Key to the Core II: Core is more about just the Abdominal Muscles

core-strengthThe other day we googled “Pilates and lower back pain”, expecting to find a myriad of articles about how Pilates helps alleviate lower back pain.  To our surprise, the article which really captured attention was titled, “Is Pilates Bad for your Back?” (click here for the entire article with comments.) Most of us know that if Pilates is done incorrectly, then it may exacerbate lower back pain, but this article delved further, into Pilates’ emphasis on the role of the Transversus Abdominis and Multifidus.

When we first read the article, our initial reaction was a bit of incredulousness, as we thought that surely Pilates instructors both realize the importance of the full gamut of core muscles and cue accordingly, but the writers of this article seem convinced that Pilates instructors ONLY cue the transversus abdominis.  NOT SO, we say!!  Let’s face it, can you do ANYTHING just by engaging your transversus abdominis and deep pelvic floor muscles?  Aside from “drawing in” your abs and drawing up your pelvic floor muscles (as in Kegel exercises), the answer is unequivocally “no!”, as neither the Transversus Abdominis nor Pelvic Floor Muscles have any directional pull on bones.  They are muscles of endurance and contract tonically.

Now, as Pilates instructors, we all get in the habit of cueing the Transversus Abdominis, Obliques and Pelvic Floor Muscles in lieu of the Rectus Abdominis, Gluteus Maximus and other musculature because oftentimes our clients are often overusing those muscles anyway.  They simply don’t need to be cued…. that doesn’t mean they are not needed to perform the exercise!  Take the core challenge test, which we featured in our first, Key to the Core Blog (9/14/2008), and try to use ONLY your Transversus Abdominis and Pelvic Floor Muscles…. IMPOSSIBLE!!

There are quite a few AMAZING articles about core strength on the internet, so we could not possibly highlight all of them at once.  So, we’ll start with one of the more popular sites, about.com.  They feature a GREAT article on core strength, entitled, “Core Training -Good Core Training Takes More Than Ab Exercise” (click here to read article.) Once again, we encourage you to read the whole article, but, in summary, this article supports the concept that pure core stability consists of not only strengthening the core abdominal muscles, but also strengthening the muscles that improve the functional coordination of the spine, the pelvis and the hips.  Specifically, in addition to the abdominal muscles, multifidus and erector spinae, the writer mentions the hip flexors (yes, all of them), the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus,  the hip adductors, the hamstrings, and piriformis.  The article states “In other words,

“the goal of core stability is to maintain a solid, foundation and transfer energy from the center of the body out to the limbs.”  Fiona Troup, a physiotherapist and qualified Pilates instructor at the Sports & Spinal Clinic, Harley Street, quoted in the first article, concurs, stating, “a strong back means a combination of strong muscles in the buttocks, spinal area and shoulders not just a well-developed core area”.

So, with this new knowledge, as you’re doing your Pilates workouts, think not only of the muscles of the abdomen, but also all the surrounding musculature, working on balancing the muscle groups and creating a well-functioning body with a strong core as well as strong hips, shoulders, arms and legs!!  We recommend “Power and Precision Mat Workouts 30 or 45 minutes,” “Challenge Your Core Reformer Workout,” and “Power Chair Workout” on Ultimate Pilates Workouts (www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com)!

April 3, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates for two: Spice up your workout! part 3

air-pushup-couples1So far in our Valentine’s special “Pilates for two” series, we have toned the abdominal muscles with the “Oblique” exercise and sculpted the outer thigh muscles with the “Outer Thigh Toner.”  Now, the “Air Push Up” strengthens and tones the arms.

Start position:  stand facing away from your partner, back to back.  The closer you are together, the easier it may be to balance, but if you want to challenge core strength, step away from one another!  The man holds the middle of the band shoulder distance apart and the woman holds the ends of the band.  Elbows are bent close to the sides with the fists in front of the shoulders.

Inhale, pull in the abdominal muscles and lengthen through the spine.  Make sure the neck and shoulders are relaxed.

Exhale, without elevating the shoulders, extend the elbows to simulate a “push up” in the air.

air-pushup-couples-2Inhale, return to the start positon with control, trying not to rock back and forth on the feet.

Exhale, repeat, adjusting the tension as necessary by either changing the hand position on the band or stepping away (or closer to) one another.  Repeat 10-12 times.

For you men out there, if you find this exercise too easy, don’t fret!  Working with lighter tension can strengthen the smaller muscles of the rotator cuff which always work to stabilize the head of the humerus in the glenohumeral joint.

For more great arm workouts, try “Pilates in Ten Arms” from the Pilates on Fifth Video Podcast or “Strong, Shapely Arms” from the Strong, Svelte and Savvy series of workouts on UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com.

March 27, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com 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.

Pilates and weight loss, part 4

runningAs the last article in our series about Pilates and weight loss, we will explore cardiovascular conditioning, the most important element in any fitness regime.

Cardiovascular conditioning not only helps maintain a healthy weight, but also strengthens the most important muscle in the body:  the heart!  If the heart is not strong and conditioned, the flattest abs, the most flexible spine and the tightest buns in the world will not make a difference.  Physicians administer a “stress test” to determine one’s fitness level and will not care about a perfect “Teaser” or “Roll Up“!

The American Heart Association recommends adults ages 18-65 engage in 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week to maintain heart health.  Moderate activity means the heart rate is noticeably higher than it is at rest, but a conversation can still be maintained.  Also, the 30 minutes of exercise do not have to be performed consecutively.  Incremental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking the dog, vacuuming or raking leaves can all add up to your 30 minutes. For more guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, click here.

cardiolates-11Our favorite cardiovascular activity is CARDIOLATES, which we developed to integrate the alignment principles of Pilates with the physiological and cardiovascular benefits of rebounding.  We had noticed in our own bodies that as the years rolled by, we were getting “softer” with the same workout regime (“softer” is a nice way of saying fat was increasing and lean body mass was decreasing), and we needed to add in more cardio to avoid what many consider inevitable weight gain over the years.  Yet our bodies were no longer able to endure the impact of running, aerobics and other common cardio activities.  Because the mat of the rebounder absorbs 87% of the shock to the joints, we could rebound without knee, hip and low back pain.  The CARDIOLATES technique encourages rebounding in as close to ideal or “neutral” alignment as possible, so you can apply these principles to a brisk walk as well.

When starting out with cardiovascular activity, be sure to take it slow and work up to 30 minutes if necessary.  Walking is absolutely free, so a great way to start is walking around your neighborhood so you have an exit strategy!  Shopping malls can be great places to walk too, but resist the temptation to walk into every store!

For CARDIOLATES classes near you, check out www.cardiolates.com for studios in your area that offer official CARDIOLATES classes.  If you are in New York, come by Pilates on Fifth for some fun-filled, heart pumping, fat burning CARDIOLATES classes.  For home exercisers out there, check out our CARDIOLATES DVD which was featured on the Martha Stewart Show!

March 24, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates for two: Spice up your workout!

couples-obliques-12Working out with a partner can be motivating, challenging and FUN!

Our first exercise is an abdominal exercise for the obliques.  You will need a stretch band, which can be purchased online, or exercise tubing can work well too.

Start Position:  Sit up as tall as possible facing your partner with your knees bent and feet braced against each other’s.  Pull in your abs and try to lengthen your spine.  We suggest that the man hold the middle of the band, approximately shoulder distance apart, and the woman hold the ends of the band so that she can adjust the tension.*

Inhale, pull in the abdominal muscles and lengthen up through the spine.

Exhale, roll back off the sit bones, simultaneously rotating the rib cage to the right and bending the right arm.

couples-obliques-2

couples-obliques-3

Inhale, pass through the start position, keeping the abdominal muscles engaged.

Exhale, roll back of the sit bones, simultaneously rotating the rib cage to the left and bending the left arm.

couples-obliques-4

Repeat this exercise 8-10 times, 4-5 times each side.

*The greater the tension, the more support there is for the abdominal muscles, but the harder the exercise will be on the muscles of the arm.  If the woman holds the band, she can reach further up the band for more tension (more support) or more towards the edges of the band for less tension, less support.

For more great stretch band workouts, log onto www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com and try the “Tighten and Tone” workout or try our “Pilates in Ten” podcasts for Arms and Legs, which also use the stretch band.

March 23, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com 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.

Pilates and weight loss, part 2

my_first_pilates_workout_watchdog1In our last article, we discussed many factors that contribute to weight loss.   Today, we explain how lack of sleep inhibits successful weight loss.  For all those who force themselves to stay up late and get up early, this article is for you!

The body produces many hormones, two of which are directly related to sleep and appetite.  One is ghrelin and the other is leptin.  Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and triggers hunger, while leptin is produced in adipose tissue and signals satiety, in other words, it tells the body “I’m full.”  In healthy individuals, ghrelin levels are naturally higher before a meal and leptin levels are naturally higher after a meal.

When one is sleep deprived, however, ghrelin levels climb and lower the levels of leptin in the body.  A sleep-deprived body receives signals that it is hungry beause the appetite control hormone leptin has been “turned off” by the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin.  A study in the journal PLoS Medicine shows the correlation between short sleep duration and high levels of ghrelin.  Over a 15 year period from 1989-2004, the study shows that people who consistently sleep only five hours a night exhibit a 15% increase in ghrelin (the appetite stimulant) and a 16% decrease in leptin (the “I’m full” signal).

According to the researcher behind the study, Emmanuelle Mignot of Stamford University, this proves a regulatory problem exists in people of today’s “unnatural” society.  Before the desk job became the dominate characteristic of modern work, the human race engaged in physical activity daily as a natural part of life.  Physical activity both increases one’s appetite and one’s need for sleep.  But today, most of us are sedentary much of the day, yet forgo sleep to try and squeeze more work into the day.  So we’re not getting enough physical activity AND we’re not sleeping!  Thus, the hormone ghrelin is flowing causing us to feel hungry and eat more, though we’re not engaging in the activity necessary to burn the calories of the additional food intake.

Most people tend to brag about how little sleep they get or how little sleep they need.  Somehow, sleeping less has become the sign of a “hard worker” or a “dedicated employee,” but please don’t fall into that trap!  Sleep is good!  You can do the “Hundreds” thousands of times and do Pilates workouts (or any workout for that matter) until you are exhausted, but if you are not sleeping adequately, the hormone ghrelin is most likely thwarting your progress.  Sleep is not only replenishing, it also serves to balance these important hormones — so get to bed — NOW!

Our next article will discuss how stress is related to weight gain so tune in next time!

March 18, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

Jump into heart health with CARDIOLATES®!

cardiolates-1Love Pilates but hate cardio?  CARDIOLATES® offers all the cardiovascular benefits of rebounding with the alignment benefits of Pilates — and it’s fun too!

Forget your fabulous triceps or your six pack abs, your HEART is the most important muscle in your body.  Pilates flattens your abs, strengthens your core and tones all the muscles of the body, but it was never designed to elevate your heart rate to the levels required for cardiovascular conditioning.  To keep your heart healthy, you must engage in regular cardiovascular activity.

CARDIOLATES®, offered at Pilates on Fifth in New York City, combines heart-pumping rebounding with ab-sculpting Pilates to deliver the cardiovascular activity necessary for heart health.  Clients who reach a weight loss plateau in their regular Pilates classes see their final pounds melt away with CARDIOLATES®.

cardiolates-2And here’s the best news:  because CARDIOLATES® is gentle on the joints, those who find high impact activities too taxing on the body can enjoy CARDIOLATES® pain free!  The mat of the rebounder absorbs 87% of the shock to the joints (according to a NASA study) so you can burn calories without your joints paying the price.

CARDIOLATES® has been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, Good Day New York and the CW11 Morning News.

March 17, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. 1 comment.

Let us EnLIGHTen you!

scaleIn addition to its personal fitness services, Pilates on Fifth fosters a variety of health and wellness programs. One of the most popular and effective of these programs includes our EnLIGHTen Series. The EnLIGHTen Series provides a private session entailing a comprehensive analysis of metabolic rate and body composition tests. It’s fast, easy and confidential! The EnLIGHTen Series sheds light on understanding each individual’s metabolism and body composition as a means of effectively pursuing fitness and wellness goals. Analyzing your results and charting your progress allows for healthful self-improvement!

Body composition is a better health measure than weight alone. So Become EnLIGHTened and find out your percentage of body fat and lean mass. A valid, reliable method of measuring body composition with accuracy comparable to the gold standard of underwater weighing has arrived! Bod-E-Comm is a completely safe and non-invasive method of body fat testing which requires no disrobing or discomfort of any kind! U.S. Government research located a single point on the human body – the biceps of the dominant arm – that has a direct correlation with the body’s overall fat level. A safe beam of near infrared light is sent into the bicep at specific wavelengths that fat cells will absorb and lean mass cells will reflect. After just a few seconds, only YOU see the results AND the computer software gives you a printout with diet and exercise recommendations. Results can be stored so you can track your progress.

Eliminate the guesswork with metabolic testing! With all the diets on the market today and the conflicting advice presented by the media, how are you deciding what’s right for your body? Truth is, every BODY is different and you need personalized data to make the proper choice for your body. Become EnLIGHTened and learn about your body’s needs. Now, Pilates on Fifth has REEVUETM, an FDA approved indirect calorimeter: a machine that calculates the amount of oxygen you consume to determine how many calories you burn a day just staying alive. Based on the results, the machine can determine your resting metabolic rate, which will tell you how many calories you would naturally burn if you just sat all day long. Then, the sophisticated, intelligent software provides you with a detailed printout of not only your resting metabolic rate, but also your caloric maintenance zone, weight gain zone and weight loss zone. Plan your eating and exercise more efficiently! What used to be available only in hospitals is now available here and we encourage you to EnLIGHTen yourself with this knowledge.

Visit www.pilatesonfifth.com to check out our additional Pro-Health Pilates programs! Or, call 212-687-8885 to contact our friendly Front Desk Staff about scheduling your EnLIGHTen appointment today!

For access to Pro-Health Pilates workouts visit www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com! Ultimate Pilates Workouts offers free and unlimited access to Pro-Health Pilates workouts, including Pilates for lower back pain, Pink Ribbon Pilates and more!

March 13, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

The perks of working out at Pilates on Fifth

All of us at Pilates on Fifth value the time and efforts of each of our fabulous clients. It’s wonderful to work with individual clients on their individual needs and focus in on their specific fitness goals. Our clients give us so much of their time and energies, and we wanted to give back! As a token of our sincere appreciation for our devoted clientele, we established an exciting new program at the turn of the new year. Each morning a new and different client is pulled from our database as a recipient of a free of charge Pilates on Fifth service! Free privates, free class, free downloads! Our rotating give-away calendar offers an exciting pro-Pilates perk each and every day of the month! And, who doesn’t like free stuff?!

FREE Pilates Private Session!
One-on-one Pilates equipment sessions. Our certified instructors will customize a workout to meet your fitness goals and unique needs. Voted best personal trainers in New York City!

FREE Pilates Plus Mat Class!
All the traditional and essential Pilates mat exercises plus stretch bands, stability balls, Pilates rings, BOSUs and other tools to help you tone your muscles, strengthen your core and feel great!

FREE Pilates Reformer and Chair Class!
The Reformer and Chair are excellent tools to challenge strength and flexibility all at the same time! Each piece of equipment guides its users to fire specific, subtle muscles and therefore, add further muscle tone and improved alignment to your Pilates body.

FREE Pilates on the Go! DVD!
Pilates on the Go! is a dynamic full body Pilates workout which you’ll never get bored doing! Conceived with today’s busy lifestyle in mind, you can select workouts as short as 7 minutes or as long as 110 minutes and can tailor your workouts to meet your individual needs. You can work on abs and arms one day, legs, butt and core the next – or do it all for a great full body workout. With all the options this DVD provides, Pilates on the Go! is a great workout choice for frequent travelers, busy moms or anyone who needs to squeeze workouts in when they can!

FREE Ultimate Pilates Workouts Premier Membership!
Enjoy free and unlimited access to an ever-growing Workout Library designed by Katherine and Kimberly Corp! Your Premier Membership will include:

•    Anytime Access to all Mat, Small Equipment, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrel and Specialty Workouts!
•    Create your own workout features!
•    Download any workouts at a fraction of the cost of a DVD!
•    5 free downloads per month
•    20% off purchase of training videos (download or DVD)
(www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com)

FREE Ultimate Pilates Workouts Download!
Ultimate Pilates Workouts offers full-length Pilates workouts from the convenience of your computer! Enjoy free and unlimited access to a well-balanced, strengthening and lengthening workout of your choice! Choose between Pilates Mat, Small Equipment, Large Equipment or Specialty Workouts! Visit www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com today!

FREE EnLIGHTen Private Session!
Body Composition Testing! Chart Your Progress! Fast! Easy! Confidential!
Body composition is a better health measure than weight alone. So Become EnLIGHTened and find out your percentage of body fat and lean mass. A valid, reliable method of measuring body composition with accuracy comparable to the gold standard of underwater weighing has arrived! Bod-E-Comm is a completely safe and non-invasive method of body fat testing which requires no disrobing or discomfort of any kind! After just a few seconds, only YOU see the results AND the computer software gives you a printout with diet and exercise recommendations. We will store your results and then track your progress three months later.

Visit www.PilatesonFifth.com to learn more about our studio and the various pro-Pilates services that it offers! Or, call 212-687-8885 to contact our friendly Front Desk Staff. They can help you with your questions and direct you to the program that best suits your individual needs. A calendar is posted at the Front Desk of the studio with its designated winners and their corresponding prizes. Be sure to check on your way out!

To enjoy the perks of Pilates on Fifth outside of the city, visit www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com. Ultimate Pilates Workouts is the first website of its kind, making full-length Pilates workouts available for free! Customize your own Pilates workout from the convenience of your own home, with the articulate instruction of Manhattan’s top Pilates certifying instructors, Katherine and Kimberly Corp! Ultimate Pilates Workouts offers free Pilates workouts tailored to pregnant clients, seniors, athletes, dancers, injury rehabilitation, breast cancer survivors, and Pilates professionals alike. Log onto Ultimate Pilates Workouts to enjoy free Pilates online today! Find the workout that works with your potential and meets your fitness goals!


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March 12, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . 1. Leave a comment.

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