The New Year and Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!

Now is the time of year that everyone flocks back to the gym, the personal trainer, the Pilates class, or the yoga studio after weeks, or even months of abandoning the regular “routine”.  At our Pilates studio, we too are jumping on the Resolution bandwagon with the implementation & promotion of “Fit & Fabulous in 50 Days!”, assuming, of course that 50 days would be about the time it takes to make a lifestyle change.  Actually, it’s very easy to resolve to make a change, either by deleting or adding something to our lifestyle, but how easy is it to MAKE the change?

Well, we decided to do a little poking around, and we found a number of sources that stated, and with a great deal of “authority” at that, that it takes 21 to 28 days to change a habit.  By this logic, if all of us can just stick with our new routines, whatever they may be, until January 31 or so, then we’ll have no problem keeping our resolutions until the end of the year.   …Yeah, right!  We all know that it’s not so easy!!

So, we continued to search for other articles about habits, and habit forming, and we came across this one (click here!) We highly suggest that you read it, but this article sites a study in which it took some participants UP TO 245 DAYS to change their habits!!!!  The average was around 66 days.  Well, if 66 is the average, then maybe we’re not too far off with our 50 day plan!

At our studio, because we offer not only Pilates (Pilates mat classes and Pilates Reformer classes, yay!), but also XTEND™, CARDIOLATES®, GYROTONIC®, and ActivCore, we figure we have enough in one location to keep even the most ardent sufferers of ADD satisfied and entertained!  Couple that with the whole idea of muscle confusion that has become popular, and our New Year’s Resolution plan should really kick off the New Year right!!

We’re actually looking for 10-12 people who want to be case studies at our Manhattan Pilates studio!  If you are interested, please send an email to projects@pilatesonfifth.com and please put PILATES NYC in the subject line!!

THANK YOU!!

Katherine & Kimberly

January 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . ACTIVCORE®, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

ACTIVCORE® cured my neck and shoulder pain

ActivCoreFEX 007When we first started doing ActivCore ® , we couldn’t wait to try every exercise that we could get my hands on.  As dancers, we’re also always first enticed by the exercises for the legs and the core… the upper body exercises have always been a secondary focus.  However, as we began the training and learned more about ActivCore’s amazing ability to get the right muscle to fire in the right amount at the right time, we started wondering if there was any hope for the nagging neck and shoulder pain that we had been silently suffering with off and on for years.  Katherine had lost hope that anything would make her pain go away.  It had actually become so bad that I couldn’t finish the last sip in a tall glass of water without being forced to support the weight of my head in my free hand!!

To our amazement, the secret recipe for completely “fixing” shoulder and neck pain was ActivCore ® … particularly the pull ups and the push ups.  Who knew?!  The first time we tried the pull ups (not being able to do a single pull up on my own), we knew we were using our legs more than our arms, but we LOVED the way it opened my shoulders and how we were so connected through our backs.  Because ActivCore ® allows you to set the difficulty appropriate to your own personal strength level, you really can’t go wrong.  We have all our clients doing their own personal pull ups with the ActivCore Activation Station ® because of its incredible adjustability.

With the push ups, because the ropes are unstable every direction except straight down, we were total wrecks…. both of us on the left side  (for different reasons, we promise!!!  We’re not clones!!!)  Neither of us could really complete one push up without our left arms freaking out and shaking like gangbusters.  We couldn’t keep the rope still!!  ….And that’s when it hit us.  None of the local stabilizers in the left shoulder were firing.  It was like they were on vacation on another planet.  The solution?  Find the setting on the ActivCore Activation Station n® that would allow us to complete four push ups without collapsing or shaking uncontrollably.  Then I repeated three more sets of four, adjusting the height of the ropes or where I was standing so that I could alter the level of support.

In the first week, we probably did the pull up and push up sequence 2 times….. that’s a total of about 32 pull ups and push ups, and both our shoulders and necks felt better after that one week, not to mention that we felt like our posture improved immensely.  (…And we’re not the only ones who’ve said this!  One of our best friends and workout buddies said to us the day after doing one set of pull ups:  “Could it really be possible that my posture is better after only one session????”  The answer:  yes!)

Pull Ups 003Now, we’re completely addicted to the pull ups and push ups!!  Katherine’s neck pain is gone, and I no longer have to hold the back of my head when I’m enjoying my last sip of my favorite beverage.  Kimberly’s rotator cuff pain is gone, too!  We make both push ups and pull ups a mandatory part of our ActivCore ® workout sessions, and as a result we have happier necks and shoulders!!

June 10, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . ACTIVCORE®, Pilates on Fifth Postings, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

“Dance as though no one is watching you”…. but do Pilates like everyone is!!

single-leg-stretchYes, we know that Souza did not end his famous poem as such, but if we’ve learned one thing from the filming of our Pilates workouts, it’s how to increase the intensity of your . If you don’t think Pilates is hard enough, then imagine that you are doing Pilates in an Olympic arena, equipped with a full panel of judges who score you based on proper execution…. WOW!! Take it from us, it’s grueling. You can take a “beginner’s” workout and turn it into one of the best workout sessions just by focusing on all the little details and fine tuning. We like to think of it this way: as long as you’re investing the time to work out, then why not get the most that you can out of your session? Here are some few helpful hints based on what we’ve gleaned from filming our Pilates videos for the site:

1) Pull your abs in!! …And when you think they’re in, pull in a little more! Then, with every new exercises and every other repetition, repeat!

2) Straighten your knees fully! We know that we’ve written about the knees before, but it really is a way to kick up the intensity and get the whole body involved.

3) Open the shoulders! Involve the muscles of the upper backto keep the shoulders from rounding forward and create that beautiful, trademark Pilates posture.

4) Don’t forget your glutes! When doing side lying or prone exercises, your glutes (the muscles in your buttocks) are key to stabilizing your torso and upholding Pilates as a total body workout.

So there you have it! Just a few simple tips to help you get the most out of your Pilates workouts. Also, in addition to the four points above, proper form and technique will make the Pilates exercises even more effective. If you need help with an exercise or just want to know if you’re doing a Pilates exercise correctly, simply check out any of our podcasts. (link to podcasts)

March 26, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

The potpourri of Pilates in New York City

treeDo you remember your favorite teacher from high school? If you’re like most people, your favorite teacher significantly influenced your interest in the subject she taught. Well, it’s no surprise that your first Pilates teacher will most likely shape your preferences for one type of Pilates over another — for better or worse!

As for the two of us, we don’t have “Pilates bodies” — and some Pilates teachers we’ve had through the years made us abundantly aware of that fact! I wanted to feel GOOD leaving a session, but instead felt like Quasimodo and wished I’d had a potato sack to hide my deformed, twisted, imperfect body. Of course we both ended up embracing the type of Pilates that was taught to us by a teacher who was open, fun, inspiring, life-affirming, attentive to imbalances but full of compassion and had us feeling really GREAT about our bodies and our potential after the lesson.

If you have tried Pilates and hated it, then by all means, give it another try. Maybe you and the teacher just didn’t “click.” To make this easier for you, we have included some links to some great Pilates studios in the city, all of which teach slightly different styles of Pilates. Of course we’d love to see you at our studio, Pilates on Fifth, but we also know that location and style can be everything, and there are many great Pilates studios here in NYC! Here’s the list….and we know all of these owners and can state confidently that they are exceptionally qualified AND kind individuals who are dedicated to their craft.

LindaFit by Linda Farrell: www.lindafit.com. Linda is a beautiful lady both inside and out and teaches fabulous body-sculpting mat classes throughout the city (just check out her legs if you don’t believe us!) She teaches at Steps, Broadway Dance Center and Equinox among other locations.

Rolates, run by Roberta Kirschenbaum: www.rolates.com. Roberta is kind and wise — a perfect combination for a great Pilates instructor and studio owner. Rolates often conducts innovative, educational workshops and has the added bonus of inhabiting Joseph Pilates’ original studio space!

Pilates Reforming New York, run by husband and wife team Ann Toran and Errol Toran: www.pilatesreformingny.com. Ann delivers challenging core-strengthening, elongating workouts conveniently scheduled throughout the day. Pilates Reforming New York specializes in energizing group reformer classes.

Power Pilates, presided over by Dr. Howard Sichel: www.powerpilates.com. Dr. Sichel and Power Pilates has an amazing team of leaders in the Pilates industry providing high quality instruction at 6 locations throughout New York City and more throughout the country.

So remember….if you tried Pilates once and didn’t like it, please give it another chance! Maybe it isn’t for you, but if you’re reading this, then you’re interested enough to give it another try!

March 19, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

Add power to your push-ups with Pilates and ActivCore©

We’re sure you’ve all heard some version of the phrase “if you’re stranded on a deserted island, how do you keep your muscles bulging and ripped? Push-ups, of course!”

When push-ups are done correctly (i.e., pulled in abs, strong gluts, energized legs, etc.), they really do tackle every major muscle group. Even if you start with your knees down and progress to more advanced versions, push-ups help strengthen your core. But don’t forget, a strong core can help strengthen your push-ups!

Whether you already have excellent push-ups and are looking for a challenge or are looking to gain strength to be able to DO a good push-up, the ActivCore FEX© system can be your solution. Our clients from weight lifting men to willowy women have seen dramatic strength improvements using ActivCore©.

The instability of the cords adds two new and important dimensions to your push-ups: 1) keeping the cords still as you perform the push-ups triggers deep stabilizers of the shoulders and torso to fire, increasing both shoulder stability and core strength and 2) maintaining alignment of the torso three-dimensionally (preventing sagging or piking hips, rotating pelvis and rocking side-to-side) further strengthens the core and creates important muscle memory for proper alignment in other endeavors. Exercises range from simple, rehabilitative movements to intense, core strengthening workouts.

As dancers, both of us have always struggled with upper body strength and neither of us has ever enjoyed working on upper body strength. Thus it has remained our “weakest link” all our lives! We got the ActivCore FEX© system for our studio on January 9th and WOW! The increase in strength is dramatic, and we’re both enjoying the journey, too!

And for you men out there, if you want to see some “real men” practicing on ActivCore©, click on this link and watch the video of Norwegian skier Kjetil Andre Aamodt, the only Alpine skier to win 8 Olympic gold medals in addition to many other titles, using ActivCore© to train.

kk-activecore

March 10, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . ACTIVCORE®, Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

The secret to flat abs and a healthy spine

hundredsAs I was climbing into bed last night, I was pondering the best way to write about proper abdominal usage.  I figured I’d think of something, so assumed my usual supine position, snuggled close to my two bulldogs and drifted off to sleep.  Then, in the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by the weight of one of my (hungry) 45 pound bulldogs traipsing across my stomach to lie on my torso and exfoliate my skin (a proven method for getting me up to feed them).  Instinctively, I tightened my abs and pushed OUT to prevent her dagger-like paw from impaling my liver, pancreas, stomach or any other vital organ.

As I deliriously poured some kibble into the bowl, it hit me!  We humans KNOW what to do to protect our organs but don’t know what to do to protect our lower backs!  Clearly, with a bulldog on your stomach, you’re going to tighten your abs and push OUT — so obvious, right?  But to protect your lower back, you must PULL IN the abdominal muscles and keep the belly-button glued to the front wall of the spine.  If it’s not initially obvious, think of it this way:  to protect your lower back, you want the abs to be as close to the spine as possible.  So pull in!

“Pulling in” targets the deepest layer of the 4 abdominal muscles, the transversus abdominus.  The transversus abdominus, or “TA,” wraps around the abdominal cavity like a corset or girdle with horizontally running fibers that compress the abdominal contents when contracted.  We won’t go into the debate currently looming in the Pilates/kinesiology world regarding its role in stabilizing the core, but we will tell you this.  If you focus on keeping your belly button drawn to the front wall of your spine through all of your abdominal work (this includes crunches, push-ups, etc.) you will see a dramatic difference in core strength.  Our clients have experienced great success focusing on this deep muscle, instead of just the Rectus Abdominus (the “six pack” muscle) or the Obliques.

flatabspullinginflatabspushingout

Do:  Keep your abs flat!                     Don’t:  Let them pop!

Try this:  do “the Hundreds” and follow the directions exactly.  Can you keep you abs FLAT, with your belly-button pulled to the spine the whole time (see the picture on the left above).  Or do your abs “pop” halfway through (as in the picture on the right)?  If they do, a great way to start training is to keep the knees bent for exercises like “The Hundreds” until the endurance of transversus abdominus increases.

After years of teaching, I know that the idea of “pulling in” and not “pushing out” can be confusing, but learning to pull in will do wonders for your abdominal strength and your lower back, not to mention a flatter stomach and a more defined mid-section!

Just getting started with Pilates or want to brush up on technique?  Try “My First Pilates Workout” at http://www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com!

March 9, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . ACTIVCORE®, Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Attention to details brings success with Pilates

spine-twistWhen very fit individuals come to our studio for their first Pilates experience, we often hear “my abs are really strong and I’m super-fit, so I want a hard workout.” So they take a class or a private, and while the instructor tries to cue them to follow proper technique and work more deeply, their mind is fixed on a “feeling” delivered by another workout and NOT focused on Pilates. So sometimes, Pilates can be a disappointment! Well, by the logic of “my abs are really strong and I’m super fit, so….”, we should walk into a martial arts studio and say “we can kick (from our Rockette days) and we’re strong (thanks to Pilates), so just put us with the black belts.”

That’s hilarious, right?! I hope you got a good laugh out of that. True, “fit” individuals may progress faster than others at a new endeavor, but everyone must adopt a beginner’s mindset when starting a new activity if they want to see results. Though there are exceptions, people who don’t see results, usually didn’t take the time to learn the proper way to do it. Every sport or dance style — or almost every activity, really — has a technique that should be followed to achieve maximum results. From a golf swing to a quarterback’s throw, from a hurdler’s leap to a pirouette, some expert in the field has taken the time to document the proper biomechanics that make the ball go further or the hurdler go faster or the dancer turn beautifully.

This week we’ll focus on different aspects of Pilates technique from pelvic placement to ribs to shoulders, but until then, here are some general tips you can follow:

1. SLOW DOWN! Don’t speed through your Pilates session. Slower is harder. Faster is easier. breathing deeply and fluidly (no grunting!) may help with this.

2. Listen to your instructor and follow their cues. Could you pull your abs in more? Are your shoulders down?

3. Think QUALITY not QUANTITY: are you stretching your legs fully? are you pulling your abs in as much as possible?

4. STOP if something hurts. Pilates is not meant to hurt. If your neck hurts, set your head down. If your hip flexors are gripping, rest.

If you’re just aching to have more info now, please log onto www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com and watch the technique video on the training page. (You must be a “basic member” to do this, but basic membership is absolutely FREE!! Ultimate Pilates Workouts offers free and unlimited access to full-length Pilates workouts! Free Pilates workouts online! Create your own cutomized Pilates DVD! And, it’s perfect for all levels!) And try the Spine Twist….an exercise that seems very simple when done improperly, but when done well, can really make you feel your abs!

March 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Why core strength training relies on instability

my_first_pilates_workout_watchdogWhether using balls, BOSUs or balance discs, athletic trainers and personal trainers alike know that instability is the key to training the core.

The deep muscles of the core are involuntary muscles that engage automatically when subjected to instability.  In other words, one can go through a lengthy traditional workout involving elaborate weight machines, free weights, etc., but unless instability is introduced into the training regime, the core musculature may not be targeted at all.

Given the right cues by a qualified trainer, one can learn to activate his/her core musculature in traditional abdominal work.  For instance, most Pilates mat exercises do not involve instability (unless you’re doing Pilates on a boat), but you can activate the core by deliberately engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor.  (Think “kegel exercises” if you are not familiar with the term “pelvic floor muscles.”)  Activating the pelvic floor triggers the deepest abdominal muscle, the transversus abdominis, to fire.

good-for-website-4Another key core stabilizing muscle is the multifidus.  The multifidus is comprised of a series of short fibers that act as scaffolding for the spine.  The exercise shown above, the “Watchdog“, targets the multifidus because the spine is challenged to remain straight and NOT rotate as opposite arm and leg lift.  Almost anyone who has ever been to physical therapy for a back injury has been given this exercise because it targets the multifidus.

Keep checking back for more information on this unique muscle and the exercises that strengthen it!  In the meantime, if you just can’t wait, try our “Get on the Ball“, “Meet your Core” and “Small Ball Toning Workouts” on www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com as all provide ways to introduce instability into your workout and target your multifidus!

March 3, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. 1 comment.

Find the fun in Pilates to increase results

Between work, family, the economy, etc., you are under enough stress!  Read on to learn to discover some fun — and maybe some flatter abs — with Pilates.

As with any exercise, the more serious your mindset when approaching your workout, the more results you will see.  But even world class athletes enjoy their sport, or they never would have the will to drive themselves to excellence.

rolling_like_a_ball_smallWe’re serious about Pilates, but we believe in stressing form and alignment without stressing our clients!  Rolling Like a Ball is an original Pilates exercise that tones the abdominals,  strengthens the core, challenges balance….and is a whole lot of fun!

To start, sit tall with bent knees and flat abs.  Then, roll back off your sit bones and pick your legs up one at a time to balance in a little “ball” position, as in the above picture.  Inhale, pull in your abdominal muscles more to roll back until the weight is between the shoulder blades.  Then exhale and return to the start position — without putting your feet down on the mat!  On the roll back, don’t let the weight go onto the neck, and when you return, don’t let your feet touch the mat.

The spine never changes shape throughout the exercise, but because your abdominal muscles act as the accelerator and the brakes, Rolling Like a Ball tones the abs quite effectively!  The first time you attempt this exercise, it may take a couple of tries before your body figures out how much energy to put into the roll back and the roll up to the start position.  This takes abdominal strength and coordination…but it makes you laugh in the process.

And after all, laughter is the best medicine….

For more fun and exciting Pilates exercises accessible to all levels, visit www.UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com! It’s free!

March 2, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

NYC Pilates Instructor Certification

Are you looking for a change? Teaching Pilates professionally may be just the change you’re looking for. The Pilates Academy International, headquartered at Pilates on Fifth, attracts an eclectic group of certification students. The women and men who enroll for our NYC Pilates instructor certification come from a variety of backgrounds.

 Many of our certification students are professional dancers, either current or former. Dance is a highly competitive field; only the lucky few are able to earn a full-time living as professional dancers. When their Broadway shows close sooner than expected, or they grow weary of life on the road doing national tours, teaching Pilates is a wonderful “second career” to fall back on.

Pilates instruction is also a great career for people who discover that they’re allergic to office culture. Working a nine to five office job is not for everyone. Many of our certification students are folks who tried to make a go of office work, but discovered that it was not for them.  And what’s great about being certified through the Pilates Academy International is that you are supported by a website with hundreds of Pilates training DVD’s and over fifty full length Pilates workouts online…. the ultimate resource for a Pilates professional!! 

 At http://www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com/, you’ll find both instruction and inspiration as you embark on your Pilates career.  All the videos are taught by Kimberly and Katherine Corp, the founders of Pilates Academy International and owners of Pilates on Fifth in New York City.  Their style reflects the style of their Pilates certification program as well, aiming to create knowledgeable and compassionate Pilates instructors.  For a small fee (less than $0.72 per day!) you can have access to free downloads of Pilates workouts and free downloads of Pilates training videos.  Or, you can sign up for the basic membership and view all the free online Pilates mat workouts.  It’s like having a free membership to a Pilates studio!

 Teaching Pilates is a fabulous career for people who love people, who love movement, and who love teaching. If you truly love all three, you’ll discover that teaching Pilates really feeds you. You won’t “run out” of things to teach. Rather, you’ll discover that your love for Pilates and your interest in your clients’ improvement inspires you to greater and greater heights. We find Pilates instruction to be both deeply satisfying and personally rewarding. Through your instruction, you can help alleviate people’s pain, raise their spirits, and even lengthen their lives. It’s important work that requires vast knowledge, precise skill, and boundless enthusiasm.

February 20, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

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