Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Pilates Mat (Short) Story

It was a dream of Joe's that his method would be taught in schools... what a wonderful world that would be! This young man is taking matters into his own hands. :) Lesson #1, kids ~ there will come a day when you won't have homework, but mat work, mat work is forever!

Friday, March 21, 2014

To Bare Or Not To Bare Continued - Fancy Feet!

Since the To Bare or Not To Bare post, I've tried and liked (with the exception that they can be challenging to put on quickly)ToeSox ( but I've just discovered these, They have two options of regular toe (no separation) or split toe (big toe is separated from the others) and they have some with sparkles! Perfect for those monthly Friday night Disco workouts that are coming up!

This is not a post to prompt everyone to purchase socks, it's just me sharing information. All feet are welcome in our studio, au naturale or all dressed up. :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

To Bare Or Not To Bare?


Ah, you've waited all day for your Pilates class. Finally, you can let go of the day, kick off your shoes and... put on a special pair of socks? Some studios have strict policies regarding one's feet. No socks, no service. Period. Bare feet are forbidden. Our studio has no such policy, never has, and probably never will. As it is, you're free to bare your soles and you're free to slip them into your studio-dedicated shoes, or into a gripping pair of ToeSox, and we feel everyone is ok with this, we've had no complaints, and no reported incidents of athlete's foot, plantar warts, or any other fungal infections.

Most everyone here is daring to bare. Why is this? Is everyone truly comfortable during their workout with their bold bare feet, or are you worrying with every step that you might walk out with a little something extra?  Are you wondering about your partner's feet as you strive to hold a perfect plank? Or maybe during the warm-up routine you're looking around the room examining (judging) the cleanliness of everyone's feet right down to the last pinky toe. We are pretty sure you, in fact, are not giving it a second thought. Maybe you will now? If this does make you start thinking about it, and you wonder why it hasn't bothered you until now, well that's ok. Let us know if you have any concerns.
Our feet, though, deserve some freedom, they need it! Pilates intended his exercises to be performed barefooted, and there were no ToeSox back in the day, but he also emphasized hygiene. Encouraging showers after a workout, as well as instruction on just how to shower, as he writes in Return to Life Through Contrology, "While conceding the fact that nowadays practically everyone of us routinely indulges in daily baths, experience has nevertheless taught us that only a small minority really achieve thorough cleanliness thereby, from our point of view..."  He goes on to promote the use of  a good stiff  brush (without a handle) to stimulate circulation, clean out the pores and remove dead skin cells. "...So brush away merrily, and heartily too!"  We encourage this as well!

Rest assured hygiene IS on our minds here at Mind and Body, things are washed, including the loops on the reformers/wall system, we do require the mats be cleaned post-workout. We're clean but not obsessive. It does seem to be a cultural thing in America - we are obsessed with germs. In some ways it makes sense and in other ways it may be working against us. Over-the-top vigilance has the potential to drive one crazy and make enjoying the moment or participating in things that involve other people and their "cooties" very challenging, and a feat all its own.
Where do you stand on this issue? Do you stand with bare, or with covered feet? Let us know, we want to hear your thoughts, and I'll leave you with these:
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pilates - The Documentary!

Exploring the essence of Pilates, this premiered on October 10th in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and it's making its way around the country and world, screening schedule here: "This is a methodology for a lifetime... So if we're better to ourselves, we can be better to the world around us."  It looks amazing, hope it finds its way to Seattle soon!

Monday, August 12, 2013

TEASERS! ~ There's Barely Any Time Left ~ Giddy Up!

We've received some fantastic entries thus far, but there's still time (6 days!) for all you procrastinators sitting, maybe even posing, on the fence out there. Let me take a moment to remind you just what we'll be looking for, and what you can win:
~ Form (while important, creativity will trump!)
~ Setting (we love the tractor teaser, so think outside the mat!)
~ Photo quality (it needs to be in focus!)
~ Facial expression (it's easy to forget your face in this kind of photo, so don't!)
~ Costumes are not required, but wouldn't it be fun? :)

1st Prize ~ 8 Class Card; 2nd Prize ~ 5 Class Card; 3rd Prize ~ 3 Class Card

 We're excited! How excited? Well, it's been decided that anyone who enters the contest will automatically win one free class! One. Free. Class. Awesome! 
I hope this little bear and horse inspire you to get your teaser on! Giddy up!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

History of Pilates in Six Minutes ~ Animated!

Well, I don't know why I'm surprised that there's an animated History of Pilates in existence, but I'm certainly glad to have found it! I haven't fact-checked everything that's said in the video, but am led to believe they did do their homework, for the most part, in putting this together. The only thing that really jumps out at me, only because of some recent reading, is the Yoga part. Did Joe study Yoga?  Sure, one example might be the boat pose vs. the teaser, but it seems evidence suggests that he did not:  "Many claim that Joe Pilates studied Yoga, while in fact, no evidence exists that he did – in fact, he never mentioned Yoga in his publications or to any of his students. He frequently talked about boxing, martial arts, gymnastics, and acrobatics as his early influences, but there are no references to Yoga – except, possibly, for when he talks about the best sitting posture in an article in 1934, “shown by those people of the East, who habitually sit cross-legged on the ground”. Since Yoga did not become popular in the US until the 50′s, long after Pilates was developed, it is questionable whether he could have had the exposure. Of course, there is no evidence that he did NOT study Yoga, either, but for what we know today, it is highly unlikely."
There is a recently released (online only) new biography out on Joe that is supposed to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the man, and dispel any myths out there. More on that later! Yep, that's a teaser. :) 
For now, watch the animated video!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer 2013 ~ Our 1st Ever Teaser Photo Contest!

How's your teaser? Have you dedicated yourself to improving yours, vowing to get to that next level? Maybe you've reached that 3rd and final level. Awesome. Wherever you are on your teaser journey, here's your chance to show the world! We are very excited to announce Mind and Body Pilates' first ever teaser photo competition! What we'll be looking for in your teaser photo:
~ Form (while important, creativity will trump!)
~ Setting (we love the tractor teaser, so think outside the mat!)
~ Photo quality (it needs to be in focus!)
~ Facial expression (it's easy to forget your face in this kind of photo, so don't!)

Yes, there will be prizes!!!
1st Prize ~  8 Class Card; 2nd Prize ~ 5 Class Card; 3rd Prize ~  3 Class Card

I've chosen Pink's teaser to inspire you. Notice, it's not perfect, and that's ok. It's strong, and clearly shows she's spent some time on her Pilates mat. Sure perfect is a goal, but we're all where we are, and that's perfect. There will always be things to work on... So get your best teaser on, be it half or full - shoot it and post it on our Facebook page (pretty simple even if you're not that familiar with Facebook - simply go to our page, choose photo/video, browse/select the photo on your computer and upload!)  Post photos through Sunday, August 18th. Winners will be announced Monday, August 26th.  Have fun, and good luck! Can't wait to see your photos!


Friday, June 28, 2013

More from Down Under - Women - Explore Your Pelvic Floor - How and Why

A deeper exploration than may be necessary, I found this to be one of the more thorough pelvic floor discovery and strengthening videos out there, and who doesn't enjoy listening to an Australian accent?  This truly is Pelvic Floor 101, and she's not shy about the language (I found "back passage" to be kind of endearing) or telling you to touch yourself, think Divinyls (also Australian) but if you have any doubt about how your pelvic floor works, why it's important, or how to activate these crucial muscles it's worth watching.  1st and 2nd techniques will most likely be adequate.
Personally, I find it helpful to think of a camera shutter, opening and closing. I also happen to love photography.
What does it have to do with the rest of your core? The pelvic floor works along with the other lower  deep stabilizer muscles of the pelvis and spine, the tranversus abdominis and multifidus. Once you find and activate the deep pelvic floor muscles it makes it easier to isolate and correctly engage these other lower deep core muscles (thinking hollowing, scooping, navel to spine...). It starts with the pelvic floor!
Lift and squeeze, and keep lifting, keep lifting, keep breathing, release!
 "This pelvic floor training video is presented by Pelvic Floor Physio Michelle Kenway author of Inside Out- the essential women's guide to pelvic support..."


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Do you Pee during workouts? or some info about your Pelvic floor.

One of my clients sent me a link to a video with the above title in which they talk about that very issue. While on one hand, it was great to have women be up front about this, it was also maddening to me that in the interviews there was no mention of the possibility of some work and exercise to minimize this problem.  And believe me, it is a big problem that women and men don't mention in polite society.

How is your Pelvic Floor?

If you think of your Pelvis bones as a big bowl in which the bottom is cut out, you have a general idea of it shape.  The pelvic floor is a series of muscles which create a sort of hammock which keeps your genitals and other guts from falling out onto the floor.  And for most women after childbirth, those muscles got a little bit too stretched out for their own good leading to a little pee problem.  And for most of us, the muscles of the pelvic floor get a little lazy.  Oh yes, by the way - MEN HAVE PELVIC FLOORS TOO AND OFTEN HAVE A LITTLE PEE PROBLEM.

But the problem doesn't stop there.  Lax muscles of the pelvic floor can reduce sexual ability and control and as a result, less pleasure.  Lax pelvic floor can also affect your anal sphincter too.  That doesn't mean we want you to walk around like you have stick up your ass.  But a little strengthening can go a long way.

If you have a problem, there are many physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor training.  And that can be hugely helpful.  But you don't need to wait for your PT to get started.

Kegel exercises are often talked about and generally spoken of as that feeling if you were to stop your pee midstream.  I think that is a good start but for me, I can pull up the front of my pelvic floor (the feeling my genitals are lifting) or I can pull up on the midway point or I can pull up towards the back  (around the anus).  Pulling up doesn't mean trying to lift your pelvic floor over your head.  It is simply a lift of the various parts of the bottom of the 'bowl'.  You can practice them anywhere and should practice them everywhere you can:  a stop light, during a boring meeting or conversation, anytime you're bored and are looking for something to do.  And you can experiment to no end when you're in the bathroom.  If you're spouse tells you to get out of the bathroom, tell him/her that your exercising and to leave you alone.

And now, getting back to exercise and the pelvic floor.  My experience is that the more load you put on your body, the more the pelvic floor has to match that work load.  And that is especially difficult in faster moving exercises because there are so many muscles working and there isn't time to think about your pelvic floor.  So it needs to be as strong and stable as possible before getting to that point.  And that is where Pilates is so helpful.

Because Pilates is a more controlled form of exercise, it gives people a chance to strengthen the muscles they need when they do their preferred 'sport' - Tennis, running, Crossfit, cycling, whatever.  I think it is especially difficult during jumping type sports but some core strengthening and pelvic floor awareness can definitely help and minimize the problem.

But you don't need to wait to start a Pilates program to start working your Pelvic floor.  START RIGHT NOW!  Try it.  Just try to lift the bottom of your pelvis and try to feel it, experience it and then hold the lift for a few seconds and then relax.  At least for now, there is no right or wrong.  JUST DO IT!  And then go out and play.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Little Touch of Magic.

Good work for the important and often weaker adductors and abductors. Really good cuing here as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stretch Your Pike Up With Some Upward Dog!

So maybe you're not quite up to doing TRX Pike Ups quite yet; perhaps you're a work in progress (as we all are) perfecting your basic plank, building up strength to reach the "nasty" plank level. Wherever you are on the plank path, you'll find the control and gracefully executed movement demonstrated here, well... uplifting. Brooke Siler wrote in The Pilates Body,"Remember that with the power of your mind you can bring anything to light, so see your goal and then work to achieve it."
Strengthen and stretch yourself in all you do.

Pilates Philippines is a Youtube channel we admire.  She will often combine classical Pilates with other modalities in interesting and amazing ways.  And her form is always very, very good.  We'll be posting more of her videos.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

For Your Inspiration - A Clip of Joe - Joe Pilates Teaches Mat Exercises

More vintage footage of the master himself... Perhaps not needed, but it would be great if there was audio!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Teacher Training

Almost a decade ago, I had a Pilates teacher training program for a couple years.  There were a dozen or more students that went through one of the most rigorous year long Pilates programs there were.  The students not only had to know, understand and be able to teach the complete classical repertoire (except maybe the Flying Squirrel on the Cadillac) but they had also to perform the level 5 reformer workout with some degree of proficiency.  All of them.  And they did it.

While I have lost touch with some of them, I think most of them are still teaching today.  Many of gone on to other modalities and other trainings.  Some of them have minimized or even stopped mentioning where they got their training (sadly enough).  I was proud of their ability to learn this massive amount of information and to synthesize it into their own Pilates understanding.  I think they received a wonderful Pilates education.

Now thousands of training hours later, (50 hours/week x 50 weeks x 10 years - you do the math), I am ready to resurrect this program.  I have to put all the information, curriculum, sample tests, etc. together to be licensed by the state.  But I have a clearer vision of what I want to teach.  I want to teach students how to teach like I teach: to see what I see, understand the body the way I understand the body, have the same set of guiding principles that I have when teaching.  Maybe that sounds arrogant.  But I believe so strongly in how and what I teach that I think it is the way every teacher should teach whether they teach Pilates, or general fitness or yoga or Crossfit.

What do I have that I think is unique?  I think I can see movement and quickly understand how it should be done for functional movement.  For example, I've taken an occasional ballet barre class and was immediately creating a checklist of correct alignment, range of motion, speed of movement and even whether the exercise was worthwhile or not (usually it was).  I've been so surprised on how rarely a teacher would say the things that, in my mind, are completely obvious and should be said in order to get the most of the exercise and to make sure it is done correctly.

My new teacher training program will still teach the classic repertoire on all of the equipment and expect some degree of proficiency.  But it will also embrace any amount of new 'choreography' that has a rational and an understanding of effectiveness and bio-mechanics.  That is how our studio has exercise using blankets: the shoulder blade drags (moving planks), hamstring curls, etc or bands or breadboards or other traditional equipment.  It is not the exercise but how it is taught and executed.

I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to teach others to see the way I see because sometimes, I am not even sure how it is that I am seeing what I am seeing as a client performs an exercise.  But they almost always say I am correct.  It will also be exciting to be challenged by these new teachers as they bring their own set of eyes to teaching Pilates and movement.

It should be an exciting year.