Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Have you ever thought of Pilates in terms of a Dr. Seuss book?

I have. I equate it to many of my clients to Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. Here's why. In Pilates, Joseph took a handful of shapes and applied them over and over again in different planes in space, on different apparatus, forward, backward, upside down, etc. Once you learn a shape in one plane of space or piece of apparatus, the challenge begins.

I am Joe.
Joe I am.

That Joe-I-am!


I do not like that Joe-I-am!

Do you like
to flex and extend?

I do not like to,
I do not like
to flex and extend.

Would you like to
Here or there?

I would not like to
here or there.
I would not like to
I do not like
to flex and extend.
I do not like to,

Would you like to
on a chair?
Would you like to
in thin air?

I do not like to
in a chair.
I do not like to
in thin air.
I do not like to
here or there.
I do not like to
I do not like to bend and extend.
I do not like to, Joe-I-am.

Would you like to

on a box?
Would you like to
against the shoulder blocks?

Not on a box.
Not on the shoulder blocks.
Not on the chair.
Not in thin air.
I would not like to here or there.
I would not like to anywhere.
I would not like to bend and extend.
I do not like to, Joe-I-am.

Would you? Could you?
on a barrel?
Do them! Do them!
Here they are.

I would not ,
could not,
on a barrel.

You may like them.
You will see.
You may like them
in a tree?
I would not in a tree.
I would not, could not in a tree.
Not on a barrel! You let me be.

I do not like to on a box.
I do not like to against the shoulder blocks.
I do not like to on a chair.
I do not like to in thin air.
I do not like to here or there.
I do not like to anywhere.
I do not like to bend and extend.
I do not like to, Joe-I-am.

A carriage! A carriage!
A carriage! A carriage!
Could you, would you
on a carriage?

Not on a carriage! Not in a tree!
Not in a barrel! Joe! Let me be!
I would not, could not,on a box.
I could not, would not, against the should blocks.
I will not do them on a chair.
I will not do them in thin air..
I will not do them here or there.
I will not do them anywhere.
I do not like them, Joe-I-am.

With the straps?
Here with the straps!
Would you, could you, with the straps?

I would not, could not,
with the straps.

Would you, could you,
with these springs?

I would not, could not, with these springs.
Not with the straps. Not on a carriage,
Not on a barrel, Not in a tree.
I do not like them, Joe, you see.
Not on a chair. Not on a box.
Not in thin air. Not against the blocks.
I will not do them here or there.
I do not do them anywhere!

You do not like
to flex and extend?

I do not
like to,

Could you, would you,
with a push through?

I would not,
could not.
with the push through!

Would you, could you,
with the roll down?

I could not, would not, with the push through.
I will not, will not, with the roll down.
I will not dot them with the straps.
I will not do them with the springs.
Not with the straps! Not in a tree!
Not on a barrel! You let me be!
I do not like to on the box.
I do not like to against the blocks.
I will not do them on a chair.
I do not like to in thin air.
I do not like to here or there.
I do not like to ANYWHERE!

I do not like
to bend and extend.

I do not like to,

You do not like to.
SO you say.
Try them! Try them!
AND you may.
Try them and you may I say.

If you will let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.

I like to bend and extend!
I do!! I like them, Joe-I-am!
And I would do them with the Push through!
And I would do them with the roll down...
And I will do them with the springs.
And in the straps. And on a carriage.
And on a barrel. And in a tree.
They feel so good so good you see!

So I will do them on a box.
And I will do them against the shoulder blocks.
And I will do them on a chair.
And I will do them in thin air.
And I will do them here and there.
Say! I will do them ANYWHERE!

I do so like
to bend and extend!
Thank you!
Thank you,

Take the C-shape (Abdominal curl) for example, a shape of flexion.

Can you find it on your back? (Hundreds)
Can you find it sitting up? (Stomach Massage)
Can you find it upside down? (Upside Down Push Up, Elephant)
Can you find it over a box? (Washer Woman)
Can you find it with one leg? (Single Leg Stretch)

It also is a big clue to what you or your clients are struggling with. Key in to what shapes are involved in the exercises that are the most challenging and you have found a road map of where your work begins. For me it is thoracic rotation. I am uber mobile in flexion and extension, but when it comes to twisting I have a hard time stabilizing the pelvis and only allowing the torso to rotate. Exercises like Twist on Hip and Snake take a lot of diligence on my part to not let my hips lead the way.

Many times I will use a shape as a theme for a lesson working on the idea of flexion in every plane of space, angle, position, and apparatus possible. Showing the client how to really tap into that shape wherever it may be.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pilates without Borders

Recently I started looking at my business from outside the box.

Being a Pilates Instructor is a person to person job. I have always felt that this limited me in many ways. I thought "I can only work in the city I live in, I can only touch so many people in a day, I have to be able to get to my clients or be accessible to them, and if I am travelling I cannot be working." I view teaching Pilates not only about the teaching of movement, but the relationship that forms between myself and my clients. I have been with many of my clients through multiple pregnancies, rehabbing from injuries, and training for marathons. The bonds that I have with them are immeasurable. Why should distance, time, or lack of sitter get in the way?

Technology is great! We are all connected to one another at any given moment. So I started thinking why can't I connect my business like this too? Thus opened up a whole new world of teaching Pilates to me. I have recently added Skype Pilates sessions and am in the process of launching Podcasts. Both of these technology driven projects still hold the personal connection between student and teacher that I hold so dear. Granted I can't put my hands on someone physically, but I can still guide them through movement using my words, imagery, and humor. I can still see the movement and the changes that are made from my words. These sessions are specifically tailored to whatever the client is working on. They can be recorded to reuse. They can be a mat session with or without props or even an equipment session if client has equipment available to them. And they are truly affordable. WOW, my whole idea of what my business could be just opened up and all the negatives I felt about building business disappeared. What freedom technology has really given all of us. What a great way to be able to get Quality Personal Pilates wherever you are!

To find out more about Skype Pilates sessions visit Hope to be seeing you soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

got milk?

With so many new varieties of milk out there, how do you know which one is best for you?

Cow's Milk Personally, I am not a Cow's milk drinker. Even as a kid I had a dislike for milk. Now that I have been primarily vegetarian for many years, the thought of Cow's milk actually disgusts me. Alicia Silverstone, who has been a Vegan for many years best describes many of the reasons I have turned away from cow's milk, in her book The Kind Diet. First, "We are the only animals that drink another species' milk." and second "Cow's milk is designed to turn a baby calf into a 400 pound cow". Cow's milk is a rich source of proteins and calcium. Contains vitamin A and B12,thiamine,riboflavin and minerals like calcium, sodium and potassium. It's disadvantages include high allergy reactions and not good for Lactose intolerant. In many places, cows are treated with a compound called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGh). Some studies have shown that this hormone leads to some health risks, like mastitis, infertility and lameness.

Soy Milk Soy milk is being mass marketed to the general public as the "new milk". Going so far as to even place it in the refrigerated section where consumers are used to going for their cow's milk. Those of us drinking soy milk before this boom know that soy milk does not need to be refrigerated until opened and used to be stocked in the dry aisles near the baking goods. Even Starbucks has jumped on the soy bandwagon appealing to vegetarians, vegans and lactose intolerant by offering soy milk to their customers and recently changing their Frappuccino mix to allow for the modification of soy. Soy milk contains high quality proteins and carbohydrates. It is cholesterol and lactose free. The downside is that Isoflavones from soy milk are held responsible for thyroid disorder, leukemia and breast cancer. Not to mention that 85% of all soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified. So as great as soy is it is better off to take in soy from pure products such as tofu and tempeh.

Almond Milk Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese; they are a good source fiber, copper, phosphorous and riboflavin. Many studies are showing a possible protection against heart disease (America’s number-one killer) and support for weight management from eating a handful of almonds a day. Almond milk is lactose free and I find it not to be as bloating as soy milk. Of course since it comes from a nut this form of milk is not good for people who are nut allergy prone. This is my milk of choice right now. I use Almond Breeze Vanilla Unsweetened in my morning coffee and Original unsweetened for cooking. A few dangers of almonds are that they are a goitrogenic food, meaning they contain chemicals that can harm your thyroid. People with hypothyroid or in danger of hypothyroid should avoid goitrogenic foods. Also Almond milk tends to be much higher in sugars than cow's milk. If you are watching your sugar intake opt for the unsweetened varieties.

Rice Milk Rice milk is processed from brown rice and usually contains rice syrup, evaporated cane juice or some other natural sweetener. It is typically fortified with calcium or vitamin D. Rice milk is high in carbohydrates. It is low in protein and fat, and easy to digest. Those who are allergic to nuts, may also be sensitive to soy and therefore, need an alternative beverage. Organic rice milk does not contain added sugars and is naturally sweet, which may make it a great alternative to those who want to avoid sugar. Diabetics shoud beware or rice milk. I found rice milk to be a little on the watery side. While I dont like using it in coffee or cereal it is a good alternative for recipes.

Nutritional Comparision of Major Brands

Which milk is best? Well it all comes down to what you are looking to get out of your milk. Protein? Low fat? Low sodium or sugars? Avoiding milk or nut allergies? Taste? Health conditions? There does not seem to be one form of milk or milk substitute that comes out as the Blue Ribbon winner. At least now you have some of the facts to make the best decision for you and your family.

Please note that most of the milk substiutes discussed are not advised as replacement for formula or infants. Please consult a physician regarding best (if any) substitutions for infants.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Yoga/Pilates Relationship

This weekend I had an interesting experience. I had to teach a very small segment of Pilates to a room of Yoga Teachers. Now I am an avid yogi myself so am very familiar with yoga poses and principles. I would venture to say that while many of these Yoga Teachers had heard of Pilates, they had never tried it.

I learned a lot from them while teaching this very abbreviated class. While I do believe that Yoga teaches you how to listen to your body, Pilates teaches you how to talk to your body. These instructors struggled to control and focus in on releasing and activating certain muscles as well as move bones in space. Which now makes sense why my yoga instructors have always complimented me on how well I make self adjustments and move subtly within a posture. And don’t get me started on Core...I lead them through the matwork Abdominal Series of Five and they were dying. They were unable to really stabilize the pelvis and shoulder blades and focus on deepening the core. I find sun salutations in Yoga to be an amazing core exercise, as well as vinyasas. So how is it that these ideas are not getting passed along?

I highly recommend Yoga to my students and believe that the two philosophies lend well to one another. Yoga allows one to quiet the mind, dive deeper, flow freer, open up. Pilates awakens the mind, dives deeper to allow you to focus and use the body in the most precise and controlled ways. These two philosophies both stand alone well on their own. The balance of the two is integral, I believe, to a healthy relationship with the human body. Isn’t every relationship about give and take, listening and speaking from the heart, knowing when to hold on and when to let go, strength and flexibility?

I think it’s time to work on the yin and yang of the Yoga and Pilates relationship. The benefits are immeasurable.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Healthy Pizza

Healthy Pizza? Is there really such a thing? There most definitely is! First, you can always make your own Pizza at home. I recommend starting with a whole wheat crust. Fore go sauce and brush with garlic infused olive oil or a pesto sauce. Load it up with whatever fresh vegetables appeal to you and either no cheese or a lower fat cheese like feta.

If you are looking for a store bought frozen Pizza. A company called A.C LaRocoo has many options to choose from. Organic Whole Wheat Thin Crust:Tomato and Feta Pizza, Greek Sesame Pizza, Garden Vegetarian Pizza, Cheese and Garlic Pizza, and Spinach and Artichoke Pizza. Organic Ultra Thin Sprouted Grain Crust: Bruschetta Style Pizza, Garlic Chicken Parmesan Pizza, and Old World Veggie Pizza. The wheat crust pizzas range from about 200-250 calories/2 slices or 1/3 of the pizza. The Sprouted Grain Crust pizzas range from 170-230 calories/ 3 slices or 1/2 of the pizza. These pizzas all taste fantastic and are guilt free.

Then there is Whole Foods Pizza Bar which now has a Vegan Pizza by the slice or pre-ordered whole pizza. Not sure of the nutritional information, unfortunately. But will tell you it is absolutely delicious! Thin, wheat crust with a vegan cheese that melts like butter, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, and roasted garlic. I cant stop craving this delicious slice. As soon as I get the nutritional info I will pass it on, my guess is that it is pretty similiar to the A.C. LaRocoo calories.

Do you have a healthy pizza recipe you would like to share? Or know of another company with guilt free pizza? Share your recomendations in the comment section below.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are you a Pilates Snob?

I admit it I am a Pilates Snob.

I was trained in Classical Pilates and believe this to be Pilates. Although the other styles intrigue me and I like some of the preps and modifications, to me Classical Pilates equals Pilates.

There is a reason Classical Pilates follows a series of movements. The Pilates Method is based on principals like Control, Precision, and Concentration. Classical Pilates is like the trunk of a tree. Firmly rooted into the ground, growing from its foundation upward and branching outward to expand.

When I enter a Pilates class there are certain things that I expect. Personally, I expect to see certain exercises in a certain series or flow, however I am open to some modifications and other excercises that may help build into those Classical exercises. I expect to see and hear certain themes and principles of the Pilates Method conveyed throughout the session.

So what exactly is the difference between Classical and Modern Pilates? In talking with colleagues this week I asked their opinion on the matter and was pleased to find that most of them fell into the same category of beliefs as myself. I believe Classical Pilates to be the teachings that were handed down from Joseph Pilates (and his wife Clara) to a group of his students, know as Pilates Elders in our community. These include such teachers as Romana Kryzanowska, Lolita San Miguel, Eve Gentry, Mary Bowen, Ron Fletcher, Kathy Grant, and Carola Trier. These Elders then taught their students who became teachers, who taught their students who became teachers, and so on. And somewhere along the journey teachers have taken the teachings of Joe and added their interpretations, scientific backgrounds in exercise and kinesiology, and other disciplines (i.e. yoga, kickboxing, Franklin Method, etc) to the core Pilates exercises branding their style into the Modern Pilates category. STOTT Pilates defines their style of Modern as incorporating “current knowledge of exercise science & spinal rehab into the principles of Pilates”.

I view the training like a box of crayons, you have to start with the primary colors first. Understand what each of those colors involves, means, and represents, before starting to add in more diverse colors. That is not to say that blue is any better of a color than turquoise for example, however it is understanding that turquoise has a base of blue at its root and becomes turquoise by adding to it some other primary colors like yellow and green. Not better but diluted, changed, and different in its own right. Many of these Modern schools add much value to the Pilates world and commnity and do have their roots in the Method. After teaching for over ten years I believe that I have a strong enough root into the method to begin to be open to these new, modern styles. I think it is very important that as we begin to expand and incorporate these new ideas that the Pilates Method does not begin to play out like a bad game of Telephone, where the outcome is so far away from the original message.