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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
• 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!
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!!!
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 …”
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.
As the studio reaches it’s one-year anniversary, I want to take the time tor reach out to our members. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have landed, quite “accidentally” in the Stoneham Community. Many of you know that we opened only briefly in Melrose. Moving-out of our newly built studio space abruptly, following significant obstacles when the building was sold within our first 4-months…quite trying to say the least! But now that we have made it to the one-year mark, I feel that it was a lucky accident that brought us to the community.
I love our small corner of the universe, filled with radiant, determined and strong women who come through our doors each day. I can’t begin to express to you what a privilege it is to get to know all of you and be part of not just your journey into Pilates fitness, but sometimes into intangible emotional and psychological shifts that happen when you commit to your health through a regular mind-body practice. I am awed by your passion and commitment to make important changes, even when they aren’t easy. It’s inspiring to see clients find new joy through movement and through reconnecting with the body. I often have the privilege of seeing our membership and class community learning to let go of the judgments they carry about their bodies, shifting toward a kinder and more sparkling view of themselves to embrace exactly where they are in that moment. As a teacher, I often think that’s where the magic happens and transformation begins.
And just so you know, I have journeyed with you in my personal challenges…and physical ones too…but what fuels my own determination to keep going is the energy that you bring each and every day. It’s through that very energy th
at we continue to reinvent ourselves, writing and re-writing our own personal stories.
With gratitude we enter our second-year in the Stoneham Community. Our commitment, as always, will be to support, celebrate and continue challenge you. Your potential is truly limitless. “The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes” ~ Annonymous
As a thank you to our members and to celebrate our One-Year Anniversary we will offer Free Teaser Tuesday Classes on the following Tuesdays:
Tuesday, June 12th
9 am Reformer; 5 pm Reformer for Absolute Beginners
Tuesday, June 19th – refreshments will be available after all classes and evening cocktail after pm classes
6:30 am Reformer
7 pm Jumpboard – light snacks will be offered and glass of bubbly following Tuesday evening classes
Clients often question the rationale behind fusing Barre and Pilates workouts. Often clients will say they want to “just do Pilates” as they are not sure they see the benefit of doing both. Many people feel that barre is strictly for ballet-trained dancers. We have attempted to answer the question about why Pilates Barre Fusion makes the perfect pairing.
Both Pilates and Barre workouts keep to the same basic structure of form, breathe and healthy alignment. Like Pilates, barre work emphasizes micro-movements that train slow-twitch muscle fiber. Training slow-twitch muscle fiber through exercises that feature sustained isometric contractions with little-to-no joint movement, keep the slow-twitch muscle fibers under contraction for an extended period of time. This can help improve their ability to utilize oxygen to produce energy. Examples include the front plank, the side plank and the single-leg balance. Slow twitch muscle fibers are smaller, generate less force and have a smaller growth potential than the fast twitch muscle fibers. However, these fibers are extremely resistant to fatigue. Slow-twitch muscle fibers use oxygen to
help create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical that actually fuels muscle contractions. The more slow twitch muscle fibers you build, the more fat you burn and the more long, lean muscle tone you see. Movements or exercises that require muscular endurance use more slow twitch fibers than fast.
Workouts at the barre focus on pelvic positioning, core strength, stability, balance and flexibility. Movements performed are often shifted from one side of the body to the other. Isometric movement to stabilize the body while performing a barre exercise help strengthen the body. For example, often the “standing leg” at the barre works twice as hard as the leg in the air. Arabesque and leg lifts are a perfect example of the standing leg emphasis while performing the movement. Balance is achieved by lifting away from the floor and pulling up in the standing leg, while the core muscles help stabilize the pelvis.
Barre is terrific cross-training for Pilates Reformer as it translates many of the exercises and shifts them to a standing position…and can be likened to a standing Pilates-type workout, although not entirely. Combination workouts are a great way to continually challenge the body for maximum results. Want to try a Reformer Barre Fusion class, or Jumpboard with Mixed Pilates Mat? Sign up available online.
Pilates can be used to rehabilitate knee injuries.
Pilates is an excellent choice to improve knee misalignment, injury and dysfunction associated with overuse. Knee injuries are among the most common orthopedic injuries. Causes associated with injuries of the knee can range from direct trauma to overuse that eventually deteriorates the joint. Repetitive movements through daily movement, or sports can cause misalignment that can lead to accelerated wearing of the joint. Knee structures most prone to wear are the articular cartilages of the femur and patella and the shock absorbing medial and lateral menisci. The degradation of joint tissues leads to intra-articular deformities that cause clicking, grinding, and joint locking. Gone unchecked, these changes in the joint will eventually lead to pain and dysfunction.
Examples of Pilates Reformer Exercises Used for Knee Rehabilitation:
“The Footwork” is the perfect series of exercises for improving strength and alignment for the whole of the lower body; from the feet to the hips.
Side lying movements target the abductors and lateral hip whilst performing knee flexion and extension. Tower and Mat work are perfect for working on targeting abductors and lateral hip movements.
“Feet in Straps” – These exercises are excellent for strengthening and stretching adductors (inner thighs) and hamstrings as well as hip flexors.
Bridging on the Reformer is extremely effective in strengthening the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings as well as stabilizing the back of the knee.
It’s now widely known that cross-training with Pilates is an essential ingredient to a dancer’s success and longevity. Dance class alone cannot provide the physical adaptations to ensure optimal performance and reduced risk of injury.
For most dancers, Pilates is a perfect choice when it comes to supplementary training. Founder Joseph Pilates, began developing his movement program during World War 1. He immigrated to New York City in the 1920s, where he gained notoriety with the New York City Ballet. Dancers flocked to Joe’s studio because his method vastly improved their performance. Ever since, Pilates and dance training have been deeply interconnected. Pilates focuses on deep core support, pelvic alignment and full ROM allowing for fluid and controlled movement throughout the body. Pilates teaches us to how to integrate our spine with our limbs so overall movement is more fluid. This leads to efficient, fluid, whole body movements that are essential principles of dance.
By building awareness about how movement works, where it comes from and how to connect to it kinaesthetically, dancers can bring a new level to their dance practice. Supplemental Pilates practice creates stronger and more flexible and mindful movement to the dancer’s conditioning.
An experimental study by McMillan and associates found that a 14-week Pilates intervention improved dynamic alignment in ballet students. As well, a study by Amorim and Wyon found that dancers who participated in a 12-week Pilates Mat intervention increased their levels of muscular strength and flexibility compared to a control group who showed no changes participating in normal dance class. Due to these muscular adaptations, dancers were able to hold a developpé position for an average of 9 seconds longer, and increased their height 4-10°.
It’s important to note the importance of conditioning outside of dance class for both improved performance and protection from injuries. Dance movement stresses similar muscle groups because of repetitive movements. Pilates can encourage muscle balance by working joints through full ROM and building support in all layers of soft tissue.
Lastly, Pilates as a supplementary training feels familiar to dancers because it embodies artistry quality of movement and an emphasis on breathing, alignment and adaptation, deep core support and mobility. Because of this, dancers may enjoy and commit to Pilates with ease. This can mean a higher rate of adherence to supplementary training.