We've been so lucky this year with a warm, dry, sunny, summer, it pains me to see it coming to an end :(  It's also been an extremely busy summer here at the studio, and that's why we've been trying-on some new ways to help all of you get in all of the workouts that you're looking for.

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In May, Sydney began offering our very own Barre Class on Friday mornings. We quickly realized that we needed to add a Monday evening slot of this. Clients are are loving this class as a complement to their classical Pilates practice with it's high reps, low weights and lots of pulsing! Waking up the next day feeling their triceps, booty, thighs, and abs has them coming back for another dose on the regular.  

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In June, Erin piloted our very first Pilates Circuit Class. It was a huge hit! Clients reported that they liked the fast pace and the independent nature of the class. They felt that the workout was well balanced and left them feeling worked but energized! And they loved "working those springs!"

This month, we are bringing back the Pilates Circuit Class. We'll be offering this class on Mondays at noon, and Thursday evenings at 6:00 beginning Monday, Aug 6th. You can sign up for the whole month or just one class. Just be sure to reserve your spot by midnight the night before at bodywisepurepilates.com.

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 ***Because Circuit Classes are Intermediate in level, previous Pilates experience is required. If you're unsure if this class is a good fit for you, ask! Grab us after class or shoot us an email and we'll let you know our thoughts ***    As the month progresses, we have a few more creative offerings to unveil, so stay tuned to your email, facebook and Instagram to stay up to date and in the know!   For now, #keepmoving #pilatesisforEVERYbody  #seeyouonthemat  

In much gratitude, Val   

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Authorvalerie lopata

Week 10: “Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” –Joseph Pilates

A happy, balanced, strong and flexible Tina :)   

A happy, balanced, strong and flexible Tina :)

 

 

This Pilates Intensive has taught me that if I set a goal, with focus and commitment, I can achieve it. Now, I should have already understood this concept, with having seven years of college under my belt, but this goal was different. Not only was the time investment a factor, but the cost as well (in relation to my desire to reach said goal). I know, I know, same goes for college, but still. Considering the fact that I work full time as a co-owner of a local business, I don’t get vacation time, or days off. I squeezed my studio time in whenever I was able, not allowing any menial excuses to cancel or reschedule my sessions.

 

Completing this Intensive was different than previous goals in my life, mostly because of those practical reasons stated above, but also because this was a physical goal. It was a goal that required the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. Our lives get so busy with our day to day activities and responsibilities, that taking time for ourselves can be considered foolish or selfish. And I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people that are so generous, they put themselves last. So when I embarked on this personal commitment, I knew I was being selfish and I was okay with that. I needed time for myself, to work my body into better physical condition and correct alignment and strengthen muscles and joints.

 

 

There were days that I felt too tired to go. Once I got there and entered the studio, my mindset would change. As I entered, I’d feel rushed to get back to work, or home to make dinner, but once I began, I’d forget about the clock and my mind would be completely inside my body, my powerhouse.  It still amazes me that an hour in the studio can feel like ten minutes. I never watch the time and am always disappointed when my time is up.

 

 

Ten intensive weeks in the studio is not enough. While I am thankful that I learned more and built more strength within that time frame than I have in the past 3 years of working with Bodywise, there is still so much to learn! There were some exercises, like the traditional Cadillac ending, that I was only able to try just a few times. I’ve learned that it takes consistent practice, and a lot of hours in the studio, to find the muscles that allow you to complete an exercise correctly. Since this is not always attainable, developing my home practice is a must. I’ve worked so hard for tone and alignment, and I do not want to give it up. The practice will come with its share of discipline, however. And that discipline is the same concept that I had commitment guilt with about this Intensive. Setting aside the time, removing all of my distractions, and focusing on me. Moving forward, this will be incredibly difficult for me. How do I hold myself accountable for this practice? No one will know or nag me about it, and my couch is just so much more comfortable than my mat. And how do I remember the traditional mat-work order, when I don’t have someone telling me what to do, when to do it, counting for me, and reminding me to scoop more! I haven’t quite figured out this next step, but I must soon.

 

 

But let’s focus on the positives for a moment and not worry about the future. First off, I cannot believe that it’s made such a noticeable physical difference in my body! After only ten weeks; really, it wasn’t long at all. I am proud of myself for pushing through much of the advanced reformer series. Getting stronger every week was exciting, and feeling the difference and the attention to specific muscles was surprising! My neck and shoulder alignment is significantly better, my posture is consistently better and above all, my mind is calm. Pilates is my therapy, and it’s kept me sane during the busy months of wedding planning. I am happy and thankful that my body has allowed me to push it to this extreme.

 

 

This Intensive has taught me that my body is capable of more than I thought it was. Yes, I am generally fit and healthy, but if I had a dollar for every time I told Erin and Valerie: “no, I definitely can’t do that,” I’d have made my money back! I learned that Pilates never does just easier, you just get stronger. When an exercise looks impossible, it’s more advanced version is always incomprehensible!

 

 

When I think about my achieving those very advanced versions of the exercises that I can do now, I don’t worry about my physical ability, because I am confident that with enough studio time, I can reach those goals; what I worry about is my discipline to get me there. Who has any suggestions on self-discipline? Granted, as “contrologists,” Erin has mentioned that we must all have a little bit of Type-A in us; for me, a lot. So I am good at self-discipline, but its prioritizing the goal and making the space in your life for it.

 

 

So to round out this Intensive, I want to say thank you. I’m not sure who or how many of you have read this, but I hope that my journey has inspired you to try the Pilates method. While your powerhouse may feel it, your wallet it will not. Your first class is free if you sign up online. So many try exercise regime’s that promise you quick physical change with fast cardio, but if you want to tone your body, lengthen your muscles like a ballerina, become more flexible, get stronger, correct your alignment and calm your mind – classical Pilates is the only way to go. It is the most efficient and effective exercise regime I’ve ever tried, and I’m so confident with the method, that I have no interest in trying anything else (that’s not to say that cardio is bad for you, I don’t believe it is; and I still run and bike). But, Pilates as a base or supplement will no doubt give you the results you want. Please remember that it may intimidate you at first (there is SO MUCH to remember), but the instructors are always there to remind you what is next and what to do. If you can get past the intimidation of your first class and come back for another, you won’t be disappointed, but rather proud of yourself and the power your mind has over your body – and then you’ll keep coming back for more.

Thanks Pilates! I guess you've "got my back"! xo

Thanks Pilates! I guess you've "got my back"! xo

 

 

 


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Authorvalerie lopata

Week 9: Accomplishments and Inspiration

By Tina Paul

 

So as we begin to round out the 9th week of this Pilates Intensive, I find myself reflecting on what has changed, what has not changed and what has surprised me. Noticeably, my muscle tone has improved. I’m anxious to take final photos next week and see the comparison. My alignment has certainly improved as well. While it was never bad, per se, I was definitely experiencing some tension and pain in areas that I shouldn’t; particularly my lower back and upper shoulders. While some of that tension during this intensive was due to the fact that I’ve been working my muscles so much harder than they’re used to, I’ve made some out-of-studio changes (i.e.: pillow, computer monitor) and I’ve been nearly tension-free. 

 

One of my body goals was to work on my personal trouble-spot, my “thut.” Remember us talking about this? How difficult it is for me to turn those muscles on? Well, it still is. I’ve improved in that area a smidge, but I still don’t have the tone that I want. The advantage that I have now, however, is that I know how to turn on those muscles… sometimes I just forget! Oops. But hey… my Pilates stance has improved… slightly!

Working on Swan on The Reformer.

Working on Swan on The Reformer.

 

What I am impressed with is my abdominal and upper body strength. I am able to complete “shaving” on the reformer with much more ease than ever before. When I can get my hair out of my way(!), I can really get my hand down to the base of my neck and my elbows out wide. And I can feel the strength coming from my powerhouse. My arms and shoulders are now toned like they’ve never been before. And my back… I ALMOST have that Erin Back. Not quite, but maybe with six more months of training I’d get there!

Trying to keep my Powerhouse engaged while lifting my chest and stretching my legs. Multitasking at its best!

Trying to keep my Powerhouse engaged while lifting my chest and stretching my legs. Multitasking at its best!

 

Ok, so I still have an immense amount to work on. But I’ve nearly gotten through the Advanced Reformer series. I can’t make it through entirely as I’m still learning some exercises and those explanations take a few more minutes than if I were just completing them without verbal direction. Valerie and Erin now expect me to “teaser up” and drop a spring and smoothly transition into my next exercise. I have learned to absolutely love those transitions. Maybe it comes from a love of dance and the beauty that can be achieved through the Pilates method when done according to Joe, and as I’ve interpreted, Romana too.

This is Breaststroke- an advanced exercise that has been helping to strengthen my back. Heres the "stretch-out" part.

This is Breaststroke- an advanced exercise that has been helping to strengthen my back. Heres the "stretch-out" part.

Here's the "open arms" part. 

Here's the "open arms" part. 

Side Note: I love hearing old stories of Romana; they remind me to keep my face calm and pretend that what I’m doing is a piece of cake (when really I’m dying inside). I imagine champagne Friday’s and ladies with their towels and leotards and a genuine love of the method and passion for teaching.

 

So as this 9th week comes to a close, it means I’m two weeks away from the wedding. I understand that most women are going crazy by now, finishing last minute details. For the record, I am not feeling that way. Surprisingly enough, it’s quite the opposite. I’d like to attribute that fact to Pilates. No, really. It’s been keeping me so busy (four days per week at the studio), that my “free” time is filled with normal day-to-day stuff. Pilates gets me out of the chaos of life and into my body. It’s my therapy, my solace, my break from the day. It’s where I can be selfish and focus on myself and not feel guilty about it. It’s where I can be my raw self, even when I’m a ball of sweat, smelly and making horrible sounds of pain, but laughing in between. It’s where I can trust my instructors to lead me to my goal, having full confidence that they know what I am capable of better than I do. It’s where I see clients that share my love of Pilates and understand it’s benefits. It’s a second home, and a team of people that have become friends. Their interest and excitement during this intensive has also pushed me to do the best that I can. I made a commitment and they’ve held me accountable for it. And hopefully I’ve inspired some to push their limits in turn.


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Authorvalerie lopata

Week 8: One step forward, two steps back…

By Tina Paul

The Pull Up on The Wunda Chair. This is the down part.

The Pull Up on The Wunda Chair. This is the down part.

 

This week began with a series of exercises on the Wunda Chair that I thought were nearly impossible. Almost immediately I was out of breath and fatigued. The powerhouse strength that was required was so deep in my abdominals that I wasn’t sure I had any left to give. My balance was also quite challenged in some of those exercises. You know when they give you their hands for peace of mind, just in case you think you might fall? At one point I held onto Valerie’s hand to keep stable! While I was fatigued and it required a tremendous amount of focus, Valerie expressed excitement in what I was able to accomplish! 

The Pull Up- the "up" part. Waaaay harder than it looks. You have to float that 'step' (the pedal part) up using your abs!

The Pull Up- the "up" part. Waaaay harder than it looks. You have to float that 'step' (the pedal part) up using your abs!

 

Then I said, frankly, but I feel so weak! I didn’t do any of those exercises with ease. And I realized then, that other than instructor demonstrations, I’ve never actually been in a class or witnessed other Pilates students on the apparatus’. With that being said, I don’t have much to compare myself to. I am a visual learner, like I’ve mentioned, and I’ve come this far through mainly verbal prompts and hands-on adjustments. It’s stimulating to imagine what I could also learn from others around me when apparatus’ are being used. Or even from different instructors. This is something that Valerie had suggested to me this week: wherever I travel next, take a Pilates class. I might be surprised that I know more than I think.

Our vicinity to New York City is in our favor. We are so close to the source, per se, of Joseph Pilates and those that were trained by him or Romana that the original theories and interpretations have not been skewed too drastically. 

 

I felt tired in mat class this week. Fatigued, but still determined to correct my feet and get deeper into my powerhouse. I felt the correct muscles working. But I was definitely tired.

 

Erin had me power through the reformer series on Wednesday. It was without a doubt the fastest I’ve moved through the series yet. We still cannot make it through the entire advanced series, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was last month. The transitions are coming smoother and the correct muscle groups are being accessed. I generally felt stronger that day and even focused on smiling during the exercises. 

 

It’s interesting that I can feel strong one day and weak the next. This week was a roller coaster like that. I’m being challenged physically more than I can ever recall, though I wonder sometimes if I’ve hit a plateau of sorts. Is my body still changing? Because I can’t see it. I still have days where I feel stiff, sore, and weak – intertwined with those where my body feels flexible and strong, and my spine healthy. Day to day work with Pilates equals small growth, but over time the muscle memory builds and the powerhouse gets stronger. To me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, it is a daily struggle to keep motivated when you don’t see or feel immediate results – but reminding yourself of the progress made thus far is key. 

 

2 more weeks of near-daily training. I’m conditioning myself to continue my daily practice on the mat at home, intertwined with some studio time, after this program ends. I am proud and still a little surprised at what I’ve accomplished for far, but because the possibilities are endless within the Pilates method, it’ll be a lifelong devotion to the method to reach a point where I feel truly advanced and comfortable. Either way, this program has allowed me to work through personal doubts that I’ve had regarding commitment to a (semi) long-term goal. I’ve held to my own personal commitment, and if nothing else had come from this program (which of course there has been so much), at the least I didn’t back out of a goal that I was scared to work towards.


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Authorvalerie lopata

Week 7

By Tina Paul

 

I’ll tell you what, I had a very tough time getting motivated this week. Last week was busy and the weekend didn’t allow for much recovery time. Come Monday, I couldn’t move my neck. I’m not sure if I had slept wrong (again), but the muscles on both sides of my neck seem to be playing off of each other. I rescheduled Monday’s session with Valerie as the neck tension was traveling and causing a headache. I concluded that the rest was in fact good for my body.

Ballet Stretches on the Ladder Barrel. It hurts so good...

Ballet Stretches on the Ladder Barrel. It hurts so good...

 

My Monday session was rescheduled to Tuesday. I worked with Valerie in loosening muscle tension and getting back into the rhythm of weekly sessions after the weekend. We moved from the wall over to the reformer and I jumped right in. We worked through sections of the reformer series, though they were out of order. We threw some basic exercise back in there, such a Short Spine Massage, as it was good for warming those muscles back up. We’re still working on some nitty-gritty corrections, and I’m devoted to ensuring I’m doing every part of the exercise as it was designed. As I jumped on the reformer though, my thut was immediately firing. My thut muscles surprised me! I couldn’t believe that that muscle memory was really happening. Five weeks ago, it was incredibly hard for me to even activate those muscles. So there’s that improvement.

 

I had all intentions of returning for mat class on Tuesday evening. I changed my clothes and headed back over there. Then no one showed. Then I realized I was 30 minutes early. I can’t keep my session times straight! So, instead of waiting, I took care of some errands and went home. I then completed a HIIT workout (I ran full-out, and then walked in a sequence for two miles). I can’t remember the last time that I ran. While I was out of breath quickly, my muscle endurance surprised me. So that just goes to show that Pilates is a strong supplement to any type of exercise you may excel in – just look at the Olympians right now! Laura Placentera just won “Best Female Athlete” in the 7th annual decathlon and is a Pilates devotee! 

 

Rounding out the week was still difficult for me. I was dehydrated and still recovering from the long weekend. What a noticeable difference in my endurance it had on me! I worked hard on the reformer and Erin had me working fast. She threw a few more variations of new exercises in the series, including one-leg tendon stretch on the reformer. I am just learning how to do the basic variation of this exercise, and the core strength that it requires is incredible. I cannot lose focus for one moment or I will not be able to complete the exercise. While trying the new variation, I had all I could do to hold my one leg parallel to the floor with a flexed foot. And during which, Erin kept telling me that I am strong enough to do this now. I suppose with a few more tries I will find the muscles I need to help me attain this exercise.

Teaser on the Cadilac. The tough part is lifting that sternum while staying rocked back on the tail. Hello there 2-way stretch!

Teaser on the Cadilac. The tough part is lifting that sternum while staying rocked back on the tail. Hello there 2-way stretch!

 

Hearing that I am strong enough now is thought provoking. Am I really? Has my strength really improved? How come the exercises don’t feel any easier? Maybe I just can’t see it yet. Yes, I can see some of the physical changes in last week’s photo comparison, but Pilates is designed to be all-encompassing. It has the constant ability to increase its demands on your body and mind. And speaking of those photos – I still find it hard to believe. Muscle tone has increased tremendously, not to mention the alignment of my body. My neck is more in line with my spine, my arms hang more straight and my shoulders are more even. Being relatively strong and healthy, these changes bring more awareness and concern to individuals who may experience some health issues and how those issues can affect all other systems in the body, and then manifest themselves in a physical way. 

Same challenge here on Open Leg Rocker with tail under but chest up. Easier because you get to hold your legs. Harder because you have to rock back and forth keeping everything controlled.

Same challenge here on Open Leg Rocker with tail under but chest up. Easier because you get to hold your legs. Harder because you have to rock back and forth keeping everything controlled.

 

All of this new awareness is something that I wasn’t expecting to gain originally within this Pilates Intensive. While I understood that personal physical changes were likely – really, inevitable – there is so much more that is happening. There is a much deeper component involved than any of us had anticipated.


Posted
Authorvalerie lopata

Week 6: Opposition and Growth

Last week I had mentioned that though Pilates is so difficult, at least you are able to take a short rest in

between exercises. Learning the Pilates method is never-ending; it changes and evolves due to science

and teacher perception of what Joseph Pilates designed (since it was mostly intuitive). Let me stand

corrected. As I was doing some online reading, I came across this: “Part of the work on the reformer is to

strive for smooth transitions between each exercise. As you do so, you find that connecting one exercise

to the next smoothly, becomes an exercise in itself. Your body never gets a rest.” Completing the

transitions properly (and gracefully) is still a lot of work for me. And I know now that if I am doing them

correctly, it should be work. Alycea Ungaro of Real Pilates NYC once said in a Pilatesology© video that

your muscles should never turn off during a session. This has stuck with me and I try to keep it in the

forefront of my mind during a session.

I’m still having trouble with remembering the names of all exercises that I’m completing. This week, I

was asked to complete a variety of new exercises – I’m learning them so fast that I don’t remember who

or when they were taught to me! But, some additional related reading is helping me learn more during

this process.

This week, I think I passed a hurdle. We took mid-way photos. The difference in muscle tone is amazing!

Session 1                            Session 15  (wow!)

Session 1                            Session 15  (wow!)

It’s not huge, but to me, it is noticeable. My posture, although it was not bad, is even better. Joseph

When asked to stand with no corrections made to my posture.

When asked to stand with no corrections made to my posture.

Pilates’ age-old saying that we have quoted earlier: “In ten sessions you’ll feel the difference, in twenty

you’ll see the difference and in thirty you’ll have a whole new body” is ringing true so far. I feel the

difference immediately after every session and it carries me through until the next. I have completed

approximately 18 sessions within the past six weeks. It’s hard to imagine what a little more work over

the next month will accomplish.

I also surprised myself with knowing (somewhat) the order of the advanced Pilates reformer. Well, I

mean the beginning. I haven’t quite made it entirely through in one session yet as when we explain and

correct exercises, we take a little bit more time that we would if I didn’t need that correction. I am

getting there! Part of the order, from which I’ve practiced in the past, is changing. From the beginner to

intermediate to advanced reformer, exercises tend to be in different order, or some are replaced

altogether. So getting a hang of that has been a challenge, but trusting your instructors to walk you

through makes it attainable. While a goal is to eventually be able to run through the reformer series

without cues, part of what makes Pilates so great is that teacher-student connection. They see things

that I cannot see or sometimes cannot feel. They push me to do things that I say I cannot do but

complete. They get sincerely excited when I do accomplish a new exercise or do one I know correctly, in

alignment and with flow. The hands-on teaching also sets this method apart; it helps to bring so much

more awareness to your body than I’ve ever experienced within physical exercise before.

Fast forward to the end of the week – On Thursday, Erin had me work on the classical mat for the hour.

What always amazes me about Pilates is the attention to opposition. You push, you pull; you contract,

you lengthen. Some days you are a ball of sweat, others you don’t break a sweat at all. Some days you

feel worked, others you don’t feel as though you did much at all. And some days you feel as though you

progressed, and others you feel as though you just can’t get it. Thursday was a tough day for me. I didn’t

break a sweat, though I did get into my lower and upper abdominal muscles deeply. I worked on the

control between exercises (like the series of five). But for a while, we stopped to focus on and correct

my feet. I have weak ankles due to many sprains, and my left ankle was sickle-ing during Pilates stance.

We worked with the Theraband to strengthen my ankles and to work specific muscles outside of my calf.

This resulted in various foot and toe cramps that I painfully worked through. At the end of the session,

we focused on standing foot work. Again, while I wasn’t breaking a sweat, it took tremendous focus to

keep aligned. I realize that I have a lot of work, still, to go to access and build specific muscles in my body

to assist in my success of the Pilates method. So all in all, while I went home slightly discouraged

because my ankles have a mind of their own, I’m more determined than ever to correct that and prove

to myself that I do have the ability to reach my goal.


Posted
Authorvalerie lopata

By Tina Paul

Week Five: “It is the mind itself which shapes the body” – Joseph Pilates

 

Pilates is most definitely the most challenging exercise regime that I’ve ever attempted. While some people that don’t have a full understanding of Pilates may think it is easy and just targeted resistance work – as opposed to lifting heavy weights, running marathons or completing triathlons – it delves so much deeper. Maybe that’s why it is so easy to get scared off after trying Pilates just once or twice. There is so much to think about and that can become frustrating. You can think that there is no possible way to train your body to lie perfectly still while targeting only your lower abdominal muscles. While I certainly have not mastered anything in Pilates (and I may not ever), the funny thing about it is that it is the most efficient whole body workout I’ve ever tried. It does what my body needs and what I want. Its results oriented. 

 Working balance and strength on the Wunda Chair.

 Working balance and strength on the Wunda Chair.

 

 We’re already half way through this Pilates Intensive. I think I have progressed more within the last five weeks than I have in the last few years. The consistency in training my mind to find my muscles is what’s most important to me. My body will follow once my mind understands what it needs to do. I’ve been learning classical Pilates transitions, bringing me through the classical reformer series as if I was a dancer! What’s amazing is that though I think I am moving fast (even though we do stop sometimes to review, correct, TALK, etc.), I am not moving fast at all. The flow and rhythm of the reformer series is beautiful. I encourage you to look for videos to see it for yourself. Just for effect, Erin showed me the list of the full classical reformer series on Wednesday at the end of my session. I was sweaty and fatigued but I felt accomplished. Then I realized that I had only completed HALF of the full series within my session! HOW can that be? But hey, one month ago I was only able to complete a quarter of the series, so I guess I’m improving… slowly, but surely!

 

Working through this Pilates Intensive has not only been good for my body, but for my mind as well. See, I haven’t yet mentioned WHY I signed on for this slightly masochistic journey. On July 23, I get to marry my love! So, of course I want to be in the best shape I can and feel great at the same time. What I didn’t realize this would also help with is my sanity in these last few months of wedding planning. While I am so incredibly busy with being at the studio four days per week, working more than full time at our business and keeping our home running – the studio time keeps me grounded and focused on something bigger – my health and wellness. I am determined to enjoy these last few months of engagement while preparing myself for the big day.

Doing what it takes to stay grounded!

Doing what it takes to stay grounded!

 

And the commitment itself has been good for me. I am proud of myself for not giving in or giving up. I refer to this as “commitment guilt.” I have always been like this. I give myself a goal, set up my schedule to achieve said goal (i.e.: boot camp, running, etc.), and I never even begin it! I suppose I over-commit myself to something that I don’t necessarily enjoy doing, and it never happens. While Pilates is extremely hard and as far as I can tell, never actually gets easier, the physical exertion acts in spurts of three. I get to rest, albeit slightly, while transitioning. This past Tuesday, I came into mat class and was the first one there. I said to Erin, well I’m still tired from the Ride for Missing Children… If no one shows up, maybe I’ll just go home tonight. Erin said, well I have another client after mat class so you’re not going anywhere! I didn’t get let off that easy. I feel like I’m preparing for a teacher training or something!

 

Throughout this series, I’ve noticed a change in teacher-student communication as well! Erin and Valerie know me and my body so well now. They know where I’m less flexible and where I’m strong, what areas like to cheat and give in and how to access those tough spots. There has been a lot of hands-on training and cues that keep me right on track. They take notes and talk with each other so we’re all on the same page and progressing smoothly. I don’t want to speak for them, but I do think this has been a great learning experience for all of us. Not to mention that I think they secretly enjoy torturing me! 

 

Thursday’s double whammy rounded out week 5. Lots of work on the chair and some reformer work. This was intended to followed by mat class, though I was the only one there! So, Erin ran me through a fast mat series on the classical mat with some leg springs thrown in there. I was so tired I was shaking and could barely complete rolling like a ball. I can’t imagine how hard the teacher trainee’s need to work! Lots of cues running through my mind, continuing to train my brain to train my muscles. Continuing to zip up my legs… and keep my “tight seat, loose feet!” Until next week-


Posted
Authorvalerie lopata

By Tina Paul

Week Four: Back to the Basics

 

This week was a little bit different than those past and those moving forward. It was a short week due to the holiday, but also on this Friday, I will be participating in my fifth Ride for Missing Children. I will be riding my bicycle, along with 500 other riders, for 80+ miles. That being said, we wanted to take it a little light this week so that I’d be strong for Friday.

 

We doubled up our sessions for Tuesday. I worked with Valerie for an hour, and then attended mat class. Valerie, per usual, asked how I was feeling that day. I had had some lower back pain, likely from sleeping wrong, but otherwise felt great. She designed our session to be lighter and more focused on stretching. 

 

Our work was mostly based on the reformer, with some arm weights at the end. I think Valerie was having a lot of fun that day, and worked me to a pretty good sweat! I was quite sore the following day, but the soreness felt oh so good. While I worked pretty hard, we again focused on some of the basics (I just having such a hard time finding my ‘thut,’ but I think I’m close)! We also worked on a lot of flow. My practice is getting much more smooth and rhythmic. I still need a lot of cuing, but I’ve been making some adjustments automatically lately, so I’ve noticed that I must be doing something right. I feel the exercises as being very targeted. I moved right from my one-on-one to mat class with Erin. 

 

On Wednesday and Thursday, I worked with Erin one-on-one. We worked through flow again and have been including the very traditional transitions through every exercise. It is pretty mind blowing how choreographed Pilates is designed to be. I just think it is so beautiful and want to learn to complete the reformer series, to start, with all transitions correctly. From teaser-ing up to drop or add springs, to looping the leather inside the handles and doing so quietly. I am constantly reminded of the dance that Pilates is designed to be.

 

While my practice in the studio was cut short one mat class and the sessions were light, Pilates helped carry me to an ultimate physical exertion on Friday. This year was my fifth as a Rider for the Ride for Missing Children. It is a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in which Riders are required to raise $500 for NCMEC. Once Riders have met their fundraising requirement, as I mentioned earlier, we ride 80+ miles on our bicycles throughout Central New York in efforts to raise awareness about the plight of missing and exploited children. It’s an amazing cause and team to be a part of, but that doesn’t discount the physical endurance needed. 

 

I may have been a little relaxed, per se, about my training this year. I knew what it required of me and that I am in decent shape, and I’ve been doing so much Pilates that I’ll be strong enough to complete the mileage with no problems. I was lucky for the majority of the day, but Erin’s words took me through the day. In my session on Thursday, I had some anxiety about the Ride, which gave me a slight headache. We talked through the beginning of the session, noting that I need to remember to use my “tree trunk” or my core, to power me through the times when my quads we’re tired. I couldn’t tell you how many times I told myself this throughout the day. As my quads were burning, I’d pull in my powerhouse, and suddenly I wouldn’t feel the fatigue! It amazed me every time. 

Tina waving to the students during The Ride for Missing Children

 

So I find myself repeating again how Pilates has become such an integral part of my life. It helps me calm my mind, rid myself of headaches, improve my posture, increase my physical endurance, supplement other physical training and just generally take a breath in my busy life. This coming week 5, it’s back to the grind of hard work in the studio!


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Authorvalerie lopata

By Tina Paul

Week Three: It may not be perfect, but it may be your best.

 

I’ve found that there are many misconceptions out there about Pilates. “It’s just like yoga, right?” or “Won’t it make you bulky?” Pilates is in its own category. It’s completely different from all other forms of exercise I’ve ever tried – it’s the most efficient, targeted and whole body workout I’ve ever done. Pilates for me is a dance. It’s beautiful, graceful and controlled…. Even if I don’t make it look that way… yet.

hehee!

hehee!

 

Romana once said “If you’re not a dancer and if you would have liked to have been one, that’s nice; and if you’re not a dancer and you didn’t want to be one, that’s still nice.” If I could go back in time, I would have been a dancer. So when Valerie cued me this week on the mat, it really resonated with me. She mentioned that ballerina’s often think of gears turning under their costumes, but what is above the shoulders is graceful and completely without strain. This cue is helping me relax my shoulders and those terrible strained faces I make, while I just keep telling myself to fake it until I make it!

 

I’ve been learning more and more types of exercises lately. It’s amazing how creative Pilates can get on such simple apparatus’. Some of which are really exciting because before now, I’ve only seen them in photos on Pinterest and just wished I could do them! This week, I was able to try a Russian Split on the Reformer. It’s always bothered me that I’m not as naturally flexible as I’d like to be. Before even trying the Russian Split, I told Valerie that there was no way I could do this. But, damn it, I did it. It wasn’t the best (my hips kept trying to turn out of my box), but it was the best that I could do. And I was pretty freaking impressed with myself! 

Tina in her first attempt at Russian Splits. (not too shabby!)

Tina in her first attempt at Russian Splits. (not too shabby!)

 

But even when I’m improving in some areas, others (and sometimes the most basic) need to be adjusted. On Wednesday, I was visibly shaky (likely a combination of not eating enough and being fatigued). We were working on flow; fixing the tiniest of movements to make them as perfect as I could. However, during the reformer series, we took a break to add extension straps and work on leg circles. Very basic, but it was because of those damn quad’s. Erin tapped and pointed to the areas in which I needed to turn on (my ‘thut’ or where my thigh meets my butt), and the backs of my legs. So incredibly hard. How can I not have been performing this exercise correctly for so long? 

 

My ‘thut’ could feel the work I put in the next day! I am so happy about this. But have I really been not working the correct muscles this entire time? I seem to rely on constant cues to ensure that I’m doing the exercises correctly. I still easily tense my neck or quad’s. I forget to work my hamstrings when I’m paying attention to my balance on the Wunda Chair. To be honest, sometimes this makes me feel defeated. It’s so hard! There is so much to remember! But, I know that I have the ability to continue to improve; I have the focus, drive and passion for the system and these challenges won’t stop me. Soon, all cues will come as second nature to me and I will even be able to count on my own! Haha, yes that is hard too!

Exhausted after an intense round of leg springs. "Wake up, Thut!"

Exhausted after an intense round of leg springs. "Wake up, Thut!"

 

This was a good week; it’s hard to believe I’ve completed three weeks so far. I am feeling more flexible already, even though I have a long way to go to get where I want to be. My body feels strong and I have fewer aches in my hip flexors from my desk job. And I can see definition! My arms are looking more sculpted, my shoulders, back and abs. Even if it is ever so slight, I can notice it. And whether or not anyone else does, it makes me feel better about myself, and that’s what ultimately matters.

 


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Authorvalerie lopata

By Tina Paul

Week Two: The Rhythm, Ebb and Flow

Tina during Mat Class

 

These days, I feel as though I am eating, sleeping and breathing Pilates. I’m preparing every day for my upcoming session, and during which I’m still feeling the effects of the last session. I calm myself and focus before I enter the studio, and once I’m there - that’s my therapy. Mr. Pilates referred to his method as the “ultimate control of body, mind and spirit.” And it is just that – so much focus must be applied to the rhythm that all else falls out of concern during that time frame. When I leave the studio, I leave consciously happier, more awake and more aware of my body; so much so that I find myself pulling in and up while I am driving, or even sitting at my desk.

 

I have learned over the past 3 years that Pilates never does get easier. I get stronger. I’ve gained strength slowly at Bodywise, but it’s through this intensive that I believe that I’m going to actually see results. Last week we took “before” shots. While it’s clear that I need a tan, what’s far more interesting is how I hold my arms, shoulders and hips. We are aware through past sessions that my ankles are weak due to running injuries and my left side in general is less strong and flexible (for reasons I do not understand). This lack of strength relates to difficultly in rotation of my hips in certain positions, or less ability to keep grounded. When this happens, my body tries to compensate for the lack of strength by bending at my wrists, for example. A very similar compensation happens in my right ankle when using the strap.

 

With more strength building every day, comes more knowledge of my body’s capability. I am a visual learner, and often need to see the exercise performed for me if I do not understand it. This week, Erin showed me how to properly do Horse on the Barrel. Though I’ve done Horse since I’ve started at Bodywise, it’s always been extremely difficult for me to fully access the position. Once Erin showed me, I tried again, and during my final attempt I felt as though I “got it.”

 

What I really think is going to supplement my goals of this intensive, however, is learning more of the “why’s” of Pilates, though I hear that sometimes that isn’t as important. In Pilates, everything is always turned on. You are constantly working your powerhouse and thus, your body. But Contrology is about more; it’s founding principles include breath, concentration, center, control, precision and flow. Understanding that I need to exhale when I return upwards from Rolling Like a Ball because it allows me to contract my abdominal muscles more allows me to gain more control over the exercise and ensures that I’m activating the correct muscles. Too easily can Pilates become passive; if I lose focus for one second, I’ve likely shifted off of the path to my goal. 

 

On a couple occasions this past week, I had an “AH HA” moment! One of which was during Open Leg Rocker on Tuesday night’s mat class. I was very focused with my breath, powerhouse and the lifting of my sternum, and at the end of the exercise, I was beaming with excitement! I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t rocked off to the side of my mat (because I always end up crooked), or that I was still holding the exercise with such lift and flexibility! It amazes me that with a little bit of commitment, I can begin to achieve my goals quickly.

 

The moments when I feel accomplished carry me over to other days in which I’m not at my best. I’ve been in the studio a lot (for me) lately, and on Thursday my body was feeling fatigued. Some of the more advanced exercises that I was asked to complete seemed nearly impossible. On the Wunda Chair, I thought “you want me to hold this foot pedal up AND lift into a bridge position, WITHOUT putting any pressure on the pedal and while keeping my heels lifted?” But then I focus, get back into my core and I just do it. 

 

I’m learning that my Pilates practice is about the ebb and flow. When I make a strained face during an exercise, I smile when I relax; and when it gets harder, I get stronger. But what doesn’t seem to change amazes me the most – I look forward to my Pilates sessions EVERY time, and I’ve never felt that about any other form of exercise! More time, more practice, more Pilates. 


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Authorvalerie lopata