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Is Pilates A Good Workout?

Is Pilates a Good Workout?  This is a question asked by someone who has never done a Pilates workout! But the answer might surprise you, because there are several factors to consider – and really who is the best person to decide what qualifies as a “good” workout?

What do you consider a good workout?  Is it one that gets you breathing harder or elevates your heart rate?  Fatigues your muscles? Improves your flexibility? Focuses on your core? Works the whole-body? Makes you think? Challenges your physical abilities? Breaks a sweat? Improves your balance? Enhances coordination? Do you have to be thoroughly exhausted after a good workout or are you a-ok with being more energized?  Does a good workout for you help reduce stress, improve sleep, and help put a smile on your face?  Are your “good workouts” helping improve posture, reduce aches and pains, and reducing your risk of injury?  Are your workouts helping you get stronger, fitter, and enhancing your health?  ALL the qualities I’ve listed above are a part of what a Pilates workout can do to help improve your whole-body health.

Now with that said, you might not always break a sweat doing Pilates.  There may be days where your workouts are more mentally taxing than physical.  And there can be a huge difference in intensity level between a beginner’s Pilates workout and an intermediate-advanced level Pilates workout.  Good is relative.  The better question is, what is good for YOUR body?  What do you need to work on to improve and enhance your health?  Which are the best Pilates exercises that can help improve how you move based on your personal health history, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your muscle imbalances?   The answers to these questions won’t be found in a cookie-cutter workout, but they are the primary reason for the exercises IN your Pilates workouts!

Pilates is a mind-body modality. Every exercise, regardless of whether you’re working out in the weight room, doing Yoga, TRX, CrossFit, Aquatics, sports…every workout needs to have an element of brain-body connection. If you’re working the body, your brain should be engaged too!  But, a lot of people want to tune-out instead of tune-in to what they’re doing while they’re moving.  And this can make any workout a dangerous affair.  If you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, the muscles you’re using, how your body feels, what’s working well, and what needs to be improved, how fatigued you are to be able to safely execute another rep… there’s a good chance that “good workout” you were just having will turn into a pulled muscle, or other accident, and you’ll be sitting on the sidelines wishing you could workout.

There can be many different criteria used to decide what qualifies as a good workout.  With Pilates the exercises are always challenging, and even when you progress to more intermediate and advanced exercises, the basics can still be very tough and give you a good workout.  With Pilates “more” is not always better.  But rather “more correctly” will give you better benefits from your Pilates workouts.  As you become more familiar with the exercises and can do them well, your pace will pick up.  Increase the pace and you’ll either complete your workout more quickly, or have time to pack in two to three times the number of exercises you used to complete in an hour!

Joseph Pilates believed that you could achieve a well-rounded, full body workout with the Pilates system in 60 minutes or less.  That would be Reformer, Mat, and perhaps a few supplemental exercises your body needs either on the Cadillac, Chairs, or Barrels.  While Pilates is not considered a form of “aerobic” exercise, if you’re working at a brisk pace as you trot thru your workout, it is possible to get an elevated heart rate. And, if you add some of the Pilates Jump board exercises on the Reformer into your routine, you might end up with some full on cardio benefits.

But Pilates isn’t about cardio.  And there is a lot more to Pilates than just Matwork.  Pilates is about uniformly developing the whole-body in a well-balanced manner to improve strength, flexibility, posture, breathing, and body control – mind, body, and spirit feels better after a Pilates workout.

So, is Pilates a good workout?

Pilates is for every BODY.  But not every exercise is for every body.

Whether you’re young or old, healthy or de-conditioned, athletic, or have never played a sport in your life. Maybe you are coordinated, have two left feet, are able-bodied, or have physical limitations and health challenges that make regular exercise almost impossible.   If you’re looking for a good workout, and want to improve your whole-body health, find a well-qualified Pilates teacher to assist you (to help maximize the benefits your body will receive) and be sure to make Pilates a part of your weekly workout routine.

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Interested in learning more about the Pilates System? Grab a copy of Return To Life Through Contrology. Return to Life is the original Pilates Mat exercise book written by Joseph H. Pilates and contains the concepts and philosophies of The Pilates Method or “Contrology” and the original Matwork exercises.

Inside, find a step-by-step demonstration of how to do the original 34 Matwork exercises as well as why Mr. Pilates found the mind-body connection to be an integral piece in his development of the Pilates system.

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

Seeing Measurable Results from Your Pilates Workouts

measurable results from your Pilates workoutsIt’s a question frequently asked by new Pilates students, “When will I see measurable results from my Pilates workouts?” Everyone is eager to start reaping the benefits from their investment in Pilates workouts.  And since we’re living in an instant-gratification society, the faster we can get results, the better!  Patience seems to be a lost art.  We want our aches and pains to disappear instantly – even though the poor posture and movement habits we’ve been using that created the problems have accumulated over time, leaving us with the aches, pains, and injuries we are now trying to get rid of.

Results, it’s all about Results.  One healthy dinner is not going to result in a 10 lb weight loss.  But it’s a great start for a lifetime of better eating habits!  Pilates is the same.  One workout probably isn’t going to “fix” all your bad habits and miraculously make your aching back feel better – but there are lots of Pilates enthusiasts out there that have seen amazing results and improvements even from one Pilates Workout. These client success stories help create the belief and awareness that it is possible to change your body and improve your health with Pilates!

Results need to be measurable.  It’s the only way that you’ll really know things are changing.  The question becomes, what do YOU want to measure?  Is it how you feel? How much energy you have to get through the day? A decrease in the amount of pain you have on a 1-10 scale?  How close are you to touching your toes? How easy it is to climb up a flight of stairs? How easily you can balance on one leg without falling over? How many push-ups, pull-ups or dips can you do? How many inches you’ve lost around your waist? How many pounds you’ve lost or gained? How easy is it to fall asleep? Has your golf score improved? It’s easier to breathe?  Are you less fuzzy-headed and can think more clearly?  Have you eliminated your chronic knee pain, foot pain, hip pain, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain?  All of these are measurable results my clients have experienced over the years thanks to their Pilates workouts.

In my experience, it’s rare for me to see a new client who is healthy and fit!  Usually people show up at the studio with “issues” they’ve put up with, feeling crappy for a long time.  Maybe they’ve tried other things and didn’t really get results.  Pilates is their last-ditch effort to see if it’s possible to get their life back.  (They haven’t’ lost all hope, but they’re pretty close to rock bottom…)  I love these clients!  They are the most eager to work, try their hardest, and are always eternally grateful as they start to see and feel the progress they’re making to get their life back.  And most of the time changes start happening quickly – even during their very first session!  It’s not what I’m doing for them, it’s what they are doing with the help of the Pilates System to improve posture, breathing, and re-educate the body for better health!

When the body is in good alignment, it’s easier to activate the right muscles to move.  Improve how you move, and good health follows.

What’s more important than quick results, is the consistency and discipline to keep plugging away at it.  There is always more to learn and ways to continue challenging the body with Pilates to improve your health.  I’ve got clients who have dedicated more than twenty years to consistent 2-4 day a week Pilates workouts!  Why are they still at it?  Because every week things improve and their bodies feels better.  They know that they are STILL getting results from their efforts.

Pilates isn’t just about doing the exercises… It’s about improving them – every single time you do a workout.  With this philosophy in place, results happen (and keep happening) because you’re always striving to be better, stretch farther, and find a little bit of extra muscle to move and improve your balance, coordination, and body control.

Joseph Pilates had this to say about getting results from his method of exercise:

“In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference.  In 20 sessions you’ll see the difference. And in 30 sessions you’ll have a completely new body.”

The only way to start seeing measurable results from your Pilates workouts is to make the commitment to do Pilates.  Work the system – Reformer and Matwork in addition to supplemental exercises with the Cadillac, Chairs, and Barrels.  By using the Pilates system, (not just doing a couple of “Pilates” based exercises during a workout.) you will be able to really reap the benefits of better whole-body health from your Pilates program.   If you’re doing Pilates and striving to make the last rep of every exercise your best rep ever, you will continue to see measurable results from your Pilates workouts.

Pick a goal or two that you want to achieve.  Let your Pilates teacher know what you want to work on and improve. Be aware that even though you might not see the relevance, there are probably a myriad of exercises in your workouts that are helping to move you forward to your goals.

Don’t lose faith.  Sometimes change happens very quickly and other times it’s a journey – your brain and body must arrive at a place where change can happen.  When the time is right and the body is ready, you WILL begin seeing measurable results from your Pilates workouts.  The effort is worth it!  Better health is a birthright.

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To learn more Pilates and Whole-Body health tips, sign up now to receive the Centerworks Newsletter. Find information in your inbox you can use to inspire and education yourself and others and learn tips and tricks for getting measurable results from your Pilates workouts.

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

Can Pilates Make You Taller?

Can Pilates make you tallerHave you ever wondered if doing Pilates can make you taller?  It’s an interesting question… Can Pilates make you taller?  We assume that we hit that growth spurt in our youth and then at some point the tables turn and we seem to start getting shorter.  You go to the doctor for a checkup one day to discover that you’re not as tall as you used to be!  Poor posture, as well as gravity, have somehow stolen a quarter of an inch or more from what we once thought of as our “adult” height.  And for most of us, we just assume that this is the natural order of things, and that as we age, not only do we decline in health, but we decline in height.  Did you ever stop to think that there might be something you can do about it?

It’s a great question:  Can Pilates Make You Taller?  The Answer is: YES

I gained a quarter of an inch during my first Pilates Teacher-Training workshop!  And, I have clients who regularly tell me that they went in for a check up and are taller since they started Pilates.  A few of these folks gained up to three-quarters of an inch!

Is it some weird adult growth-spurt? Not quite… So what’s happening to help make participants who practice Pilates get taller?  Is it the magic of the method? Something in the water at the studio? A revelation from working out on the Reformer?  Perhaps some of this might factor in… but there are 3 key principles that are cornerstone philosophies of the Pilates Method that contribute to helping Pilates students get taller.

Three Pilates Concepts to Help Make You Taller:

  1. Breathing
  2. Posture
  3. Balanced Muscle Development

How can Pilates Breathing make you taller? Well it’s an interesting concept that should be the way you breathe all the time, not just during a Pilates workout.  Learning Pilates posterior-lateral breathing techniques can help you more efficiently improve lung capacity, get more oxygen into your system to nourish your cells and, most importantly, assist in the compression/decompression of the spine that helps reduce back pain and makes you taller.  Strengthening your diaphragm and lungs with better Pilates breathing habits also helps improve core support.  Every exercise you do has a breath pattern connected to it that makes the exercise easier to execute.  Getting a grip on good breathing improves efficiency not only for breathing but also for movement.

Posture problems can wreak huge havoc on your height!  And for the most part nobody realizes how big a contributor poor posture and bad movement habits are to chronic pain, stress, and strain.  If any small part of the body is out of balance, the entire body is out of balance.  Over time, we try to adapt as best we can – until we can’t… and an injury occurs.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tiny part of your body (like your big toe) or something bigger and farther up the chain (like your low back, shoulder, or neck).  Posture problems can create life-altering issues not only for your height (which is no big deal really), but the repetitive stress, chronic aches and pains, and injuries caused by poor posture are what can keep you from enjoying a healthy active life.

The Pilates Method is a system.  There are specific exercises, done in a specific order with specialized equipment that is spring-tensioned and designed to work just like your muscles do.  One of the biggest benefits of using Pilates equipment is that it gets you out of a weight-bearing position (i.e. that crappy posture position that you’re stuck in) and helps you learn how to re-organize your muscles for more efficient and effective movement.  With both the resistance and assistance of the springs on the Pilates Reformer, Cadillac, and Chairs, you can start to re-train your body. By discovering your strengths, weaknesses, and muscle imbalances with the exercises on the Pilates equipment and working to improve your strength and flexibility, your body will get longer and stronger.  As you improve, these new muscle habits transfer off the Pilates equipment and back into your everyday life.  Pilates Matwork (which is the other half of the Pilates system) is designed to really test this, since there is no equipment for the Pilates Mat exercises, you must use your muscles to work against gravity, reinforcing what you’ve learned with the benefit of the Pilates equipment.  By using the Pilates System (both equipment AND Matwork) you can quickly start to experience the benefits of getting taller that Pilates can help you achieve.

Balanced Muscle Development is the result of a well-designed Pilates training program.  We all have dominant and weaker muscles.  If you’re right or left-handed, by default you’re stronger on one-side of your body.  If you play sports, your athletic endeavors may create a wider-gap between your strengths and your weaknesses.  If you’re a mom and always have a kid perched on one hip while you’re moving through your day – mommy life is could be creating some imbalances in your body.  If you’re a dentist or surgeon – you might always be on the same side of your patient.  If you’re a hairdresser or play baseball, how overused is one arm and shoulder?  Do you play golf, tennis, or bowl – all of these are somewhat lop-sided sports.

Pilates is one of the best athletic endeavors to help counter-act the imbalances that life puts into our bodies.  By improving body awareness and focusing on posture and breathing during Pilates training sessions you get the benefits of working the whole body to improve whole-body health.  When breathing, posture, and body alignment are all working together, the result is balanced muscle development.  A body in-balance can move easily and effortlessly.  With room to move and space to breathe, the spine will be lifted, separating the joints and giving you not only the appearance of being taller, but I bet you’ll be able to see a measurable difference the next time you decide to check your height.  It might be only a few millimeters, a quarter-of an inch, or more, but Pilates can be a great way to help make you taller.

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Take the Centerworks® Quick Posture Quiz – and start discovering what you can do to stand taller.  Start improving your health with the power of better posture.

Posted by administrator in Pilates, Posture Improvement.

Is Pilates Good for You?

is Pilates good

Is Pilates Good for You? My initial response is YES, Pilates is good for every body!  In fact, I think that every body should be doing Pilates. Joseph Pilates believed this too! He wanted the world to do his exercises at least 4 days a week, as outlined in his book Return to Life through Contrology.

But it’s expensive, there’s equipment that I don’t have at home, I can’t afford Personal training, I don’t have time, It’s too hard, I’m not fit enough… These are just a few of the excuses I’ve heard from people who are trying to justify why Pilates is NOT good for them.

If you don’t like to exercise, Pilates might just be the best, most efficient workout you can do.  If you do like to exercise, Pilates is going to help you do every other sport and activity you enjoy better!

10 Reasons Why is Pilates Good for You?

  1. Pilates helps develop better whole-body health
  2. Every Pilates exercise involves both strength and flexibility
  3. Pilates focuses on improving functional movement
  4. Pilates develops longer, leaner muscles, not bulk
  5. Pilates can help improve posture
  6. Pilates can help reduce your risk of Injury
  7. Pilates can help alleviate body aches and pains
  8. Pilates improves core support
  9. Pilates reduces stress
  10. Pilates Improves balance and body control

I could list thousands of additional reasons why Pilates is good for you, this is the short list…  What do you want to improve in your life?  Whether it’s big or small, or seemingly insignificant, I’d bet my life on the fact that somehow, and in some way Pilates could make a positive impact on improving whatever it is.

Heck, I started Pilates for a career change… Little did I realize that the voice injury I had that was forcing my career change was going to be fixed by doing Pilates!  You never know the power of Pilates until you dive in and discover what it has to offer you.

Yes, Pilates training is an investment.  But it’s an investment in YOUR HEALTH!
And without good health, nothing else matters.

Even if you cannot afford to take private Pilates lessons for the rest of your life, I’d encourage you to find a great Pilates teacher and schedule at least a series of 20-30 sessions to get you off to a great start.  This would be 2-3 sessions a week for a couple of months.  It just might be the best investment you’ve ever made in your body.  Getting help from a well-qualified Pilates teacher to become more aware of your good/bad habits and getting expert help re-learning how to find and use the right muscles to support your health can mean the difference between going through the motions and doing exercises that are reinforcing your bad habits vs. developing new and better habits and ultimately better whole-body health.  What you learn during your Private Pilates sessions and while using the Pilates equipment can then be applied to other sports and activities you do.

If after a few months of private instruction you love Pilates and see the value in your investment, you just might find a way to make Pilates – in a studio, on equipment – a regular part of your life.  On the flip-side, if you know affording regular instruction is not an option, ask your Pilates teacher to develop a personalized at-home program for you to continue with on your own.  Maybe you’ll invest in a Pilates Arc Barrel, Magic Circle, or other small equipment to use at home.  Or perhaps all you’ve got at home is a Mat to continue with Pilates Matwork on your own.

By working with a Pilates teacher, you’ll have more confidence to exercise at home on your own and will be able to make wiser choices if you’re following along with a workout video to know what exercises are safe for your body or need to be modified or omitted.  You might do 95% of your workouts solo, and every so often schedule a tune-up session with your favorite Pilates teacher to keep learning new exercises and fine-tuning your technique to progress your Pilates program.

Ask any Pilates participant why they do Pilates and what benefits they’ve received from their workouts. I bet each individual will most likely give you a slightly different response.  But, within each response will be an overwhelmingly positive thread of how good Pilates is for achieving and maintaining whole-body health.  The subtle things that make each of us unique, also make the benefits of Pilates unique to each individual.

But here’s the catch… Not every Pilates exercise is good for every body…  And that’s where getting help from a well-qualified Pilates teacher can make the difference between getting great benefits from your Pilates workouts, and getting hurt.  Any exercise done incorrectly can lead to injury.  It’s not just Pilates exercises that can be risky.  Learning what your body can do safely based on your health history, past injuries, and health conditions, and selecting the most appropriate Pilates exercises along with learning how to do them correctly to avoid injury is a huge part of developing a safe and effective Pilates training program.

What are you waiting for?   Yes Pilates is good for you!  And it just might be the best gift you’ve ever given yourself.  Find a good Pilates Teacher and get started today… Your body will thank you for doing Pilates.

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Posted by administrator in Pilates.

How Pilates Benefits Runners

8 Ways Pilates Benefits Runners – Why Pilates is Important to Reduce the Risk of Running Injuries

Pilates Benefits RunnersAre you passionate about running?  It doesn’t matter if you’re super-speedy or slow, if you love to run just to run or if you’re a little more competitive and plan your life around your favorite races.  If running is your #1 workout of choice, it’s going to be the one thing that’s going to happen regardless of how crazy your life gets.  But how many running buddies do you know who are plagued with aches, pains, and injuries?  Maybe it’s an Achilles tendinitis issue, plantar fasciitis problem, knee pain, a pulled hamstring, hip pain, or SI Joint and low back pain problems.  I often hear runners say, “It only hurts a little bit. Once I start running I don’t notice it so I’m not going to stop running…”  The problem is they are actually ignoring the signals the body is sending them and are making things worse instead of better! Luckily, I’m here to tell you that Pilates benefits runners!

It’s hard to stop doing something you love. Especially when it’s something that helps de-stress your body, gets the blood pumping, fills you with endorphins, and makes you happy.  But wouldn’t it be even better if you could run without pain or fear that you’re going to aggravate an old injury?  Would the extra time cross training with Pilates be worth it if it could help you improve your core support, free up your hips, improve the mobility of your hamstrings, help your knees, and fix your feet?  Pilates benefits runners because it has so many excellent whole-body health benefits.  If you love to run, Pilates can help keep you in tip-top shape to make the most of your miles whether you’re pounding the pavement, hitting the trails, or sprinting on the track.

Personally, it’s difficult for me to call myself a “runner” since slow-mo is my M.O. But I do enjoy getting out there and I have even done a couple of half-marathons.  For me it’s not about being competitive, but the act of moving, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and getting some cardio accomplished with a little extra impact to help keep my bones strong.

When I was younger (in my teens and twenties), way before I knew anything about Pilates, I basically ran from injury to injury!  I’d get inspired to want to add more running to my weekly workouts and as I upped my mileage, or attempted to speed things up. Inevitably, I’d end up with something hurt.  Never the same part of my body; sometimes it was a foot issue, Achilles tendinitis, sprained ankle, or plantar fasciitis problem.  Sometimes my knees would hurt. Sometimes my back would go out. Other times I’d pull a hamstring.  It was annoying, frustrating, and made my attempts at running as successful as yo-yo dieting!  But this was BEFORE I started doing Pilates.

While I wasn’t looking at Pilates as an activity to cross-train and improve my running when I started, it’s had miraculous affects on my ability to maintain an active lifestyle with fewer aches and pains.  Now I rarely, if ever, have an activity halting injury.  I’m sure the Pilates clients I have that are runners will all agree that Pilates has made a big difference in their core support, body alignment, and ability to find and use the right muscles for a healthy stride.

As a runner, the one activity you want to focus all your time on is running.  But if you’re willing to invest a couple of hours a week to do Pilates, you’re going to gain the benefits of a more balanced body and fewer aches and pains. Aches and pains that never seem like a big deal until you can’t run because you’re injured.

This is a general statement, but most of the runners I know hate to stretch.  Tight, strong quads, hamstrings, and calves are contributing factors to an increased risk of injury.  Then there’s the repetitive motion of running.  Your dominant “running” muscles are getting stronger while the rest of your body is getting weaker.  When the imbalance becomes too great, an injury will result.  And you can’t forget about the feet…a very important part of a healthy stride.  If you tend to pronate or supinate – even if you’re wearing shoes that are supposed to help correct this – the primary corrections need to be with how you’re using the muscles from the toes, thru the foot, to the ankle, calf, and all the way up to the hips!  This can be very challenging to correct when you are full weight bearing with years of ingrained running habits. Plus, it’s difficult to make changes when you’re moving quickly during a running workout.

Unless you’re being coached at a very high level, or are a genetically gifted, mutant runner, you might not even realize the imbalances or poor body mechanics you’re using when you run, walk, and move through life.  Finding, feeling, and fixing these functional movement patterns is what Pilates is all about.

Here are 8 ways Pilates Benefits Runners

  1. Pilates equipment is spring-tensioned providing both assistance and resistance to help improve functional movement habits. The springs on the Reformer, Cadillac and Chairs help you find and use new and better muscle habits that eventually will transfer back into running workouts to improve your stride.  By working with the springs, you can learn how to better strengthen your abs and back and free up the legs to swing freely from the hips.  You can also gain great insights for shoulder strength/mobility to better understand how to integrate healthy movement habits through your whole body.  Pilates is an excellent way to connect both mind and body to re-train and re-educate your body for better health.
  1. Every Pilates exercise is a combination of both strength and flexibility. Just stretching isn’t ever going to help you get the strength and support you need in the opposing muscle groups for the too-tight muscles to let go.
  • If you’ve been running and stretching for years and can’t figure out why you’re not getting more flexible – lack of balanced muscle development might be the reason why you’re seeing improvements.
  • If you’ve been running and NOT stretching, doing Pilates exercises will take you through a full range of motion to improve mobility in a fun way that’s more effective than just “holding” a stretch.
  1. Pilates also helps build strength with length. Instead of focusing on the larger, bigger surface muscles, Pilates gets to the deeper, smaller, postural muscles and works the body from the inside out.  Pilates can help you learn how to use your overdeveloped muscles a little less and your weaker muscles a little more.  Balanced muscle development = a reduced risk of injury.
  1. Pilates can improve your breathing habits. Breathing is kind of important if you’re wanting to run or do other intensive cardio activities.  The more efficient your breathing habits are, the easier it will be to pace your runs and maximize your oxygen availability.  Better breathing habits can also help your back, arms, and shoulders move more easily for a healthy stride.  If you’re back gets tight after a run or you end up with neck and shoulder pain, there’s a great chance that by learning Pilates posterior-lateral breathing skills you’ll free up your entire upper body, reduce back pain, and be able to breathe easier during your runs.
  1. Pilates can enhance body awareness. This is a concept that gets lost on a lot of people. Better body awareness is key to avoiding injuries.  By becoming aware of your good and bad movement habits and doing Pilates exercises to help reinforce good body mechanics, you will gain the confidence needed to know when you’re moving in a healthy way or doing something that might get you hurt.  Our muscles don’t have mouths.  The only way the body can communicate with us is to send a pain signal.  It’s important to learn to listen to the body.  Pain is a signal that something is not quite right.  A quick adjustment (if you knew what to do) might be all that’s needed.  If making an adjustment or modification doesn’t eliminate a pain signal and we ignore it and continue, the risk of injury is imminent. 
  1. Pilates improves both functional movement and stability. Every activity we do involves work and release.  This requires our muscles to be proficient to support us for movement and stability.  Learning how to gain control over work/release patterns and knowing the difference between when to use a muscle group for stability vs. movement can help avoid “tug-of-war” issues that can lead to injury.  Stability in the right spots also means freer movement where it needs to happen.  This helps improve both strength and flexibility and assists with balance and body control. 
  1. Pilates is a barefoot activity. By exercising barefoot, you can become more aware of how you’re using your arches, ankles, and toes to help activate your feet and improve your alignment.  Working against the springs on Pilates equipment helps stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles.  There are lots of targeted foot and ankle exercises in Pilates that can help reduce the risk of ankle sprains, Achilles tendon issues, and plantar fasciitis problems.

 *(All of my Pilates running clients also have a Centerworks® Runfit Kit at home, with extra foot fitness training tools and exercises for targeted foot care that can be used to warm-up and cool-down after a run or other fitness workout.) 

  1. The things you can learn and improve with Pilates are limitless. Pilates is never boring if you’re working with a well-qualified Pilates Teacher who understands how to help you progress and fine-tune your form.  An ideal Pilates workout is done on the Pilates Reformer, Mat, and supplemental exercises with the Cadillac/Trapeze Table, Chairs, and Barrels as needed.  There are over 500 Classical Pilates exercises, and thousands of additional modifications, variations, and additional exercises that can be incorporated into a Pilates workout.  By knowing your goals, as well as strengths, weaknesses, and past injuries, your Pilates teacher can help guide you step-by-step into a new and improved stronger, fitter, and more flexible runner.

By incorporating both Pilates and running into your active lifestyle you will gain the benefits of great cardio training for your heart and lungs, and the right combination of strength and flexibility to keep your whole-body healthy.  Pilates benefits runners so learning how to be mindful during Pilates can help you pay closer attention to what your body is doing while you’re running.  By incorporating Pilates concepts for better breathing, body alignment, improved posture, functional movement, and support, you will be able to make every stride more efficient, enjoy maximum benefit from your running workouts, and minimize the risk or aches, pain, and injuries.

If you haven’t made Pilates a part of your weekly workouts to enhance your running program, now is a great time to get started with Pilates.  Find a well-qualified Pilates teacher and schedule a private session to get started.  Next to a great pair of running shoes, it just might be the best investment you can make to enjoy a lifetime of injury-free running.

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RunFit Foot Fitness Kit™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 Pilates, Running.

Centerworks.com Ranks as One of the Top 75 Pilates Blogs

How cool is this?  To get an email, out of the blue telling me that Centerworks.com has been ranked by Feedspot as having one of the Top 75 Pilates Blogs on the web for 2017.

Then to find out that out of 75 Pilates blogs, Centerworks is ranked 11th!  Woo Hoo!! I love teaching Pilates, and for all the people out there that can’t make it to my studio to take Private lessons and classes with me, I’m glad you’re finding and reading my blog posts.

I truly hope that whether you are a fellow Pilates teacher, avid student, or just getting started discovering what Pilates is, what it can do, and how it can help improve your whole-body health, that reading the articles on my blog spark an idea, educate you to think about how your stand, sit, and move, or inspire you to delve even deeper into paying attention to how your body is put together to move well.  Better posture, breathing, and body awareness to improve functional movement and achieve wellness success is the message I want to help spread to the world.  I strongly believe that the Pilates Method is one of the best systems available to help maintain good health.

Our bodies were designed to move.  When we’re moving well, nothing hurts, and everything stays healthy.  Life throws us curveballs and challenges which is why Pilates is a practice.  But with so many wonderful Pilates exercises and such brilliantly designed Pilates equipment to play on – every workout can be a health-enhancing experience.  Plus, I consider Pilates to be a “rabbit-hole” of opportunities to further develop the mind-body connection while improving strength, flexibility, and fitness.

It’s hard to believe that I’m now twenty-five years into my full-time career as a Pilates Teacher and studio owner.  And still, every single day I learn something new about the body that can help me help my clients improve their health!

My goal with the Centerworks.com blog is to share some of these little ah-ha moments with you!  If you’re a fan of Centerworks and my blog posts – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! Blogging is a lonely job… I don’t always hear from my readers to know who’s enjoying my posts, but I’m very glad you’re out there.

If you’re interested in gleaning more tidbits of health inspiration from other experts in the Pilates industry, and are curious to see who else made the list. I hope you’ll check out this article to learn more — Top 75 Pilates Blogs.

And, if you want to stay in the loop for what’s happening at Centerworks – I hope you’ll get on the list for my Wellness Success eNews and updates.  I’ve never been one to clutter your inbox with mail – but do promise to give you good usable content to help you keep moving in a positive direction to improve your health.

Posted by administrator in Book Reviews, Pilates.

You CAN Eliminate Back Pain with Pilates Core Exercises

Use Pilates to help eliminate back painAre you ready to kick your back pain problems to the curb?

Get ready to eliminate back pain… You can start feeling better fast!

Back pain is a significant problem in the USA.  There can be a variety of different reasons to end up challenged with back pain problems, and it can be extremely aggravating to figure out how to feel better.  But there are lots of different exercises that can be done to eliminate back pain, and Pilates can be an excellent choice in the process of improving posture, strength, flexibility, and developing healthy movement habits to enjoy life.

I was recently contacted by Natalie, at Runway Pilates to be a contributor to an article she was writing 11 Pilates Instructors Reveal the Best Core Exercises For Back Pain.  It was awesome to be asked to share my insights.  Then I realized that I needed to be succinct in my response! With my own personal low back issues, and having worked with lots of clients over the past two-plus decades of teaching Pilates, I’ve got so many thoughts to share on the subject of eliminating back pain problems.

Posted by administrator in Back Pain, Pilates.

The Many Ways Pilates Improves Your Health

Pilates ImprovesInherently, all physical fitness systems work, in one way or another, toward improving the health of anyone who takes them up. However, Pilates is head and shoulders above most fitness programs when it comes to health benefits, achieving them in a much less strenuous way. Pilates improves whole-body health without straining muscles and joints.

Since its introduction by Joseph Pilates all those years ago, Pilates has earned a reputation as a great way of strengthening the “core,” which mainly refers to the abdominal and trunk muscles. This incredible fitness system, however, does more than just give you great and strong abs, which many people (mistakenly) believe is what Pilates is solely about. Let’s look at the many ways Pilates improves your health. You might be surprised at what it can do for you.

Pilates improves your posture

If you know people who have been doing Pilates for some time, you will notice that they have good posture. That’s because smoothly doing Pilates exercises requires laser focus, and this level of concentration makes one more naturally aware of their posture at all times. Eventually, Pilates enthusiasts automatically correct their posture and spinal alignment even when they’re outside of classes and going about their daily lives.

Pilates improves circulation

Pilates emphasizes deep, proper breathing. With this kind of breathing, the flow of your blood becomes freer, and the delivery of precious oxygen to your organs and muscles becomes more efficient resulting in improved function.

Pilates lowers blood pressure

A 2015 study had 44 hypertensive women split into two groups as subjects, with one group performing twice-a-week, 60-minute Mat Pilates sessions for 16 weeks, and the other group maintaining their daily activities without any special exercise training. The results were encouraging, as it found out that Mat Pilates “reduces clinical and ambulatory blood pressure.”

Pilates improves your balance

Many Pilates exercises constantly make use of apparatus and props that promote stabilization. As your core muscles gain strength and your spine realigns, your balance, as well as your coordination, improves as well. Pilates is absolutely great for the elderly since improved balance means lesser risk for falls.

Pilates helps with back pain

If you’ve been suffering from chronic back pain and traditional treatments didn’t work for you, you might want to give Pilates a try. There are specific Pilates exercises that are designed to relieve back pain, and there have been studies that say they can be more effective than conventional back pain treatments. Many Pilates enthusiasts already claim that the system has given them relief for their back pain, which Pilates can also help prevent.

Pilates improves flexibility

Every single Pilates class will require you to perform multiple active stretches all throughout, which will improve your joints’ range of motion with every session. Your body will feel looser and relaxed, which is always a good thing.

Pilates boosts spinal strength and health

With all the multiplanar core exercises that you will have to do in Pilates class, you will feel your spine become stronger, more flexible, and better aligned. A 2014 study also affirms that there is a link between spinal health and Pilates.

Pilates enhances joint mobility

Pilates exercises strengthen and elongate muscles as well as improve the mobility of your joints. They can also reduce your risk of suffering from stiff or weak joints. As Pilates exercises also help to balance the musculature within your joints, you will become less prone to arthritis.

Pilates lowers stress levels

Deep, proper breathing, which is a core Pilates principle, plays a huge role in reducing your stress levels. With deep and proper breaths, your blood gets more oxygen, and the improved circulation makes delivery of oxygen to the brain more efficient. When your brain gets its fair share of oxygen, a response telling it to calm down is triggered, and that should relax your brain enough to keep your stress levels down.

These are just some of the ways Pilates can improve your health. If Pilates intimidates you, know that anyone can do it, no matter what your age or weight. Pilates Improves It may prove challenging at first but you will get the hang of it eventually, and you will soon achieve the health gains mentioned above, and more.


Guest post for Centerworks® by Cindy Ayres.

Owner/Instructor, Cindy Ayres, excels at challenging the most seasoned of athletes, but she also has made it her life’s mission to help bodies that hurt, regularly working with students with injuries, special conditions, and functionality issues. Beyond Fit Pilates in Scottsdale, Arizona was created to teach all levels of high quality Pilates instruction, write fitness and wellness content, and speak in health and fitness forums.

Posted by administrator in Pilates.

3 Great Reasons to Practice Pilates Principles While You Walk

Practice Pilates Principles While You WalkThere are a lot of reasons why I love Pilates, and definitely more than 3 great reasons to practice Pilates principles while you walk.  While walking can be a fitness activity, it’s also a very necessary daily activity.  And HOW you walk can dramatically affect youprir health.  It’s great to think that you’re getting a good workout, but that may not always be the case.  Are you jamming out with your headphones and not paying any attention to what your body is doing?  Or being dragged along at the end of the leash by your very enthusiastic dog? Or because you’re on your feet all day at work, you assume you’re getting in a lot of “steps” and that this is helping improve your health?  How often are you experiencing annoying aches and pains by the end of the day?

I was chatting with a client today, and she said, “My hips always hurt.  They’ve hurt for a very long time.  I just figured that I have to accept it, they’re always going to hurt.”  So I asked, do they hurt more or less since you started Pilates?  “Less” she said.  And then we looked at the skeleton together to discuss how her posture and muscle habits have contributed to her hip pain, and how, by continuing to practice Pilates principles, I believe her hip pain will continue to diminish.  We are not supposed to live with pain!  Pain is a signal from the body that something is not quite right.  Learn to listen, and find the right strategies to take care of it, and chronic challenges can go away.  One of the easiest everyday activities we do is walking.  Learn to walk well to reinforce healthy habits.  Walk without connecting mind and body, or finding, feeling, and using the right muscles for a healthy stride, and you might be increasing the potential risk of injury, or having to deal with chronic aches and pain.

Pilates is more than just a workout.  It’s a fundamental way of approaching how you can use exercise to improve, enhance, and maintain better whole-body health.  I consider Pilates exercises and equipment training the be tools which are used to connect mind, body, and movement, so that what clients learn in the studio they can begin take out the door with them and put into practice throughout the day in their everyday life.  After all, a couple hours of exercise a week, will never completely undo all the bad habits;, slouching, poor posture moments, or muscle imbalances, that folks have developed over time that end up leading to chronic aches, pains, and injuries.  By applying what you Pilates Principles to how you stand, sit at your desk, drive your car, walk, run, bike, swim, golf, dance, vacuum, sit down on the toilet, climb stairs, lift a laundry basket… whatever the activityyour body can be in an everyday state of continuous improvement.  Why not reinforce the awareness of how to find, feel, and use the right muscles to stay healthy all the time, not just during your workouts.

I’m super-stoked about my new book Pilates-Walk: Tips, Techniques, and Exercises for a Healthy Stride, because walking is one of the best fitness activities you can do outside of the studio to put into practice everything you’re focusing on during your Pilates workouts.

Posted by administrator in Pilates, Walking.

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.