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Pilates Walk – Tips, Techniques, and Exercises for a Healthy Stride

Quickly and Easily Maximize the Health Benefits of Your Walking Workouts

I’m super-excited to announce that after YEARS in process, my book Pilates Walk™ Tips and Techniques for a Healthy Stride is finally available.  Learn the system I use with my in-studio clients and have been teaching for years at Pilates-Walk workshops to improve gait and get everything from your head to your toes integrated, coordinated, and working well, to maximize the health benefits of every step you take.

Walking provides a great whole-body workout, but only if you’re using everything well.  Most of us have muscle habits that are inhibiting our stride.  Whether it’s from siting at a desk all day, muscle imbalances from sport training, being a mom and carrying your kids on one hip all the time, past injuries, or just lack of awareness for what muscles you’re using to move… Becoming more aware of your current habits, and discovering new ways to move with the Pilates Walk system, can help you fine-tune your fitness for an even healthier YOU!

It’s nice to think that you’re out for a walk to improve your health, but if you’re not engaged with both your brain and body to pay attention to how you’re moving, you might be missing out on the true health benefits your walking workouts can provide.

The Pilates Walk system covers everything from your head to your toes:

  • Learn Centerworks® M.O.V.E.ment concepts designed to integrate mind and body.
  • Experience simple Pilates Walk prep exercises that will help you retrain each part of your body to improve your healthy stride.
  • Find the support you need to stand taller, engage more muscles, and move with freedom and ease.

Use the Pilates Walk System and Training Techniques to:

  • Improve Posture and Breathing
  • Increase Stability and Support
  • Develop Healthy Hips, Legs and Feet
  • Activate the Core
  • Enhance Torso Control & Mobility
  • Use Your Arm Swing Effectively

Discover how much more of a whole-body workout you’ll get while walking by incorporating the Pilates-Walk training principles, concepts, and exercises into your weekly workouts.

Whether you walk as a dedicated fitness activity, or just walk as a part of your daily life routine.  Improve how you move with Pilates Walk Tips, Techniques, and Exercises for a Healthy Stride.

A few people already have their copies of this book, and I’m already starting to get some great feedback about this walking resource:

“Got the Pilates-Walk book.  Really enjoying it. Thanks!”
–Sheryl C.

“My client, who had a stroke 8 years ago, bought your Pilates Walk book.  He loves it.  He asked if you wrote any other books and I loaned him my copy of Fantastic Feet.  We’ve worked on his feet a lot.  He said he has never been aware of all the information that I’ve told him (which I learned from you) and what’s in your book(s).  He never thought he’d be able to balance on one foot again.  He can now put his pants on without holding onto something.  He is very proud of that.  Thx!!!”
–Jamie S.  Pilates Teacher, Inhale/Exhale Studio

No Pilates experience necessary to benefit from the tips and techniques you’ll find in this book.  Use this resource on your own at home and start putting these easy-to-learn Pilates Walk techniques into practice during your walking workouts.  Order your copy of the Pilates Walk™ book today!

Posted by administrator in Pilates, Walking.

Core Conditioning – Are You Listening to Your Body to Improve Core Strength and Whole-Body Health

Core ConditioningCore conditioning is a multi-faceted jewel that is key to enjoying a healthy life.  On so many different levels we need to be more focused on improving core conditioning.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I believe that at least 95% of “issues” related to poor health are a result of a core challenge.

For years I dealt with an abdominal muscle tear that made doing sit-up exercises impossible!  I felt like a hypocrite, spending all day teaching my Pilates clients how to find and use their mid-sections, and mine was so broken I couldn’t even roll over in bed!  But what I learned through the process of recovering from this injury, was how many other muscle groups, besides just the fab 4 abdominal (Transverse, Internal & External Obliques, and Rectus) muscles are necessary for healthy movement.  And I was forced to listen to my body and act accordingly.  You see I had about 10-12 years where flexing my rectus, or doing 1-sided exercises caused me immediate abdominal pain, and prohibited my injury from fully healing.  I had to get creative in finding other muscles to help support movement so I could continue to be active.  I had to make smart exercise choices that allowed me to enjoy full body workouts without causing strain and pain on my abdominal tear.  I had to let go of my ego and be happy that I was able to do something, and not whine about what I wasn’t able to do.  Then I had to do what I could do regularly, listen to my body, and just work at my own pace.  And patience…. lots of patience.

Now I can pretty much do what I want with my abs without fear, pain, or negative repercussions.  But it was a looong time getting back to this point.  Even when I work with clients who have never had an abdominal injury – it can be quite the journey trying to find, feel, and activate the right muscles to maximize healthy movement.

I suppose this is why I so strongly promote improving posture, pelvic floor support, and gaining a better understanding of the fundamentals of functional movement.  Clients regularly comment, “Why didn’t anybody teach this to me sooner…?”  Body mechanics matter to keep your body injury free.  If anything hurts to move, chances are there’s a kink in your functional movement pattern.  Understanding what you’re doing is super-important.  Being able to send the right message to the muscles and feeling the right muscles doing the work will get you the results you want from your efforts.  Not fixing the “kinks,” or ignoring them, only leads to chronic pain and a less active lifestyle.

One of my first Pilates clients 20+ years ago had an impossible time finding, and feeling her abdominal muscles engage.  We worked diligently together, me with my hand on her belly while she worked on core-focused exercises, saying, “Can you feel it?  That’s great!  Yes, that was a good rep.”  And over and over she’d reply, “Can’t feel a thing.”  I could physically see that her body was in good positioning for each exercise, and I could also see and feel the right muscles working.  But she had no self-awareness.

Then one day as she was lying on the Cadillac, she looked up at me and said, “If it seems like I’m not quite all here with you and focused on what we’re doing, it’s because I’m still trying to integrate my multiple personalities!”  And then she shared a little bit more about her personal story.  This was something she’d neglected to share on her health history forms and it completely explained the disconnect with feeling what her body was doing during exercise.

Healing trauma can be from a physical injury, an emotional one, or both.  I was so proud of the fact that she came to Pilates and stuck with it – as uncomfortable as it must have been with someone constantly asking her to pay attention to her center!  She was ready to begin her healing process, and one of the best ways to get in better touch with your body is thru movement.

Another client I had, refused to try any exercise I asked her to do at our very first session.  Because she was unwilling to try, I offered to refund her money and send her on her way, explaining that I couldn’t help her if she didn’t trust me (at least a little bit…).  She was so afraid from getting hurt working with other trainers and therapist. Some had given her exercises, but didn’t help show her how to do them correctly.  Others didn’t help her break things down, and build them up to get to the exercise they wanted her to do, when she was unable to do what they were asking safely.

After our little chat, she decided to participate in our “team effort” of helping her get out of her neck for sit-ups, strengthen her low center to reduce back pain, improve balance, and get stronger to climb stairs without fear of falling.  Everything we did during our training sessions was goal-oriented to her personal health goals.  Once she understood that almost every exercise we did was a stepping-stone to her goal of safely climbing stairs, and that core support was critical for improving this, she was on board, and enthusiastic to try anything I asked her to do.  She gained confidence each time we did an exercise and she did it right, because it didn’t hurt her body.  Any little aches or pains she felt, we were able to quickly fine-tune before they became a problem.  Her confidence grew with each exercise we did, and before long she was gleefully running up and down the stairs.

Not every exercise is for everyone! Knowing what you can do safely and what you should avoid is an important part of self-care.  Knowing why you’re doing exercises, and how to scale them easier, or more challenging can help you work at your own pace. Paying attention to how your body feels and being able to make adjustments “on-the-fly” will ensure that you stay safe and injury-free.

I was reading an exercise forum recently and an instructor was ranting about how she had someone in her class that wasn’t listening or doing any of the exercises the way she wanted them done.  And I thought to myself – Bravo class participant!  You just might be listening to your body and doing what you know it needs.  I always encourage my group training folks to stop when they need to, adjust springs to their ability level, and there are quite a few days when we have moments that everybody in class is doing a slightly different exercise – because it’s the most appropriate exercise for them.

In my opinion, I’d rather have people doing what they know is a better choice for their body – than keeping up with the crowd and getting hurt!

What do you do when you’re in a situation to have to make a choice that might not be the best one for you?  Succumb to peer pressure?  Frightened to be the odd man out?  Feel a-OK asking for an alternate choice? Or move ahead with confidence brilliantly blazing your own trail to make smart choices that you know will benefit your good health?  I hope you’re a trailblazer!  Or at least not too shy to ask for help when you know you need assistance.

My motto is, “When in doubt, leave it out.”

This may not mean leave it out forever…  I’ve learned over the years, with my own body, and working with clients, that what you can’t do safely today, you might be able to do eventually, once you’re brain and body has gone thru the process it needs to better understand what needs to happen, how to get support in the right places, and retrain the dominant/weaker parts of the body to participate appropriately.  Sometimes it’s easy to just forge ahead and take on a new challenge.  And sometimes it’s best to go back to basics, fine-tune things first; then take the next leap forward.

Injuries tend to give us the opportunity to get back to basics.  Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you had enough basics under your belt, (and continually refreshed them) to never end up with an injury?  (This is a dream, and goal I have for my body, and I’d love to help others achieve it too.)  Because I believe it’s possible if we’re in-tune and paying attention to what our bodies tell us, we can act on this information, and be completely in charge of maintaining optimal health.  Every day is an opportunity to pay better attention, and make better choices that enhance wellness, of mind, body, and spirit.

Improve core conditioning by listening to your body to improve core strength and whole-body health?  Exercise choices matter.  The physical connection to your core supports posture and healthy movement.  The emotional connection to your core keeps you grounded and “centered.”  Listening to your gut intuition will keep you safe, boost confidence, and empower you to make smart decisions that affect your good health.

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One of my favorite, “get-to-the-deep-layers-of-support, stability, and better movement activation is by doing the Pulse Power Daily Dozen 10 Minute Workout.  These exercises can really help you zero in on finding and feeling what you need to use to improve core conditioning, and activate better core support for upper and lower body exercises too!  Snag a copy of the Pulse Power ebook at Centerworks.com  Or get the Kindle version in the Amazon store.

Posted by administrator in Uncategorized.

Bye-Bye Back Pain By Practicing this Simple Back-Opening Breathing Exercise

Reducing Back Pain with Breathing Are You Ready to Take Action and Do Something About Your Back Pain?

Back pain can be anywhere along the spine from the tip of your tailbone, all the way up to the base of your skull.  Regardless of where it hurts, or what you’ve done to aggravate it – the truth is, that all anybody ever really wants is a quick fix to make the pain go away.

I know personally how life-altering it is to live with chronic back pain.  I was born with defects at L5-S1 and that instability has made maintaining my core strength a necessity to keep me healthy.  And if you’re low back is out of alignment, nothing stacked on top of that is quite right either so back pain can result anywhere from the bottom to the top.

If it’s not your low back that’s bothering you, it might be your mid-back, or upper back / neck and shoulders.  It’s nice if a chiropractic adjustment can get you back in alignment, but then the question remains – how long will your adjustment hold before it hurts again?  Pills and shots tend to mask the pain so you feel amazing while you’re medicated, and worse off when it wears off!

There are 2 critical things to pay attention to that can quickly begin alleviating your back pain problems. 

  1. Better Posture
  2. Breathing

Ideally our spine is designed to move freely in all directions.  When the bones are “out of balance” it restricts movement.   Muscles get into tight over-holding patterns, and the daily activities we do over and over sometimes only make it worse.  Muscles move bones, so getting the right muscle balance to maintain healthy body alignment for better posture really does matter if you’re serious about fixing your back pain problems.  We need stability AND mobility.

It’s nice to think, “ If I could just “relax” my back would feel better.”  But the truth is, it’s a combination of both work and release that will make the biggest difference to improve your health.  Right now that work/release balance for good posture is out of whack, and the only way your body can tell you there’s a problem is with a pain signal.

Improving posture is going to be a long-term project…  There is lots to become aware of, bad habits to replace with better habits, and never-ending opportunities to incorporate posture-improving exercises into your weekly workout program. If you’re interested in getting started paying attention to your current posture habits click here to take this Posture Quiz.

Now let’s talk about breathing: Keep reading and take in a few deep breaths.  Notice where the air is going inside your body.

  • Does your low belly stick out when you inhale?
  • Does most of your air rise up into the front of your chest? 

(Both of these not-so-hot breathing habits are contributing factors to low back pain.)

  • Are you able to take a full, deep breath, or are you a shallow breather?

If your back really hurts you might be compensating by not breathing deeply enough to avoid more pain (when in fact this choice is only making the lock down effect worse, and creating more tension.) 

  • Do you breathe evenly into BOTH lungs?  Or tend to fill one side more than the other? 

(Not breathing evenly, back muscles are not working/stretching evenly.)

  • When you inhale do you lift your shoulders up around your ears, or is the ribcage lifting and the shoulders are just riding along on the lift of the cage?

(If you’re actively hiking your shoulders up, you’re jamming your head/neck into your body compressing the cervical spine.)

Since so many people these days have forward head posture your poor neck and shoulder muscles are already on over-drive to keep your head from falling off your body, which is a part of why your shoulders want to hike up to begin with and why you may be dealing with neck pain, mid-back pain or both.

Poor neck! Poor shoulders! Poor back!  Have I gotten your attention yet?

Posted by administrator in Back Pain, Breathing.

Alleviate Shoulder Tension with These 10 Healthy Movement Habits to Help You Feel Great

Alleviate Shoulder TensionAre you sick and tired of aggravating neck and shoulder pain, and ready to change your habits to help alleviate shoulder tension?

I’ve had the opportunity to help so many clients over the past 20+ years teaching Pilates who have walked thru my door complaining of neck and shoulder tension, stress, chronic pain, or rotator cuff injuries.  It’s amazing how quickly things can improve with a better understanding of posture, breathing, body alignment.  Then getting the right exercises into your weekly workout program to reinforce healthy new movement habits and alleviate shoulder tension is the ultimate way to keep the pain away.

It’s a 3-Step Process to get your brain and body in sync for better health.  We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s impossible to make corrections or improvements with our movement habits to alleviate shoulder tension if we don’t realize we need to change, or have never been shown a better way to stand, sit, breathe, or move.

Step 1: Your brain has to be able to send the right message to your muscles. Cognitively understanding what needs to happen is the first step. If you don’t even realize that there is something you’re doing with a daily habit, task, or exercise that is creating the pain, OR that there is actually something that you can do about it, how on earth can you ever fix it? Your brain is the master controller for the rest of your body.  Your body sends a message to the brain that there is pain…  The brain is then supposed to help the body fix it!  How often do you ignore the pain and just keep doing what you’re doing? (or try medicating & masking the pain with a pill – so you can ignore the problem and hope it will just go away?)

Step 2: Improve Your Body Awareness. Being able to find and feel things working differently in your own body is step 2.  It’s important to be able to notice when you’re doing things right or wrong so you have an opportunity to make adjustments for better health.  There is a level of trust that needs to be restored between your brain and body, to improve confidence that if there is a problem, you acknowledge it, and will take action to improve the situation.

Step 3: Practice Good Posture and Healthy Movement Habits.  By applying better body mechanics to every physical activity you do, you get to put your new-and-improved posture habits into practice to help re-train the right muscles to support healthy pain-free movement; reducing your risk of injury and ensuring that whatever activity you do it’s safe and effective to help you stay healthy.  This not only helps alleviate shoulder tension, but helps develop a well-balanced body to keep your whole-body healthy!

Even when we’re sitting still, doing nothing, it can be challenging to alleviate shoulder tension!  Just thinking about things that increase our stress level can effect the amount of neck and shoulder tension we’re holding onto.  Being cold and shivering will wrap your shoulders up around your ears quickly also, and you might not even realize why it’s happening.  Too much time in front of your computer, sitting in a recliner watching TV, or bending your head forward to text message on your phone all are daily life activities that may be contributing to neck and shoulder tension problems.

If you’re tired of complaining about neck and shoulder tension and ready to start paying attention to what you’re doing along with learning how to take better care of your body, there is something you can do about it.  Yes, getting a massage might help you enjoy some temporary relief, but for lasting results it’s time to take control of your body and be pro-active to improve how you stand, sit, and MOVE.

Here are 10 healthy movement habits you can start incorporating into your daily routine to help alleviate shoulder tension.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Shoulder Pain.

Shoulder Tension, Stress, and Shivering: How Winter Weather Affects Your Health

Shoulder  Tension, Stress, & Shivering

Have you ever thought about relationship being cold has on the amount of shoulder tension and neck stress you’re holding onto in your body?

If you’re in a colder climate do you seem to feel worse in the Winter, and not-so-bad in warmer months?  Are you one who usually blames the stress of the Holidays for your neck and shoulder pain?  Lack of sunshine might not be the only reason your body is feeling more tight and achy than usual.

This year it has seemed quite a bit chillier here in Kansas, and maybe that’s why I’ve noticed how the winter weather is effecting shoulder tension. It seems a lot of my clients are catching on to the connection too.  The body’s natural reflex response when cold is to shiver.  These little micro, muscle contractions are designed to create heat and energy to keep us warm, maintain our internal body temperature.  These micro, muscle contractsion are a great reminder that hypothermia might be where we’re headed if we don’t do something soon to warm up. However, in the process, we end up creating lots of internal shoulder tension we might not be taking the time to clear out of our system.

Think about it; If you just sit in your chair reading this and “pretend” your cold, how does your body react?  Do you slouch more, trying to curl up in a fetal position?  Did you draw your shoulders up and forward around your ears?  Did you head drop even farther forward off your neck?  Did you slump into the pelvis and collapse the ribs and back?  Did you start shivering a bit while you were “pretending” to be cold?

Here’s the thing… If this is what happens when you’re “pretending” for only a minute, how long are you hanging out in this awkward poor posture position throughout the day? Or, for days on end? But what if we hang on to this awkward, poor posture position throughout the cold winter months? Aren’t we just reinforcing bad body alignment and creating chronic neck pain and shoulder tension?

Awareness is the first step in taming winter neck and shoulder tension.  Pay attention to your posture, because there’s a very good change that YOUR posture habits are creating the problem!

Is it possible to just never be cold so you don’t shiver? Probably not. But knowing that the posture you put yourself in while shivering is wreaking havoc on your health, means that taking the time to bundle up to stay warm when you’re outside is important, and taking a little extra time to “undo” the effects of shivering will do your body worlds of good to help keep your neck and shoulders happy and stress-free through the winter while we await warmer months.

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Have you taken my quick Posture Quiz?  Improve body awareness for better posture to help get those shoulders down away from your ears.  For more low center support (and fitness for whole-body health) get a copy of the e-book The Pulse-Power Daily Dozen – 10 minute Workout.  The Pulse-Power Daily Dozen exercises are easy-to-learn, and great for a warm-up, cool-down, or as a stand-alone quick whole-body conditioning program to deepen your mind-body connection and help you get more from your core to help keep your shoulders away from your ears to reduce shoulder tension.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Posture Improvement.

Heart Health and the Benefits of Pilates to Improve Your Quality of Life

Heart Health and Pilates to Improve Your LifeHeart Health is More than just Cardio.

Yes, the heart is a muscle and it’s important to do activities that get our blood pumping.  To keep our heart strong and work on improving heart health with exercise it’s important to do at least 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity (walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, elliptical, hiking, skating, dancing…) Any activity you enjoy that gets your body in its optimal target heart rate zone for aerobic activity, at least 3-5 days a week.

You’ve got lots of options to improve hearth health.   And there are good reasons to do Pilates, because a vigorous Pilates workout IS improving heart health. (In more ways than just strengthening the heart muscle and improving blood flow.)

Yes, it’s true that Pilates is not considered an aerobic activity.  But here are ten good reasons why doing Pilates regularly IS important for your Cardiovascular activities to help improve heart health.

10 Ways Pilates Can Help Improve Heart Health and Enhance Your Quality of Life

  1. Pilates helps develop better posture. With better posture and good body alignment, there will be less wear and tear on your body while you’re “pounding the pavement” and getting your cardio workouts done.
  2. Pilates helps improve body awareness to find and use the right muscles to move. (Regardless of the activity, overusing the wrong muscles ultimately will lead to injury. And most cardio training activities involve repetitive movements.)
  3. Pilates posterior-lateral breathing improves breath control. Pilates breathing helps you get more nourishing oxygen INTO your body, and more waste out.  Better breathing habits makes it easier to enjoy cardio training plus you will get better benefits from your efforts.
  4. Pilates helps improve balanced muscle development to avoid injuries. If you’ve ever had an injury or accident, or have dealt with chronic to foot, knee, hip, back, shoulder, or neck pain problems, getting your body in balance matters to stay healthy!
  5. Pilates connects mind, body, and movement to help boost confidence, and learn to trust AND listen to how your body feels. By paying closer attention to what you’re doing when you move, how you move, what you’re using to move, and how you feel, it becomes easier to adjust, and pace your workouts to stay safe, healthy, and injury-free.
  6. Pilates is a system to MOVE well for better health. Pilates isn’t just a bunch of exercises done on a mat or machines for a “workout.”  Your ultimate goal is to take what you learn with Pilates out the door into your daily life activities, and other fitness workouts.
  7. Pilates takes stress OFF the joints while helping you get an effective whole-body workout.
  8. Pilates combines strength and flexibility into each and every exercise.
  9. Pilates improves core support. Which is much more involved than just working your abs.  Effective use of your core helps stabilize the pelvis, improves gait, strengthens the back, takes the stress off hips, knees, and feet, helps shoulder mechanics, and supports healthy movement habits.
  10. Pilates helps lift your Spirits, reduces mental stress, and improves your life! So many people during cardio workouts put on their headphones and jam, watch TV on the treadmill, and completely tune-out what they’re doing with their body during cardio.  Pilates helps improve your focus to pay attention to what’s going on INSIDE the body during your workouts, so you can take good care of yourself!  Do this enough, and regardless of external stimulus, you will always make smart choices to stay safe and healthy.

On a historical note:  Joseph Pilates did incorporate jogging, jumping jacks, and more vigorous calisthenic exercises into his workouts – take a peek at some of the old historical films, and you’ll see how much he believed being outdoors to breathe in fresh air and move was a part of his philosophy for better health.

Then there is the jump-board option on the Reformer… Although 20-60 minutes on the jump-board (in my opinion) does not fall into the 3-5, up to 10 rep philosophy of working the Pilates system for a whole-body workout in an hour.  But it can be a great lower-impact option to work some intervals into your Pilates workouts.

Whatever you choose to do… Take time to take care of YOU!  Get your weekly cardio workouts in, do Pilates, get regular health check-ups with your Physician.  Your heart health matters – physically, mentally, and emotionally.  We’ve only got one ticker, and it doesn’t get a break, the beat must go on. Enjoy better health with a healthy heart.

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Interested in adding Pilates to your weekly workout routine?  Want to try something fun and new to challenge your cardio workouts?  Contact me for details to get started at Bodhi Body Pilates – A Centerworks Studio with our Pilates programs and Coreglide Cardio+ class.

Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness, Pilates.

My Sprained Ankle Accident – And What I plan to Do to Improve My Foot Fitness

A Sprained Ankle Doesn’t Have to Become a Chronic Foot Pain Problem

Sprained Ankle and Injury RecoveryCan’t remember the last time I had a sprained ankle… It’s been 30 years or more.  My silly sprained ankle accident happened a week ago Saturday.  I stepped in a low spot in a parking lot and turned my ankle.  Really wrenched it!  My foot turned completely sideways and all my weight went on it.  I quickly righted myself, and limped for a few steps, then proceeded with my day, kind of amazed that nothing “popped” seemed to crack, or hurt very badly.  If it had been anybody else, (who doesn’t focus on foot fitness,) I’m guessing they would have been carted off to the emergency room with way more than a sprained ankle, probably a fractured foot, or lots of torn tendons and ligaments.

Is my foot 100% back to normal, not quite.  I overstretched things a lot! And I’m counting myself very lucky, it should have been so much worse than just a sprained ankle.  I’m still treating it gingerly to heal fully.  BUT zero swelling, zero bruising, and when I went to the chiropractor today, I have full movement, the joint is open, and he was amazed when I told him what I’d done.  My foot and ankle are only a little sore, with a tiny bit of inflammation which is so much less than I expected based on my stupid parking lot mishap. (Silly things happen to the best of us.)

Why am I sharing this?  Because preventative medicine isn’t just pills and potions.  There are so many things we can do to ensure good health.  It starts with learning how to listen to the body and take care of our daily needs.  Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and daily exercise can go a long way to preventing illness and injury for a happy, healthy, and active life.  I was tired, I’d had a long workout, and wasn’t really looking at where I put my foot down when my accident happened. So know I’m dealing with the repercussions of my little mishap.

It’s important to listen to our bodies when something is not quite right, to allow the healing time necessary to keep injuries from turning into chronic pain problems if you really want to stay healthy.  This seems especially challenging when we’ve got foot pain problems, because we need our feet to take us where we want/need to go.  If you limp around on a sprained ankle, and do you really think it’s going to get better quickly?

A holistic approach to good health means one should pay attention to everything they do as our choices affect our outcomes.   “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” was Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying which holds true here too.  It’s easier to stay healthy, than to get your good health back.  Making wise choices with everything you do will help maintain your good health.

My question for you to consider today…

(I’m assuming that you’re already making lots of great efforts to improve your wellness) If you’re making great health choices for the rest of your body… What are you doing for your feet? 

Good health starts from the ground up!  If you want to fine-tune your fitness, improve your posture for better body alignment and keep all your muscles working well, please don’t forget about your feet!

What do I know saved me from a serious foot injury last week and has me dealing with just a sprained ankle?  The foot fitness exercises I do and teach!  Especially what’s listed below:

  • The Terrific Toe series exercises, and Standing foot exercises from the Fantastic Feet book
  • The Super-Ankle Foot Fit Board exercises
  • My lateral skate training, and Coreglide board classes at Bodhi Body Pilates
  • My weekly Pilates workouts with focused foot exercises including Footwork, the Stomach Massage series, and Running on the Reformer.

I’m so very grateful to be walking this week! But trust me, I’m not walking for a workout, or doing much in a full-weight bearing position. Giving my foot a little rest-break to recover, then planning to double up on my foot-care routine to ensure it’s a very long time (hopefully never) before something like this happens again!

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To take good care of your feet, and be sure you’ve got the resources you need to stretch, and strengthen your ankles, arches, and toes – I recommend you get a Runfit Kit.  The Runfit Kit contains all my favorite foot-fitness exercise tools and toys to help keep your feet in tip-top shape for better health. (Running is not a requirement, to get benefits from the foot-care resources in this helpful foot-care kit!)

If you already have a copy of the book Fantastic Feet, and have been doing your exercises, you can purchase the rest of the foot-care resources separately in the Foot Fitness section of the Centerworks store.

Posted by administrator in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Foot Care & Foot Fitness.

Get The Best Pilates Exercises Into Your Workouts To Maximize the Whole-Body Health Benefits of the Pilates System

Are you interested in getting the best Pilates exercises in your weekly workout routine to maximize the whole-body health benefits from your efforts?  Check out my myth-busting training tips to be sure you’re working everything from your head to your toes to harness the true power of the Pilates System.

On a pretty regular basis I have clients ask me what the best Pilates exercises are they can use to fix a problem area, spot-tone, or solve a nagging ache or pain.  And occasionally there can be one specific exercise that works to help head them in the right direction to get results. But more often there’s not one exercise that will ever be the BE ALL, END ALL, only thing you need to do to improve your health.  That’s like wanting to take that “magic pill” to lose weight, or expecting surgery to take you from incapacitated to better than new.  It just doesn’t work that way!

Recently, I had an old friend call me who’s got a back pain problem.  He’d tried physical therapy (before he knew exactly what was wrong…) then pain meds, and then finally went to the doctor.  Definitely a backwards order to address the issue, but at least he finally knows what’s wrong, and can start working on a real solution.  His doctor recommended Pilates, and told him he needed “rock hard Abs” and Pilates would help with that.  His PT gave him an exercise sheet with a couple of Pilates Mat exercises.  Then he remembered that he had a friend that teaches Pilates, so he called to get some insights on how to proceed.  Not sure he loved my answer…  Since I couldn’t recommend that he just pull a couple exercises out of the Matwork series to solve his back pain problems, but that I needed to see and work with him to help get the best Pilates exercises into his program, and that Matwork probably wouldn’t be what I would start with for his particular back issues. (And in my opinion, “rock hard Abs” aren’t the full solution either!)

Then, while I was at the doctor’s office chatting with a gal in the lab, she found out I taught Pilates and her comment was, “Pilates is really hard, I’ve done a class or two at the gym, I’m not very good at it.”  So I asked, “Have you ever had a lesson with the Pilates equipment?”  And her response; “There’s Pilates equipment?

Why yes, Pilates is a SYSTEM, which includes a series of Matwork or floorwork exercises and specialized spring-tensioned equipment.  To get the best benefits from Pilates, it’s ideal that you work the system, incorporating both the Matwork and Pilates exercises on the Reformer, Cadillac, Chairs, and Barrels into your workouts.

This reminds me that even though Pilates has been around since the 1920’s, and has gained huge popularity in the past 20 years, there are still lots of people who really know nothing about the health benefits of the Pilates system.  As Pilates professionals, we’ve still got a little bit of myth-busting to do to help people get the best Pilates exercises in to their weekly workout routine.  Ready?  Here we go…

My Myth-Busting Training Tips To Help You Get the Best Pilates Exercises into Your Workouts

Posted by administrator in Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Overcome the Fear of Failure & Strive for Success

Overcome fear of failureDon’t let the fear of failure sabotage your success

Are you ready to stop making excuses?  Is it time to get out of your own way and overcome the fear of failure to achieve success?  Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Or exhausted by the energy you’re wasting that doesn’t seem to be moving you in the right direction? Don’t lose hope, try applying these 6 simple strategies to overcome the fear of failure and strive for success.

Trust me… I’m right there with you on so many levels.  It’s funny how life keeps giving us the opportunity to improve and break through the barriers that have been holding us back.  I actually planned to write this 6 months ago, even made my outline, and somehow, it’s just today that I’m finally getting around to doing it.  Hmmm, guess this just shows that I’m human too!  And points out yet again that the topic of FEAR, and fear of failure is a biggie for me.

As I’m sharing my thoughts with you, I’m soaking in the success principles right along with you. Even though somewhere deep inside, we probably know exactly what we need to do to reach our goals, fear can sometimes block our progress.   Once we realize it’s happening, we’ve got a choice, let it stop us, or face our fears and do it anyway. 

Today, I’m in the zone of facing my fears, I hope you’ll join me and lets have a breakthrough on our journey to wellness success.

As I’m writing this I’m googling Thomas Edison. Seriously, if you need a swift kick in the butt, start reading some of Edison’s quotes!  Clearly to Edison, failure wasn’t failure, instead it was one step closer to a solution that worked.  It took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to invent the light bulb.  Have you made 10,000 (or more) whole-hearted efforts to reach one of your goals?  And his comments when asked about the struggle to do it, “I never failed once.  It just happened to be a 2000 step process. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  While I might be mashing a few quotes together, I’m hoping you get it.  Here’s another thought from Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  And how about this little gem, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

OK now, are you gaining a few insights into why (in the past), you haven’t quite achieved success?  Whether it’s on the health and fitness front, diet and nutrition, or life goals; did you try once or twice and give up?  Or just think about doing something but not take action?  We need to learn how to look at every possible roadblock as an opportunity to create a new way to move forward.  Just because the first thing we did, didn’t work as “planned” doesn’t mean there isn’t another way.  This happens to me all the time when my husband is helping me with a tech issue on my computer.  His way of navigating and mine are very different!  Granted some of his click paths are quicker, but mine work just as well.  Here’s the point, it doesn’t matter what path you take, as long as you’re clicking along.

Scenarios, Strategies, and Solutions.  I have a dear friend, Mike Rayburn, who is an amazing musician and motivational speaker.  He asks the question “What IF?” to his audiences.  And it’s a great question!  What IF you were healthier?  How would it look?  How would you feel?  What would you be able to do that you can’t do right now?  You can ask the question “What IF” and put anything that’s meaningful for your brain to explore, to look at scenarios, strategies, and solutions.

I like to think positively, but if you spun this question around and asked, “What if I had a major heart attack?” (Or experienced a serious injury, or accident.) What would my life be like?  How would it impact me physically, emotionally, financially?  How would it affect my family, my ability to work, play, and enjoy a healthy and active life?  This might not be a “What if” question for you, you may have already experienced something that landed you in a crappy-life scenario.  If so, how is it, and do you want to stay there?

You may discover that looking at things from a negative perspective and visualizing the possible not-so-pretty scenarios will motivate you to find better strategies and solutions to overcome the fear of failure and keep striving for success.

Open your brain to the possibility that you can always work to improve your life and circumstances.

Share your fears and develop a support system to help lift you up so you’re not “facing your fears” alone.  Of course we have to know who to blurt out this very sensitive personal information to, but even when we inadvertently express our fears to the wrong people, there is personal power in stating that we’re working thru a challenge, because it supports our brain power to work, think, and act differently. 

A year or two ago, I had the chance to spend a weekend at Banning Mills where they have the world’s longest zip line course.  Let me just express that I was not thrilled to go on this adventure.  I have an extreme fear of heights and lots of personal reasons to prefer keeping my feet on the ground instead of dangling from a little metal hook and steel cable 20-200+ feet in the air!  But I showed up, I suited up, and I survived.

Was it the best day of my life – not really, but I did it.  Yes there were brief moments of fun, and a whole lot of moments of sheer terror.  While everybody else was laughing, chatting and zipping along, I was white-knuckled, gritting my teeth, taking lots of deep breaths, and 100% focused on every step I took between tree branches.  It might have been the longest day of my life.  Would I do it again?  Maybe…

The friends we went with were daredevil/adrenaline rush junkies.  When I commented that because of my life-long battle with depression and suicidal thoughts I could see no good reason to put myself at risk for actually “killing myself” because I work too hard on a daily basis to stay present and enjoy life.  My comment was an eye-opener for both of us.  I never really put into words why I don’t like high-speed, crazy, or dangerous activities so I got a better understanding of the choices I make with sports and recreational activities that are fun and meaningful to me. And my daredevil friends, who never gave a thought to why everybody wouldn’t want to be just like them, got to look at the world from a different perspective.  I got respect and admiration for showing up and playing, and that meant the world to me in emotional support for my moment of overcoming my little fear of heights and high-speed terror.  I believe that there is more support and assistance available to us than we probably realize.  Speak up and find out who is in your corner to help you get thru the sticky spots in life.

The power of positive thinking can go a very long way to helping us break thru barriers, overcome the fear of failure, and reach our goals.

Finish this sentence as many different ways as you can, with a positive word:

“I am _____________________.”

I am strong, I am thin, I am healthy, I am fit, I am capable, I am smart, I am creative, I am resourceful, I am beautiful, I am worthy…  What positive thoughts and words can you feed your brain to boost belief in yourself and your ability to take action to strive for success. 

Here’s a thought to spur you on — from the father of positive thinking, Norman Vincent Peale:

 “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” 

What do you want or need to change, to overcome your fears?

It’s time to take ACTION!  “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence.  Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear.  Perhaps the action you take will be successful: perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow.  But any action is better than no action at all.”  — Norman Vincent Peale.

To Summarize these 6 Simple Strategies to Overcome the Fear of Failure and Strive for Success

  1. Don’t let fear get in the way of looking for the next possible solution. Keep in mind the brilliant thoughts from Thomas Edison about failing your way to success! It’s important to keep failing forward until we achieve success.
  2. Remember that every roadblock is an opportunity to create a new way to move forward.
  3. “What IF?” Use your brain power to analyze scenarios, strategies, and solutions.
  4. Share your fears and develop a support system to help carry you forward.
  5. There is POWER in positive thinking! “Change your thoughts, and change your world.”  Norman Vincent Peale.
  6. Take ACTION. Action will build your confidence, and ensure that you are moving forward to overcome your fears and achieve success!

Posted by administrator in Motivation, Inspiration & Goal Setting.

Top 5 At-Home Pilates Training Tools

At-Home Pilates Training ToolsHow to Have FUN with your Fitness Program and Make the Most of Your At-Home Workouts with Pilates Training Tools

I have a client, Donna, who has probably purchased at least 5 foam rollers!  She wanted one to use at home in-between her studio workouts.  But the funny thing is, every time her kids and grand-kids come over to visit, everybody is fighting for time on her foam roller.  The kids think it’s something fun to play with; the adults realize the value in the tool for posture, core support, and better health. Because Donna has shown them some of the exercises that she uses it for, her at-home Pilates training tools have aren’t just for a workout but are also fun!  Because she cares about the health of her family, Donna always ends up sending them home with her Foam Roller, buying another one from me the next time she’s in the studio.  Maybe this trend will slow down one day, but in the meantime, she’s sharing the love and passing on the “joy of toys” with her family for health improvement at home.

Every fitness training tool and toy you purchase is an investment in your health.

It’s important to make smart buying decisions.  Ask yourself the following three questions before purchasing anything.

  1. Do I believe in the value the product offers to help me improve me health?
  2. Do I like and trust the seller?
  3. And most importantly – Will I actually USE the products? Because there is no sense in spending your money on anything if you’re not going to actually use it!

With that said, we have lots of parts and pieces to organize to keep strong, fit, and flexible.  We focus on cardiovascular conditioning – walking, running, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, swimming, elliptical machines…  You can do strength training with weights, balls, kettle-bells, or bands.  There are at-home video programs like P90X, Body Beast, Beachbody, and a million others… All of these are training tools and resources.  If you are a Yogi, chances are you’ve got a good mat, a strap, a couple of Yoga blocks, and probably a bolster and blanket at home to assist you with your practice.  Most of my Pilates clients have at least a few training toys at home.  And while they might not use them all every day, they’re in a good rotation to be able to supplement their workouts, and take care of what they feel their body needs on a day-to-day basis.  It’s empowering to be independent and self-sufficient, even if it’s only for a quick 15-20 minutes of “home-work” a couple of times a week.

Here are the top five at-home Pilates training tools I find my clients purchase, and use regularly for their Pilates workouts.

Top 5 Pilates Training Tools to Use at Home

  1. A nice thick Mat
  2. A Pilates Magic Circle (link includes my Magic Circle Mat Audio workout)
  3. A FULL Foam Roller (although not a classical Pilates prop.)
  4. A Fitness Ball (again not a classical Pilates toy, but very useful for at-home workouts)
  5. The Pilates Arc Barrel Combo (aka Spine Corrector) which includes a copy of my book A Barrel of Fun.

Whether you do Pilates in a studio or just at-home, these at-home Pilates training tools can help you have FUN with your fitness workouts.  And if you’re having FUN, there’s a really good chance your workouts will be longer and more frequent, which are important key factors to enjoy wellness success.

*****

Note: If you are 5’6” or taller, you might prefer the lightweight Pilates Arc available from Balanced Body.  I get nothing from this product endorsement. (They don’t allow me to resell their product online.) Shorter people can use this barrel too, so please note it’s an option! But you’re going to want a copy of my Barrel of Fun book too with easy-to-follow exercises to help you maximize the use of your Pilates Arc barrel, so please order these products separately if it’s more appropriate for you!

Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness, Pilates.

 

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