Pilates for Posture

Tower Pilates @WellBarre Pilates
Roll up with roll down bar on Tower

Pilates is hands down the best way to correct faulty movement patterns and develop beautiful posture. What makes Pilates so important with respect to posture is the fact that by strengthening the core muscles we begin to naturally lift the ribcage away from the abdomen. As the core muscles are developed, strong and lifted our internal organs are no longer compressed as this also creates length in the spine.  Many people think of pushing their shoulders back to correct their posture, however this creates tightness in the neck and shoulders and ultimately doesn’t correct the problem.

Using the deep core muscles of the powerhouse—the abdominals, back, and pelvic floor—to support our posture allows the shoulders to relax, the neck and head to move freely, and relieves stress on the hips, legs, and feet. Not only is posture important for good health as well as dramatically improving our appearance as there is a noticeable slimming effect in play, but great posture is a communication to others. Often we associate terrific posture with poise, grace, confidence and success. So now might be a good time to think about what you may be communicating through your posture.

Benefits of Good Posture

• pain relief throughout the body, including back and neck pain, hip pain, leg and foot pain.
• Improved movement patterns in the body
• Strengthens muscles with elongated at the same time
• increases range of motion
• healthier to our internal organs that do not experience compression from slouching
• improves circulation
• youthful and trim appearance
Maybe you haven’t given it much thought until you are wearing a backless dress or tank top in which you notice you have begun to round your shoulders and it doesn’t feel comfortable to straighten the body without discomfort….Here are some exercises to address posture.

Pilates MAT Exercises to Support Good Posture

1. Finding Neutral Spine
2. Pelvic Curl
3. Pilates Plank Pose
4. Roll Up

REFORMER/TOWER EXERCISES FOR BEAUTIFUL POSTURE

Rowing Series (Shave the Head)

Plank on Box

Roll Up with Rolldown Bar
Straps 1 and 2
Swan Prep/Swan

Chest Expansion on Tower

Contrology and the 6 Principals of Pilates Method

Joseph Pilates in NYC Studio

According to Joesph Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology, first published in 1945, there are six guiding principals for the exercises. Contrology is defined as “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” Through Pilates discipline performed correctly at least 4 times per week and in specific order, “Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong posture, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”

Here are the guiding principals of the Pilates Method: Breath; Centering; Concentration; Control; Flow and Precision.  Interesting that 3 of the 6 principals are focused on the importance of the mind and mental discipline.  Pilates saw the exercises as truly the connection of mind, body and spirit, and did not believe that you could separate the physical from the mental discipline.

Breathing: Is the first act of life and the last, our vary life depends on it. Pilates emphasized that students should use very full, deep breaths.

Centering: Joseph Pilates emphasized the powerhouse of you body which is the area between your lower ribs and hips and it includes the lower and upper back muscles. Centering the mind through focus on the core is key.

Concentration: Simply put, Pilates requires that you bring your full attention to the movements of eat exercise. “Concentrate on the correct movements EACH TIME YOU EXERCISE, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value. Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine activities. Contrology exercises build a sturdy body and sound mind fitted to perform every daily take with east and perfection as well as to provide tremendous reserve energy for sports, recreation, emergencies.”

Control: having control of all movements directed by the mind. Pilates famously said, “Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control.”

Flow: The elegance of the movement is defined as flow.  Movements are performed with grace, elegance and fluidity.

Precision: Pilates emphasized correct form and alignment.  Instructors are taught to use precise cueing in order to make movements more precise.

Joseph Pilates emphasized that over time the body would move according to the six guiding principals in everyday life, making the exercise something that is incorporated into a person’s overall well-being and health vs a separate activity for the sole purposes of an isolated form of exercise.

Myth or Fact? The Top 5 Myths about the Pilates Method

pilates reformer classes stoneham
Small Group Training WellBarre Pilates Stoneham, MA

As a Pilates Instructor and studio owner I am aware of the many myths surrounding Pilates when clients are new to Pilates Method. When clients are new to Pilates there tends to be a lot of misconception about what Pilates is and what it is not.

Here is list of the top 5 myths about Pilates Method:

1) Pilates is not challenging

Pilates utilizes all muscle groups which can be very intense and challenging for many people. It is normal to experience muscle soreness after class as you are using under-utilized muscles that are neglected as part of everyday life to include sitting, driving and inactivity which leads to de-conditioning.

2) Pilates is like Yoga

Although Pilates includes stretching, the primary focus of Pilates is on the spine and what’s known as the Powerhouse. The powerhouse area of your body goes from the bottom of your ribs all the way to your hip line. It includes the abdominals, glutes, low back muscles, pelvic floor and muscles surrounding the hip joint. Powerhouse muscles work together to support and stabilize the trunk, but they also create and support big-movements of the body. And they give those moves their dynamic strength. Joseph Pilates emphasized this area of the body in the program of training he designed.
The core muscles are included in the powerhouse and are the deep stabilizers. The pelvic floor, the psoas, the transverse abdominus and the multifidus are included.

3) Pilates is for dancers or celebrities

Although in recent years there is a proliferation of beautiful celebrities like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston, known for their devotion to Pilates, the method is appropriate for all bodies and can be modified to suit most bodies. People who are post-surgical and with limitations in movement or body-awareness can help improve these conditions through mindful movement that protects the joints and back.

4) Pilates will eliminate excess body-fat

Pilates will not burn-off the ice-cream you ate last night. In-fact, no-exercise will do that despite claims that you can “burn-off” excess body-fat. Abs are truly made in the kitchen through a diet that is balanced and includes healthy fats and low in processed foods and refined sugar. Pilates can give you an amazing cardio workout by the use of the Jump board or when Pilates is done in a HIIT format.  Abs can be sculpted as well as glutes and other muscle groups, but if you have excess body fat you will need to change your diet.

5) Pilates Reformer is appropriate in large group settings

Unfortunately, Pilates Method cannot be successfully taught in groups larger than six participants. Pilates Method was originally intended to be done in private training and small groups only. Pilates Instructors should be appropriately certified in the Method and attentive to safety and body-limitations. This is difficult to replicate in a group larger than six.

 

Diastasis Recti…Can Pilates Help?

The answer is YES! But first- what is the condition known as Diastasis Recti?  Diastasis Recti is a separation in the abdominal wall causing your belly to protrude. Many women complain that following childbirth they continue to appear pregnant long after the actual pregnancy. Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age. You’re also more likely to get it if you’re over 35 or from delivering multiples. Pregnancy places a fair amount of pressure on the belly, so much so that in fact, the muscles in front can’t keep their shape. “Diastasis” means separation. “Recti” refers to your ab muscles called the “Rectus Abdominis.”

 

The muscle opening often shrinks after giving birth, but in some studies of women with Diastasis Recti, the muscle wasn’t back to normal even a year later. Ultimately when this condition is neglected, it can cause further complications such as: chronic constipation, urine leakage, low back and hip pain, and the appearance of being overweight.

What Types of Exercise Help Diastasis Recti?

Many women with this post pregnancy condition jump into exercise programs that in fact worsen this condition. Some routine fitness moves including crunches, sit-ups, push-ups, press-ups, and front planks, make abdominal separation worse. Swimming, various yoga moves (like downward dog), and certain movements performed on the hands and knees can actually have a worsening impact on Diastasis Recti. Some trainers may suggest those exercises for women with abdominal separation, not knowing that it may worsen the problem. Many abdominal exercises, such as crunches or exercises involving trunk flexion, can actually make the separation worse. Instead, women should opt for isometric contraction of the Transversus Abdominis.

How Can Pilates Fitness Help?

Post-natal Pilates can help by rebuilding the Tranverse Abdominis. The Transverse Abdominis acts like an internal corset bringing the Rectus Abdominis in and back together. Pilates is a fantastic way to strengthen the Transverse Abdominis, however there are some exercises that are contraindicated for Diastasis, such as ones that involve flexion, rotation and back extension. Once the Diastasis has been healed, exercises involving flexion, rotation and back extension can be done, as long as the Transverse Abdominis can be held in and there is no doming of the Rectus Abdominis.

A great way to better understand correct alignment and healing strategies for Diastisis Recti is to work with an experienced Pilates Instructor in a private training session to assess, evaluate and create a unique program to improve the core muscles.  Using both Pilates Equipment and performing Pilates Mat exercises are highly effective in re-contouring, reshaping and aligning the body by strengthening the abdominal walls and pelvic floor. If you have questions about Diastasis Recti, or Post-natal Pilates, contact the studio for more information about our programs.

 

Ladies who inspire us…meet Jackie Jackson

Meet Jackie Jackson…

We caught up with Jackie to find out what inspired her to create JFit Athletic wear.  Jackie has created beautiful athletic wear that fits all bodies, is comfy, looks amazing and is affordably priced.  Jackie designs all of her own leggings and sends her designs to manufacturer to have them made in bulk. We love how Jackie designs for all body types.  So whether you are a fuller figure girl, or a fitness model, you will find something for you.  Here is our conversation with Jackie:

Tell us something about yourself…

My name is Jackie Jackson. I was born in Liberia, West Africa and moved to New England with my family when I was 15.  

Tell us what inspired you to create your own line of athletic wear.

I’m a fitness model, and love helping friends workout at the gym.  I was looking for the perfect leggings to show off this booty, and Lululemons were so expensive! So I decided to create the perfect workout leggings that won’t break the bank.  And with that JFit was born.

What challenges or obstacles do you face as a small business owner?

I meet customers by setting up trunk sales of my new clothing lines at gyms and fitness studios.  Probably my biggest challenge is lining up new locations, and balancing that with the studios that want me back for other events.  There’s only one of me!

Who has inspired you in your life?

My mom inspired me to pursue my dreams and never give up. She and God gave me this beautiful body, and I’m determined to use their gift to help others live their best life-one pair of leggings at a time!

Jackie will be at the Fall Party and Fundraiser on Thursday, October 25, 2018.  Check out her lovely line of athletic wear in person!

Jackie Jackson creator of JFit

 

Pilates Post Breast Cancer

Spotlight: Eve Gentry – Pilates Elder, Breast Cancer Survivor

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am struck by the devastation of the diagnosis and the few resources made available to women post treatment. If you are like me and watched someone you love go through very grueling breast cancer treatment, or have undone breast cancer treatment yourself, you are probably very aware that the effects of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy drugs wreak havoc on the body. Although my mother had excellent life-saving care, she was provided very little information about what to do moving forward. Common side-effects following cancer treatment are emotional changes and memory issues; swelling/lymphedema; fatigue; decrease in arm/shoulder mobility; neuropathy; and postural imbalance.

Eve Gentry teaching Pilates Method

However, according to the Nation Center for Biotechnology Information, several studies have shown the tremendous benefits of Pilates Post Breast Cancer Surgery. A literature research and review through March 2017 of five studies showed that Pilates or home-based exercises are better than no exercise in each individual study. Also found was that significant improvements were evident in the Pilates groups as compared to home-based exercises. Improvements were observed in range of motion, pain and fatigue. The conclusion was that the evidence showed that Pilates or home-based exercise should be encouraged to women with breast cancer.

A regular Pilates practice can promote circulation in the arms, ankles and feet, reduce swelling and increase range of motion in the arms following surgery. Deep breathing through-out a series of intentional movement helps reduce stress which helps the mind and body heal. Eve Gentry, a modern dancer and protégé of Joseph Pilates underwent a radical mastectomy in 1955. Chronic joint and back issues led her to Joseph Pilates’ studio where she worked as a teacher with Joseph Pilates from 1938 until 1968. Following breast cancer surgery in 1955, she returned to Joseph Pilates for help. The surgery had removed so much muscle she wasn’t able to lift her arms. With Joe’s training method she was able to return to dance within 12-months. Even eventually went on to co-found The Institute for Pilates Method in 1991. She lived to be 84 years old.

If you or some you know needs help following breast cancer treatment, give us a call. We are a supportive and private space and are happy to answer questions about how we can help.

October Member Spotlight-Paula

We wanted to speak to Paula about her commitment to Pilates…she’s been coming to WellBarre Pilates for over a year and we are incredibly proud of her progress.

We asked Paula how she got started with Pilates…here’s what she had to say:

“I’m been coming to WellBarre Pilates for just over a year. Other than a couple of Pilates DVDs, I never did Pilates or barre. I wish I had started sooner! I’ve done cardio at fitness centers (treadmills, elliptical, ARC Trainer, etc.), but usually get bored. I really enjoy using the Reformer and Leslie’s classes are a mix of Reformer, Jumpboard, tower, barre and mat so you never get bored!

What do you like about the studio:

“The classes are small so you get individualized attention. It’s not intimidating and you can always modify the routine if you have an injury.”

How has regular Pilates practice helped you personally?

“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 20 years ago. I’ve had two surgeries and was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis (common with Crohn’s). Exercises on the Reformer help to maintain bone density as well as increase muscle tone. My balance has also gotten much better! There are many days when I’ve had a bad day at work and don’t feel like going to class, but I’m so glad when I finish the session. It helps my mind as well as my body. I’m so happy that I found Leslie’s studio!”Two women working on a Reformer during a duet Pilates session at WellBarre Pilates Studio

What Should I Eat Before Pilates Class? Tips for Pre-Pilates Nutrition

I am often asked about what to eat before a Pilates Class. More often than not people come in either on a too full stomach or haven’t eaten for many hours and don’t have the calorie reserves to fuel their workout.

Here are a few helpful tips on Pre-Pilates meals and snacks:

  • You definitely do not want to eat a large meal right before a Pilates Session. It is difficult to both digest and workout at the same time as your body must attempt to divert energy away from digestion in order to fuel your muscles. This is why you feel cramping, bloating etc. and sometimes may even feel slight nausea. Pulling your abdominal muscles “in and up” as we often say in class is particularly hard on a too-full stomach.
  • You do not want to have gone more than 3 hours with no food. If your class is first thing in the morning, have a banana an hour prior to class. Even a few bites on the way to class will help and will not make you so full that you cannot workout. Not enough calories means that you will become exhausted quickly and may feel weak or even dizziness as your body expends a great deal of energy on little to no fuel

Taking Pilates Class After Dinner?

Have a full meal 2 hours before your session to have time to digest. A full meal with some protein, fat, and lots of veggies gives you just the right amount of pick-me-up to stay focused and power through your workout. Protein and fat are slow burning energy that give you the stamina and energy. They take a bit more work for your body to digest, so don’t dig into a steak 30 minutes before you walk in.

Limit Carbs….unless…

Unless you are doing an intermediate-advanced Pilates Class, Jumpboard or HIIT, you do not need carbs to burn in the same way that you do for more aerobic exercise. Pilates Cardio may not exactly equate to the same cardio expenditure of running for example, however depending on the class Pilates can be aerobic and increase calorie burn in which case carbs may be helpful.

Stick with What Works for YOU
Plan ahead and eat at least an hour before your session (2 hours if it’s a big meal) so you’re energized, not lethargic, going into your Pilates class.

Meal Ideas:
• Green salad with grilled chicken, avocado, nuts and seeds
• Wrap with grilled chicken, ground beef, fish, or healthy protein and greens
• Broiled salmon, broccoli, greens with sauce of your choosing if it is relatively low in sugar and sodium
• Slow-cooker pulled pork or chicken with veggies

What about a small snack less than 1-hour before Pilates Class?

Small snack are appropriate and encouraged before class, particularly if you have not head a healthy meal within 2-3 hours before class.
Snack Ideas

• Apple and almond butter or peanut butter
• Hard-boiled egg
• Small handful of nuts
• Hummus with veggies

Avoid: Dairy and coffee less than one hour prior as this often causes Acid Reflux something very unpleasant during Pilates Session!

Member Spotlight Laura D.

Pilates Inspiration – Laura D.

Laura is a true inspiration when it comes to regular Pilates practice.  Her dedication can be seen in her almost daily discipline, her amazing strength and flexibility.  Laura is in phenomenal physical condition and never quits on herself.  

Here is what she had to say about her love of Pilates:

“So I started doing Pilates long before anyone knew what it was!!!   As a former dancer,  I was introduced to it as they kind of went together.  In the beginning, I was drawn to it for how it made me feel.  After class I would have a relaxed, peaceful, inner serenity that I had never felt.  It was months later I started to really enjoy the changes in my body..:greater flexibility, defined muscle tone, stronger body and strong abs.  I was hooked!  For me it was the best exercise I had ever done and still to this day is.  I love how it makes me feel.  I will do it forever!   It really is good for the mind, body and soul!!!   
Laura perfecting Teaser in Italy
 I practiced with the same trainer for many years and  then she moved out of state .
I needed a new Pilates home and have found it ….love Leslie and Wellbarre!    The studio is quaint, full of passion, commitment, knowledge and challenging classes….hashtag #you’restuckwithme …”
We are super psyched to be “stuck with” you!

I Need to Lose Weight…Is Pilates Right For Me?

If you are struggling with getting started with Pilates because you think it’s only for the ultra-slim ballerina body-types, you may want to rethink this myth. Although Pilates is known for creating dancer-like physiques by sculpting long and lean muscle, Pilates is design

ed for all body-types. In fact, Pilates is the perfect exercise for someone struggling with weight issues, due to the lack of stress placed on the lower back and joints.

I am overweight…should I do Pilates?

YES!! Pilates can offer a gentle, core building program designed to be modified as needed. Reformer equipment (in-studio), is sturdy, safe and can be adjusted as needed. The health benefits gained from regular Pilates practice are numerous. When your core is strong it helps to support the spine and organs. Alignment and posture are improved by lifting the ribcage. Correct alignment doesn’t just improve posture and overall appearance, but it helps relieve back and joint pain.

I am concerned that the Pilates Reformer will not support my body-type.

Pilates can be done on the mat or on the Reformer and Tower. Supine positions and kneeling make Pilates a great choice for someone with a larger physique. Modifications will allow clients to get full-range of motion without stress to the joints. Pilates is a progressive workout, designed to continually challenge the core. The Reformer is an excellent way to progress your fitness level incrementally. Clients who are significantly overweight can benefit from private training to address individual needs and concerns, become knowledgeable about appropriate modifications, and feel comfortable with Pilates.

Selecting a Studio that’s a Good Fit for your Needs

Probably the single most important thing you can do for yourself is select a studio in which you are comfortable! Every environment is different and all studio have their own atmosphere. You need to have a place to explore your fitness and address your goals in a warm environment in which you do not feel judged. A good way to address these concerns is to try-out an introductory private session. Some questions to ask yourself: Does your instructor respond to your needs? Do you feel comfortable? What is the overall vibe at the studio? At WellBarre Pilates, we actively promote positive self-esteem and positive body-image. We want all of our clients to feel safe and supported whatever their view of their own body.

I want to lose weight. Is Pilates a good method for weight loss?

At WellBarre we believe in Pilates for all bodies regardless of fitness level, age, or physical size. We understand that an ultra-slim body-type and thinness is not the goal for everyone. If you are interested in weight loss, contact the studio for packages to include health coaching with Pilates fitness. We can tailor any program to suit your needs.

Adding low-impact cardio interval training, such as Jumpboard is a wonderful way to burn extra-calories.

In Health~
WP