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


Rowing Series (Shave the Head)

Plank on Box

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

Chest Expansion on Tower

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.


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~



Member Spotlight – Crystal S.

Member Spotlight – Crystal S.

WellBarre Pilates is featuring Crystal this month because we are so incredibly proud of her and she exemplifies just what can happen when Pilates becomes part of your routine.

Crystal started doing private training due to a common hip injury, creating an imbalance in the pelvis, impacting her leg alignment, and causing lower back and hip pain.  She came to the studio frustrated because she believed that her injury would limit her activity and fitness level.  As an avid exerciser and kickboxer, she believed that her limitations would mean that she would never return to an optimal level of fitness, or the level of conditioning that she had enjoyed for many years.  Crystal embraced Pilates, but almost as a last resort.  She was not sure that Pilates would resonate and she had been of the mindset of “no pain no gain” that has been promoted for many years in the fitness industry.  Here is what Crystal had to say about her new love of Pilates: “Like most people, I have tried almost every type of exercise under the sun and was really into kickboxing. A hip injury put me out of commission for almost a year and needless to say my kickboxing days were over. Once I was able to exercise again, My doctors and physical therapists suggested I try something that focused on overall strengthening & conditioning with low impact to the body. Of course this sounded awfully boring to me but I decided to give it a go and chose Pilates because my PT sang its praises and stated that I would not find it boring and might be shocked by the results.”

Her biggest obstacle was her mindset

At first, I think my own preconceived notions about exercise was one of the biggest challenges to overcome because I had been trained for so many years to believe that unless I was out of breathe, dripping with sweat, sore and physically exhausted after a workout, it was a waste of time.  Once I met Leslie and was introduced to the world of Pilates, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong! Leslie and her team not only made me feel welcome but introduced Pilates in a way that I felt I was not only strengthening and nourishing my body but my mind as well. In the weeks that I worked with her I became stronger and more flexible, mind, body & soul. I not only shed my ill conceived notions on exercise but also  came to a new understanding of what it means to be strong & healthy inside and out. I was glad that I set aside my own ill conceived ideas on Pilates and walked through those doors and said hi to Leslie and the reformer. Not only do I get a great, fun workout in (the reformer is like an adult jungle gym) but I have also learned techniques for mind-body focus such as better breathing, focusing on valuing & using my core as my powerhouse and I am seeing muscle tone in places I did not before but most importantly I have an overall better relationship & appreciation for not only my body but the human body and all it can do!”

And the results..

Crystal was in pain the first day she came in for a session and was deconditioned from chronic pain.  Within the first 3 weeks, muscle memory kicked in and she has rapidly regained strength.  She works hard on her form and learning all that she can about each exercise and it shows! Currently she has done about 7 weeks of private training and she has regained flexibility and looks and feels amazing…it doesn’t get any better than this!  Crystal loves the results and reports a sharp decrease in the hip pain that used to plague her on a daily basis.

Cyrstal summed up her experience with Pilates with the following:

“So thankful and yes…Well Barre Pilates is my new best friend!:)

Pilates Barre Fusion, the Perfect Pairing

Pilates Barre Fusion, the Perfect Pairing

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

barre classes in stoneham

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.


Girl Up with WP!

YOGALATES Community Class Supports Girl Up

Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, supports the empowerment of girls everywhere. Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has funded UN programs that promote the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries and built a community of nearly half a million passionate advocates .Youth leaders, representing more than 850 Girl Up Clubs in 66 countries, stand up, speak up, and rise up to support the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. Learn more at GirlUp.org.

Let’s support girls everywhere, to help their voices be heard!  Help us reach our fundraising goal!


Fire Up Your Fitness for 30 Days…Join the Challenge

Fire up your fitness routine for 30-days of Fitness.

May 1-31, 2018

Join the challenge by taking 5 Classes per week to include:

2 Cardio Jumpboard & 1 Pilates BarreBootcamp weekly with Kristen or

3 Cardio Jumpboard Classes out of 5 Group Classes weekly.

We will be mixing it up and taking it outside.  Get your sweat on Summer is coming…no excuses! Are you in!? Clients who complete the challenge are entered to win great studio prizes to be announced!!

The Slimming Effects of Reducing Sugar and Processed Foods

Interested in the Slimming Effects of Reducing Sugar and Eliminating Processed Foods?

Sugar is implicated in disease, obesity, chronic health issues and packing on the extra hard-to-lose ten pounds.

Part of the problem is that sugar is hidden in virtually all packaged and processed foods, including so-called healthy snacks and low-fat options.  Many energy bars are loaded with sugar, actually making them closer to candy bars. The same holds true for many cereals, yogurts and breads. A single cup of plain yogurt typically has about seven grams of sugar in the form of lactose, a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy. A fruit flavored variety of the same yogurt, on the other hand, may contain as many as 19 grams of sugar. That means 12 of those 19 grams is added sugar and lacking any nutritional benefit. This equates to eating a small cup of plain yogurt with a bowl of Frosted Corn Flakes or 3 added teaspoons of sugar dumped on top.

In fact, 74% of all packaged food products available in the supermarket have added sugar.  Sugar is finding its way onto our plates and into our bodies in volumes that humans have never experienced before and the amount with which we consume sugar has reached toxic levels.

Sugar and processed fructose varieties wreak havoc on the liver which has a very limited capacity to metabolize these ingredients. The average adult can safely metabolize up to six teaspoons of added sugar per day. Frighteningly, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s almost four times the recommended limit.

Sugar in the end is stored as extra fat in the body.  Not to mention that a diet abundant in sugar may create insulin-resistance particularly in women over forty, making weight loss extremely difficult.

Research coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions confirms that sugar is a primary dietary factor driving chronic disease development.

Scientific studies have linked excessive fructose consumption to about 78 different diseases and chronic health problems, including but not limited to:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dementia
  • Cancer

The choices we make from day to day can have a big impact on our overall health.


  • First, trash anything that is not real food. Put aside pre-packaged processed goods, unless it’s whole food, with only a few real ingredients. “Food items should have less than five ingredients, and only things you recognize,” says Dr. Mark Hyman. If you see ingredients that compromise health or that you can’t pronounce or understand – THROW IN THE TRASH
  • Second, dump sweetened drinks like fruit juices, diet sodas, and sports drinks. Cutting out these beverages will save yourself another 15-20 teaspoons of added sugars per serving. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER TO HYDRATE


  1. Raise the level of serotonin, a.k.a. the “happiness hormone,” in your body through REGULAR EXERCISE LIKE PILATES OR YOGA
  2. Prepare a shopping list ahead of time and menu-planning is key. When your hungry and you haven’t planned ahead you will likely reach for unhealthy snacks because they are plentiful and available.
  3. REDUCE stress through Meditation, walking or practicing mindfulness. Learning to implement mindfulness, unplugging from electronics and being present in the moment can help reduce the effects

Ready to get healthy together?

Start the 14- DAY CLEANSE AND RESET starting Sunday, Jan 28th.  Follow on Facebook Group for menu planning, prep and shopping lists.

Are you looking to slim your waist, increase energy levels and improve health?  Combine the 14-Day Cleanse Reset with 3 cardio workouts per week such as Pilates Cardio Jumpboard.  Sign up for class and the challenge…share your results on private forum FB page.

Let’s do it!

Resolution Healthy Meals 2018

Want to get healthy in 2018?  The key is preparation and planning ahead.  One great way to do this is by using a slow cooker.  Many meals can be prepared hours before or the evening before. Just leave your crock pot on and go…you will come home to a nutritious hot-meal that doesn’t blow your caloric intake and meets your nutritional needs to keep your immune system healthy all winter long.Looking for healthy slow cooker meals? Try this super fast, easy and delicious black bean slow cooker meal.


nonstick cooking spray

1 medium onion

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried cumin

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1 can (15 oz.) can of black beans, rinsed and drained

6 large, green bell peppers tops removed

1 cup shredded Monteray Jack Cheese

1 cup Salsa

1/2 cup low fat sour cream

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