Reformer Pilates March Madness

Reformer March Offer

 

OH MY DAYS. We are SO SO lucky. We now have a reformer and a half Cadillac in our 1-2-1 studio. A friend reminded me yesterday how I have been talking about having one of these for around 4 years, finally the day has come.

The reformer is pretty much like a bed with pulleys and springs, which means you work against resistance. This makes you focus on your technique a lot more, makes you work harder and gives a greater depth to a lot of the exercises and amazing stretches.

The cadillac is a frame that goes over the bed, with bars and springs you can pull on that give beautiful length and enable you to go further in movements.

Both of these pieces of equipment were designed and used by Joseph Pilates himself and are just awesome for focusing on your body, working your weak areas, stretching the tight areas and getting stronger session by session. You really will see and feel a difference with it.

I’d highly recommend you give it a go hence we are offering it at a special rate in March. Personally I find doing some sessions now and again on the reformer makes a huge difference to how I then do Pilates on the mat. It also help me work on the imbalances in my body – shoulder tighness, leg length, tight hip flexors, tight back etc…

If you even just want to have a peek and a 5 min lie down on it after class let us know.

You can guess where I am spending all my spare time at the moment!

 

Why can’t I do a roll up? PART 1. Stiff backs and getting stuck.

Roll ups can be one of those nemesis exercises that people struggle with and they can cause so much frustration. I’ve got a number of people in various classes who struggle with these so it’s made me get my thinking cap on. Why are they such a struggle? How can you get better at them? How do people suddenly manage to be able to do them?

What is a roll up?

A roll up can start from seated or lying down. I’m going to start from the mat. So we start with a curl up, chin towards the chest, working through the upper spine.

To do this you use primarily the rectus abdominus muscles (six pack muscles) and also the obliques (waist muscles). So this part of the exercise means you need to first off work on those curl ups.

The next stage is the most challenging part and brings more muscles into play. Bringing the ribs and torso off the mat. The aim is to do this segmentally, working vertebrae by vertebrae through the spine, keeping the shoulders down and not using momentum. So not only do you have too deepen and increase your curl up but you need to bend at the hips as you come up towards seated. This uses the hip flexors to pull your body up off the ground. Many people get stuck at this stage.

STUCK ON THE MAT: work on your breathing. If you get stuck at the ribcage, exhaling properly and using the diaphragm as you breath can help. It will open the ribs and help lengthen the spine. Also use spine stretches and the shoulder bridge to help mobilise your spine. Go back to the 1/2 roll back and focus on really deepening your C curve, this will stretch the tightness in your lower back and strengthen your abdominals. Think of scooping and bring your belly button towards your spine to really get the curve. When you try the full roll up, keep your ribcage heavy and down into the mat as you roll up, then once your ribs are up keep the lower back heavy on the mat and keep peeling the spine up.

For the roll up to work well you need your back to be flexible. It doesn’t matter how strong your abdominals are, if your back is stiff you won’t roll up segmentally. If you struggle with the rollover and rolling like a ball then this is likely you.

STIFF BACK: work on shoulder bridges. Get that spine moving piece by piece letting gravity help you. Focus on your breath as you do it. Breath out as you come down to the mat.

Use the spine stretch to stretch the upper-mid part of your back. Also work your C-curve. Focus on the half roll up and also rolling like a ball without rolling! So getting into that position really rounding the lower back and sinking into the tilted pelvis.

To learn more look out for part 2 of this post focusing on hip flexors.

Why we all need a Pilates class. 

Having had a baby just a few weeks ago my body is not what it used to be and I am in the rehabilitation phase. Moves I can usually do with ease I can currently not do with proper technique. Harder moves I know I shouldn’t even attempt until I am stronger. So instead of teaching them, I am attending some of our postnatal classes. It’s actually something I’ve never done before as we’ve never had a teacher who was able to cover those specialist classes for us.

It’s made me think about the benefits of  being in a class. When I’m fully fit I usually attend a teachers Pilates class. Why? Well to be a good teacher myself I still need to continue to be a student. I need to be challenged t

o work harder and do exercises I am unsure about. I need someone to watch me and correct my technique. I need to work my body in different ways. I need to learn how someone else teaches and pick up tips from them. I need to be inspired.

Yes you could do Pilates using a book, a DVD or an online video. Those can all work but personally I think the class is king. A DVD or online class is great if you know what you are doing. A book is good to read but I don’t see how you can properly do Pilates from a book!Pilates with Priya: Class in action
What you get out of a class:
1. A teacher who watches your body, corrects you, gets to know how your body works and what needs strengthening/stretching. Some of my clients have been with me for years and I can tell them exactly how their body will respond to a certain exercise or give them an adaptation before they even start.

2. Teaching points that are designed for you. I may not hands on correct you but may talk to you about the exercise to get you to think it through and use your body to respond. Self correction can be better than teacher correction. It builds that body awareness but with feedback from someone who has a different view. I can see if someone’s gluts are working hard when they shouldn’t be and coach them to switch them off at each repetition.

3. If you don’t get an exercise a teacher can explain it in a different way, give you an adapted version or physically move your body. Sometimes we all need a hand to adjust us.

4. A class is designed for you. I have a lesson plan but adapt it as I go along for each class. I may give different people in the class differing levels, give them equipment or a completely different exercise. It’s more personalised.

5. You can ask questions and get answers.  I still do this myself. It’s how I learn. Some people in my classes ask heaps of questions and want to know exactly how an exercise works. Others just want to get on and do it under a watchful eye. However you work that’s fine!

6. Any aches and pain can be taken into account. Our bodies differ week to week. A good teacher will ask his you are and adapt accordingly. I’ve had people unable to put weight on their knees, wrists or who have fallen over and broken a bone – but are still in class!

7. You are accountable to others and in community. Doing exercise with others makes its more fun and encourages you to attend more often and to keep going for longer. In our classes people make friends and really support each other. It’s a lovely
Vibe.

8. There are less distractions. With 3 children I have a lot that can distract me and stop me from doing exercise. Often it’s only after the children are in bed I have time to myself and by then exercise is not the first thing on my mind, the sofa can be more inviting!

3 Pilates Myths

Pilates will lead to weight loss

A myth and not a myth. Working hard at Pilates several times a week will help with weight loss and will help keep you strong, toned and lean. However most people will only do 1 class a week.

Pilates will burn calories, but not as many as other forms of exercise. Like all forms of exercise you get out what put in. A pilates class can be hard work, leaving you with an elevated heart rate and a warm glow. Or you can do a class that is more for relaxation and gentler core work. Both will provide benefits, the former will lead to greater calorie burning.

Doing Pilates once a week will not lead to weight loss on it’s own. However as part of a co-ordinated approach, with a healthy eating plan and other exercise it will definitely help. It acts as the foundation for other exercises and gives you that core strengthen and abdominal definition.

Use Your Core

I also remember working with one overweight lady who proudly told me how her husband had commented that he could now see her abdominals. What had happened? She hadn’t dramatically lost weight but her core was stronger and that line of definition was her obliques.

 

Pilates is only for girls

Ummmm No. Pilates was designed by a man and used initially mainly for men. Joseph Pilates used his new exercises to help soldiers rehabilitate after war injuries. Later on Pilates was embraced by the dancing world and became seen as more of a female exercise programme. It was hijacked by the women. A smart move by them but the men are missing out!

Pilates with Priya: Joseph Pilates Rollover

Plenty of male athletes use Pilates as part of their training. In fact it is now being used by football clubs and rugby teams in their warms ups and strengthening routines. If you need core strength, flexibility and function, you need Pilates.

Our mat classes incorporate whole body exercises such as The Press Up and  Leg Pull Back. These go down well with our male clients, but I also find they love to stretch and really need to do so. I’ve worked with manual labourers, businessmen and sports players. We are so fortunate that we now get a range of men into our classes and it adds a really nice vibe.

After years of me teaching Pilates my husband has recently taken the plunge and is now taking classes, no not taught by his wife 😉 He is hooked and never misses his weekly class.

 

Pilates is just for the abdominals

Pilates is definitely for the abdominals, but that is not all it does. Since jumping into running a studio and teaching pretty much daily I have noticed a huge difference in my body. Yes, I have abdominals with nice definition (when I’m not pregnant!), but my whole physique is leaner, more toned and I am stronger. Which for me is so much needed when I’m lifting children and running a busy business. My aches and pains are kept under control as I know how to fix myself, I know which muscles need a stretch, which need a strengthen and what I need to correct in my posture.

You may get abs of steel from Pilates, but you will get so so much more than that. When a client can suddenly touch their toes or do an exercise they couldn’t do for the first time, it is exciting, suddenly they see a change in their body.

Muscles of the Trunk

Pilates will help you do your everyday life better and stronger.

The plague of tight hamstrings

Following on from our last post (where I discovered how tight my husbands hamstrings are) and a few enquiries this week…. I bring you the plague of most of the men who come to our classes and also quite a few women!

So what is going on and why does it matter?

Why do I have tight hamstrings?

  1. Genetic. Some people are born with tight hamstrings. Generally men have tighter hamstrings than women. Sorry guys. However you can do something about it!
  2. Too more sport and not enough stretch. It is really, really, really important you stretch properly after sport or any physical activity such as walking and cycling.
  3. Lower back problems and sciatica can cause those muscles to tighten up. Also tight hamstrings can lead to back pain. A bit of a circle there.
  4. Sitting. When your legs are bent, your hamstrings are shortened and flexed. If you have a job where you sit, then you commute to work, seated and then you sit again at home it will add up to a lot of sitting hours!

Problems it can cause:

  1. Tight hamstrings can pull the pelvis back, causing lower back pain.
  2. You are more prone to an injury as the muscles are tight and not working at optimal capacity.

How to help?

  1. STRETCH. Either standing, lying or using a band.
Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring Stretch
  1. Foam rollering can help release stuck fascia.

photo

  1. Try a sports massage on your legs to help loosen up those muscles.
  2. Stand up more and move around when you can. Find ways to reduce your sitting hours. Can you have a standing work station or build a walk into your working day? Can you change the way you commute to work or what you do in the evenings? If you do sit a lot then may sure you build some stretching time into your day.
  3. Try these moves out:
    1. Legs straight up wall with back on the floor – Lie on the floor and maintain this position for 15 minutes. You may notice your pelvis, hips and sacrum realigning and adjusting, too. When the hamstrings lengthen, it reduces the strain on your lower back. Nice.
    2. Straddle while sitting with back up wall – Sitting up tall with legs wide (The Saw starting position). Try to relax your legs and maintain this position for 5-10 minutes to stretch your adductor (inner thighs) and hamstrings.

The story of a man taking up Pilates

We have run our home business for over 5 years now, and for several years, I have been badgered to take up Pilates regularly. This has come from both Priya and some of our lovely class members…I have always found reasons and excuses not to regularly take up a class.

But to be completely honest, I have needed it for years.
Before, I used to work, in a semi-active job and was on my feet regularly, and walking around campus.
Since 2010 I have predominantly been working from home, and helping bring up my two amazing children.
Lots of sitting, crawling, playing on the floor (and that’s just the children…)

About 3 months ago, I decided to stop procrastinating…

It’s tough. There you go. I admitted it…
I have chosen a class with Jo on a Wednesday evening.
I know where my core is, and in the past it has been in tip top shape, but over the years, I have become lazy, and taken short-cuts which has had negative effects on posture, core, and muscles.
I have found out (though I was not surprised) that I have tight hamstring muscles. Embarrassingly tight. My straight leg, is more 125 degrees than 180 degrees…

Though on the bright side of life, my best exercise (as quoted by Jo) is the Mermaid (or a theme of it)…
Yes, I said it, I am good at being a MERMAID!!!

My favourite exercise is…. I have not idea… I just do as I am told!

 

Pilates with Priya: James does Pilates
On a serious note, I love it. After a busy few days, I love my Wednesday evenings…
Time to wind down, chill out, and improve my Core…
If I could, I’d probably try to do it 2-3 times a week.
This has been on my doorstep for over 5 years, and I had previously only attended 3 classes. Ever.Why didn’t I start earlier….!?

What your shoulders are telling you

Shoulders. Officially one of my picky points. Why? Well firstly because I know what it is like to feel you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and secondly because it such an easy thing to spot.

Sitting in a meeting today I could see that 90% of the people in the room were sat with rounded shoulders and their necks jutting forward. Over time that becomes a habit and that habit leads to a muscular imbalance.

This week I have taught a few classes that are not my usual ones. It’s given me a fresh insight into how many people struggle with their shoulders and upper back posture. If you are in a class with me “Shoulders” is one of my common cues!

I used to have awful upper body posture. I can remember back to being 18 and having a massage. Even then the masseuse told me how tight my upper traps were. Sitting at a desk, working long hours at a computer and not exercising enough really did not help. Fast forward 10 years and Pilates found me. Walking down the road next to a Pilates teacher I remember being told “Shoulders” every 2 steps. Finally I got it 😉

I now spend time focusing on my shoulder function, strengthening my lats and traps in my back. It really works wonders. I also know my triggers – stress, feeding babies and carrying children. In any of these situations I really need to overfocus on my posture.

So how are your shoulders and what are they telling you?

Take a look in the mirror at a few points in the day and check out those shoulders. Are they level or do you have 1 higher than the other? Do you have any pain or tension in them? How do you sit, stand and move your arms?

Some great shoulder function exercises include: Chicken wings, Diamond Press, Sphinx and using weights for a chest fly and ribcage closure.

Here is one of my fav’s at present:

 

How and why the breath is key in Pilates.

It’s that September time of new beginnings, which has led to more new Pilates enquiries and a flurry of activity in the studio. So we’ve some new Induction classes to help introduce people to Pilates and teach the basics before they join a class. One of the key things that people always struggle with is the breathing. I know it seems back to front, it did to me too. However the breathing really is key. Let’s face it, breathing full stop is key.

The breathing in Pilates gives you stronger movements, more control and helps you focus. If Pilates was Star Wars I reckon the breathing would be “the light sabre” and the core would be “the Force”.

Why is it so important? When you breath in the right way you work with your core. So you will get a more effective movement, work harder and see better results.

Stress, everyday life and bad posture leads to people breathing into their belly or having their shoulders rise and fall as they breath. The type of breathing we are after in Pilates is thoracic breathing. This means breathing with the ribcage expanding and contracting.

A good way to practise this is to tie a resistance band or folded towel around your ribcage. Alternatively place your palms with middle fingers touching, on your ribcage. As you inhale breath into the ribcage, you should feel it expand or push into the band with the breath. The diaphragm moves downwards. As you exhale let the breath come out of the ribcage, the diaphragm moves upwards and you will feel a tightening in your core (your lower abdominals will draw towards you and your pelvic floor will lift). You may have to exhale to the end of your breath to initially feel this. Once you tune into it, it will feel more intuitive.

Click on the diagram to get a better look.


Your-Breath-Your-Core-1024x565

 

Office Exercises for backs & shoulders.

Do you sit a lot for work/travel? It’s well known now that sitting for long periods really isn’t good for our bodies, however it isn’t always avoidable!

Sitting can often lead to tight hamstrings, rounded shoulders and lower back pain. Here are some ideas to help you release tension, alleviate pain and correct your posture.

Ask for someone to look at your chair and work station with you sat in it. Looking at whether your feet can go flat on the floor, how upright you are sat, the position of your laptop/computer in relation to your eyeline, arms and shoulders.

Think about what work you can do stood up. Can you make a standing workstation? For example, I often use our breakfast bar as a place to work as it’s the right height for me to work on my laptop.

Take regular posture breaks. Make sure you get up and walk around, change position and check your posture every 30-40 minutes. Build it into your schedule. This could even be a walk to make a drink or go to the toilet!

 

Whilst sat at your desk use shoulder shrugs, shoulder rolls and gentle release exercises to release tension.

 

Stretch at the end of every day and during the day if you can. A decent hamstring stretch will really make your body feel much better. Combine it with a CAT and your lower back will love you.

 

New Pilates in Southampton! The BARN studio is OPEN.

The studio is OPEN! WHOOOOOOOP!

Oh my goodness it’s been an exciting week – and it’s only Tuesday! Yesterday we opened the studio doors for the first time. Cue squeals, jumping for joy and a victory dance from Priya. James was a little more reserved, thank goodness as that evens us out 😉

The feedback so far has been excellent. Comments include finding the new studio very peaceful, relaxing, how nice the floor feels, liking the beams and loving the fairy lights! The new mirrors may seem a little daunting at first but you really will get used to them and they will help you. Already in one class Lucy commented on how she could whether she was sitting up straight enough or not.

Pilates with Priya: first class in the new studio
The first class in full swing.

Personally I felt that I was teaching in someone else’s studio, it is all so amazing that I can’t believe this space is ours.

Pilates with Priya: the BARN studio
Love, love, love the fairy lights.

We will now be holding the majority of classes in the Barn Studio. A few will continue to be in the home studio – these include Post-natal and the Wed 6.15pm. All classes in the Barn Studio will accommodate 8 people and we are putting on new classes:

Thurs 11am Pilates

Sun 9.15am Pilates

Wed 10am Toddler ballet (from 18 months to preschool)

Wed 3.45pm Pre- Primary Ballet (reception and year 1)

Please bear with us as we put on the finishing touches and do give us your feedback. This space is for YOU. So WELCOME!

Pilates with Priya - 1/2 roll back with rotation
WELCOME TO THE BARN STUDIO

MASSIVE THANKS to ANDY who did all the hard work on this project and was amazing throughout.