Latest "Pilates" Posts
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.
Are 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.
Continue Reading ‘You CAN Eliminate Back Pain with Pilates Core Exercises
Inherently, 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.
There 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 activity – your 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.
Continue Reading ‘3 Great Reasons to Practice Pilates Principles While You Walk
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!”
“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!
Heart 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
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Pilates takes stress OFF the joints while helping you get an effective whole-body workout.
- Pilates combines strength and flexibility into each and every exercise.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
How 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.
- Do I believe in the value the product offers to help me improve me health?
- Do I like and trust the seller?
- 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
- A nice thick Mat
- A Pilates Magic Circle (link includes my Magic Circle Mat Audio workout)
- A FULL Foam Roller (although not a classical Pilates prop.)
- A Fitness Ball (again not a classical Pilates toy, but very useful for at-home workouts)
- 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!
How to Improve Core Support for a Healthy Back, Better Abs, and the Best Pilates Exercise Technique Possible
Do you struggle with really finding and working the lowest little pieces of your mid-section for core support? Is “belly button to backbone” your go-to cue when you think about ab work and core support? Do your neck muscles fatigue faster than your abdominals when you do sit-ups, or other core strengthening exercises like the Hundred in a Pilates mat class?
Well if any of these resonate with you, then please keep reading because I’ve got 3 Pilates Training Tips (and probably a few extra secrets to share) that can help you improve core support, keep your lower back healthy, get more good work from your middle, and dramatically help you improve your Pilates exercise technique.
Pilates Training Tip #1 for Core Support – Neutral Spine vs. Pilates Scoop
Continue Reading ‘3 Pilates Training Tips for Core Support
I know it seems like blasphemy to talk about hip exercises and say that tight hips aren’t terrible, but let’s take a closer look at this perspective.
Every day in the studio I see clients who are plagued with poor posture and tight hip flexors from sitting all day at work. Let’s face it, gravity is not our friend, slumping posture, a weak core, grippy hip flexors, inner and outer thigh muscles that are out of balance, tight hamstrings and calves, feet and ankles that are both stiff and weak, it’s no wonder that people struggle to achieve healthy, normal functional movement habits.
But I really don’t think that tight hips are terrible. The muscles and ligaments that surround the hip are tight and should be strong for a reason… To keep us upright, and allow us to walk and run, hop, skip, and jump. I’m sorry, but IS stretching really the solution if you’re struggling to climb a flight of stairs, or are challenged to get up out of a chair? NO, it’s a hip extension and STRENGTH issue!
Is stretching the hips going to help you balance better? NO, it’s improving the strength and support of everything from your feet to your core, and improving the relationship between your pelvis and your legs. For most folks, this means working on body posture, placement of the pelvis and spine, and improving strength of the inner thighs, outer thighs, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Abdominals because they ALL play a major role in improving balance and body control.
I realize that those of you reading this, may not struggle with the challenge of climbing stairs or getting up off the toilet yet, but trust me… sooner or later you likely will be facing these quality of life issues if you’re hips and legs are not strong enough to support you!
What’s the secret to getting the most out of your hip exercises? There is more to improving hip mechanics than stretching your quads and hip flexors. Let’s face it, if your hips are tight, there’s probably a very good reason why, and your daily movement and exercise habits are only continuing to reinforce this compromised support system.
Continue Reading ‘Hip Exercises: Tight Hips Aren’t Terrible!
Why these 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain, just might make your back feel worse instead of better…
I recently read an article from ACE: 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain and I so vehemently disagree with the exercises and information in this article that I have to share my thoughts.
Here’s the short version of what I’m thinking about this article: 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain if executed well because you really understand Pilates and don’t have any back problems to start with!
Now if you want a few more details about this, keep reading. I’m on a rant and this is a longer than usual post, but if you have chronic back pain and want to use Pilates as a method to help, the info below will be worth your time to read more.
I love that Pilates is a hot topic to help people alleviate back pain, but it really bothers me to read articles like the recent post from ACE Fitness, which starts by saying that, “Many people with chronic back pain have felt their aches diminish with regular Pilates sessions.” Yes, I agree. Then the article goes on to say, “While equipment-based Reformer sessions can be costly and group mat classes may not target your specific needs, many Pilates exercises can help realign your movement patterns to prevent and lessen common back pain.” And then there’s more… “Here are 10 moves that, when practiced regularly, can help improve posture and strengthen the support structures that take pressure off the lower back.”
Sigh… as a fitness professional who has been in the health and wellness industry for forty years, and more specifically focused on Pilates and functional movement training for the past twenty years. It frightens me to see this article and think that people with chronic back pain are reading this and thinking, “Great, I don’t need to invest in Pilates equipment training, OR find a well-qualified Pilates teacher to help me, and why bother with group mat classes, I can just do these 10 exercises on my own and my back pain will go away!” AUUGHGHHHH!
Here’s why if you chose to follow the advice from the ACE article, 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain, your risk of further injury is imminent:
Continue Reading ’10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain: Don’t Do These…