Saturday, October 22, 2011

It has been a little more than 4 years since I've entered a blog post. I thought maybe it was time to get back into blogging again. I have a hard time believing that 4 years have passed...I mean, wasn't I just opening the doors to CBP a few years ago?

In that time, we grew from a small 650 sq. ft studio in Madison Valley with 2 reformers and a Cadillac, to a much larger 1500 sq. foot space in Madrona with many clients and a team of 6 instructors. Life has been busy....but very rewarding. I hope to pick up blogging again and make this a fun and informative place to learn more lessons about Pilates and life. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"My strength and overall fitness has improved dramatically, and it makes me want to take my Pilates mentality into other parts of my life."

Stephanie Klitz is the client of the month at Conscious Body Pilates for October. She is enthusiastic, committed, eager to learn, and takes her Pilates beyond the studio into her everyday life. The results have been dramatic. Here is her inspiring story. It is an amazing testimonial to the power of Pilates to not only make positive changes in your body, but also in your life!

Pilates Story
by Stephanie Klitz

Every year I try to do something new for myself that promotes my overall health, whether physical, mental, or emotional. A few months ago I decided to call CBP to inquire about classes, and since then I've been at the studio twice a week doing a combination of mat classes and private sessions. Pilates is a great workout because it doesn't end when you leave the studio; it's something you can take with you everyday. I think about my core at work, at home, when I run and do other physical activities. After a few weeks I started to notice the difference in my posture, how I walked, and how I carried myself in general. I realized that not only was I maintaining my Pilates workout, but I looked forward to it!

The combination of mat classes and private sessions has allowed for my body to obtain maximum exposure to different types of workouts. I enjoy the variety between to the two types of sessions. My private sessions have been particularly beneficial because my instructor has gotten to know my personal strengths weaknesses, and gives me a comprehensive workout accordingly. For the first time, I can truly feel my body beginning to heal from previous surgeries and car accidents. My strength and overall fitness has improved dramatically, and it makes me want to take my Pilates mentality into other parts of my life.

At CBP, I feel like I am the only client. Although this is not the case, it is truly a rewarding way to exercise. Heather has brought together an amazing group of people in the perfect Pilates studio for an altogether you-can't-miss experience. Every instructor at CBP is a walking example of how Pilates can change your life in more ways than you can imagine!

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Move - Rollover!

The New Move is Rollover! This is a great exercise. If you haven't seen it, there is famous a photo of Joseph Pilates doing the rollover. Click here to see the photo on the Pilates Method Alliance website.

We offer an Intermediate Mat class on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm where you can learn to master this move! Check the mat class schedule on our website for more information.


Lay down on your back with your arms resting by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, pelvis in neutral position.

Inhale to prepare (breathing through your nose and taking the breath wide into your ribcage.)

Exhale contract your abdominals and bring your pelvis into "imprint." (drawing your abdominals in further and tucking your pelvis slightly, but avoid flattening your back down to the floor.) Bring both legs up to tabletop position (knees bent at 90 degrees). Now reach both legs straight up to the ceiling, holding your legs together. Inhale stay.

Exhale reach both legs out at a diagonal down towards the floor (stopping at about 45 degrees). Maintain your "imprint" (drawing your abdominals in further and tucking your pelvis slightly, but avoid flattening your back down to the floor.)

Inhale hinge your legs straight up to the ceiling again.

Exhale contract your abdominals, scooping out your belly and shoot your legs up over your head. Tip: Try not to use momentum and use your core! Also, try to avoid going any farther than your shoulders or you could strain your neck.

Inhale open your legs shoulder distance apart. Exhale start to roll down through your spine while you draw your legs down, keeping them straight. Keep scooping your belly and exhaling. Roll your entire spine down and continue to exhale. Reach your legs away at a diagonal once your tailbone reaches the mat. Stay in imprint (abdominals shortened and pelvis slightly tucked.)

Inhale bring your legs together.

Rollover Explained

Rollover is considered an Intermediate Matwork exercise. It is challenging! It requires a good amount of core strength and flexibility. Just being able to hinge the legs away and hold them at 45 degrees is a challenge for some. Then bringing both legs over your head also requires strength and flexibility.

This exercise can be modified in a number of ways. If you are a beginner, it is best not to try rollover until you've mastered the basics. It's also not a good exercise if you have neck or shoulder problems because of the weight placed on the upper body as the legs reach overhead.

I enjoy rollover because it stretches my whole body and I really feel it in my hamstrings!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Instructor - Jamien Cvjetnicanin

It's been a busy month this month! We have four new instructors - all starting this month. All of them are great.

Here is a brief bio on one of our new instructors, Jamien Cvjetnicanin:

Jamien Cvjetnicanin just moved here from New York. She holds a BA with distinction from UNC-Chapel Hill in Human Movement Science and has taught Pilates for nine years.  She also teaches dance and Gyrotonic and performs professionally in ballet and modern dance. Originally from North Carolina, Jamien has been dancing since she was 5. She started doing Pilates when she was a teenager as part of her dance training. Jamien has extensive teaching experience and her students at Conscious Body Pilates, so far, all say she's great! She teaches both privates/duets and group mat classes.

She is available Tues 8am-3pm, Wed 5 to 8pm, Thurs 1pm to 8pm, Fri 5 to 8pm, Sat afternoons and Sunday mornings. To book an appointment or class with Jamien, please contact the studio at (206) 709-2673.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Walk in the Park with Pilates

For one of my clients, a walk in the park will never be the same for him.

I had the most inspiring conversation with James, a client who has been coming for private sessions once a week for the past 3 months. He walks to work everyday and he was describing to me how it almost felt as if he was gliding as he was walking down a certain path the other day. He says he walks differently with a new awareness since he starting coming to Pilates. (He's now on his 8th session and I can already see the difference in his core strength.) "I walk differently when I know I'm coming to Pilates," he told me. "If that's what it takes, I said, then that's great!"

What amazes me is how much of what he learns in our work together he takes into his daily life.

We worked on standing and squatting in our last session. I described how he could be doing Pilates just while he's standing at work, by keeping his weight evenly distributed over the center of his feet, slightly bending his knees (not locking them), keeping his belly pulled to his spine to engage his core, and keeping his shoulders relaxed and pulled back slightly. Then we learned how to squat - which he found revolutionary.

The squat is often done incorrectly - usually by putting too much weight into the knees. I showed him how to first engage his core, then bend at the knees, and then hinge at the hips, reaching his arms forward and maintaining a neutral pelvis while he squats. (James bends and lifts a lot for his work.) The knees should never go too far over the toes - if they do, it can put too much pressure on the knee joint. By hinging at the hips and sticking out your butt (think of the last time you used a port-a-potty) you distribute your weight differently, taking the weight from the front of your body to the center of your body. When you return back to a standing position, consciously press your weight into your feet and use the "ground force" to help you stand back up. (This is a concept from Aston Patterning that I've begun to incorporate into my teaching.)

We did about 3 squats this way and he said it totally changed his understanding of how to squat, bend, and lift. Wow! These are the moments every Pilates instructor looks forward to - the moment a student changes their awareness and discovers a new way of moving -- the moment that a person's "walk in the park" will never be the same. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Beginners Mat Classes

We teach a number of Beginners Mat Classes at our studio. The beginners classes are Mon 11am, Wed 6pm, Thurs 6:30am, and Sat 10am. Check the mat class schedule on our website for more information.

The beginners mat classes are for total beginners and for students who want to hone their Pilates "chops" before moving onto the more challenging Intermediate classes.

I find that the great thing about teaching beginner classes is being able to see the rapid progression that most students go through. Each week I add a few more new exercises. By the last two classes, some students are breezing through the warmup and giving me a look of "OK, that was easy. Show me what else you got."

I try keep the class challenging, while at the same time focusing on the basics. While I understand the desire for even more challenge, it's always a good idea to take it slow and master the basic moves before moving onto the next level. I think of the basic matwork exercises as scales for warming up on an instrument or the basic rudiments for a drummer. If you want to master your instrument, you never abandon your scales or rudiments. The great dancer Mikhail Barishnikov once said that he always returns to the basic barre routine he learned as a child in his warmup. The further you progress, the more you realize it's these basic moves that contain the building blocks that allow you to perform the harder moves. So even if they get a little boring, it's good to keep doing them.

Here's an example of a basic Pilates matwork routine that I teach:

Neutral Pelvis
Imprint & Release
Hip Release
Spinal Rotation
Hip Rolls
Cat Stretch
Arm Circles
Scapula Isolation
Head Nods

Mat Exercises:
Ab Prep
Breaststroke Prep
Half Roll Back
Rolling like a Ball
One Leg Circle
Single Leg Stretch
Shoulder Bridge (Prep)
Side Kick
Side Leg Series
Spine Stretch Forward
Swimming (Prep)
Swan (Prep)
Side Bend (Prep)
Push Up (Prep)

The "Preps" are beginner versions of the full exercise. Once you master the preps, you can then move on to the more challenging, full exercises in the Intermediate and Advanced levels.

Can Pilates Really Strengthen, Stretch, and Balance Your Body?

I wrote an article on Pilates for the Madison Park Times which should be published in their next issue. Here's a preview of the article...

Eighty years ago, a German-born immigrant named Joseph Pilates came to this country and brought a revolutionary new form of exercise he called “The Pilates Method.” He believed so strongly in this method that when he was 86, he proclaimed “the whole country, the whole world should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.” While the whole world isn’t doing his exercises, they’re definitely starting to take more of an interest in Pilates. But few people really understand what it is. So as a Pilates Instructor, I’d like to offer a brief summary and hopefully shed some light on this not-very-well-understood method of health and fitness.

Born in Germany in 1880, Pilates was a boxer, skier, and gymnast. A sickly child who worked hard to overcome his physical limitations, he studied everything from yoga to circus performance. He developed his own system over 20 years, drawing from both Eastern disciplines like yoga and Western traditions such as ancient Greek regimens.

During WWI, Pilates was placed in an internment camp in England where he developed the system now known as “matwork” which he then called “Contrology.” He later took the springs from a bed to invent his first piece of equipment to rehabilitate wounded and bedridden soldiers. This was the first Pilates “Reformer”, still used today. Today, his contraptions, with names like the “Universal Reformer”, “Cadillac”, and “Wunda Chair” still haven’t changed very much from his original designs. The ingeniously designed equipment provides support and resistance to the body as it learns to move with greater efficiency and ease.

Many years later in 1926, Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara came to this country and settled in New York City. He opened a studio and it was there that he taught students the method that has been passed down by his original students, known as “the Pilates elders” since then.

What is Pilates?
Pilates is a system of movement and exercise designed to strengthen, stretch and balance the entire body. It combines slow, controlled movements, coordinated with precise breathing patterns. The breath and movement together focus the mind, relax the body, and develops greater mental and physical coordination.

Core Strength
A key principle in Pilates is learning how to properly engage and strengthen the core. The “core” consists of deep postural muscles that include the Transversus Abdominis and Internal Obliques, as well as the deep spinal stabilizers called Multifidus and the pelvic floor muscles. When all of these muscles are engaged, they act as a kind of girdle, forming a cylinder from the base of your trunk to your lower ribcage. From this starting point, you learn to move the rest of your body with greater control and awareness. Pilates does not isolate muscle groups – instead it trains the whole body, starting from the core and integrating the movement of the arms and legs while maintaining this core stability. Another key Pilates principle is the concept of “neutral pelvis” or “neutral spine”, which is the ideal spinal alignment maintained by engaging the core muscles to hold the pelvis and lumbar spine in proper alignment while moving the rest of the body.

Pilates exercise also increases flexibility and supports a healthy back by using gentle stretching and slow, articulated movements of the spine. A balanced Pilates workout incoporates stretching and movement of the spine in all planes of movement: flexion (bending forward), extension (bending back), rotation (twisting), and lateral sidebending (bending sideways). Many Chiropractors and Physical Therapists recommend Pilates programs for their patients for this reason.

Balancing the Body
Another major benefit of Pilates exercise is improving posture by correcting muscle imbalances.This re-balancing is achieved by lengthening muscles that have shortened and strengthening weak and elongated muscles. Think of a person who sits at a computer for long periods (like you for instance!) Sitting in a bent knee position day after day, year after year, you develop shortened hamstrings and elongated and weak quadriceps. Your Pilates program would include stretches for the hamstrings, and strengthening exercises for the quadriceps – all while maintaining core stability.

Now, if someone ever asks you “What is Pilates?” just remember these three things – strengthen, stretch, and balance.

To find out more about Pilates, visit the Pilates Method Alliance web site.