Pilates Movements Explained

Part 1

 

Below are two specific movements that are taught and many times mentioned in Pilates classes.

C Curve

The C-Curve describes the shape of the back after the deep abdominal scoop. This is also a great stretch for the spine.  One classic Pilates exercise that uses this shape is the Spine Stretch Forward.

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Balance Position

In this position you are balancing slightly behind your tailbone. The key in maintaining this perfectly balanced position is to engage or pull in your deep abdominals.  Another classic exercise that uses this position is the Rolling like a Ball.

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In the next few weeks I will explain a few more of these Pilates movements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilates for Cyclists Part 2

cyclists

 

Let’s dive right into a few Pilates equipment  exercises to implement in the cyclists cross training program.

Pilates Footwork: This is is great for proper knee and leg alignment, stretches calves and strengthens and mobilizes ankles.

Footwork

Stomach Massage Flat:

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Feet in Straps Circles:

Side Lying Push Away: Strengthens the outer thighs
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Chest Expansion: Opens the Chest

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Supine Arms: Builds Strength in the Upper Body

Long Box Pulling Straps: Strengthens back.

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Articulated Bridge and  Push Away: Strengthens the Hamstrings and Low Back.

Superman: Back Strengthener

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Standing Splits: Strengthens Inner and Outer Thighs

Pike and Reverse Pike: Strengthens Upper Body and Abdominals.

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Reverse Pike/Tendo Stretch

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There are many more exercises in the Pilates  repertoire as mentioned above these are just a few.

As always don’t forget to stretch.

 

Pilates for Cyclists

cyclists

The weather is nice and an increasing number of cyclists are out, whether they are riding for fun or riding for a cause or riding in a studio/ gym class.  Cycling is a great low impact form of exercise, however the downfall of cycling it often times leads to imbalances in the body. When cycling, the main focus is on the lower body, as a result  this leads to overly developed quads and calves, tight hamstrings and low back, overworked and tight hip flexors and the bent over or rounded shape of the spine and shoulders leads to poor posture, resulting in  rounded shoulders and thoracic kyphosis,  and  low back pain.

It is recommended  to add cross training to your routine  in order to work different muscles. By doing this you will  strengthen  the areas that are  weak, stretch where you are  tight and  as result balance your  body.  Yep, I am saying it, adding Pilates to your weekly routine will help with your  overall performance.

The focus on the “power house” or “core” in Pilates will allow cyclists to have more “oomph” or power from their lower body to pedal  along with improving flexibility and strength and proper alignment.   Your upper body strength will increase, low back pain will be prevented, improved balance, with the different types of breathing used in Pilates sessions the ability to ride for longer periods of time will improve and as mentioned before any imbalances in the body you may have will be corrected.

I will be sharing a few Pilates exercises  both equipment based and ones performed on the mat for those of you that are not able to make it a studio.

Part One:  Mat Work

Pelvic Curl:

Great for spinal articulation and strengthens the low back.

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Spine Twist: 

Increases spinal rotation and strengthens the core. Great stretch for back .

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Leg Pull Down:

Stretches the Achilles Tendon, strengthens the core, the scapular and lumbopelvic stabilizers, hip flexors, hamstrings and gluteus maximus.

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Shoulder Bridge:

Works the powerhouse and hamstrings, back extensors and glutes.

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Thigh Stretch:

Stretches and strengthens the quadriceps, increases torso stabilization, and strengthens the back.

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Kneeling Side Kicks:

Strengthens the abductors hip flexors, shoulders, lats. Great for hamstring flexibility and stabilizes pelvis.

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Swimming:

Strengthens the back and hip extensors and works the glutes at the same time. Great for pelvic stability.

Side Leg Bananas:

Strengthens the hips and obliques and great for torso stability.

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Single Leg Kick:

Strengthens the hamstrings,back extensors and glutes. Stretches the quads and improves the stability of the shoulders.

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Pilates Pushups:

Strengthens the entire body and improves upper body strength.

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Side Leg Bicycle:

Strengthens  the hips and glutes and improves the stability  of the pelvis and torso.

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Seal:

Great for balance and coordination. Fantastic massage for the spine and just plain fun.

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These are just a few of the Pilates mat exercises that can be included in your daily routine.   Stay tuned for part two , equipment based Pilates exercises in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

Tried and True

In Pilates one exercise builds off another. Its important to “build” from the foundation/basics. Once the foundation has been established, you gradually move on to more complex moves.

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However, reviewing and reminding ourselves of these foundational principles/movements from time to time is highly beneficial, not only for students but also instructors. I often revisit these in my own practice.  Never stop learning and improving.  The method is tried and true.

 

 

 

 

A Little History

Happy September!!!

I hope you are all having a fantastic September so far.  I thought I would share an interesting interview/discussion on Memories of Mr Joe Pilates.  Enjoy!

A little extra Pilates history:

Origins of Pilates

Have a great week friends.

Around the Web

 

Thought I would share with you some  interesting articles I have come across from around the web. Grab a cup of “joe” and enjoy.

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This is one of the most basic human postures but many are unable to.  This article goes into the health benefits  of being able to do this:   5 Reasons to Full Squat 

What happens when you Stop Drinking Diet Soda

Signs You Are Not Getting Enough of this Mineral

Strength Training Moves that Double as Cardio

Cerebral palsy Does Not Stop Laura From Teaching Pilates

What are your favorite reads from around the web?

 

 

The Pilates Roll Up

 

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The Pilates roll up works the abdominals but it also works on spinal articulation.  When performed correctly the rollup is more effective on strengthening the abdominals than countless crunches.

As a side note you may have noticed the count or rep range in Pilates is remarkably less than most fitness exercises, except for the Pilates hundred.  You may have wondered why, and I will let Mr Pilates answer this with one of his many quotes ” A few well designed movements properly performed in a balanced sequence are worth more hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.”    The focus in Pilates quality over quantity.

 

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Let’s get back to the Roll up. Personally, I have had a love hate relationship with this exercise when I just started  Pilates, because I was not able to perform the exercise correctly, but through practice and some helpful tips/modifications on my Pilates journey  the roll up has become one of my favorite exercises.  The purpose of this article is to  share some of the  modifications I not only used for myself but ones I use with my clients.

Common “roadblocks” while performing this exercise is 1. weak abdominals 2. a tight low back  3. not recruiting the bum and hamstrings.

The first tip is to keep your knees bent and as you roll up straighten your legs.

2. Place a rolled up towel under your low back and press into the towel as roll up and roll down.

3. Holding light weights 1-2lbs during the exercise will help.

4. Use your hands to help you, this is done by holding the back of your thighs

5. The half roll back is a great way practice.

Instructions for Half Roll Back:  Sit tall and roll back to about the top of your pants, maintaing the C curve, and roll back up, again you can hold the back of your thighs to assist.

6. Remember to press the back of your thighs into the mat and to squeeze your glutes.

7.Place a theraband around your feet and holding the ends in your hands. Use the band to assist the roll up.

Be patient with your self and keep practicing.

Pilates is grace, strength and stability through movement.

Weekend Highlight: Athleta and Barre3

Liz and Allison and Jodie

Hi guys,

This is a slightly different post from the norm. This past weekend I was able to combine two of my favorite things ( other than Pilates:)) and that is going to one of may favorite fitness apparel stores, Athleta and taking a Barre3 class.  Athleta is an awesome fitness apparel store that has three locations here in Houston and they offer different free fitness classes in their stores.

As many of you know I like to change my exercise routine often, cross training is definitely something I promote, go ahead mix up your training routine.

A little background /insight on the workout, from the Barre3 website:

We draw from multiple influences to create innovative classes that focus on length, grace, and a healthy body.

Sadie Lincoln, barre3 founder, works closely with a team of experts including yogis, professional dancers, doctors, and athletes to craft highly efficient workouts. Focusing on a unique combination of dynamic movement and isometric holds, the sequences work strategically to transform the body and develop long term postural benefits. A continuously evolving variety of movements keep the classes challenging, fun, and fresh. Whether you work out in the studio or at home, barre3 fits your life while enhancing it with greater functional strength, higher energy, and a sense of ease.

Barre3

Barre3

 

Athleta and Barre3 partnered up to allow fellow Houstonians to experience a live Barre3 class.    Liz Fitzgerald, the Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer Allison Beam came down and hosted/taught the classes this weekend, these two ladies were just so very nice and you could see their passion and love for the workout.  Their excitement for upcoming session was contagious!!

 

Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer

Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer

Full disclosure, I have taken quite a few in studio Barre3 classes and the workout is phenomenal.   This weekends class did not disappoint, yes I felt the burn and the shaking muscles. The workout is based on isometric holds, which work your muscles to their deepest point, the one inch moves increases your body temperature ( hello sweat!!) and the dynamic moves raises the heart rate.  

Forward fold stretch

Forward fold stretch

 

Twist

Twist

 

If you are not able to experience a live class, (they have a few studios here in Texas), you can order the DVDs from their site or sign up for the online subscription classes.  If you would still like to learn more, connect with them on Facebook .

What was your highlight from the weekend?

Pilates Teacher, Forever a Student

When one teaches, two learn.

Just like in  nutrition no two diets are the same.  A particular way of eating may work for one and not the other. The same is true for each person that  comes to a Pilates session. Everyones body brings something different  to the “table”.   Because we are not all made the same we can’t do all the exercises the same way.

This is one of the many reasons  why I love what I do, I am always  learning from each clients body. The Pilates method of exercise allows me, the instructor  to meet the individual  body where it is at the moment.    This is  teaching with compassion and kindness.

 

Pilates, movement for life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilates and Running Part 2

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These exercises are a continuation from the previous post.

As always check with your doctor before engaging in any exercise activity.

Swan Dive

( This exercise is great for  increasing back extension as well as strengthening the back extensors, hamstrings and gluteals).

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Lie on your stomach, palms on the mat.  Lift your upper body into extension as you press your hands into the mat. Reach the arms forward while rocking your chest towards the mat.

Bring your hands back underneath you and catch your body in the Swan position.

* Remember to keep head, neck and spine in alignment, keep your abs engaged the entire time. *

Side Kick Kneeling

( Great for challenging your balance, torso and pelvis stability, improves hamstring and hip flexors  flexibility, strengthens shoulders and lats and strengthens the hips).

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From a kneeling position,lean over to one side until your hand touches the mat. Extend your leg to the side to hip height. Keep your bottom hip pressed forward so your torso is as straight as possible.

Kick the top leg forward and back, 6-10 times is sufficient and switch sides.

Corkscrew

( Increases spinal rotation, back flexibility,scapular stability and core control.)

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Lying on your back, straighten legs to the ceiling. Tilt your legs to one side,allowing your hips to lift off the floor. Allow your legs to swing  down towards the floor, circle through center and up the opposite side.  Keep your legs together, shoulders anchored, and make smooth even circles in both directions.

Clam Shells

( Strengthens gluteus medius.)

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Lie on your side, heels are in line with the gluteals.  Hips flexed at 45 degrees, knees at 90 degrees.  Abdominals are engaged and your pelvis is neutral.

Keep your ankles and feet glued together as you abduct the top leg, without allowing your hips to roll back. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.

Thigh Stretch

( Stretches and strengthens quadriceps, core control.)

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Kneeling with your ares extended, parallel , hinge back keep pressing the pelvis forward, leading with the pubic bone.  There should be no movement  in the body only at the knee joint.

I hope you enjoy this little sequence.

Have a great week and stay warm!