Ground Reaction Force: The source of your power!

Newton's third lawDo you remember learning Newton’s third law in a science or physics class?  Don’t worry, we didn’t think so!  This is the law that states “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Well, in a nutshell, Newton’s third law explains ground reaction force.  When we run, jump, throw something, etc., we push against the ground to get power, and the ground returns the exertion of the force to help us get that power.  If this doesn’t make sense at first, imagine trying to throw a ball while treading water in a deep pool.  Clearly, without a stable surface to push against with the legs, a person in a pool could not propel the ball the distance he could if he were standing on firm ground.  In a pool, the legs and torso can do relatively little to help, so the shoulder, elbow and wrist joint must produce the majority of the force necessary to throw the ball.

If muscles in the hips and legs, particularly the gluteus medius, are weak or injured, then the scenario on land is not much better than that in water!  When we push against the ground and the ground returns the exertion, the joints of our bodies must transmit this force in the best anatomical and most efficient way possible.  In other words, all the muscles of the body must be recruited at the right time to accomplish the task at hand.  Muscles must “fire” sequentially to prepare the body to hit the ball, leap the hurdle or perform the double back flip with a twist.  Thus, if any muscle along the kinetic chain is weak, underused or injured, then the transmission of forces will be inefficient and faulty, and other body parts must take on more work to make up for the “weak link.”

Using the tennis serve as our example (see chart below) 54% of the ball’s speed should come from the trunk and back, hips and legs.  Fifty four percent!  This means that before the shoulder even becomes involved in the serve, the body from the shoulders down generates more than half of the power that gives the ball its speed.  Of course the remaining power comes from the upper body:  the shoulder joint is responsible for 21% of the power, the elbow, 15% and the wrist, 10%.

Ground Reaction Force for Tennis Serve_Pilates

If the gluteus medius is weak, the torso, back, shoulder, elbow and wrist compensate for the lack of power by taking on more of the force.  As discussed in a previous blog, the gluteus medius is a key stabilizer of the hip, especially when the weight is on one leg.  When “winding up” for the serve, the body’s weight is on the same leg as the serving arm.  The muscles are loaded with power and funneled into an explosive serve.  A weak gluteus medius results in decreased power and INCREASED potential for injuries.  In fact, research shows a weak gluteus medius contributes to shoulder and elbow injuries not only in tennis but in baseball, swimming and golf as well.

What can you do?  Well, strengthen your gluteus medius of course!  In our previous blog, we listed all the Pilates exercises that are great for doing just this, “Side Leg Lift Series,” “Side Lying Scissors,” “Side Lying Clam and Book,” etc.  But, unfortunately, if the firing pattern for hip abduction is faulty, the TFL (tensor fasciae latae) fires BEFORE the gluteus medius.  Ideally, the gluteus medius fires before the TFL, but the reverse is true for many people.  No matter how fabulous a Pilates instructor you are, teaching someone NOT to use a muscle is far more challenging then teaching them to use one!

This is where ActivCore is absolutely ideal!  Because the Redcord system allows for the off-weighting of clients, chronic “misfiring” during hip abduction can be remedied without complex imagery, vocabulary or body awareness.  The reduced load enables the client to perform hip abduction with the proper sequencing of muscle firing. Pictures 1 and 2 below shows the regular Side Lying Abduction exercise and pictures 3 and 4  shows the same exercise off-weighted. For more information on ActivCore or the Redcord system, please visit their respective websites at www.activcore.com and www.redcord.com.  If you would like to enroll in the teacher training for ActivCore, please visit our teacher training page for upcoming training dates!

activcore sidelying abduction Picture1activcore sidelying abduction Picture 2

activcore sidelying abduction Picture3activcore sidelying abduction Picture 4

July 16, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . ACTIVCORE®, Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Booty call! The anatomical and aesthetic benefits of the gluteus maximus

shoulder bridge pilatesWho doesn’t want a butt that seems to defy gravity and fill out that snazzy pair of jeans? Of all body parts, women AND men care about their derrieres. After all, Mia Michaels choreographed an entire routine for the third episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” (click here to watch) around the appeal of a pleasant posterior. But a beautiful backside is not all that is obtained by strengthening and toning the gluteus maximus!

First of all, human beings’ unique gluteus maximus is a consequence of upright walking. (click here to read more.) BUTT (ha ha ha), because we in the developed world spend most of our time sitting at desks, our gluteus maximuses on the whole are “woefully underdeveloped” (click here to read more.) A weak gluteus maximus not only leaves you with droopy jeans and sagging skirts, it also wreaks havoc on the lumbar spine, the sacrum, the hip joint and the lower leg!

A strong gluteus maximus not only helps tense the thoraco-lumbar fascia (thus providing additional support to the low back), but also indirectly stimulates the multifidus to fire. (click here and click here to read more.)
As the gluteus maximus should engage at the point of the heel strike when walking, when it is weak, the trunk lurches backward at heel strike on the weakened side, thus straining the lumbar spine and causing imbalances in the pelvis, sacrum and hip joint.

BUTT, Pilates offers many exercises to strengthen the gluteus maximus safely and effectively! (click here for this excellent back and butt toning workout!) First of all, engaging the gluteus maximus at all times when performing prone exercises is important. This helps to stabilize the pelvis so that the lower back (lumbar spine) does not over-extend in any prone extension exercise. For example, in Breast Stroke, only the thoracic spine is meant to extend and keeping the gluteus maximus engaged helps ensure that the lumbar spine does not extend and the pelvis remains in neutral.

For exercises such as Swan Dive and Double Leg Stretch which require full spinal and hip extension, engaging the gluteus maximus keeps pressure out of the lumbar spine and helps create even extension along the backside of the body.

If the above mentioned prone gluteus maximus exercises cause any discomfort in the lower back, try lying prone over an Arc Barrel so that the lumbar spine is in flexion. Then practice lifting one leg at a time into extension to concentrate on firing only the gluteus maximus while leaving the erector spinae relaxed. This can be challenging, but with practice, it can be done!

Exercises such as Shoulder Bridge, Hip Rolls with Heel Lifts and Heel Squeeze are excellent ways to focus on pure hip extension, i.e. pure gluteus maximus work without extending the lumbar spine. In Shoulder Bridge, the spine stays neutral throughout and the pelvis must be stabilized using the gluteus maximus and the abdominals against rotation. Hip Rolls and Hip Rolls with Heel Lifts adds articulation of the spine and while lifting and lowering the heels targets the hamstrings more than the gluteus maximus, the latter is still challenged by holding the hips in extension at the top (and stabilizing against rotation!) Finally, Heel Squeeze is a great way to practice keeping the pelvis in neutral since you can focus on all three bony landmarks – the hip bones and the pubic bone – remaining in contact with the floor as you engage the gluteus maximus. Advanced students may add a lift of the thighs as the heels squeeze ONLY if this can be performed with a neutral pelvis and spine.

Finally, standing lunges target the gluteus maximus and a slew of other muscles as well. In the classical Pilates mat repertoire, lunges and squats are not included, but if you plan on running to a gym and doing lunges/squats to strengthen your gluteus maximus, please keep the following tips in mind: 1) keep your abdominal muscles pulled in and engaged at all times; 2) do not allow your lower back to arch as you lunge or squat and 3) make sure your knees bend directly over the 2nd and 3rd toes without rolling out or in as this puts undue strain on the knee joint.

Lastly, oftentimes we Pilates instructors say “squeeze your glutes” when we really mean “contract your gluteus maximus.” This is merely for time and does not reflect one’s lack of knowledge in what the various muscles do! So please know that 95% of the time, when your instructor says “squeeze your glutes,” she/he means gluteus maximus!!

Best wishes for a terrific buttsky this summer!!

July 2, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. 1 comment.

Why We Love Props For Pilates

yespilateshundredswithband-articleFrom exercise bands to BoSUs to stability balls, props can add challenges, assistance or variety to a regular Pilates workout.  The right prop can make a hard exercise easier and a simple exercise extremely challenging! Targeted use of props can also help spice things up for clients who have been practicing Pilates for years and need a little pizzazz thrown into their workout.

So why do we love props?  The first reason is simple and perhaps the most important: props help facilitate the proper execution of an exercise. They help clients achieve neutral, fire into the “right” muscle group and activate dormant muscles that have not been doing their job!  Pads and cushions help clients begin an exercise in as close to neutral alignment as possible, which is essential for a biomechanically correct, pain-free Pilates practice.  We would not survive at our New York studio without pads to place under clients’ heads to bring the cervical spine into proper alignment when supine or cushions for them to sit on to bring the pelvis into neutral.  Pilates Rings and Small Balls between the ankles or knees on certain exercises can help engage inactive inner thigh muscles and help clients deepen their abdominal contraction.  Arc Barrels or BoSUs can be effective teaching tools for prone spinal or hip extension exercises.  Placing the lumbar spine in flexion on the barrel helps deactivate the often over-active erector spinae of the lower back and can help clients isolate the erector spinae of the upper back or activate the hip extensors without going into lumbar extension.

Second, props help build the strength or awareness necessary to perform the “real” exercise properly.  The original Pilates exercises are fabulous and effective on their own, but some people just can’t do them right….yet!  Props can be the stepping stone a client needs to succeed in a Pilates mat environment.   The “Roll Over,” for instance, can be challenging for many individuals who lack either abdominal strength or spinal flexibility (or both)!  By performing the “Roll Over” on an Arc Barrel and beginning with the hips elevated, the client can build the strength necessary to execute the exercise properly without using momentum and jeopardizing the lower back.  Similarly, for those with tight lower backs (such as the authors here), the “Roll Up” can be absolutely lovely holding a 4 lb mini-body bar.  Of course one needs to be careful with the shoulder girdle given the extra weight, but this little bit of extra weight adds leverage where it is needed to assist with articulation of the spine through the tight spot.  As another example, those clients seeking to transition from “Hundreds” with bent knees to “Hundreds” with straight legs but still find maintaining a strong imprint challenging benefit from using an exercise band around the feet.  The band helps support the weight of the legs, and thus allows the abdominal muscles to build the strength necessary to maintain imprint, protect the lower back and support the lower body simultaneously.

Finally, we love props because they introduce muscle confusion training into a Pilates mat workout, which helps any body get more out of their Pilates routine.  Simply put, the muscle confusion training principle states that muscles adapt to a specific type of stress and need to be challenged in varied ways in order to continue experiencing results.  Muscles improve from being subjected to new and different stresses and challenges which is exactly what props can provide.  Athletes cross train for this very reason, as the body benefits overall from allowing certain muscles fibers to rest and others to engage.  Moreover, incorporating props into a Pilates workout can help prevent the well-known plateau effect and even boost clients over a “road block” that keeps them from progressing.  Use of props can kick up the intensity of the workout quite effectively without placing undue strain on the body.  In fact, research shows that something as simple as performing a bench press on a stability ball is 62% more effective than a bench press with the same weight conducted on a regular bench.  (Source)

Pilates props with Katherine and Kimberly CorpFurthermore, muscles performing the same action day after day “get bored” just as clients get bored with the same workout!  Varying a workout ensures that clients continue to see results and stay interested.  Pilates enthusiasts who regularly work out on the Pilates equipment already benefit from the muscle confusion training practice as integrating all equipment into sessions over the course of a week or month allows muscles to perform in different ways each workout.  Thus, just as “Side Bends” activates different muscles groups on the Ladder Barrel, Cadillac and Mat, so to does “the Hundreds” challenge the body in different ways using the Stretch Band, the BoSU and the Pilates Ring.  Focusing on different muscle groups and adding variety will not only enhance core stability, but also turn your Pilates routine into a fabulous cross-training program, which will improve your overall fitness and decrease your risk of injury.  (Source)

With all the props available today, one can quickly become overwhelmed when deciding which props to choose. Is your goal to challenge your client?  Help her do an exercise correctly?  Target his core?  Facilitate better alignment?  Knowing the merits of each prop and which ones best suit your clientele’s objectives is the first step to integrating props successfully into your Pilates workouts.  We have included a chart below to highlight the various benefits, but please keep in mind that the categories are exercise specific!  The exercise band, for example, can assist the “Roll Up” but challenge the “Double Leg Stretch.”  Also, one very dangerous trap to fall into is watching others use props and then copying them in your sessions.  Never EVER use clients as guinea pigs!  Incorporating a prop often changes the emphasis of the exercise, so be sure to try the exercise with the prop first before teaching it to an unsuspecting client.

In conclusion, we offer three basic rules of thumb to follow with regard to incorporating props into Pilates workouts.  First, choose a prop with a specific goal in mind for the client or class you are teaching.  (In other words, do not choose a prop because you, personally, are bored and need some entertainment!)  Second, remember that most clients can focus on one thing at one time.  Thus, multiple props used simultaneously tend to destroy — rather than enhance — the integrity of the exercise.  Though the picture to the right is humorous, you clearly want to avoid this scenario with your clients.  Finally, because props do change the original exercise a bit, be mindful of what is gained — and what could be compromised — with the addition of a prop.  Shoulder Bridge on the BoSU, for example, helps activate the core because of the instability, but the hamstrings may cramp because of the increased effort required to stabilize.

Pilates Props Table

The Pilates repertoire has not only withstood the test of time, it continues to impress and amaze both the fitness and medical worlds with its benefits.  Make sure to honor this system with thoughtful use of props that enhance the client’s overall Pilates experience.

June 26, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. 1 comment.

Golfers find better posture through Pilates, part 4

golf-pilates-pics-41To complete our series of articles outlining the ideal set-up for the golf swing, we will discuss the importance of shoulder placement.  As with all aspects of alignment, Pilates can help build body awareness and bring attention to bad habits!

Our first article discussed ideal alignment in the set-up, which stated that the shoulder of the dominant hand should be slightly lower than the other, as the dominant hand should be slightly lower than the other, as the dominant hand holds lower on the club.  Because the dominant hand is lower (the right hand in the photo), this sets the spine on a slight tilt to the right, which should be maintained during the back swing.  Thus, from the side, a forward lean, and from the front, a sideways lean, is present.

“One of the most common faults is to have the right shoulder too low at address,” explains Rick.  (See picture below left.)  “This creates a position that forces the arms to dominate the backswing instead of the core muscles, which should be in control.  Also, when the right shoulder is excessively low, the body is not centered, which prevents a sound pivot as the shoulders are unable to turn at 90 degrees to the spine.  The result is a powerless swing which could lead to injury.”

golf-pilates-pics-42 golf-pilates-pics-43

Rick continues, “Less common is a tilt to the left, or to the side of the non-dominant arm.  (See picture above right.)  The elbows of both arms should be loosely bent — not locked — so that the arms have energy in them without being rigid.”  The picture below shows the side view again, from the side of the dominant arm, which you can use to improve your positioning further.

golf-pilates-pics-44To continue improving your body awareness and to strengthen your abs and back more, try Obliques Roll Back, Swimming and “the Banana” from the Side Leg Lift SeriesObliques Roll Back strengthens the spine in rotation and flexion, Swimming targets the muscles of the back and “the Banana” strengthens the obliques and improves lateral flexion.  For simple arm exercises that will help rid the body of excess shoulder tension, try Pilates in Ten — Arms!

“Tis the season for golfing again, so brush up on your golf game and blow the competition away when you hit the green again!  Contact Rick Nielsen at Power Golf Pilates, powergolfpilates.net!

April 16, 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.

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.

Why pelvic placement is important in Pilates

pelvic-motion-lateral-viewWhen we worked in Japan, we would never have guessed that we’d be writing an article about the pelvis! Despite our dance training since age 3, we had never stopped to learn or even think about the role the pelvis plays in the body.

While climbing the corporate ladder, we were no longer dancing, but we were running 7 miles in the morning, barely stretching and then sitting all day long — usually 10 hours at least — to make sure our Japanese colleagues knew we were serious hard-workers. In retrospect, knowing more about the pelvis and its surrounding the muscles would have saved our poor wittle backs (and probably increased our productivity too!)

Even if you’ve only taken one Pilates class in your life, your teacher most likely mentioned your pelvis more times than you could count! So why is the pelvis so important? In layman’s terms, it connects the upper and lover halves of the body. Tightness in the muscles that connect to the pelvis (which includes the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and hamstrings among others) cause problems in both the upper AND lower extremities. So YES — it’s pretty important!

So now for “Pelvis 101”: the word “pelvis” means “basin” in Latin. This is useful for visualizing how your pelvis should be positioned in relation to your spine and your femur (your thigh bone). If your pelvis were actually a basin full of water, you would want to walk, stand and sit keeping that basin completely level horizontally, so that the water wouldn’t spill out the front or the back. This is your “neutral” pelvis when upright and is depicted above by the picture in the middle. The term “ASIS” refers to your hip bones and the term “PSIS” is most easily described as those dimples you may see on the small of your back (though not completely accurate). You can see that the “basin” in the middle would not spill water down the front or back of your legs!

Likewise, an “anterior tilt” pictured on the left and a “posterior tilt” depicted on the right show common misalignments in the body. Think of it this way: in an “anterior tilt”, the hip bones move forward (anteriorly) relative to the pubic bone (the basin tips forward) and in a “posterior tilt”, the hip bones move back (posteriorly) relative to the pubic bone (the basin tips backwards). For those readers who care about the detailed anatomical definitions of all this, click here!

Since Pilates mainly occurs lying down, think that you rotate the above picture clockwise 90 degrees to put all the images on their backs! When lying down, a neutral pelvis is defined by the hip bones and the pubic bone in the same horizontal plane. An anterior tilt is seen by the lower back arching and the pubic bone dropping towards the floor and the hip bones rising, and a posterior tilt is seen by the lower back curling towards the mat with the pubic bone rising and the hip bones dropping.

In Pilates, all three positions are used, so you must listen to your instructor and know where your pelvis is at all times! Here are three exercises that require the three different positions: Swan Dive (pelvis moves from neutral to an anterior tilt); One Leg Circle (pelvis stays neutral throughout); and Rolling Like a Ball (pelvis stays posteriorly tilted throughout.) Want more? Our UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com website offers a full technique video on the training page just on the pelvis so log on and watch it!

March 5, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates mat vs. Pilates equipment: which is better?

lindafitClients new to Pilates often ask, “which is Pilates, the mat or the equipment?” Well the answer is BOTH! And both are excellent ways to strengthen your core, increase strength and flexibility and tone the entire body.

What is known today as “Pilates” began as a series of mat exercises Joseph Pilates created to rehabilitate himself and others. He later expanded these fitness and rehabilitative ideas to develop equipment out of hospital beds by attaching springs to bed frames or walls and supports overhead. Thus, bed-ridden individuals could begin to strengthen their muscles with support and without the misaligning effects of gravity.

Linda Farrell of LindaFit Pilates is a beautiful example of the effectiveness of Pilates mat work. “Over the years, the mat has become my preferred workout due to its convenience and portability,” Linda states. “As my professional life has demanded more of my time and energy, I have been happy to discover that I can still sneak in my Pilates mat workout — even for only 15 minutes — between classes, meeting and teacher trainings.” Linda has been known to squeeze in workouts anywhere from beaches to airport terminals! As Linda says, “the simplicity of the mat with its minimum set-up requirements and continuous flowing nature has seduced me, so to speak, and is my preferred Pilates workout.”

But don’t let this “simplicity” fool you! Pilates mat work can actually be harder than the equipment work. Individuals who can successfully complete an hour of advanced Pilates mat work are truly strong people! Because the mat requires you to support your own body weight constantly, mat exercises can be very challenging, especially for those with tight lower backs or limited flexibility. We enjoy the support that the equipment provides. Those who feel they can’t “do” the Pilates mat exercise properly can have more success with the equipment.

teaser-on-cadillacThe beloved (or notorious) “Teaser” is a great example of an exercise that is far more challenging on the mat than it is on the Cadillac. On the mat, you must articulate your spine off the mat, lifting your head, shoulders and legs all smoothly and beautifully without any assistance. If you have a tight lower back or abs that aren’t yet strong enough, you know how impossible this is! But the Cadillac helps you accomplish this move as the springs coming from above assist you.

For great mat classes throughout the city taught by Linda Farrell, visit LindaFit.com for a schedule. For mat and equipment workouts online, visit UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com or come by our studio, Pilates on Fifth.

Photos: Above, Linda Farrell of LindaFit Pilates. Below, Katherine and Kimberly Corp of Ultimate Pilates Workouts and Pilates on Fifth.

March 4, 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.

Recession Proof your Pilates workouts

dsc005203In an effort to create affordable Pilates for those who love Pilates but have found that the economy has them choosing necessities over Pilates lessons, we’ve come up with two options:  one for at home Pilates workouts, and one for Pilates mat classes and Pilates reformer classes at the studio.  There is no need to forego your favorite Pilates workouts either at home or at your Pilates studio.

We’ll start with the most economical way for doing at home Pilates workouts:  www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com.  The basic membership is absolutely free, and you can enjoy free mat workouts directly from your computer.  It’s like having a free Pilates studio membership or an unlimited supply of free Pilates videos and Pilates DVD’s.  Don’t see a Pilates workout you like?  Don’t be shy!  Email us at feedback@ultimatepilatesworkouts.com with suggestions!

dsc00483At our Manhattan Pilates studio, we’ve created The Streamline Series:  Group mat Pilates classes and group reformer classes at EXTREMELY affordable rates.  With over 15 classes a week in the streamline series, we’re certain that you will find a class that suits your busy schedule without breaking your bank account.

dsc00479We think our New York Pilates mat classes and reformer classes are the best in New York City. They make a fantastic supplement to your private sessions. Mat Pilates Plus classes are affordable and fun. Like Pilates privates, they target the “powerhouse” muscles of the lower back, abs, and buttocks. Because our Pilates instructors are the most qualified in the business, you can be assured of a safe, effective, and challenging workout.

Our instructors all have a great depth and breadth of knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics. They know more than just a series of Pilates mat exercises and Pilates reformer exercises; they know how each of these exercises affects specific parts of your anatomy. As Pilates becomes more and more popular, Pilates studios and Pilates programs are popping up all over the place. Since no regulation board exists to monitor Pilates certifications, almost anyone can become a “professional” instructor. We dislike this “anything goes” climate, which is why we’re so picky about hiring only the most experienced, educated Pilates instructors, all of whom have been fully certified by Pilates Academy International or by STOTT PILATES®.

dsc00502Pilates on Fifth is located at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in a wonderful landmark building. Our sun-filled studios are located in the penthouse, 22 stories above the busy streets below. Because of our convenient location, we attract clients from a number of different areas. Some of our clients commute to our studio from their homes in Connecticut or New Jersey, while others swing by Pilates on Fifth before or after work.

February 10, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. 1 comment.

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