved!) and moved it towards and away from our gluts, I could practically hear my hamstrings scream for mercy.  Then, just as I started to feel like I was understanding what pilates is all about, the class was over.
Third observations: After class I noticed that although my body felt like it received a thorough workout, I was not tired! I fact, I felt rather energized.  Fourth observation: I felt like I learned a great deal from the class, however,  I imagine I’ll get more attention and help with form from a small class.  For that reason, I’ll research pilates studios in the area.  Or at least, I’ll try to research a studio if I can ever move my arms again! (They’re tired already!)

For more info on Rachel please visit her at the right writings and name to know.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jennifer Kries: The Master Trainer Series

After I graduated from my first teacher training certification course, I felt that I had a great understanding of the work in my body and had clocked literally hundreds of hours working with a wide variety of people with different body types, and needs, everything from rehabilitative requirements to strength-training and pre and post-natal conditioning, so I had confidence in my ability to provide clients with the appropriate exercises that suited them; however, as difficult as this is to admit, what I didn’t know how to do was communicate the work concisely and confidently--how to choose exactly the right words with which to literally transmit what I knew to the client and also, how to physically interact with the client--the specific hands-on techniques to use in each and every scenario! And I knew that I was not alone in this feeling. Since those early days, shortly after completing this first “watershed” teaching course, I was on a path to cultivate greater skill and deepen my understanding of my craft. Along the way, I learned a great deal, too much to do justice to in this short story. Not only did I gain the hands-on and verbal experience that I felt I had been missing in my practice, but I honed my techniques and expounded upon the best of what I learned from others-- I forged a new way, one that literally combined the best elements from the teachings I had been exposed to, and I brought them all together in a powerful, simple approach, one that I have been passing on to others for years. This is a perfect segue to my next thought: that truly the most important lesson that I already held in my heart, but was reminded of along the way, was the value of collaboration, of being open to sharing and co-creation, of being a “forever student.” We can all learn something from others, as experienced as we may be, there is always room for growth and expansion, and for sharing our gifts.

And it was in this spirit that I decided to share my hard-won gifts with the world of Pilates devotees and make my own contribution to upholding Joseph Pilates’ standard of excellence and purity. Some of the fruits of my years of labor are now showcased in a forum for others to benefit from and then continue the expansion of greater mind-body-spirit consciousness by then sharing it with others! The Pilates Method Master Trainer Series was born! Alongside my excitement and enthusiasm, were the thoughts about the responsibility towards the public-- to stress that this series was not a replacement for real-life training and that instead, it should be used as a guide and supplement to what I said earlier-- real dedication and hours in the field. It took me a while to decide whether this series was something I should share in this way-- an entire teacher training course, typically a $5,000 value for the accessible price of $399, not to mention the "moral" argument I had with myself-- hoping that people would use it as an essential addition to formal training and not use it as a substitute. In this account, I felt compelled to be utterly open and honest about the conflict I experienced with the decision to release the series and why ultimately, the idea that it would be helping to shape generations of teachers ---won. I knew that it was imperative to share this with others in the community to improve the quality of teaching that would be made available to the public, and hoped that the comprehensive nature of the series’ content would inspire integrity in each and every person who purchased it and viewed it.

Communicating the essence of Pilates work has always been a particular source of gratification for me, and after traveling to distant parts of the globe teaching The Method, I knew there was a need for a multi-purpose resource that would serve several needs in the Pilates population: a teaching guide that would help Pilates professionals to become exceptional teachers and also one that would provide students and lovers of Pilates with a comprehensive series that would not only show the viewer all of the exercises in the Pilates syllabus, but go into real depth, discussing the meaning and import behind each exercise, how to properly execute it and how to find the most immediate and effective way to cue it, and how to best use hands-on techniques to facilitate the work. I wanted to create a series that would leave no stone unturned and highlight every aspect of the Method, going well beyond the exercises themselves into the realm of psychology and interpersonal interactions. I wanted to address the vital aspect of responsibility towards another, having healthy boundaries, being able to tap into one’s intuition and empathy when greeting and working with a client, keeping one’s own practice up and maintaining proper self-care and attention to one’s own growth and personal progress while attending to a business that often requires a considerable measure of energetic output-- how to achieve self-preservation and simultaneously cultivate a thriving business. I decided to film one of my complete teacher training courses, from the Mat, including the Magic Circle and Sculpting Series, to the Reformer, the Cadillac, Chair and Barrels, Ladder and small arc barrel, all levels, all case studies, from scoliosis to various injuries, pre and post-natal approaches, for the young, seniors, overweight, and the list goes on and on ...The result is my Pilates Method Master Trainer Series, and it is my hope that this collection of DVDs helps to serve as the bridge from esteemed, accredited teacher training courses into the real-time world of flesh and blood, transformational interactions in Pilates, one that leads you to feel a deeper confidence, steadiness of spirit, greater skill and finesse and inspiration in each and every one of your Pilates experiences whether you teach it to many, or practice it on your own!

To your good health and good fortune everyone~

For further information on Jennifer Kries please visit

Monday, January 25, 2010

Which certification would you look for in hiring a new Pilates instructor?

Today's post comes courtesy of an email I received from an individual looking into certification programs. The question of course is.....Which certification you would look for in hiring a new Pilates instructor? What a loaded question.

Finding the right certification program can be tricky. Becoming a Pilates trainer is both costly and unbelievably time consuming. It's like going back to school all over again. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that just aren't cut out for it. Right off the bat I would cancel out any programs that claim you can be a Pilates trainer in a weekend because you just can't.

When I became a trainer this was going to be my full time job. I wasn't messing around. At this time, there were only two studios in Michigan and not many people knew what Pilates was. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to be an apprentice and work along side other experienced trainers where I was able to co-teach and learn everyday in a hands on environment. I was there everyday taking classes, teaching, reading my manuals and doing my own self workouts. The studio prided itself on giving challenging and disciplined workouts but we could also cater to individuals that might have physical limitations. It took months but in the end I am so thankful for the experience and everything that I've learned. Eleven years later and a lot of hard work I'm proud to be able to own and run my very own studio.

In picking a training program I would go with something as close to an apprenticeship as possible. Getting feedback daily from someone experienced is key. Before committing to a program I would take classes from the trainer and make sure that you have a positive experience and enjoy the workout you are receiving. Try and see if the clients that come through the door are life long and committed. Make sure your trainer is professional and will make time for you during your training.

As far was which certification programs I would look for in hiring a trainer? I don't rely heavily on the merit of certification programs. I can't believe I just admitted that! Let me explain. I am partial to a classical approach but I have learned many great things from being exposed to other methods. Knowledge is power after all. I live in southeast Michigan and Stott is the most popular certification course in my neck of the woods. Over time I have gotten really tired of all the different methods out there claiming that my method is better than yours because of x, y and z and blah, blah, blah so I don't get involved in much of that. Some people like apples, others like oranges.

I think that great trainers are few and far between and you should cherish them when you find them. You need to have so much knowledge on the exercises and on anatomy of movement but you also have to be able to relate to your clients. Things I have seen other trainers do over the years just baffle me. Some have strayed so far from the method that you can't even call what they do Pilates. They show up late for their appointments (if at all), talk to much during their clients workout, don't have their workout game plan done before their clients come in... and the list can go on. After completing a certification program you will be dealing with not only many different body types but different personalities as well. You need to be both professional and nurturing towards people and this too will take time and experience to learn.

To discuss this topic click here.