5 Things Not to Expect at Pilates!

Thinking of trying out Pilates or maybe just getting back into the studio after not practicing Pilates for awhile?  Here’s our list of the top 5 things NOT to expect during your Pilates session!IMG_3026

1.  Don’t expect to feel bad about not exercising or not being in as good of shape as you think you should be.  It happens to everyone and we will help you realize that getting back into shape is easier than you think.

2. Don’t expect to be so sore that you can’t walk down the stairs or lift your arm to brush your hair.  We know that exercise does not need to leave you in pain to be effective.  You can expect to get a great workout that is perfect for your body! 

3.  Don’t expect to do the same exact thing every session.  Each class or session is designed to meet your needs on any given day and those needs are constantly changing. Expect us to tailor your exercises to your body and continually challenge you with new variations and movements.

4.  Don’t expect to be able to do everything perfect the first session or even your 100th session.  (I know….this one is hard for most of us and especially if you tend to be a perfectionist!!) Pilates is designed to safely challenge your body and your mind so that you can continue to evolve to the best you!

Try not to be so judgmental toward yourself and KNOW that the benefits of Pilates are more dependent on you doing it on a regular basis rather than how perfectly you do it!

5.  Don’t expect to dread coming in to the studio to exercise.  In fact- most of our clients look forward to coming in!  (this may be hard to believe if you have always been a person who just doesn’t like to exercise- you’ll have to trust us on this one!)

Ready to try out a complimentary private Pilates session at Rivercity Pilates?   Contact us today to set up your complimentary private session!

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in Getting Started, Pilates in Your Life, What's so great about Pilates?

10 Reasons to Start Yoga Classes at Rivercity Pilates!

As healthcare and healing modalities continue to evolve, Yoga is quickly becoming an intricate part of health and wellness programs because of it’s ability to promote health and healing at all levels:  physical, emotional and spiritual.   Check out these Top 10 reasons to begin a Yoga Practice at Rivercity Pilates!    We have private or small group training sessions available for Yoga.    We have just added morning classes which are very suitable for Yoga Newbies!    We also have evening yoga classes!

yogawordle210 Reasons to Practice Yoga!

1.  Stress relief
2.  Inner Peace, Calm and Authentic Happiness
3.  Increased Strength, Physical Conditioning and a Beautiful Posture
4.  Weight Loss and Weight Management
5.  Increased Overall Energy
6.  Improved Sleep
7.  Heightened Mental and Intuitive Awareness.
8.  Improved Hormonal balance (especially in cases of breast cancer, infertility and prenatal conditioning)
9.  Brain Synchronization and Brain Fitness
10.  Whole Body Detoxification

Beginning a new movement program can be overwhelming.    We encourage you to take advantage of our complimentary first session to become familiar with Rivercity Pilates, and meet with your instructor.   You can schedule your complimentary first session on our website, or you can call 319-665-2499 and we will do the computer work for you!    We hope to hear from you soon!

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in Yoga at Rivercity Pilates

Have you taken a class with Shara?

Tell us about yourself / your family.  I grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. I moved to Iowa City in 2000 to go to the University and met my now husband. We traveled for 2 years after I graduated and then moved back permanently to Iowa City in 2008. I work full time as a nurse in the information technology field and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and my husband owns Daydreams Comics in Iowa City. We live in Iowa City with our 3 cats and love to travel to new and exciting places as often as we can.

Describe yourself in 5 words. – adventurous, playful, passionate, dedicated, willful   

Tell us about your first Yoga experience.    When/Why did you start practicing Yoga?  I started Yoga as a way to bring movement back into my life in 2008. I stopped dancing when I left college in 2005 and I felt a void in my life where the movement had been. Yoga has now become so much more to me than just movement. I have a practice that can dramatically change the way I feel physical, mentally and emotionally. It has equipped me with the tools to deal with challenging situations and how to deeply enjoy the beautiful ones. I am filled with gratitude everyday that I am able to share this gift with others.  

Favorite food / or favorite restaurant – Sweets, especially a good carrot cake!

If money were no object, what would you do all day?  Teach yoga at a luxury resort in some far off island where I could eat pineapples all day and spend endless time with my hubby and our cats.

Why did you become a Yoga teacher?  I wanted to facilitate the experience I had with the yoga practice for others. The teachings are incredibly powerful and have the ability to bring great balance into our lives and I hope to help other gain this clarity and joy.  

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to Yoga?  I love to explore movement. I pop into a ballet or modern class every now and again and I recently did an aerial silks class. The opportunities are endless if you just open yourself up to new experiences.   

What is your favorite body part / why?  I love every part of my body equally. Sure there are some areas that I would like to see smaller or bigger but lets be honest, this is the only body we have so we should love it all the time no matter what it looks like. Yoga teaches us that the external experiences pale in comparison to the deeper internal experience. Learning to let go of the external expectations of how we “should” look is the first step in connecting deeper to the beauty that is present inside all of us and creating a lasting happiness.  

Do you collect anything / what / and why? Do yoga leggings count, cause I have an impressive collection of those. Actually, I don’t collect much because my husband collects EVERYTHING. 🙂  

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in Motivation and Inspiration, Rivercity Pilates Instructors, Yoga at Rivercity Pilates

Pilates is Chronic Disease Friendly Exercise

I’m guessing if you’re reading this post either you or someone you know has a chronic disease.  If this is the case then you probably are aware of all of the wonderful benefits that exercise can have in dealing with your disease.  You’ve heard about how exercise can enhance your mood, make your body feel better and help you deal with the day to day stress of dealing with whatever craziness is going on in your body.   But you may not believe any of this.

You may think that just getting out of bed in the mornings is sometimes the most exercise you can handle.  You may be terrified of walking into a group setting where you are not sure of what you were doing or if you are even capable of doing what is asked.  What if I told you there was a type of exercise available that would make you feel better, that could be tailored specifically to how your body was feeling on any given day and could be practiced in a one on one setting, in a small group setting or even on your own at home?

The Pilates method of exercise is truly adaptable to any body and can be an amazing health tool in your life.  The best way to get started is to set up a time to talk and work with a Pilates teacher one on one.  Many  Pilates teachers offer a complimentary first session so that they can introduce you to the method and have a chance to show you how it can be adapted to whatever is going on in your body.

Want to learn more about how Pilates can be a health tool when you have a chronic disease?  Check out the book, “Lessons from Living with Crohn’s Disease”.  In the book author Kelly Sedlacek talks about her journey living with Crohn’s and how Pilates has been part of that journey.  There’s even a guest chapter in the book from me talking specifically about how a Pilates practice can be a benefit to anyone battling a chronic disease.



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in Motivation and Inspiration

Could an exercise studio really become one of your favorite places?

As a Pilates teacher and movement nut I can tell you I love to talk about mindful movement and the benefits of Pilates in your life.  But I can tell you as a studio owner the reason so many clients tell me they love our studio has nothing to do with the quality of our teaching (and our teachers are fabulous!… I have some of the best trained, most amazing movement teachers around on staff.) The number one compliment I get from clients is about the amazing community that exists within our studio walls.  That’s right…the community, the tribe of people who consider Rivercity Pilates one of their home away from home places.

You see, very few people actually enjoy exercising (surprise right?).  But most of us know how important regular movement and exercise is to living a long, happy life and so we try to incorporate it into our life.  So even though I know our clients appreciate our highly trained, knowledgeable instructors, I truly think the the reason they keep coming back and the reason they are so successful at consistently adding movement into their life is because of their RCP tribe.  Their Rivercity Pilates tribe gives them support, connects them to others, and makes them laugh every time they are here.  Their Rivercity Pilates tribe makes exercising fun!! 

We all need a tribe or two in our life.  We need people outside of our immediate family and friends who share similar interests, are going through similar things and who are just fun to hang out with.  And what could be better than a tribe who is just like you…just trying to live your best life by balancing out healthy habits like exercise while  juggling families, juggling careers and just trying to enjoy life.  

Personally, our tribe, our community at Rivercity Pilates is probably the thing I’m most proud of when it comes to my business.  I absolutely love to come to work and get to check in with clients and see how their week is going, I love that I get a chance to really know clients which in turn helps me to better help them reach their health and fitness goals.  I love how friendly everyone is to each other and how supportive everyone is.  I love that clients chat and laugh with each other throughout class.  I love to see class participants catching up with each other before and after class.  

Are you looking for a tribe? Are you one of those people that knows they need to exercise and move more but sometimes just can’t motivate yourself to do it? We would love to introduce you to the Rivercity Pilates tribe!!  Get started by scheduling a one on one session with one of our amazing teachers or start with a complimentary group class.  We would love to meet you!!

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in Getting Started, Motivation and Inspiration, Pilates in Your Life, What's so great about Pilates?

Quit looking at your neighbor in Pilates class!!

cheatingMost of us are naturally visual learners when it comes to movement.  In many ways this can be very helpful.  When our body is trying to figure out how to do a new skill or movement it needs all the input it can get to try to figure out what it is trying to accomplish and how to do it.  Visually seeing something is one of the many ways that your brain processes what it is trying to do.  The problem with visually watching something and trying to repeat it is that when we don’t do the movement exactly like what we  saw we get frustrated and sometimes overwhelmed!  We start to feel like we are failing or not getting something out of the movement because it does not look a certain way.

As Pilates teachers we know that the goal of an exercise is not to “look a certain way”.  The goal of an exercise involves gaining strength and flexibility in a balanced way as you do a skill like articulating through your spine or moving your leg in space while supported from your core muscles.  Accomplishing the goals of an exercise can look very different in different bodies.  This is why as teachers we often try to use our words to describe an exercise instead of just demonstrating an exercise.  We also try to give options in a multi level class on how you can do the movement best in your body.

At our studio we have a variety of clients, with a variety of different body shapes, sizes and different injuries or ailments.  You can often peek at a Pilates class and see many different bodies doing what looks like very different things even though they are all doing the same exercise. If you are new to the Pilates method of exercise and just starting to take classes this can be super confusing.  Because we are not accustom to taking verbal cues to learn new movements, the first thing new clients often do in class when learning something new is look at their neighbor and try to repeat what they are doing. But what happens when your neighbors in class are doing what looks like two completely different things?  Your brain and your body get overloaded with confusion!!!

So my best advice for new clients is to try to avoid just watching other clients to learn exercises.  Do your best to listen to the explanations of the movements and the goals of the exercise that your teacher is saying.  If this is hard for you…you are not alone!  Know that this way of learning often takes some practice- so don’t be too hard on yourself! Try not to worry what the movement looks like but instead focus on how it feels.  If you have specific questions about how you could get the most out of an exercise in your body definitely ask your teacher.  If you are not comfortable doing this in class or before or after class, maybe try a one on one session where your teacher can give you individual attention on each exercise.

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in Getting Started, Group Classes, Motivation and Inspiration

Are you nervous about falling?

falls2Are you nervous about falling? Besides the dangers of injury when you fall, maybe even a bigger concern is your loss of mobility and even independence in your body that makes you more susceptible to falls.

There is a lot of talk about the dangers of falling as we age and how important it is to work on things like balance, strength and flexibility to prevent falls…but what does this really mean? When we see an elderly person who is not moving very well it is easy to spot how falling would be a hazard…but how do we prevent ourselves from getting to that “not moving very well” place in life.


In simple terms,” Move it or lose it!”

When our bodies quit doing movements they get stiff, our muscles get weaker and our brain/body connections that help us react to balancing our bodies in space…get slower. One of the best things we can do to practice staying mobile and active is to practice in a controlled, safe environment movements that challenge our strength, balance and flexibility so that we are better prepared to react and adjust to whatever movements and obstacles day to day life throws at us.

One of the things I love about the Pilates Method of exercise is how is teaches bodies of any age to move better. It teaches people to move with control and precision while practicing movements that strengthen their core muscles, keeps their spine flexible and healthy, strengthens the whole body while maintaining and improving range of movement, and makes your brain and body work together.

I would call any of our Pilates classes, fall prevention classes but our new Live Strong Pilates class is geared toward an age range (65 years young and older) where fall prevention becomes more and more important. We’ll be incorporating the Pilates Method into a total body workout designed to help you move better and stay away from the “not moving very well” place in your body. Classes are limited to 6 participants to ensure a safe, small group atmosphere.

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in Group Classes

Pilates Day….a National holiday?

It’s not a national holiday yet, but we feel like it should be!!  What could be better than a whole day dedicated to celebrating and sharing the exercise method that keeps us strong, healthy, aligned and keeps our core muscles amazingly strong?

Bring your friends (you know the ones that keep saying I should try that Pilates thing some time…) and come celebrate with us!!

Here’s our top 4 reasons why you should come celebrate with us on May 6th!!

1. FREE Pilates:  The only thing better than Pilates is free Pilates!! You can take mini classes on the Pilates Mat, Pilates Tower, Pilates Reformer, and Pilates chair between 9 am and noon. We’ll also have a free 8 am Yoga class and a free mini Yoga class during the 9 am to noon session class sessions.

2.  It’s a great chance to introduce a friend to Pilates!! Our goal is to use Pilates Day to spread the Pilates love!!  We want to get as many people as we can in the studio to try out our favorite method of exercise and we need your help!!  We are even giving away a whole month of free classes to the person who gets the most people to stop by the studio on Pilates Day.

3.  Healthy Snacks!!  Health Coach Amy Boelk is going to be sharing some of her favorite healthy snacks and drinks and you won’t want to miss them!!  Have we mentioned that she makes the best “healthy” chocolate chip cookies ever??

4.  Prizes and giveaways!!   Everyone who comes will be in our drawings for free Rivercity Pilates gear like shirts, therabands, foam rollers, private sessions, group classes and more!!!!

Be sure to share this blog with your friends and let them know you would love for them to meet you at Pilates Day!!

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in Motivation and Inspiration

Inspiration of the Month Natasha Pashkova March 2017

When did you start Pilates and what inspired you to start?
I discovered the Pilates exercise method a long time ago through books and DVDs and began practicing at home. To get better motivation and more consistent Pilates exercises, I started to search for Pilates group classes in the Iowa City area. The Rivercity Pilates website sounded like it was exactly what I was looking for. However, it took me a few months of thinking about joining the studio until my daughter Anna finally suggested trying the complimentary session together last August. Since then, taking classes at the Rivercity Pilates studio has become part of my well-being routine.

How often do you practice Pilates and what type of sessions or classes have you been doing?
I have done various group classes and try to go to the studio at least twice a week. The classes that I’ve attended the most are Pilates Mat, Barre and Pilates Mat Combo, and Restorative Yoga. Taking these classes helped me learn the correct technique of different Pilates exercises, how to control breathing and body movements, gain strength and flexibility, and experience relaxation of the body and mind.

What benefits or improvements have you noticed in your body and life from doing Pilates?
Through regular Pilates practice, my core muscles have become much stronger and my posture has improved. I started to feel less stressed emotionally and more energized physically. Reduced tension in my shoulders and neck has also helped me avoid frequent headaches.

Do you have a favorite exercise or piece of equipment (or both)?
My favorite mat Pilates exercise is probably Rolling Back. Also, the challenge of doing the Teaser makes me feel stronger and more balanced.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing Pilates?
Definitely give it a try! Don’t wait too long…just invite your relative or a friend to take a session or a class together to get started. At the Rivercity Pilates studio you can find exercises for any fitness level and the convenience of different class schedules.

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in Inspiration of the Month, Motivation and Inspiration

Got Balance? Try the Pilates Chair!

When you hear Pilates Chair what do you think of?  Do visions of the ab chair infomercial come into your head?  Does it sound like something elderly people would use so that they could exercise while sitting in a chair? The Pilates equipment called the chair was named the chair because Joe’s original design allowed you to convert this mighty piece of exercise equipment into a sitting chair when you weren’t working out on it.  Personally I think this is pretty genius from a marketing standpoint!  How many people use their treadmill for a clothes drying rack at home?  Wouldn’t it be great if that treadmill easily converted into a couch when you weren’t using it?  Seriously though, if you are someone who wants to work on balance in your movement practice…you must try the chair!

Whether you are an elite athlete or simply want to navigate day to day life without falls and injury- balance is so important!!

Like all of the Pilates equipment, the Pilates chair is designed to help you find a quicker, more efficient way to get stronger and more balanced in your body quicker.  The chair design is simply a small seat with a spring loaded paddle below the seat.  Many exercises have you positioning and balancing your body somewhere on the seat and then using the loaded paddle to challenge your balance.  The size is just big enough to give you some support, but small enough to challenge your balance and of course your core strength!

Other exercises have you standing on the floor pressing into the spring loaded paddle.  Many of these exercises challenge you do do the exercise with one arm or leg while you try to keep balance in your body.

Interested in seeing how Pilates and the Pilates equipment can help you improve your balance?  Schedule a complimentary private session or try a complimentary equipment class today!!!







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in Motivation and Inspiration

Can Pilates Reverse the Effects of Osteoporosis?

trent1This blog is the 2nd blog by guest blogger and Pilates instructor Trent McEntire of McEntire Pilates.   In Trent’s first blog, he talked about knowing your bone density scores, and sharing your bone density scores with your Pilates instructor, so you can actually watch your scores over time to see if Pilates is helping to reverse your osteoporosis.   

Osteoporosis is a disease where bones are weakened and can easily break especially in the hip, spine, and wrist. Bone is considered living tissue. Throughout life, this tissue is broken down in the body and replaced with new bone. For some individuals, the bone continues to break down but is not easily replaced with the new. The inside of a healthy bone looks like a honeycomb. When afflicted with osteoporosis, this honeycomb structure develops larger spaces that indicate loss of bone density and strength.

Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent” disease. In the early stage, the individual feels nothing until a bone breaks usually in the hip, spine, or wrist.

The good news is that bone is a living tissue. Just like a muscle, the bone can be strengthened. In many situations, stronger bones can slow and even reverse the effects of osteoporosis.

Additional factors include having experienced menopause especially at an earlier age, being diagnosed with certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and participating in prolonged use of cigarette smoking and/or alcohol.

Men may also be at risk. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (2015), “it is estimated that the residual lifetime risk of experiencing an osteoporotic fracture in men over the age of 50 is up to 27%, higher than the lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer of 11.3%.”

Bones weakened by osteoporosis eventually exhibit other symptoms such as loss of height over time, other bone fractures that occur easily, increased back pain, and a stooped posture.

Those most affected are Caucasian and Asian women. Though, any woman can be at risk especially one with a family history of osteoporosis. Those with small bone structure and lighter body weight are also at a higher risk because there is less bone to lose than someone with more body weight and a larger frame.

Pilates helps to teach proper movement and weight-bearing exercises for strengthening the bones and the surrounding muscle, especially around the spine and major joints – hips, knees, shoulders. The muscles that attach along the spine are small muscles, which make up the core that supports the spine. When these small muscles are strengthened through targeted exercise, the result is increased mass and stability to support the spine.

Pilates can also help by creating body awareness. A Pilates professional that has experience with osteoporosis will know how to safely assess and teach proper movement and exercise. After regular practice, this movement becomes natural and can then be leveraged in day-to-day activities outside of the studio. It is also important to learn how to avoid contraindicated movements that can cause injury, such as flexion (roll downs and forward bend), side bending and rotation (Bonner 2003; Meeks 2004).

Clients diagnosed with osteoporosis often have a fear of falling and fracturing a bone. Pilates practice helps to create alignment of the joints and increase the body’s balance. A balanced body will help a person walk more efficiently and avoid falling.

Before you get started: It is important to be cleared for Pilates exercise. Then have an assessment with an experienced Pilates’ instructor that will facilitate a safe assessment and determine specific goals. A proper exercise program will help you to avoid injury and build a strong foundation to strengthen your bones and help prevent osteoporosis.

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in Motivation and Inspiration, Pilates in Your Life

Strength without strain..why you need to try the Pilates reformer!!

Have you seen the Pilates reformer machine and said,” I wonder what is so great about that piece of fitness equipment that everybody raves about it?”

My simple answer: strength without strain!  The Pilates reformer is designed to help you move better without strain.  So many fitness fads involve pushing yourself to the extreme, seeing how quick you can be, how fast can you go, how much weight can you lift, often times before your body has progressed properly to that level.  The Pilates reformer will strengthen and balance your body more efficiently than any of these fads and you’ll do it without strain, without being miserable!!  It works for elite athletes and it works for couch potatoes who just want to feel a little less achy in their body.  It’s kind of amazing!    The reformer was designed to work with your body so that you can do movements that build strength in a very balanced way.  This means not only do you strengthen your muscles uniformly, you stretch muscles that need lengthened and you create balance in your body.

One of the first exercises we teach on the reformer is called footwork.  I often describe the movement to newbies as a fancy version of a leg press.  And by fancy I mean well designed to help you become aware of your alignment and whole body movement from your feet to the crown of your head.  Every “leg press variation” you do doesn’t just strengthen your legs in ideal alignment, it strengthens your core muscles, teaches your muscles how to activate to decompress and lengthen your spine and gives you a whole body movement experience.

Another of my favorite examples of strength without strain on the reformer is the exercise called long spine.  Most people could not possibly do this particular movement on their own without throwing their body up and possibly straining something in the process.  But when we put someones feet into the feet straps attached to the reformer, most clients are able to use the support from the equipment to figure out how to roll up through their back and back down again with control and precision and use the muscles they are supposed to use!!

This particular exercise is a client favorite because:

  1. It feels really amazing on your back and
  2. I think most people are just so proud of themselves that they can do it well and really feel their body getting stronger and more flexible every time they do it!!  Take a peak of this exercise in the video below:

Want to see the reformer in action?  Check out this video of some of our Rivercity Pilates staff working out on the reformer to get a birds eye view of the type of exercises you might do on the Pilates reformer!


Try out the reformer yourself by scheduling a complimentary private session or trying a complimentary Reformer group class!!




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in Group Classes, Instructional Video, Pilates Equipment

Pilates Inspiration of the Month – Cheryl Johnson

 Inspiration of the Month
April 2017 — Cheryl Johnson

When did you start Pilates and what inspired you to start?
Several years ago Peg Schollmeier started things off by telling me how helpful Pilates was for her and that I should give it a try. A little while later I did an introductory session with Carey, but still I did not start a regular practice of Pilates. Last spring, Shelley offered me private classes as part of her instructor training. I could feel how it worked my lower abdominal muscles.

But, I still did not start participating in classes or continue a regular practice of Pilates partly because of being out of town and somewhat because I was a little nervous doing the mat classes as I was worried I wouldn’t do the exercises correctly or keep up. Around Christmas, I signed up for the Pilates mat class package and decided that I had to commit to doing Pilates regularly. I had an upcoming trip in February to Machu Picchu and Galapagos and I wanted to be able to enjoy this active trip. They promised me I would feel and see results and I have! My goal was to do a teaser at Machu Picchu!

How often do you practice Pilates and what type of sessions or classes have you been doing?    
I try to do 4-5 mat classes a week and I’m not sore after doing this many classes!
What benefits or improvements have you noticed in your body and life from doing Pilates?
I have been told all of my life to stand up straight and had trouble doing so. Now, I know that the secret to this is not throwing your shoulders back, but in engaging your core, especially your lower abdominal muscles and doing the “abdominal scoop”. I noticed in everyday movements that I feel myself engage my core now in order to bend over and stand up, picking up grandchildren, and in balancing and carrying things.
Importantly, on my trip I noticed how much easier it was to hike on uneven ground, jump out of and pull myself back in dinghies, and climb multiple steps. I am in general much less achy as I get up in the morning.  I feel better than I have in a long time!
Do you have a favorite exercise or piece of equipment (or both)?  
I love the feeling of Swan and how it strengthens my back. The Pilates exercises have so many different components and variations  that as I have become more familiar with them I find I can concentrate on aspects to improve and push myself with each exercise.   Shelley has been so patient and encouraging in stressing over and over the fundamentals and how to do them correctly in her classes. Combining mat, barre and dance with Nancy is fun and brings out my inner ballerina. Carey’s morning class pushes me to do more including incorporating the challenging “stretcheze band” and the big ball with the Pilates exercises. I have never been bored with a “routine” class.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing Pilates?
Do it!  I love the supportive and encouraging atmosphere at Rivercity Pilates. You will see so many benefits. I did reach my goal and was able to do a teaser on Machu Picchu with all kinds of people watching!! A teaser that still needs work, but I did it!


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in Inspiration of the Month, Motivation and Inspiration

If your back is tight and achy…try a Pilates Tower class

The Pilates Tower classes are some of our most popular classes for good reason.  The Pilates Tower classes give you an amazing all over body work out that leaves you feeling stretched, lengthening and more mobile in your spine.  The Pilates tower looks like it sounds.  It is a metal tower-like structure that has various springs attached to it as well as a wooden bar called the push through bar.

The tower’s various springs and structures are designed to support your body and give your body feedback during exercises.  What this means in plain English is that you can do movements that strengthen and stretch you body and specifically your back without straining!  One of my favorite examples of this is the Roll Down on the tower.  The springs of the roll down bar support you so that you can use your abdominal muscles to do a very controlled roll down to the mat and back up.  For many people this task would be impossible without the support of the equipment. And why would you want to do this exercise?  This exercise strengthens you core muscles and at the same time stretches the usually tight muscles in our back, leaving your back feeling amazing!! Check out the video below showing this exercise( I often call it the anti-sit up exercise!!)

Another favorite exercise of mine on the Tower is called the leg springs series.  Does the thought of lying on your back and holding your legs up in the air scare you?  Is it hard for you to straighten your legs in this type of position because your back and hamstrings are soo tight?  (picture..)

The leg springs have a strap that your foot rests in and they are designed to help you hold your legs up in space while you are lying on your back, without straining!!  Why is this important?  This position allows us a very effective way to strengthen our back and core muscles in a supported way and at the same time helps us create more flexibility in the backs of our legs.  When our core muscles get stronger and our muscles lengthen and stretch in a balanced way.. our body feels better and moves better on a daily basis.  Check out the video below where I talk about and show a few of the leg spring exercises.

If you are one of the many people who suffer from a chronically tight, achy back you will not be disappointed with a Pilates Tower class. We’re  guessing you’ll walk away wondering how an exercise class can be such an effective workout and leave your back and body feeling so amazing.  Most people find themselves asking,” Why did I wait so long to try that??”

Try a complimentary class today!!


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in Motivation and Inspiration, Pilates Equipment

Do you know your T-Score?

trent1Sharing this blog today written by Trent McEntire of McEntire Pilates.  Trent has been sharing his discoveries and method with those seeking to overcome their own movement limitations for 20 years.  As someone that became a professional dancer after rehabilitating his own severe movement restrictions established at birth due to Cerebral Palsy, Trent McEntire understands how the quality of life is affected by how well you can (or can’t) move your body. 

The 44 million people with either osteoporosis or low bone mass represent 55 percent of the people aged 50 and older in the United States, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Pilates exercises can help to reverse the effects, but how do you really know it’s working?

The best way to measure risk of Osteoporosis is through a bone density test. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. Areas of the bone typically tested are in the spine, hip and forearm.

How to Read a T-score?

tscoreResults of a bone density test provide a T-score, which indicates how your Bone Mass Density (BMD) compares to that of a healthy 20- 35 year-old. By age 30, a person’s bone density is at its peak and should ideally be maintained at this level throughout their life. As BMD decreases from this peak density, the risk of fracture increases.

The T-score is in units of standard deviations (SD) and determines whether your bones are more dense (+) or less dense (-) than those of a 20-35 year-old adult. A score of -2.0 can indicate that the person has Osteopenia, a precursor to Osteoporosis. At a level of -2.5, the diagnosis based on the T-score is Osteoporosis.

When I work with my clients, I encourage them to know their T-score, so that I can use the results as part of my assessment. The T-score also serves as a measurement tool to identify how a person is improving throughout the program. When a client that I have been working with brings in a doctor report that states their bone density is increasing, it’s an amazing experience!

If you’d like more information about Bone Density testing, click here.   If you know your T-score, or if you have a bone density test scheduled in the near future – please bring in your scores so we can add them to your file!   

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in Motivation and Inspiration, Pilates in Your Life

Adults need recess too!!

playRecess in school is something that most of us would not question.  We know that kids need to move and wear off some energy in able to sit still and get their learning time in.  Can you imagine trying to make a 7 year old sit at a desk for 3 hours or 4 hours at a time without being able to get up?  Do you think they would learn very much or get very much study time in?

Why does this theory of needing movement time and even fresh air and outside time change as we get older and enter adulthood?  Who made the rule that you should be able to sit for long periods of time and get all kinds of work done when you reach a certain age?

There are some adults who have careers and jobs with built in movement time and that is amazing.  I’m guessing many of these people don’t even realize how helpful it is as far as their body’s health to be able to naturally move throughout their day and not have to sit in one spot. They probably don’t realize how movement and even outdoor time can help them be more productive, happy and healthy.

deskIf you are one of those people who has a career that involves sitting anywhere for long periods of time I’m guessing you know how hard it can be on your body. You probably have felt the achy back, sore neck and shoulders and just sluggishness we feel when we don’t move on a regular basis.  So what do you do about it?  How about some planned recess time?  Recess time as an adult could be just about anything like:

  • Walking down the hall to get a drink of water
  • 2 or 3 minutes of stretching or movement at your desk
  • Desk Push Ups
  • a walk outside on your break or lunch time

Need some more ideas on how to add movement time into your life?  Check out our Office Pilates Series designed to give you ideas on how you can incorporate more movement into your daily life even if you are sitting at a desk!!

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in Getting Healthy, Motivation and Inspiration, Office Pilates, Pilates in Your Life

Pilates is not only an exercise method, it’s a language!

Book-15There are days when I’m teaching a new client, I say something and they just look at me as if I were speaking a different language.  And then I realize…I am speaking a different language.  As a Pilates instructor, the language and phrases I use to describe movement and to get people to do and feel what I want in their body, are not typical phrases you hear in day to day conversation.  If you are new to the Pilates language I thought I would create a list of some of the most common types of phrases I use  and explain them in normal English!

Pilates is very spine focused and we often are trying to “articulate through our spine”.  What does this mean?  Instead of just landing on the mat in one big chunk, you are going to slowly roll down bending through your spine and between each vertabrae in your spine.

Belly to Spine
This cue is often used to remind a student to engage their transverse abdominus.  A common cue in Pilates is to imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine to find the engagement of our deepest layer of abdominal muscles.

Melt through your spine
This is another imagery cue.  When you are rolling down I often use this cue to encourage clients to slowly and with control articulate their back to the mat (instead of just quickly crashing down).

Tuck your tail
Maybe you didn’t know you had a tail?  I often talk about tucking your tail or sticking your tail out behind you in attempts to get clients to move their pelvis into either a posterior or anterior tilt.  Of course you have to pretend like you have a tail to make this one effective!

Big expansive inhale
This one is pretty descriptive and is kind of what is sounds like. I’m usually asking you to slowly inhale so much that you can feel your rib cage expands in all directions.

Create length in your low back
I often make statements like create length in your back, or your leg, or even your neck.  The Pilates method focuses on learning to use your muscles to decompress your spine and even your limbs so that can move with more ease and efficiency. These cues are used to encourage you to think about what you are trying to create in your body and figure out what muscles you need to engage to do it.

Are there other terms that you have heard in Pilates that you think are part of the Pilates language?




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in Getting Started, Motivation and Inspiration

Appreciate the Body you have!!!

carey11This week I’m talking  little bit about what inspires my Pilates and movement practice. As a Pilates teacher I get to work with lots of different bodies that have lots of different things going on and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There is nothing I love more than being able to help some one figure out how to use movement to empower their body and to truly inspire their life.  I love the challenge of putting myself in my client’s body and then giving them suggestions on how they might move to most benefit their body.

One of the biggest benefits of my teaching time is truly the inspiration and insight I get from working with clients whose bodies don’t feel great.  When I say don’t feel great, I’m not talking about having a tight back or a just not feeling your most energetic self on any given day.  I’m talking about being in constant chronic pain 24/7.  Can you even imagine? Even though I try to relate to those with chronic pain, I really have no idea what it would be like to have constant pain.  I can tell you that if I get a slight headache or a kink in my back- I am irritated, whiny and just plain unhappy.  I can’t imagine putting on a happy face and living life in constant pain.  Yet some many of my clients live this way and you would never know it from talking to them or even watching them move! Completely inspiring!!

I see so many people who live their lives in pain, that I kind of want to do a public service announcement to the rest of the world.  I want everyone (who is not in pain)  to know how lucky and amazing it is to have a body that can move and bend and twist without pain.  I want to scream at everyone to quit worrying about the weight on the scale, the size of your clothes and just start moving your body.   There are so many people who would do anything to wake up in a body that was not screaming with pain.

I hope you’ll take a little time to appreciate the amazing body you have!  Take some time to truly appreciate all the wonderful things you can do with it and give yourself a break when it comes to criticizing yourself!

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in Motivation and Inspiration

Move first in the morning!!

As a Pilates teacher I often am up bright and early to teach classes and clients.  I try to make it a point to get to the studio early enough that I have a little time to move a little myself before I start teaching, so that I’m a little more awake in my brain and body.  Sometimes I forget how great this early morning movement time is for my body….until there’s a day when I don’t have to teach bright and early.  On a weekend or day off when I am not up moving around first thing during my day I often have a moment mid morning or mid day when I realize that my body just feels “creaky”.  And by creaky I mean my body feels tight, I’m not moving with as much ease as normal and my energy levels are not as high as normal.  That’s when  I have that realization that I skipped my morning movement time!  So I take a few minutes (yes that’s it…maybe 5-10 minutes tops if I have the time) and I move my body in a variety of ways.  Usually I do something as simple as:

  • rolling through my spine with Pilates roll ups and rolling like a ball
  • I do some extension exercises like swan
  • some sort of gentle side stretch

The difference in how my body feels is kind of amazing.  So my suggestion for you is to play with a morning movement routine!  It doesn’t have to be complicated and you can do it in your pajamas or maybe before you even get out of bed.  Find some simple movements you can do each morning to wake up your body and try to make a habit of it everyday.





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in Motivation and Inspiration, Pilates in Your Life

Client Screening and Tracking Workshop w/ Len Palombi

Attention Pilates Instructors!!
Client Screening and Tracking Workshop w/ Len Palombi
April 29        12 to 4 p.m.

$79 Early Bird Pricing before Apr1l 1st!

What do we do with a new client? How do we develop a program to meet their needs? How do we know if our program is working? In this workshop we will learn how to gather key information about a client. We will learn how to use that information to design a safe and effective program and we will learn how to use specific tools to track their progress and measure improvement.
Sign up online under Workshops, or let us know by email or at the front desk.

Guest Instructor Len Palombi will be teaching a  
Restorative Pilates Mat Class on Saturday, April 29th at 9 am and he will be available for private sessions April 28th, 29th and 30th!   Contact Carey if you’d like to schedule a session!  

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in Pilates in Your Life, Upcoming Workshops

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