Pilates Gifts

Pilates Potatoes


One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes - four 
Five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes - more 
Eight potatoes, nine potatoes, ten potatoes - all

Sometimes we can get a little discouraged with the parts of our body that do not seem to improve in Pilates as fast as we would like. For me, it is my lower back.  It's difficult, but crucial, to constantly pull your belly button to your spine to activate your deep abdominal muscles throughout the exercise. Sometimes I forget to concentrate on this which causes some soreness after a class. 

The strain in my lumbar spine, or small of my back, could possibly be caused by tight hamstrings or I could be overextending my lower back by forcing my legs to straighten. Weak ab muscles and tight hip flexors could also be the culprit.  If I stay consistent in modifying the exercises below, my lower back actually feels strengthen and unstrained after a Pilates workout.  

1.      Keep the spine neutral- (using the natural curvature of the spine) is the only place where the muscles can work safely and effectively to support the spine in all movements.

In neutral spine, we work the transverse abdominis, this muscle spans from the front of your belly to the connective tissue on each side of your spine. This is quite often an overlooked muscle, and it’s generally weak. It’s also difficult to access properly unless you are working with an experienced instructor who will know how to cue for proper muscle activation. You can continually connect with those muscles as you focus on the exhale of breath through each movement.

 

2.      Be careful with Roll-up movements- motion that moves from laying flat to sitting up.

This Pilates motion can cause lower back pains and injuries when done repetitively and with tight hip flexors and weak core muscles.  By jerking yourself up repetitively to try to accomplish this exercise, you can really damage your back over time.

 

Use a mini ball at your lower back to help support the spine as you roll into it only half way down, or, use a stretch band looped around the feet to give yourself a little bit of tension to go up and down easily.  Make sure to keep your arms long and not pull yourself up with your arms, but use the rolling action of the spine and deep abdominals.

3.      Laying on Stomach movements- like swimmers, “Superman” pose, laying on long box on stomach

While doing these exercises, only lift gently and maybe even just one leg and arm at a time, making sure to draw the abdominals up off the mat.  These movements, lifting the arms and legs too high, can cause the back to hyperextend and cause excessive disc compression.  Also, keeping the neck alignment in neutral will keep strain off the lumbar spine.

 

4.      Teaser movements- advanced movement requiring you to come up into a V - sit movement.  

If you don't have strong and developed transverse abdominal muscles then you will not be able to properly execute this advanced movement. You will strain the lower back when rising up into the V-sit with your legs straight.

 

When the class does this move, instead, bend your legs grabbing under your thighs as you gently rock yourself forward and then up into a balanced position.

As your hamstrings and hips loosen up and your abs become stronger all these Pilates moves above will start to feel easier. Easier on your back that is; Pilates is always going to be a killer on your abs, which is why we love it so. Also be careful to work within your range of motion when doing the exercises and only straighten and/or lower the legs if the low back can remain glued to the mat or carriage.  

Don’t be discouraged if you have lower back pain or strain, but DO let your Pilates instructor be aware so they can help make adjustments and cue moves to help strengthen your core and loosen your hamstrings. 

Five Potato, Six Potato, Seven Potato More Pilates

Leads to

Eight Potato, Nine Potato, Ten Potato ALL Pilates moves!

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner,
Eating a Christmas pie:
   He put in his thumb
   And pulled out a plum
And said, “What a good boy am I!”

 

Ah, if we were all only as proud as Little Jack Horner was when he pulled that plum out! It is often said that COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY. Of course, some comparison is healthy and important. You should take a look at what your peers and competition are doing to stay current. However, don’t let it eat away at you and give you feelings of doubt or negativity. We should be happy for others successes. If we are doing things right, we will have our OWN successes and at our OWN pace. Let others successes be the driving motivation to keep you working hard to compete. The minute you let it get you down, it will only distract you from your goals and what you have accomplished so far. So it’s like I commonly say to my clients during Pilates class “Keep your eyes on your own Reformer”. Never compare yourself to others…their path is different than yours. 

Exercise is usually thought of as a physical activity, but it can be just as much an emotional and mental journey -- one that should positive nurture and support your overall well-being. While society often portrays fitness as a means to change the way you look by reducing your size or actually changing the shape of your body, for me, those ideas aren't fuel for self-acceptance and positive self-image. This is why, in your journey to better both your physical and mental well-being, it's so important to learn how to stop comparing yourself to those around you.

Because, in the end, comparing your fitness journey to another person's doesn't accomplish anything for yourself, for the other person, or for anyone, really. And, personally, the more I work toward practicing positive thinking and self-acceptance in my own exercise practice, the more fun, free, and balanced the experience feels overall. Besides isn't that the point of doing Pilates anyway, to feel good about the whole thing?

We should redefine what exercise and movement mean to us.  Consider your own body, your own abilities, and your own speed when you think about how to guide your movement. 

Then use encouraging words that speak uniquely to you. And that applies not just to your body, but your whole self. You're doing this to support your well-being so you can be the best version of yourself and live your absolute best life. That's real strength. You go dig out your own plum and hold it up proundly!

 

One, Two, Buckle My shoe

One, Two, Buckle My shoe

Three, Four, Shut the door

Five, Six, Pick up sticks

Seven, Eight, Don’t be late

Nine, Ten, Do it over again!

There are two questions I tend to get asked by new Pilates clients…

1)  How many classes a week do I need to take to FEEL a difference?

2)  How long until I SEE a difference?

If you have looked up some basic information about Pilates you might have seen a quote by Joseph Pilates himself….

“In 10 sessions, you’ll feel the difference. In 20 sessions, you’ll see the difference. In 30 sessions, others will see the difference.”  

Joseph was emphatic about being consistent. Regular practice can do more than just tone and lean out one’s body. It begins in those initial Pilates workouts. 

First 10 sessions:You will develop a greater awareness of your body. Your posture begins to improve, which elongates your silhouette, your breath will become more focused and you might start to alleviate muscle soreness and back pain.  With continued practice, you will see increased muscle tone and definition, and will feel different in the way you move in everyday activities. 

Second 10 sessions:  You will definitely feel stronger and maybe even see some physical differences in your shape. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you need to take into consideration that diet is about 70-80% responsible for weight loss and physical physique. Meaning, no matter how much Pilates you do, if you aren’t mindful of your diet, weight loss might elude you.  That being said, if your diet is well-balanced, I would expect 3–4 sessions of dedicated practice weekly to follow Pilates’ rule of thumb about when you’ll see results. Give it a couple of weeks, and you’ll really start to feel consistently better (usually that “feel better” feeling occurs immediately after a session…after a few sessions, you’ll see those feel good moments will start to stick). If you do other activities, you might even start to see the effects of Pilates seep through there (better golf score, hitting the volleyball harder, running faster, deeper Yoga practice). And if you have special conditions or chronic aches and pains, you might reap the benefits of Pilates there first.

Third 10 sessions:How often you practice Pilates also contributes to how fast you see and feel a change in your body, as well as the intensity of your workouts. When you focus on form and breath, challenge yourself with each session, and integrate the six principles of Pilates each time you exercise, you’ll see changes faster than if you approach it with less intensity and take lots of breaks. What I hear most from Pilates clients is that if they take a break from Pilates classes, THAT is when they feel how much Pilates had been doing for them. The old pre-Pilates complaints of back pain, loss of balance, weakness all come back.  Whether or not someone sees physical differences in you, they will most certainly see a difference in your attitude and confidence in your body and the way it moves. 

Therefore, there is no need to “count” how many sessions you have done. The results are conclusive that no matter how many or how often, YOU will feel better, move better, and look better when you practice Pilates!

 

On the Fist Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

On the First Day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me….

 
As the holiday season approaches it is SO easy to get in a rut of automatic “giving.” We make shopping lists, brainstorm the perfect gifts, and focus on “giving” gifts. We even feel the stress during the holidays of navigating our friends’ and families’ expectations for where we should be “giving” our time during the holiday season.

This party, that party, this food drive, that charity auction, etc. All good things….but…In the flurry of all the stress to “give” during the holidays, we tend to forget the life-changing gift of giving OURSELVES the gift of health and self-care we each deserve.

When I say “self-care,” I’m talking about doing what you need to do in order to stay healthy, energetic, and present in your life – during the stress of the holidays and beyond.  You must fill yourself with health, joy, and respect, so much so that is spills over to others. Give yourself the opportunity to say “YES,” to taking the critical time needed to stay healthy and take care of yourself. When that happens, it cannot help but spill out! This kind of giving is so infectious and so effective — but it can’t happen until you give yourself the gifts of health, joy, and respect first.

Then as you continue to nourish your own spirit and body, you will have the desire to have ALL those around you participate in that joy of health and strength.

So, consider giving a gift this season that benefits the health of those you love. It can have a lasting impact on their lives. We at BlisPilates wanted to share some of our favorite things; healthy products, pampering services, and exercise programs.  We tried to pick gifts that will adhere to the words of Joseph Pilates “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” So as we take care of our bodies through correct nourishment and routine, hopefully we will feel that joy and share it with those around us.
 
I made sure to add the links to the item’s sources so it’s easy for you to find all these fun things online. All of them will make the perfect gifts! Are you ready?
 
Botany Bay Sea Salt                                                                                                                         Very small shop located in S.C. Make an order by calling owner Bertha Booker. You can only find her on Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/pg/BotanyBayCarolinaSeaSalt/about/?ref=page internal
 
Tessemae’s All Natural Dressings, Marinades, Spreads
Local Company located in Essex, MD
Handcrafted and homemade recipes
https://www.tessemaes.com
 
Strength Coach Marc Spataro
Gift Card to Get in Shape for You or Loved Ones
Baltimore’s Premier Private FITness & Health Studio.
http://fitnology.com
 
Acupuncture Marc Wasserman
Gift Card for Healing  
Maryland based clinic for Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
http://www.flowhealthclinic.com
 
Local Honey Apex Bee
Apex Bee Company, Maryland based apicultural firm specializing in chemical-free beekeeping.
 https://www.apexbeecompany.com
 
Local Wild Kombucha
Mobtown Fermentation brews Wild Kombucha right here in Baltimore. Our goal is to share this delicious and healthy kombucha with our community.
https://www.mobtownfermentation.com

Local Meats Spring Field Farm
Gift Card
A family farm specializing in free-range eggs and meats on certified natural pasture.
http://www.ourspringfieldfarm.com
 
Sundays Nail Polish
https://sundaysproduct.com/collections/nail-polish
 
John Brown's Butcher
http://www.jbgbutchery.com/
 
Barefoot Dreams Robes
https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/barefoot-dreams-cozychic-lite-calypso-wrap-cardigan-nordstromexclusive/3112763?contextualcategoryid=60135750&origin=keywordsearch&keyword=women%27s+robes
 
Young Living Renewal Serum
https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/art-renewal-serum
 
Nespresso Coffe
https://www.nespresso.com/us/en/order/capsules/original/dulsao-do-brasil
 
Dough Run
Specializing in healthy snacks
https://www.doughrun.com
 
Cove
Activewear line started by a local Maryland girl
https://www.covewear.com
 
Now share YOUR favorites with us!