Centerworks Blog

Latest "Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips" Posts

Pilates Teaching Tips: How to Handle Obstinate Pilates Clients Who Say “NO” to Exercises that Are Beneficial To Their Progress and Health Improvement

signI was asked the question below from a friend and fellow Pilates Teacher this week and thought it would make an excellent topic for a blog post.  Whether you’re a newer Pilates Teacher or well-seasoned expert, we’ve all been faced with difficult clients.  Learning how to handle and confront the issue in a kind and gentle way can help you turn obstinate Pilates clients into allies who will stick with you for life, and refer all their friends to come work with you too!

“Aliesa, I recently subbed for another teacher and had a client who said “NO” and wouldn’t do many of the exercises I had planned for the workout.  This had never happened to me before!  How do you handle clients like this who are uncooperative during a training session?  Thanks for your insights! “      — Mary

What a great question!  I think at some point every Pilates teacher will face a difficult, uncooperative client or two.  Honestly, in my experience over the past 20 years of teaching,  I only remember having ONE client who really pushed me on this issue and said NO to dang near every exercise that I demonstrated we’d be doing next.

Just thinking about this has gotten me to pondering WHY I’ve had so little push-back from clients and here are a few reasons why I believe this hasn’t been a big problem for me.  Hopefully, these Pilates Teaching Tips will help you handle the next challenging client that comes to you.

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

What Are You Looking At? The Importance of Eye Focus and Pilates Exercise

Using Eye Focus and Pilates Exercise to Improve Form & Function for Healthy Movement Habits

bI know I’ve written about this topic in the past, but recently have been cueing my clients and drawing their attention to where they’re looking during different exercises.  It doesn’t matter WHAT the exercise is, where the eyes focus can have an effect on how well you will be able to find and use the right muscles for the movement.

The eyes can help or hinder movement initiation, stabilization, and articulation of the spine.

  • Look up – and the neck extensor muscles kick in.
  • Look down – and the neck flexors start working.
  • Look straight ahead – and the front and back of the neck should be doing just enough work to balance and hold the neck position.

For good posture our head needs to be perched right up on top of the neck.  In Pilates we do exercises standing up, lying down, kneeling, face up, face down, and upside down.  So what happens to the head when we change where the eyes are looking?  Well, quite a lot actually.  Our eyes help us orient the body in space.  Regardless of what position the rest of the body is in, the eyes strive to find the horizon line, since this is the perspective we use to orient the body in space.   Let’s look at a few Pilates exercises to see how they’re affected by where you’re eyes are focused.

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Foam Roller Fitness: 10 Fun Ways to Use a Foam Roller for Your Roll Up Exercise in Pilates Matwork

foam rollerFight boredom, have a blast challenging your body and improve your Pilates technique with a foam roller.  This workout will boost your fitness and help you make the most of your Pilates workouts.

We are only limited by our imagination when it comes to modifying exercises to challenge the body.  When I teach Pilates I do not add “toys” to distract from the work, but to enhance the understanding of how to tweak the body and improve Pilates technique.

When using a foam roller, magic circle or any other prop the goal is to find, feel and fine-tune muscle activation for better stabilization or movement so that when you get back to doing the “traditional” exercise without the prop you will be able to do it even better with all the right muscles working!

I thought it would be fun to see how many different ways I could find to use the Foam Roller for the Pilates Mat Roll Up exercise.  I have one or two ways I always use it when I teach a Roller-themed Mat class, but was confident that there were probably a lot of other ways it could be used.  So I grabbed my roller and a piece of paper and plopped myself down on the mat to play.  With about 5 minutes of thought, and about thirty repetitions (it was a nice Ab workout!)  I came up with 10 different ways to use the Foam Roller for the Roll Up. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Exercise Speed: Pilates Training – The Value of Pacing Your Pilates Workouts

bearThe 3 Bears Strategy for Pacing Your Pilates Workouts

How are exercise speed and healthy movement related?  This is an interesting topic of discussion for Pilates training.   What’s the best speed for pacing your Pilates workouts?  What speed should we be executing the exercises in our workout?  Is it good or bad to work slowly?  And is it possible that we might be moving too fast to really get the best benefits from what we’re doing?

Based on my training and understanding of healthy movement habits, our ideal goal is that regardless of the pace or speed of our movement, it should be done with the correct amount of control and coordination using the right muscle groups in the correct sequence for biomechanically correct function.

That sounds long and technical, so the short answer is move with the right muscles working and you’ll stay healthy!  Move at a pace (either too fast or too slow for you to control and use the right muscles) and there’s a good chance that you will recruit other muscle groups that ideally should not be involved in the work, thus training your brain and body to recruit the wrong parts to do the action. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Exercise Safety in Pilates Class and Beyond

Hazard SignI find it so interesting how the Universe gifts us with new opportunities to learn and grow…  Since writing the recent series of articles on mobilizing the ribcage, I’ve had the privilege to start working with not one, but TWO new clients who have Harrington Rods.

For those of you reading this article who are unfamiliar with the term, historically this rod has been surgically implanted along the spinal column to treat scoliosis.  Once you’re spine has been “shored up” with a rod, there is no longer movement at those vertebrae.    For these clients everything that is needed to maintain normal “healthy” movement of the spine and ribs becomes moot.   All the great benefits of Pilates posterior lateral breathing for elongation of the spine to maintain healthy posture has to be re-thought and re-taught because try as you might, the ribcage and spine won’t be moving.  That doesn’t mean the muscles along the spine aren’t active – we still need to maintain good strength and support.  But everything becomes quite different from a cuing, exercise selection and exercise safety standpoint.

Posted by Aliesa George in I Want to be a Pilates Teacher, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Mobilizing the Ribs: Healthy Spine Movement in Many Directions

Centerworks® “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage
Part  Five: Multi-Directional Movement of the Spine

Chair, Teaser Twist

Here it is…the grand finale for our discussion on “secret” training tips to mobilize the ribcage for a healthy spine and get the upper back to move more easily.  When you get to more advanced exercises or sport and athletic endeavors the body must be able to move with ease in many directions at once!  From a basic Pilates exercise standpoint, this would be practicing exercises like the Saw in Matwork.  You are both twisting and bending the spine and ribcage have to both rotate and flex to do the exercise well. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Side Bend: “Secret” Training Tips

Centerworks® “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage
Part Four: Lateral Movement of the Spine and Ribs

side bendThere is a lot to think about in order to execute great lateral, side-bending movements.

This is not a direction our upper body moves in much for daily life activities.  But there is a side-bending lateral motion that happens in the hips and pelvis that is vital for good gait mechanics to walk and run.

Since our upper back should have the most mobility for our spine, and we only get stronger in the ranges of motion that we move in, if we never do anything that involves a side bend, we’ll never have access to the strength and support these muscles have to offer us.

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Spine Rotation & Twisting: “Secret” Training Tips

Centerworks® “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage
Part Three: Ribcage and Spine Rotation and Twisting

Pretty young woman exercising

When we twist the spine, all sorts of crazy things tend to happen!  Our hips and pelvis try to do all the work, we side bend, hike a hip, lead with an elbow or shoulder, shift our weight, arch the back, just about anything we can do to avoid actually moving the spine and turning the whole ribcage. 

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Pilates Back Exercises: Mobilize the Ribs, Stretch and Strengthen the Spine

Spread EaglePilates Exercise Video Tips to Incorporate the Spread Eagle Exercise into your Workouts

As a part of my “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage article series, I made this bonus exercise video to give you an example of one of my favorite Pilates back exercises for extension. 

Before we add spine twisting and rotation exercises to the mix in this discussion of a fit and flexible spine and mobility through the ribcage, here is a great example of an easy standing back exercise to help you work on your spine extension.

Posted by Aliesa George in Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips, Videos.

Spine Extension: “Secret” Training Tips

Centerworks® “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage
Part Two: Spine Extension

aliesa extension

It’s easy to bend the neck and low back, but it’s the upper thoracic, mid-back section that needs the attention to improve spine mobility.  The older we get, the more gravity plays with our posture.  Hunched over, heads jutted forward, we need our ribcage to move more freely, and our breath to truly support lifting our posture and lengthening our spine.

To do great back extension, everything you’ve been practicing for flexion happens in reverse.  As the shoulder blades pull down, the breastbone has to slide up, out, and forward pulling the front ribs open and apart.  As you start to “turn the collarbones” backwards, feel the back bones move forward (through the body) towards the breastbone, then use the back muscles to pull the back ribs closer together lifting the spine into extension.  You are applying the “rotisserie” rib effect that you used for flexion to turn the ribs in the other direction.

Posted by Aliesa George in Functional Movement, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.