Pilates Practice Pointers

The 3 R’s of Wintertime

In Pilates training we learn about the 3 R’s – resistance, ratio, and repetitions.  This time of year, I’ve got another set of three on my mind:  Reflection, Redemption, and Resolution.


Either through quiet time indoors or through lots of social time with people who we don’t regularly see, I’ve noticed that in this dark time of year, we are given many opportunities for personal reflection.  Where have we come, what have we done, how do we feel, what do we want next, how have we changed, how have we remained the same – so many questions to ponder!


We can chose the lens through which we take stock of whatever comes to the surface of our minds.  I prefer love, forgiveness, and light over the less nurturing alternatives.  With love, so much more is possible.  With forgiveness as a point of departure, we can do the real work of living purposeful lives.  Only with light we can drive out darkness (thank you Dr. King).


It is much easier to chart a new course or regain an abandoned one with a spirit of hope and promise for good things to come.  As a Pilates instructor, I get to practice staying the course personally and facilitating it in others.  With the beginning of 2016, I’ve got some new tools for doing that in the making; and I’m looking forward to digging deeper into the work that I love with enthusiastic clients.  The business of self-betterment is, by far, my favorite one to be in.

Through this season of darkness, may you be the shining star that you are.  Shine brightly for yourself and for all of us.

Pilates Practice Pointer: Make the Most of the First Day

First Official Day of School (photo taken upon returning home)

First Official Day of School (photo taken upon returning home)

Today’s the day I’ve been waiting for – my son’s first official day of school!  It’s not actually what it seems, I haven’t been suffering through a seemingly interminable summer of boredom or hyperactivity.  No.  More importantly for me, his first day of school is the first day of my new schedule, the one that I’ve been gearing up for for weeks.  Yes, I’m an organizational nerd.  Yes, I’m just happy that my plans are finally happening.  And yes, I love symbolism.

I’ve realized that this is just the beginning of first days and new routines in my life as a parent.  And isn’t that similar to our fitness rhythms?  Life is so full, it seems that not many routines last too long.  And why should they?  Our bodies are constantly changing, our care and maintenance of them would logically shift too.  Anybody that knows me realizes that I’m not a typical fitness instructor in that my exercise has always been balanced with a fair amount of self-care work to manage my delicate back and I’m certainly not into high reps and feeling the burn, but I have come to understand that our bodies respond positively to variety.  I’ve been setting up routines for myself for a while, and I love doing the same with clients because it enhances our focus in the studio.

Pilates has been a constant for me since 2000, so I’ve come up with a few ways to vary my Pilates practice and begin again.  Here’s my summary.
It’s a good idea to establish a start and end date for any routine.  Having a particular goal in mind and a way of measuring attainment of that goal is the best way that I’ve found to stick to my plan.  Sharing before and after photos has worked well for me as a mom who has precious little time to go out in the world and get external feedback.  That framework has kept me disciplined with my workouts.  In the past, I had teachers and colleagues, now I’ve got a camera and the internet.  Lucky for my clients though, they’ve got me to cheer them on.

1)  Start with selecting an apparatus to work on for a set period of time (although, in some cases the area of the body or the specific goal will be the more logical point of departure.)
2)  Next select an area of your body that you want to improve.  overall flexibility or strength, connection of legs or arms to center, reducing neck tension, backbends, eliminating aches and pains, and fixing the feet are some good examples.
3)  The apparatus and area of your body will help you determine a specific goal or two to focus on during your workouts, select one or two:  minimum of motion, alignment, precision, back connecting to the mat, breathing coordination throughout the workout, frequency, rhythm and duration of sequence are some good examples.
4)  Based on your selections, you will most likely have a pretty good idea of the exercises that you’ll be doing.  But you may want to put together a special list based on your parameters.

Pilates Practice Pointers: The Transitions

Gearing up for the school year ahead got me thinking about the power of transitions:  they can either make or break an experience.  It wasn’t long before I realized that as goes in life, so goes in the studio.  Threading the exercises together with a minimum of motion can take your Pilates workout to a whole new level because you NEVER STOP moving through your breathing center.  Your only break comes at the end of your sequence which will last anywhere from 10 minutes for a simple mat workout to 40 minutes for a complete reformer workout.  Your heart will be pumping, you’ll be sweating, and your breath will be quickened, but the workout is still moderate, isn’t that fabulous?!  And if that’s not enough…I can’t remember a time when such a workout didn’t lift my mood.

If you are interested in perfecting your transitions, be prepared to climb a learning curve.  It will take a considerable amount of focus on deliberate movements and you’ll need to exercise your mental ability to remember the sequence.  Once you’ve done it though, the payoff will last for the duration of your life – once you’ve got Pilates in your body, it’s yours to keep forever.