To Mat or Reform?

To Mat or Reform?

My first introduction to Pilates was the mat work. A friend dragged me to a class. I’ll admit I was a big doubter of Pilates. If you have heard my bio on PilatesAnytime I share that I truly thought it was an infomercial fitness thing. But, boy was I wrong! So, wrong. As the mat class went along I felt parts of my body that I had never felt before in my entire life of being an athlete.

I left that first class and changed my work schedule so that I could go to mat classes at a studio down the street from my house every day. Yes, I was there 6 days a week unless I wasn’t in town. I had no idea that Pilates wasn’t only the mat work.

Until I moved to Los Angeles, and I struggled to find classes that were in my neighborhood and at times I could go. And the ultimate need, a teacher who could inspire me and help me dig deep into my practice. What I ended up discovering was a small Pilates studio. No classes just privates and duets. I made the switch from mat classes to duets and privates.

And, then, I found myself never wanting the mat but just the Reformer, Cadillac, and Chair. It wasn’t until after my training program and a couple years of studying under some incredible mentors that I realized how beautiful the whole package of Pilates is.

No need to choose which piece was the best.

So, when I was asked what I would want to teach at Momentum Fest I knew I wanted to bring the Reformer on the mat. I wanted mat lovers to feel the reformer in their bodies and even how it teaches the mat work. And, I wanted the reformer lovers to find some love for the mat. Now, you don’t have to choose between the Mat and the Reformer!

The thing is the mat is a piece of equipment. It might feel like the least supportive one out there but it’s not. The mat has the most space, and like a good friend can meet you where ever you are. If you’re in a hotel, your house, a studio, park or on a boat you can find the mat work waiting for you.

So, if you are a Reformer lover of Pilates then get ready to fall in love (even just a little bit) for the Pilates mat at Momentum Fest! I know I can’t wait to see you and every Pilates lover of every level for three days of Pilates flow.

Register and purchase your ticket for the 2018 Momentum Fest today!

 

Lesley Logan is a PMA Certified Pilates Teacher and has been studying and teaching Joseph Pilates Classical Method since 2005 and 2008 respectively. She also has eight years of retail management experience, and six years managing studios regionally for Equinox fitness clubs. Hooked after her very first class in Orange County, Lesley arranged her schedule to take Pilates classes every day. This enthusiasm moved her to Los Angeles, where Lesley completed a 600 hour Classical Pilates Teacher Training. Soon after, Lesley completed a Masters Pilates Program from The Pilates Center in Boulder, CO. Her love for learning the method didn’t stop there, as she became the Lead Teacher Trainer for Equinox Pilates and led dozens of apprentices through their program from 2012-2016. In 2013 Lesley was voted ‘Best Pilates in Los Angeles’ by Los Angeles Magazine, featured in Pilates Style Magazine, can be seen on PilatesAnytime.com, and recently has completed ‘The Work,’ a masters program taught by one of Joseph Pilates ‘Elders,’ Jay Grimes. Maintaining that Pilates is a unique practice that is right for everybody, Lesley tailors the method for each client. Her goal is to help them connect their mind to their core, creating intentional body awareness so they can move from their center, be taller and stronger than when they walked in. You can find Lesley teaching private clients at Westwood Pilates in Los Angeles or through Skype or Facetime. She also offers online business courses for beginning to advanced Pilates instructors, studio owners and teacher trainers at her website, ProfitablePilates.com, and leading groups on Pilates retreats around the world.

You and Me…& Your Seven

You and Me … & Your Seven.
by James Crader

Murmuration: The phenomenon that results when hundreds, upon thousands, of starlings fly in intricately woven patterns while swooping and soaring through the sky, liquidly changing directions at any moment.

Science has long been baffled by the act of murmuration. How do thousands of birds cohesively alter flight patterns in split seconds with limited, and densely whirring, vocalized information? When looking at a flock of starlings cover the sky it’s clear that there is no “leader.” The movement seems to emerge from a group think that sometimes serves the purpose of hunting, or avoiding being hunted … whatever the impetus it’s always mesmerizing. Often the shape molds and shifts for in-obvious reasons.

Here’s what we know for sure, according to a study by George F. Young and colleagues, starlings form an intimate relationship with, and pay attention to, a limited number of their neighbors (seven to be exact). Because of this relationship starlings are able to cohesively navigate in uncertainty by relying on and attending to their seven neighbors. Consequently due to this Rule of Seven starling flocks are able co-create a highly dynamic system with independently operating parts that form a whole … with emergent properties of sophisticated movement.

We can notice similar behavior elsewhere in nature: shoals of fish, herds of mammals, swarming insects … and human animals. Think of a busy sidewalk, maybe in New York. Or a mass of people exiting an arena or venue of some sort. We don’t usually ask and tell directions at the moment, we just move with the group. We can sense the flow by interpreting the movement of those around us, and uncertainty is quelled by the innate knowing that you are not alone within the movement. You supported by a larger body of people with the same goals.

I know it’s difficult to predict the benefit of something before it’s happened. Foresight is elusive. What will “it” be like? Will it be worth it? Should I go it ALONE? Uncertainty is scary. What I can guarantee is that Momentum Fest is founded on the idea of celebration and uplifting each other through movement. Being that we (most of us in attendance) are human animals (more or less, probably) we are subject to our own version of this Rule of Seven. Unconsciously we by and large rely on and attend to our neighbors in pursuit of a common goal … this June our common goal is to celebrate and uplift each other through movement. Simply.

I’ve been fascinated by murmurations for as long as I can remember. The experience of seeing a group of individuals exploring, playing, seeking, and thriving because of each other is awesome in the truest sense of the word. As a teacher it’s my goal to be less of a leader and more of a facilitator of an emergent experience … one in which you and your seven can co-create not only sophisticated movement but deeply personal bonds with each other (and your body) that last beyond our time together. Does that sound interesting to you?

Here’s to you joining the flock of curious movers in Colorado this June. We’re hoping you’ll bring your body’s wisdom and mind’s wonder to our party!

Register for Momentum Fest

James Crader is a Movement Coach specializing in Pilates and John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Therapy, a CoreAlign Faculty Member, co-host of the Thinking Pilates Podcast, and owner of Evolved Body Studio in Sacramento, CA. Growing up he never thought anything fitness would be his calling. He was nerdy, enjoyed listening to and telling stories, and loved to experiment, create, and play with the shapes he could make while rolling around on the floor. He and his sister even practiced writing with their toes (just in case). All that made for a really weird kid, but an innovative movement educator. James began his Pilates training with Balanced Body, but has gone on to study with numerous teachers from many lineages of Pilates and beyond. James has contributed to movement and lifestyle conversations on podcasts, diverse blogs, Pilates Style magazine, the documentary A Movement of Movement, and recently Pilates Anytime. You can find out more about James and EB Studio at www.EvolvedBodyStudio.com, or follow his movement musings on Instagram @physicalthinking.

Being a Pilates Student Again

How I learned to be a Pilates student again, and the honest truth of how I stopped exercising.

Just like so many Pilates teachers and fitness pros I somehow realized I stopped exercising. It has happened multiple times in my 15 plus years in the industry. I never thought I was going to or was intentional about stopping, I just realized several weeks or months later I had not gotten my practice in. I got into the fitness industry when I was in college and grad school getting exercise physiology degrees. Twenty year old me said I can get paid to work out? Yes please. I can get paid to work and and get a membership to one of the cities nicest gyms? Sign me up. At most times in my fitness career I am pretty sure I got in my own practice everyday.

Now let’s start with the list of reasons that I “blame” this on:
– I decided to moonlight from my full time job to open my own studio.
– I decided to move my studio to a bigger space or expand my studio.
– I had a sick family member and then got behind on life.
– I decided it was more important to spend time with my daughter…they are only small once!
– I needed to work on my businesses.

I realized I was jealous of my clients, teachers, and husband that all made time to get in their own personal practice. I felt serious resentment for them but did not know how to fit it all in. I was not sure what to do next other than the obvious answer of have a hissy fit and jump up and down. I have done this several times over during this process. I realized I was not only not getting my practice but I was also not getting my lesson planning down. I was not taking care of myself or my clients. I knew I had to fix this for my mental and physical health, family, and clients

Now the part that you care about. How to become a Pilates student again when your practice has been abandoned. The practical version.

Enter coaches. I had to have some yell at me to take care of me. It started with a program focusing on being fulfilled & successful as a teacher. Just what I need in the laps in practice after my daughter. The long and the short I needed to be held accountable in life and business.
Scheduling. Everyone says just put it on your calendar. I know there will always be email and phone calls to return. The list will never end as business owner or teacher so just give up and book in time to work out and forget about the work. Unplug for this time period and just move.
Something is better than nothing. Someone catches you walking out/in the studio to go workout. Then you are only left with 30 or 40 minutes and not the golden hour! Do it anyway! You do not need to be perfect.
Be a student. I find it hard to take classes at my studio as the owner. This might be only my issues. I find I can be a distraction and distracting to myself focusing on other things in the studio. I do try to get it to a class once a week and with multiple studios I mix it up as best as possible. When I travel I get in for a class at a studio and that is great. I love being under the radar and taking care of myself. I travel to the same cities often so I have my go to locations in those cities.
Accountability. Meeting a teacher to workout and catch up is always a game changer. My daughter loves to play in the studio so mentioning that on the weekend is a guarantee I will get to the studio after hours for us to “workout.”
Continuing education is not the end all be all answer. I thought I needed all the skills and workshops to be a happy teacher. No, I need a few skills that I understand and know how to apply them. Those skills I can take the time to apply are even better. I learned this from being ill myself. Rehab is rehab you do not need learn everything. Do what is working in that moment. You need to apply what you know and know when to ask for help. That is help can be taking the time to move yourself and help moving your clients. Have a team of pros that can help you along the road.

Being a Pilates student should be inspiring, not exhausting. All of those are reasons I decided I wanted to head to Momentum Fest and just be. Be student, Be a Pilates Teacher, and Be Relaxed.

Allison Zang has had a love of Pilates since her first class in 2001 at the University of Pittsburgh. She is has a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology and love a learning and the science behind movement. Allison, her husband Andrew and there 5-year-old Alivia reside in central PA. They love being outside as a family and traveling. She owns five Pilates and Barre studios and has her own teacher training program. You can learn more about Allison here

 

The Power of Breath

 

Whether we’re on or off our mat, there are countless benefits of facilitating our breath. At any waking moment our breath is bringing oxygen-rich blood flow into our muscles, which then fuels our body with energy.

This summer at Momentum Fest, we’ll be exploring our breath as a powerful tool to connect, fuel our movement, and deepen our relationships with our self and our community!

As a movement practitioner and educator, I always come back to the importance of our breath. There are many breath patterns in the movement world, and all of them bring a depth of knowledge of the relationships between our anatomy, our nervous system, and the world around us.

To begin the exploration of our breath, it is important to understand the anatomy of breathing. Our diaphragm is the primary muscle used in breathing. It is a sheet of internal muscle that separates our lungs from the organs in our abdomen. When we inhale, our diaphragm moves downward and our ribs move up and out, allowing for increased lung capacity. When we exhale, our diaphragm relaxes, causing the air to be forced out of our lungs.

Connecting these concepts with our movement is an ideal way to notice where our breath is (and isn’t) going. This meditative breath practice often leads us to places where we may be stuck, tight, or have experienced traumas within our muscular structure. Allowing for a full, expansive, and 360° breath capacity will inevitably assist in healing us from the inside out.

Our breath is also a powerful tool in controlling our nervous system. Although breathing is involuntary, it is unique to our other systems in that it can also be controlled voluntarily. This voluntary control originates from the cortex of the brain, which therefore allow us to self-regulate our breath in relationship to our mental capacity and surroundings. By having control of our breath, we have the power to calm our sympathetic nervous system simply by initiating a slow, deep breath pattern. This intentional breath gives us the opportunity to re-center our body and our mind, allowing only for focus on the present moment.

This is where our breath and movement act in unison. Often times with exercise, and other forms of movement, we’re working towards the next big thing, causing us to disengage from the present moment. By allowing our breath to initiate our movement, we’re more likely to maintain a sense of calm control in our thoughts, and therefore our body. The distractions in our head should never overpower the texture of our breath.

In some movement practices, there is a specific breath pattern associated with how our anatomy moves through space. Often times the inhalation breath is used to create space and decompression, and the exhalation breath promotes connection and engagement. Although these concepts are helpful, it’s more important to promote a full and expansive breath than focusing on when and where to put the breath within a specific exercise. As long we have breath with intention, we’re in the right place.

In Mr. Pilates’ words, “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last.” Our breath is what moves us through space, even when we’re perfectly still. It allows us to practice contentment, equanimity, and presence within our self and our movement practice- All the while, connecting us together under the same umbrella. This summer at Momentum Fest, we’ll use our breath, among other powerful tools, as a celebration of community and movement!

 

Whitney Shea, PTA, PMA® -CPT, RYTis a Pilates Teacher and Physical Therapist Assistant in Boulder, CO, and she’s currently teaches Pilates at Physical Therapy of Boulder, Colorado Athletic Club, and at The University of Colorado at Boulder. She is PMA and Yoga Alliance Certified, and has Advanced Teacher Training and Master’s Program Certifications from the Pilates Center in Boulder, as well as a degree in Integrative Physiology from CU-Boulder. After experiencing a traumatic car accident in 2008, she developed a deeper appreciation of The Pilates Method as rehabilitation, which has brought her to her most current position as a PTA and Pilates Teacher. When Whitney isn’t teaching or practicing Pilates and Yoga, you’ll most likely find her outside hiking, skiing, rock climbing, or fly fishing with her husband Billy, and their pup, Solus!

Why I Love Pilates

Why do I love Pilates so much? 

I love many forms of exercise – pilates, distance running, strength training, sweaty spin classes and more.  Pilates is the one movement discipline that ties them all together for me.  It is my number one favourite of all of the activities that I participate in.

What is it about Pilates that puts it on the top of my list for movement?

Here are my 7 reasons why I love Pilates:

1. Pilates feels amazing!    I will always remember my first Pilates session on the reformer.  I left the studio feeling marvelous and excited about what I had done.  There was also a feeling of confusion about why I felt so great.  It was a beginner level workout that wasn’t super hard. I did break a sweat, but it wasn’t anything like what I was so used to from my spin or the fitness classes.  A day later I noticed some muscle soreness, a feeling that I quite enjoy.  I was definitely sold and ready to learn more.  Twelve years later, I’m still learning and practicing Pilates and loving it more and more.  

2. Pilates challenges my mind and body. – There’s always more to be learned. At first, I was challenged with learning each exercise and the basic choreography of those exercises.  I love that in every Pilates workout I learn something new about how I move, breath, or align myself.  The more I do Pilates, the more I realize I can learn.  I will always continue to be a Pilates student, learning from attending Pilates classes with various instructors, as well as going to workshops and conferences.  Hearing and seeing new ways of approaching an exercise challenges me physically and mentally, making me both a better student and teacher. 

3. Pilates helps me to be more self-aware. – When I first started doing Pilates, I became very aware of my posture and breathing, particularly when I would be driving. The more training and Pilates education I have completed has made me more and more aware.  I not only catch myself standing with more weight on one leg or with my hips twisted. I now correct myself and work to find uniform alignment, better posture and take fuller breaths.  This awareness spills over into daily life as well as the other physical fitness activities that I participate in.

4. Pilates makes me stronger and feeling more connected. – I have several hobbies that I started long before I found Pilates and continue to participate in now.   Endurance running and cycling, functional strength training, spin classes, downhill skiing, and gardening are some of my favourites.  Pilates has made me so much more aware of how I move and align my body while doing these activities. Overall, I feel stronger and more efficient in my own movement.  Even more special to me is having a Pilates client come tell me how strong they felt doing one of their fitness hobbies.  Especially when it is an activity that they thought that they may have to give up prior to finding Pilates. 

5. Pilates creates goals and helps me achieve goals. – There are a great number of Pilates exercises that are challenging and require practice and patience,  along with improved flexibility and strength.  Every time I do Pilates, I have goals.  Sometimes its to improve upon an element of an exercise, while other times it is to attempt an exercise that perhaps I have only done a couple times.   Accomplishing my Pilates goals always feels amazing.  

Another big goal that I always have, is to get through my training for running events, cycling races and now a triathlon, injury free.  Being consistent with doing Pilates has equated to success in achieving this goal. 

6. Pilates Friends. – Through Pilates and my other fitness activities, I have met so many wonderful people with common goals and interests.  People start doing Pilates for various reasons and there are different styles of Pilates. But we are all continuing to do Pilates with the common reason of feeling better inside and out. Having this common interest and bond can be the seed to grow beautiful longtime friendships.  

7. Pilates travel and adventures. – As a Pilates teacher, I began traveling to conferences and workshops about 8 years ago.  My Pilates knowledge and community has grown from only knowing of gym based mat classes, and of a couple of local studios, to now knowing instructors and studios all over the world.  I have always loved to travel and explore new places, so to now do that partnered with Pilates, makes it oh so much better!

Pilates is my glue.  It’s my one activity connects all my other activities, with the added bonus of travel and new relationships.

I love movement!  I love feeling strong!  I love being aware!  I love my community!  I love Pilates!

Are you a Pilates lover too?  Are you a lover of movement?  Do you love to travel and explore?

Come join me, along with an amazing line up of Pilates and movement teachers at Momentum Fest!

Melissa Nagai is a 2018 Momentum Fest ambassador and the owner of b.Pilates in British Columbia.

How Pilates and Momentum Fest are Bringing People Together

Momentum Fest

More Than Just an Exercise
The Pilates method has been around since the 1920s when it was created by its namesake, Joseph Pilates. He originally called it Contrology because it is the ultimate control of body, mind and spirit. This is attained through Pilates’ six principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. He believed that by honing these skills, one can achieve a healthier and stronger lifestyle. Joseph Pilates was right. From the professional athlete to the couch potato, everyone can benefit from practicing Pilates regularly. There is so much to learn about doing Pilates especially when you have a partnership with a certified Pilates teacher. He or she will help you gain a richer experience, so you can expand the products of the exercise like increased flexibility, stronger core, decreased stress, etc.

Inspiring a “Movement” through Movement
Not only is Pilates making incredible impact on people’s health, it is inspiring people to come together. Pilates will be center stage at Momentum Fest this June 22-24 in Denver, CO. The three-day weekend will be a celebration for everyone who loves Pilates or is curious about learning more. There are so many different reasons that people do Pilates – to stay healthy, get fit, have time for yourself, have fun with friends. The list goes on. Whatever your reason, you will find that Pilates can bring us all together. Some of the greatest Pilates teachers from all over the world will be leading classes and conversations to inspire joy, movement and unity. There is no better time to share the impact that Pilates can have on our health and how it can be a common thread for us all to function better as individuals, in our community, and in our world. Who knew that by simply doing Pilates we can be that much closer to world peace? Joseph Pilates did, and this was his ultimate dream for his work.

How the Pilates Industry is Giving Back to the Community
You don’t have to look far to see the incredible work being done with Pilates as the unifying tool. Whether it is in the form of disease treatment, rehabilitation, or charitable support, there are people and organizations making positive impact in their communities and across the world. Who is benefiting? Children, military veterans, people with scoliosis and spinal cord injuries, and more. We think this would make Joseph Pilates smile. Check out the links below to learn more…and be moved.

Links to Organizations and Efforts where Pilates is Making a Positive Impact

http://thepilatesinitiative.org/a-message-from-kevin-bowen/

http://www.osteopilates.com

https://www.zebrafishneuro.com/home/

https://pilatesforms.com

https://www.thepilatescenter.com/do/charity-class/

https://www.childrensdayton.org/patients-visitors/services/orthopaedics/services-and-programs/orthopaedic-surgery

https://www.pilatesmethodalliance.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3627

 

Following in the Footsteps of the Original Disruptor

Momentum Fest

By Momentum Fest presenter Trina Altman and  ambassador Nikki Naab-Levy

In past years, a lot of the debate in the Pilates community has been centered around a specific question.

What is the best way to honor the work that we’ve been taught? .

For some, it has meant preserving the work and teaching it in the way they believe Joseph Pilates taught it. For others, this has meant taking what we’ve learned and incorporating it into other modalities or expanding upon it to fit the needs of the individual client.

The truth is there’s no wrong answer.

There’s great value in preserving the work, so the instructors who come after us have an opportunity to learn it and appreciate where the information came from. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that as time goes on, we learn more about how the human body works, which might mean updating our methods.

Additionally, the physical needs of a body in 2018 are very different than what someone might have needed in 1960. More so, our needs change as we move through different phases of life. What you might need in your twenties is very different in your sixties.

The end result, is now there are a lot of Pilates teachers who share this work in a way that looks different from what they were originally taught, regardless of who their teacher was or if their training was considered traditional or contemporary.

Cue the guilt, shame, and isolation, where you question everything that you do and wonder if you need to go back and take a second…third…fourth…or fifth training.

Meanwhile, you also need to pay the bills.

The irony is that most of our clients don’t care. They just want to enjoy movement and feel better in their bodies. So maybe we shouldn’t care so much either.

Some of us have overcome this guilt and started breaking the rules in an effort to make movement accessible for more people, so they’re inspired to take better care of their bodies.

This has prompted us to ask questions, and teach differently. In some cases, it’s been helpful that we collaborate with healthcare providers to best meet the needs of the client.

If you think about it, Joe was a disruptor. We’re just following in his footsteps.

We know that Joseph Pilates studied a variety of methods before he created his own.

It’s documented that he was a wrestler, bodybuilder, and circus performer. He led daily exercise classes for inmates, while interned at the Isle of Man. He studied breathwork, meditation and modern dance.

And when he saw a gap in physical culture, he drew on everything he had learned and tried to fill it through innovation and by creating his own equipment and method.

According to the PMA study guide on page 14, “Through his own experience and teaching, he created a system of corrective exercise that he introduced to the American market in the late 1920’s.”

In summary, Joseph Pilates didn’t want to just teach people how to exercise. He wanted to eliminate human suffering and change the world.

As Pilates teachers, we share his vision and his frustration.

Joseph Pilates wanted his work to be embraced by the medical community and educational institutions. He knew that movement was essential for all people of every age, not just athletes and dancers.

Despite this shared vision, the innovation that many of us have done to bring his work to more people has felt like coming out of the closet.

But thanks to the internet we know we’re not alone. We’ve been able expand the conversation beyond the studio and communicate with Pilates teachers of all backgrounds all over the world.

What we’ve observed is that we’re not as different as we thought we were. Rather, we all share the same goal, which is to help people feel + move better and share a method that we love.
Momentum Fest is a way to take the conversation offline and have it in person. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our differences and come together.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a contemporary or traditional teacher or if you teach east coast or west coast style. What matters is that we come together and experience the joy of movement together as Pilates teachers and enthusiasts.

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