Welcome to the Pilates Style Newsletter
Six times a year, we will bring you a calendar of the must-know Pilates events around the country,
updates on our conferences, Pilates-related news, original feature articles and bonus material
from the current issue of Pilates Style magazine.
We want to hear from you! If you know of a Pilates event, or have news to share with your
community, email us at email@example.com
In this Issue
Girls Just Want to Have Fun—and Pilates
By Linda Knittel
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Couch time may be going up and body awareness down in this country—especially in kids—but such is not the case among the girls of the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia. Not only do the 9th-12th graders who attend the boarding and day school take a substantial number of physical education classes, they can opt to take Pilates to meet those requirements.
Classes at the Pilates Center at the Madeira School are led by Pilates instructor and Madeira graduate, Alexandra Buss. In addition to providing a complete Pilates curriculum for the school's students, the Center offers Pilates classes for faculty and staff of Madeira, as well as the surrounding public. We spoke with Alexandra about her program and how Pilates can positively shape young bodies and minds.
PS: What was the motivation to offer Pilates at Madeira?
AB: The Madeira staff strongly believes, as all of us Pilates practitioners do, that Pilates is an important complement to any mental or physical activity. Originally, the Pilates program was implemented simply to help fulfill the physical education requirements for graduation. Eventually. Madeira decided to expand the program and bring on an instructor that matched the high caliber of education offered at Madeira. They also opened up their beautiful, 400-acre campus to the surrounding community.
PS: These girls are at a vulnerable age in terms of body image. How do you use Pilates to teach them to love their bodies?
AB: Their bodies are changing at a fast rate, and it's easy for the girls to feel out of control and out of touch with their bodies. Pilates helps them to feel in control of their body, by strengthening the mind and body connection. Pilates is also a great boost to the girls' self esteem because it is a noncompetitive, physical activity. There are no winners or losers; no one is judged. When a student has successfully mastered an exercise that had been a challenge for a few classes (or a few weeks!), she has a great sense of accomplishment.
PS: What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the girls after they start Pilates?
AB: The biggest physical changes I notice consistently are increased flexibility and dramatically improved posture. Improved posture is, of course, a result of the strength and stretch that is Pilates, but it is also a result of the girls knowing about correct alignment and what that means in their everyday life. By sitting up straighter in their classes, the girls express to me that they are more alert and get less tired in class. Pilates class, as a complement to a particular sport, usually provides increases in stamina and endurance. Basically, they can breathe easier and last longer during sports practice and games.
PS: What have the girls taught you?
AB: I certainly have learned the art of patience! Teaching groups of up to fifteen 13-18 year olds, eight hours a week, will force you to learn to be patient. The girls have also reminded me how much fun Pilates can be. It is important to move, strengthen, stretch and balance the body, but there must be some fun as well! I take my Pilates practice and teaching very seriously, but try to have a good time in every session that I teach. Sometimes, the girls are having such a great time, that they do not even realize they just completed five, beautiful Teasers!
PS: If you could sum up what Pilates brings to your life what would it be?
AB: I can define what Pilates means to me with a wonderful quote from Joe, "Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness." Practicing Pilates brings me joy and a feeling of empowerment. I feel like I am "me" when I am doing Pilates; when I am moving within the actual workout, but also when I have left the studio. When I am in good shape, both physically and mentally, I am able to live life to the fullest! Pilates strengthens, stretches and connects my mind, body and spirit.
Alexandra Buss is a third generation (some consider her second generation) instructor of Joe Pilates. She has practiced Pilates for 15 years, and has been a certified Pilates instructor for seven years. Upon graduation from The Madeira School in 1999, she went on to attend Goucher College, where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree with distinction in Dance Performance and Choreography.
A Daily Routine Like Clockwork
By Kevin Bowen, Director of Education, Peak Pilates®
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Pilates truly is the way to maintain youth and vigor, not only in form but function as well. Here is a short, energizing routine that you can do daily, to make you feel great even on your busiest days. This practice is a version of Joseph Pilates's routine called, "A Commando Exercise, Around the Clock and Back in One Minute."
Around the Clock
Body benefit: Focuses on core strength, control and flowing movement.
- Lie on your back with your arms pressed tightly against your thighs (12 o'clock). You legs should be pointing out and your head pointing in toward the center of the clock.
- Round your head up until the chin is just off your chest. Keeping your legs straight, lift your feet about three inches off the floor and inhale deeply. Be sure to engage your core and imprint your lower back into the floor.
- Exhale fully and pull both legs in toward your chest and wrap your arms around your legs.
- Raise your glutes and the lower part of your spine just off the floor, and with a pivot-like movement, twist your body around in a clock-wise position (to the right) to land at 1 o'clock.
- Next, raise your glutes and the lower part of your spine just off the floor, and with a pivot-like movement, twist your body around to 2 o'clock. Then, stretch your body back out (same as #1).
- 6. Now reverse and move back from 2 o'clock to 12 o'clock.
Right and Left side balance
Body benefit: Improves balance, strength and control.
- From the starting position at 12 o'clock (same as Around the Clock), circle your arms around and along the floor until they end up reaching up above your head with your hands touching.
- Reach your arms slightly up off the floor, engage your core and imprint your lower back into the floor, lifting your feet and legs slightly off the floor.
- Roll your entire body a quarter turn to the right so you are lying on your right side. Hold for a count of three.
- Roll your entire body back to a supine position, hold for two counts. Next, roll left so you are lying on your left side and hold for a count of three.
- Roll back to the beginning, supine position.
- Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5.
Body benefit: Improves core/abdominal strength and flexibility and focuses on flowing movement.
- From the ending supine position, perform three, full Pilates roll-ups.
Prone Rollover into Extension
Body benefit: Improves control, focuses on flowing movement and increases back extension and strength.
- From the ending position of the roll-up, reach your arms slightly off the floor, engage your core and imprint your lower back into the floor as you lift your legs slightly off the floor.
- Roll your entire body two quarter turns to the right, which will put you on your stomach in prone position.
- From this position, bring your arms down so that your hands end up under your shoulders and extend your arms (as in the beginning position for swan), keeping your legs straight and feet slightly lifted.
- Do three modified swan-rocking movements.
- Circle your arms back around and elongate them on the floor above your head. Roll two quarter turns to the left, so that you roll onto your right side and then back to the supine starting position.
- Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 on the opposite side.
- End in the supine position.
Rolling Like a Ball
Body benefit: Massages the spine, increases circulation and improves control.
- From supine, roll-up into a seated position with your legs straight out in from of you.
- Draw your legs into your chest and circle your arms around to assume the position for '"Rolling Like a Ball."
- Perform three, "Rolling Like a Ball" exercises, and on the last repetition, roll up into a standing position, reaching your arms up over your head and reaching your upper body back into extension.
& A with Rael Isacowitz
Q: Are there any exercises that will help relieve upper-back and neck tension?
First, you are absolutely correct that these two regions are intricately connected. However, it is too simplistic to look at doing a few exercises as the solution to relieving tension in the upper-back and neck. The source of the tension needs to be identified and then addressed. Certainly, it may relate partially or even fully to muscle weakness, in which case certain exercises may help. Usually, however, it will take a multiple-faceted approach: addressing lifestyle, muscle balance, posture, movement habits and patterns and possibly past injuries.
Examples of exercises that target these regions are those for the back extensors and scapula adductors, such as Pulling Straps and Breaststroke on the Reformer, Double-Leg Kick and Swimming on the mat, Swan on the Wunda Chair and Hanging Back on the Cadillac. Chances are that stretching the muscles of the chest would also be of great value. There are many effective stretches for this region that can be performed in a Pilates session. Relieving tension in this area is one of the great benefits of mind/body systems, and certainly Pilates fits well into this genre.
Personally, I would recommend starting by observing and correcting posture and alignment. A small correction can bring with it huge rewards.
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Isacowitz, MA, has been practicing Pilates for more than 30 years and is recognized
internationally as an expert in the field. Rael founded BASI Pilates in 1989, a comprehensive
Pilates education organization represented throughout the world. For more information, visit basipilates.com
Close Up: Handstand
By Ofie Dates
Photos by Rod
In the July/August issue of Pilates Style magazine, Ofie Dates helps you channel your inner athlete—no matter your level—with her secret weapon: the Ladder Barrel. The often-overlooked Barrel, which utilizes gravity rather than springs for resistance, is a super-challenging apparatus that has endless potential to work the body as a whole. Here is one more bonus exercise in the series.
The goal of this exercise is to strengthen the shoulder flexors and back and hip extensors. It also focuses on trunk stabilization and hip extensor control.
Setup: Facing the Barrel, place hands on the bottom rails of the Barrel with the fingers facing outward and the shoulders over the hands. Lower the body over the Barrel with the legs straight, parallel and adducted and the toes pointed.
Begin the move: Inhale, then co-contract the abs and back extensors and lift the lower body from the Barrel. Balance the body vertically over the hands. Exhale, and lower the body to the starting position.
Tip: Allow the chest to touch the Barrel. Keep your head in line with the spine.
Modification: To decrease intensity and prepare for the full version: place hands on the first rung of ladder and lift legs to create a diagonal line with the trunk.
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Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding
By Ricki Heller
This dish is one of the most popular on my blog, dietdessertndogs.com
. It can be used either as a breakfast or a dessert, served warm or cold. It's also infinitely adaptable: you can switch out the nuts for ones you prefer, or add different fruit combinations to please your own tastes.
Makes 4-6 Servings
1/2 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts (filberts), with skin
1/2 cup lightly toasted cashews
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup; or 10 drops stevia liquid
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1–1/4 cups unsweetened, plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw first if frozen)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 4-6 cup casserole dish.
In the bowl of a high-speed blender*, place the nuts, oats, applesauce, vanilla, agave, cinnamon and salt. Pour the milk over the mixture, and blend for about a minute—until perfectly smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into the casserole dish. Then, gently fold in the blueberries (scatter a few extra blueberries over the top if you like, as they won't sink).
Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, rotating the casserole about halfway through, until the edges begin to puff and crack and the top appears dry. Allow to cool a bit before serving; may be served warm or cold. Store covered, up to fourdays in the refrigerator. May be frozen.
*To make with a regular blender:
Pour in the milk first, then add the remaining ingredients (except blueberries). You may need to blend in batches to achieve an equally smooth consistency.
Ricki Heller is a whole foods chef, educator and author of the Canadian bestseller Sweet Freedom: Desserts You'll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar (one of only three cookbooks endorsed on Ellen DeGeneres' website), as well as three e-cookbooks. She writes the popular food blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, where she chronicles her ongoing challenges with candida, tells entertaining anecdotes about her life, shares sugar-free, vegan, whole-foods recipes (almost 500 at last count); and provides a platform for her two, chatty lab-border collie cross dogs, Elsie and Chaser. She lives near Toronto with her husband and two "girls."
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