Pilates on Fifth & Ultimate Pilates
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- Bend and Straighten the Knees
Stand on one leg and keep the weight balanced on that foot
- Bend and Straighten the Knee
Tuesday, May 12th 2015
Monday, April 27th 2015
Wednesday, April 22nd 2015
Thursday, April 9th 2015
Whether you are familiar with it or not, there is no denying that when it comes to Pilates, posture is critical. We have assembled some important information below that will prove to be beneficial for you when trying to master the art of posture while practicing Pilates.We often get asked to recommend a Pilates DVD for posture, and people also ask us about “Pilates posture”. Well, a specific “Pilates posture” does not exist! Pilates helps with posture by strengthening a variety of muscles in the torso – from the deep to the superficial – so that every BODY can achieve the posture that is best for them. Life pulls us in all different directions, but mainly forward. From new moms to outdoor laborers to executives and other desk workers, life pulls us forward. Pilates targets the deep muscles around the spine and the muscles of the upper back under the scapula to help each individual discover their own more upright posture. Additionally, Pilates also focuses on ideal posture and alignment of the hip joint and lower back so that a strong foundation for great posture can be achieved.What is the most difficult thing that comes with posture?Recognizing your own posture habit and correcting it is the most difficult challenge to overcome to achieve good posture. At the same time, however, it is the key to how to improve your posture! Whatever age you are, it took your body exactly that many years to arrive at your current posture – so it’s not going to change overnight. Pilates exercises for posture help each individual become aware of his or her own habits, both sports-related and lifestyle related so that changes can be implemented on a daily basis. Sports-related habits include range of motion disparities between sides such as the difference in range of motion between the serving arm in tennis vs. the other arm or rotation of the torso in golf. Lifestyle habits include ways of sitting, standing, carrying a bag, talking on the phone, holding a child, etc. It’s often the sum total of all the little things we do inadvertently every day that DERAIL optimal posture!How long would it take the average person to become proficient in posture?The more a person makes “good posture” a goal in every aspect of his or her life, the faster improvement will be seen. If someone only concentrates on holding good posture during two one-hour Pilates sessions a week (or two times through a Pilates DVD for posture weekly), then improvement will take much longer! For instance, if your Pilates teacher points out to you that you have a tendency to elevate one or both shoulders when you perform Pilates exercises for posture, you’ll improve much faster if you become aware of this habit yourself as you use a computer, drive, cook or just walk down the street. It’s amazing how quickly people can achieve good posture just by thinking about it – always! BUT! Do remember that just as ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY, so too does it take time to build strong postural habits…. Don’t expect too much of yourself!Most importantly, ideal posture is NOT a quick fix, but a PROCESS, and it must be treated as such! Posture is something that you're much better off thinking of daily making corrections 3-4 random times during the day and making subtle changes as opposed to only working on it once a week!Does great posture take great strength?Initially, great posture may feel like it takes great strength, as just thinking about it is effortful too. Also, the muscles that support great posture may have been underused up until now and thus may be weak and elongated. But, that being said, the learning curve is not too steep! For instance, forward head posture is one of the most common posture problems in America. This isn’t surprising since we are all in school from a young age studying over desks, then we go to college and spend more time studying at desks and then statistically speaking, most people take desk jobs (lawyers, executives, accountants, secretaries), so roughly spend their entire lives at a desk! And all moms usually experience this as they are bent over their babies for many years! So since the head weighs 12-15 pounds, that’s 12-15 pounds pulling on all the muscles of the upper back – elongating and weakening these muscles. Initially, bringing the head back atop the shoulders may feel extremely odd! The body has become accustomed to a more forward posture! So in the first two weeks, as one begins to strengthen the muscles associated with proper alignment, it may feel like it takes tremendous effort. But we promise it gets easier! Awareness is the first key, and then implementing change into daily activity is next – and if one does this, the muscles will begin to strengthen in the right position.Postural muscles are muscles of endurance as opposed to muscles of strength. In other words, our postural muscles need to have the ability to contract at a constant level over long periods of time. On top of that, as opposed to absolute strength, relative strength is more important. When it comes to how to improve your posture, a BALANCE of muscle groups is vital for the postural muscles to function optimally.Are younger people more apt to have better posture than older people?Younger people have not had as many years to develop bad posture, so one would expect younger people to have better posture. However, in the days of video games, computers, iphones, ipads and a host of other digital gadgets, poor posture seems to be starting earlier compared to those of prior generations.What muscles are most important when it comes to posture?A good, strong core will be the foundation for all great posture. If the core is weak, then great posture is difficult to achieve. Next, the shoulder girdle stabilizers in the back play a VERY key role, particularly the lower trapezius and the middle trapezius muscles. These muscles are often neglected because they are not VANITY muscles, meaning muscles that you can see in the mirror! However, these are EXTREMELY important postural muscles, albeit smaller ones, that play a significant role not only in great posture, but in keeping the neck tension free as well. (GREAT side benefit, no?) Of course, Pilates exercises for posture target all of these muscles! In particular, we’ve created a FREE YOUR NECK WORKOUT that will take you through the most vital posture muscles!We created a specific online Pilates DVD for Posture, particularly great posture throughout the day! MORNING POSTURE PREP!Can people who are not in the best physical condition still have good posture? How?Ironically, YES! Right now we're thinking of our grandmothers on BOTH our maternal and paternal sides. Neither grew up in an era where women "exercised", yet they both had lovely posture. In analyzing that, we deduced that THEIR DAILY LIFESTYLES DID NOT DERAIL IDEAL POSTURE, whereas most of our daily lifestyles do..... Truly, sitting at a desk is as close to the kiss of death as it comes.... the hip joint is flexed and thus the psoas is shortened, THEN, on top of that, the head usually moves 3-5 inches forward as it unconsciously moves closer to the computer screen..... ugh!We are truly in a battle against our daily habits… until we change them, of course!What is the best way to master posture?Sadly, there is no magic button. The best way to master posture is to be mindful of it as often as you possibly can. And, unless you have the luxury of being a professional athlete or artist, or not needing to work, this becomes increasingly difficult. We KNOW A LOT about posture and what needs to be done, and yet LIFE gets in the way! SO! The best thing to do is think about it at random moments when you can: waiting in line... anywhere, brushing your teeth, driving in your car, sitting in a waiting room.... Posture is something that you can secretly train at random moments during the day, AND IT WILL YIELD EXPONENTIAL RESULTS!!!How much are you losing out on in Pilates if you do not have good posture?You’re not “losing out” as much as you’re reinforcing bad habits if you practice Pilates with poor posture. Even the EFFORT to have the correct posture trains the right muscles, so you’re not de-railing your efforts if you’re not perfect when you start.If ideal posture in Pilates is not possible, then first and foremost, improper biomechanics as a result of "faulty" posture might make certain exercises be uncomfortable. While expert Pilates instructors will be capable of modifying exercises to accommodate the postural imperfections, others might neglect these subtle corrections, which could result in discomfort or even minor injury.When you are thinking of how to improve your posture, first and foremost ask your instructor to share any observations he/she may have made. Then, you know what you need to correct! Then, you can work on strengthening and releasing the appropriate muscles. And remember, at the beginning, middle and end of the day, we are UPRIGHT BEINGS. With this in mind, we filmed a COREALIGN® Workout for Perfect Posture to help reinforce good postural habits.Any final tips or pointers to succeeding with posture?IT'S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT! Seriously. There is no "quick fix" to posture. It is an endurance expedition and requires mindfulness as many times a day as you can think about it until it is a habit! So! On that note, think about your posture when you're on your cell phone, when you're cooking, when you're at your desk, when you're in your exercise class (which may or may not give cues about optimal posture), when you're waiting in line ANYWHERE, when you're walking..... get it?
Saturday, April 4th 2015
As Pilates aficionados, we find it very important to address some popular myths surrounding our practice. First and foremost, let's discuss the most common myths about Pilates.
Thursday, January 29th 2015
To start, we would like to provide you with a little background regarding our history with both Pilates and Yoga.
We started doing Yoga while in graduate school, and then discovered Pilates shortly thereafter while on tour dancing. We continued to do both alternatively, but always found that we gravitated more to Pilates than to Yoga. For many others who start doing Pilates and Yoga, they will gravitate toward yoga. However, we do NOT think that Pilates is "better" than yoga, even though we have owned and operated Pilates on Fifth for almost 15 years! Rather, we think that it depends on the body type of the person, his/her goals, his/her personality, and, most of all, his/her enjoyment of either one!
Most people want to understand the primary differences between Pilates and Yoga. So, let’s get started...
The primary difference lies in the origins of each. While both are now physical pursuits, Yoga developed out of meditative and spiritual practices, while Pilates originated as a method of rehabilitation.
When practicing yoga, the flow actually does help you to "get in a zone" so to speak, which could, of course, be considered spiritual or meditative. When doing Pilates, the attention to detail and proper execution (which stems from the origins of rehabilitation) keeps the mind focused on muscular emphasis and form more than the flow and thus does not lend itself to a meditative pursuit. We are NOT saying that Yoga does NOT focus on proper form or that Pilates does not aim to have a flow! BUT, the primary objective of each IS different. Moreover, the poses in yoga are very much akin to active stretching exercises, while the majority of Pilates moves focus on core strengthening exercises.
While writing this blog, we talked to many of our clients and instructors who practice both Pilates and Yoga and across the board, all voiced (independent of one another) that they practice Pilates for core strengthening exercises, and Yoga more for pure stretching exercises.
The physical condition one must be in to start Yoga or Pilates is not any different. Quite thankfully, fabulous Pilates and Yoga instructors can tailor practices to meet every client’s needs, in any physical condition. This, of course, only works if clients inform their instructors that they are new to exercises or have a special condition. So be honest when you start a class!
Advantages of one over the other?
Many people we talk to want to know about the biggest advantages of doing Pilates as opposed to Yoga, and vice versa. To answer that question, we can only speak for ourselves.... we are NOT trying to purport that our experience applies to everyone! We find that our dynamic core strength improves GREATLY with Pilates, more than it does with Yoga. Because Yoga is a series of static poses, we find that more strength is built in the isometric hold of each pose, rather than the transition between each. With Pilates, on the other hand, you rarely hold a pose, and thus you are strengthening the core and surrounding musculature dynamically, along the length of the muscle and not in one position. (And that's NOT saying that BOTH are not HARD! ... just different!)
While you can gain flexibility with Pilates, we usually see much greater flexibility gains with people who do yoga. We find that Pilates delivers more core strength than yoga, while Yoga delivers more flexibility than Pilates.
We are grateful that BOTH disciplines target muscles all over the body depending on the exercises (Pilates) or poses (yoga) that the instructor selects. However, from our personal experiences, we feel our abs more after doing Pilates, and our arms more after doing yoga!
Breathing is also important, as it is designed to facilitate relaxation as well as proper execution of the exercises. To the extent that this can be accomplished, the breath IS just as important in each discipline, but oftentimes, clients who are afraid of "not breathing right" hold their breaths, which is clearly a terrible thing! (And what does “not breathing right” mean, anyway?)
Which demands more body control, Pilates or Yoga?
This relates back to the questions about which is best for a beginner. Both systems are progressive, which is AWESOME for individuals who are really aiming to increase their overall levels of fitness or have an additional goal. In both systems, the fundamental movements (usually upon which many of the other moves are based) typically DON'T require a lot of body control, but as you progress, more and more body control is required. Advanced moves in BOTH systems require a great deal of body control, muscular awareness and concentration.
Class setting vs. one-on-one
With any movement system, ideally EVERYONE would start with private lessons to insure proper form, biomechanics, breathing, etc. However, this is not financially feasible in many cases, so classes are great. We keep our Pilates mat classes at Pilates on Fifth limited to 10 people so that we know clients are still receiving individual attention. We recommend that for yoga too!
More challenging for a beginner?
Because each individual’s background and lifestyle determines their strengths and weaknesses, either Pilates or Yoga will be more challenging! For instance, a professional football player may “click” with Pilates more, while a professional hurdler may “click” with yoga.
But this also depends on the instructor. In both systems, the fundamental or most basic moves are EASILY grasped by beginners, so look for an instructor who layers the exercises as he/she teaches and explains movement well. The most basic exercises should be taught first, and then the progressions introduced so that attendees can increase the difficulty safely and gradually.
If it’s core strengthening exercises AND stretching exercises that you’re looking for, we recommend these workouts on ultimatepilatesworkouts.com!
Monday, January 19th 2015
A number of articles have appeared recently discussing the relationship between good posture and improved moods. In a nutshell, people who stand up straight feel more enthusiastic and positive about life; people who slouch feel more fearful and hostile. (So now you know….avoid slouching people!) But all joking aside, the main point of these research studies and articles is the following: if you want to improve your mood, just stand up straight! We all know that one of the benefits of Pilates is improved posture, but by the logic presented in the articles, Pilates exercises should then improve your mood, too.
Well, for anyone who has gone through a hard time (or just had a “bad day”), how hard is it to “just stand up straight?!” I mean really, if I’m feeling sad and someone said to me “just stand up straight” – well, what I would like to say to that person is unprintable. We all know that expressions such as “cheer up”, “calm down”, “be quiet” and now “stand up straight” have the opposite effect on the person to whom the comment is directed, and all the Pilates exercises in the world will not likely change this.
So after searching “how posture affects mood “ (top results below), I decided to search “how mood affects posture.” This topic means a lot to me as I recently went through a terrible divorce that took years to resolve, and, despite the myriad of benefits of Pilates, I could and can see that my posture suffered. To drive this point home, my identical twin sister made my new collapsed, dejected posture abundantly clear to me – and everyone! (The ONLY downside to being a twin, by the way! Not complaining!) What made it worse was people who would say, “your sister has such lovely posture.” Was I supposed to say “thank you” and NOT feel like a troll?
Anyway, to my surprise, when I searched “how mood affects posture”, my search engine asked “do you mean ‘how posture affects mood?’” No, I meant what I typed! But actually, the dominant results today are ultra-positive “how posture affects mood” articles. Stand up straight and you will feel better. Period. So just do an online Pilates DVD and you’ll feel great. Just do it. (yah, right)
Instead of getting miffed at this, I realized “Wait! Posture should be dynamic, not static. Posture is movement and movement should be joyous.”
So if you’re reading this and are trying to have better posture OR improve your mood, my suggestion is….DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. And if possible, move in a way you enjoy moving! And if that’s Pilates, well GREAT! We have a few online Pilates DVD 's that are specifically geared towards posture, but will hopefully be fun for you too!
TWO GREAT ONLINE PILATES DVD 'S JUST FOR POSTURE!
We also have a Morning Posture Prep Workout, too! ...only 10 minutes!
Tuesday, December 23rd 2014
People ALWAYS ask us if they can get "a dancer's body" by doing Pilates, and, sadly, there's not a simple answer to that question! Truly, if you want a dancer's body, it's probably a good idea to DANCE (as well as do Pilates, of course)! And by dance, we don't mean "fitness dance"! We mean a structured dance class that focuses on true dance technique, whether it be ballet, ballroom, tap, tango, swing, etc. THAT plus Pilates will help to sculpt the coveted dancer's body.
As dancers who danced, then worked in corporations, then went to graduate school, then danced again, then stopped dancing to open and run Pilates on Fifth, only to start dancing again a (ahem) few years later, we have experienced FIRST HAND the difference true dancing creates in one's body. It is only in the past year and a half that we've really started to analyze and seek out the "missing elements" that either enhance the look of a "dancer's body", or derail it. That being said, we've figured out one additional answer to the "how to get a dancer's body" question, and that's STRETCHING!!!!! We think that most people would be absolutely dumbfounded if they knew how much dancers stretch. It is truly staggering!
In that spirit, we've created the Dancer's Legs and Butt workout! It combines essential core strengthening moves, along with great exercises for the legs and butt that combine strength AND flexibility within the workout. This 51 minute workout left us both feeling strong, lithe and free. We hope y'all enjoy it too! Find the Dancer's Legs and Butt workout here!
ALSO!! Don't ever get discouraged! The profession of dance naturally weeds out "naon-dancer" bodies. Just as the sport of basketball eliminates shorter individuals, so too doest the profession of dance weed out non-dancer bodies (especially ballet). BUT! You can still improve on what you have! A bulldog's body will never be a greyhound, but that bulldog can still look darn good in its own little skin.