Pilates: Monday Motivation

Pilates can be intimidating, but it is possible! Here are some easy ways to get started from home!

Article and Video: 11-13-2017 From KARE TV Channel 11, Minneapolis, MN

You see other people at the gym doing it. Your friends talk about it all the time. But when it comes to actually trying that new exercise, it can be really intimidating! That’s why for the month of November, we’re using Motivation Monday to show you those bullish fitness beasts aren’t so scary afterall.

Our first victim: Pilates.

Joseph Pilates served as a nurse in World War 1, and developed this regimen to help rehabilitate patients. In the early 1900’s, he then took his techniques to the America and trained dancers. His method eventually caught on worldwide. He once said “In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body.” Thank you for the wise words, ol’ Joe!

Pilates is a low-impact yet effective exercise that focuses on strength, form and stability. Unlike yoga, it is faster paced and more structured. GetHealthyU’s Chris Freytag says pilates are perfect for anyone who is recovering from injury, or who is injury prone. It is also good for those of us who need to work on strengthening our core muscles.

Freytag suggests if you are a pilates beginner, take a class first. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you prepare:


Fit Facts: Pilates Primer

Are you wondering what all the fuss over Pilates is about? Used traditionally by dancers for deep-body conditioning and injury rehabilitation, Pilates (pronounced Pi-lah-teez) is an 80-year-old exercise technique first developed by German immigrant Joseph Pilates. Only in the past decade has it migrated from its long-held position at the fringes of traditional fitness methods such as aerobics and weight training. Hollywood has been a key factor in turning the spotlight on Pilates, as numerous models and actresses pay homage to Pilates for their beautifully toned, fit bodies.

Focusing on the Core

The abdominal, hip and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body’s core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition, the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility and build strength.

How can one exercise technique claim to do so much? The Reformer, a wooden contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily using one’s own body weight as resistance, participants are put through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite the appearance of this and several other equally unusual-looking devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact. Instructors, who typically work one-on-one or with small groups of two or three participants, offer reminders to engage the abdominals, the back, the upper legs and buttocks to stabilize the body’s core. Exercise sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and strength limitations.

Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized machines, however. In fact, many gyms across the country now offer Pilates mat-based classes that feature exercises that also stress the stabilization and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles.

Connecting With Pilates

The mind/body connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes of motion.

What will all this focus and stabilization get you? Well, according to its adherents, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve posture. Of course, these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such as a well-balanced diet and regular aerobic exercise. (Though some may claim that Pilates is all you need to develop stamina and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component is advisable.

An initial Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows the instructor to pinpoint strength and flexibility weak spots. This is also the time to become familiar with Pilates’ unique breathing patterns, which don’t always follow the exhale-on-exertion pattern of traditional exercise. Sessions typically run 60 minutes, at a cost of $50 or more for private sessions, and $10 to $30 for group sessions. If you’re more comfortable exercising at home, there are numerous Pilates and Pilates-type videos currently available.

Several home versions of the Reformer also are currently available on the market. Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor, Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve flexibility and incorporate the mind/body element into one effective exercise session.

Selecting a Pilates Instructor

Finding a fitness instructor who is a good match for your goals and personality can be challenging. The Pilates Method Alliance suggests asking the following questions of any instructor with whom you are considering working.

  • Was the instructor trained through a comprehensive training program?
  • Did that training program require a written and practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?
  • How many total hours were spent in the training program? (The Pilates Method is a knowledge-based method of exercise and training. Time spent in certification training produces qualified teachers.)
  • Does the instructor have any other movement-related teaching experience?
  • How long has the instructor been teaching Pilates?
  • What is the instructor or studio’s philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and rehabilitation?
  • Does the instructor or studio teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all types of apparatus?


Original Article from Ace Fitness 

The Body Benefits of Pilates

 By Regina Boyle Wheeler, HealthDay Reporter, U.S. & World News 
If you’re looking for an exercise that’s gentle yet challenging and works your core like no other, consider Pilates.

Created by Joseph Pilates, a German gymnast and bodybuilder who immigrated to the United States in the 1920s, this fitness method uses controlled movements that can help flatten your stomach, strengthen your back, and give you better posture and flexibility.

Pilates combines exercises with a special breathing technique and concentration, so it connects the mind and body, and can help relieve stress and anxiety.

Pilates can be done on the floor using a mat and your own body weight as resistance. This so-called “mat Pilates” follows a sequence of moves that flows like a dance — in fact, dancers were the first group to embrace the activity for the performance benefits it gave them.

Other exercises involve special equipment developed by Pilates himself, with springs and pulleys to create the resistance. Best known is the unusual bench called the Reformer. The tension can be adjusted, so “machine Pilates” is good for both beginners and advanced enthusiasts.

You can learn Pilates from videos, but consider taking classes or private lessons to get started. An experienced instructor can make sure you’re using proper positioning and breathing and help guide your development.

Of course, check the credentials of potential instructors to be sure they were trained by an established Pilates association, like the Pilates Method Alliance.

Also, keep in mind that while Pilates is a great core workout, it’s typically not considered an aerobic exercise. Don’t forget your heart: Work Pilates into an overall fitness routine that also includes cardio, like walking or swimming.

Hanging Around In A Cadillac 

The Cadillac is an amazing and flexible piece of equipment that offers something for people of all ages and abilities. 

Originally devised by Joseph Pilates to help rehabilitate bedridden patients, the exercises range from gentle spring-assisted sit-ups to advanced acrobatics that involve hanging from the upper bars. 

The Cadillac also offers many options to assist in building the core abdominal muscles, as well as increasing flexibility of the spine,  while strengthening the shoulder girdle and back. 

One of its greatest benefits is the ability to stretch your whole body. This type of stretching exercise can be one of the most invigorating, yet will leave you completely relaxed and refreshed. Hanging from the upper bars in a plank is no doubt one of those!

Power of Music… 

“… Everything that lives is in flux. Everything that lives emits sound. But we only perceive a part of it. We do not hear the circulation of the blood, the growth and decay of our bodily tissue, the sound of our chemical processes. But our delicate organic cells, the fibres of brain and nerves and skin are impregnated with these inaudible sounds. They vibrate in response to their environment. This is the foundation of the power of music. We can set free these profound emotional vibrations. 

In order to do so, we employ musical instruments, in which the decisive factor is their own inner sound potential. That is to say: what is decisive is not the strength of the sound, or its tonal colour, but its hidden character, the intensity with which its musical power affects the nerves. [Music] must … elevate into human consciousness vibrations which are otherwise inaudible and unperceived… [bring] silence to life… uncover the hidden sound of silence. …”  -Frank Kafka (July 3, 1883–June 3, 1924) 

Pilates, as a practice, accelerates the changes, growth, chemical processes that Kafka references. In that, we connect even deeper to our own subtle sounds and vibrations bringing us more “in tune” with both personal and collective consciousness. The body, mind spirit connection enhanced by the power of sound… and music. 

Pilates Class Takes On ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome

In the sports world, repetitive movements and muscle overuse eventually lead to strain and injury.

The consequences of staring down at our phones day in and day out? Text neck. It’s the poor posture that results from your bent head adding tension to your neck and spine.

One Pilates class in New York City — “Pilates for Text Necks” — is tackling this 21st century malady.

“The more and more that people are texting and being on their computers,” said Kimberly Fielding, creator of the class and director of teacher training at Gramercy Pilates NYC. “They’re suffering later on.”

Havoc for the body

The problem, as she sees it, is that anything that changes the curve of the neck can create havoc for the rest of the body.

“Instead of the cervical spine going inward, the curve can be a little bit different, and it causes nerve pain and herniation and different muscle tension headaches, different things that really can reduce quality of life,” she said.

Fielding created the class after noticing more and more of her clients coming in with forward head posture, wherein the head and neck tended to be stretched forward instead of properly aligned over the spine.

The class uses different exercises to release tension in the neck, shoulders and upper body, while strengthening back and neck muscles.

“It’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s because those muscles a lot times are so weak from being overstretched and being in this other position,” Fielding said.

Start with breathing

The class works with the whole body, incorporating chin tucks, neck stretches and upper and lower body strengthening exercises. Breathing and posture awareness are essential components.

Fielding recommends aiming for a “360-degree expansion” of your ribcage, getting your breath to move up and down your torso, back, middle and front, by breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

“The easiest thing that someone can do is to start to breathe, to try to release some of those muscles that are in our back and in our neck,” she said.

Outside of the Pilates studio, there are everyday fixes. Chin tucks (tucking your chin down and back to make a double chin) are one. The action helps bring your neck in alignment with your spine. Fielding recommends doing 10 chin tucks at a time, holding each for 5 seconds.

Then there’s the not-so-cool solution: Holding your phone at eye level like an actor onstage giving Julius Caesar’s “Friends, Romans, countrymen” speech.

“I have a feeling that more and more people are going to be doing this, because we have to save our spine, right?” she said.

‘I have a neck now’

Students report positive results.

“I feel a big difference,” said Yasmin Venable. “I used to carry a lot of tension, especially in my upper arms and have like this, ugh feeling and now I feel like, I have a neck now.”

Skeptics may have their doubts, but texting isn’t going away anytime soon. Not to mention video games, laptops and computers, where text neck positions are often assumed.

With some corrective action, the aches and pains associated with these digital-age habits no longer have to be a pain in the neck.

[ Click here for video of Kimberly Fielding’s explanation: https://av.voanews.com/Videoroot/Pangeavideo/2017/08/3/33/33fd9483-9e7a-4c5b-ac4b-2874ca4b1806_hq.mp4?download=1 ]
Article by Tina Trinh August 12, 2017 1:54 AM. NEW YORK — VOA News, Science & Health 

Chris Hemsworth uses Pilates 

Do you do yoga or a have a specific stretching style?
A little bit, yeah. I think yoga’s one thing that becomes a part of flexible in my lower back, which has been good for me. 

So I do a lot more Pilates, core. It’s tough. 

You can have a completely cosmetic muscle, or just complete sort of cosmetic bodybuilding stuff which is fine on screen, but I think a lot of times it’s about next level is when you can tell its function when people move differently, and it suits out lifestyle better. 

I feel with all the sort of back problems and knee problems and whatever, the more I kind of moved and had a larger range of motion, a lot of those issues with kneeling, certain joint pains were tended to dissipate the more I kind of… larger, more versatile sort of training.

From W Magazine Interview by Mia Adorante 

Alejandro Jodorowsky: living, loving and sharing…

If you’re a fan of science fiction or the films of David Lynch, you’ve surely seen the 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s cult classic sci-fi novel, Dune (though Lynch himself may prefer that you didn’t). And indeed, it’s very likely that, by now, you’ve heard the incredible story of what Dune might have been, had it been directed ten years earlier by psychedelic Chilean filmmaker, writer, composer, and psychotherapist Alejandro Jodorowsky. Perhaps you even caught Jonathan Crow’s post on this site featuring Jodorowsky’s proposed storyboards—drawn by French artist Moebius—for what would most certainly would have been “a mind-bogglingly grand epic” of a movie. Alas, Jodorowsky’s Dune never came about, though it did later lead to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which Matt Zoller Seitz pronounced “a call to arms for dreamers everywhere.”

That description applies not only to the film about a film that could have been, but also to the entirety of Jodorowsky’s work, including his—thoroughly bizarre and captivating—early features, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and the creation of a comic book universe like no other. Called “The Jodoverse,” the world of his comic books is, as writer Warren Ellis says, “astonishingly beautiful and totally mad”—again, a succinct description of Jodorowsky’s every artistic endeavor. Witness below, for example, the stunning trailer for his most recent feature film, 2014’s The Dance of Reality. You may find the visual excesses so overwhelming that you only half-hear the narration.

Listen (or read) carefully, however. Jodorowsky has as much to tell us with his cryptically poetic pronouncements as he does with his visionary imagery. Do you find his epigrams platitudinous, sententious, Pollyannaish, or naïve? Jodorowsky doesn’t mind. He calls, remember, to the dreamers, not the hard-bitten, cynical realists. And if you’re one of the dreamers who hears that call, you’ll find much to love in the list below of Jodorowsky’s 82 Commandments for living. But so too, I think, will the realists. These come from Jodorowsky’s memoir The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky, and the list comes via Dangerous Minds, who adapted it from “the better part of three pages” of text.

As Jodorowsky frames these maxims in his book, they originated with influential Russian mystic George Gurdjieff, and were told to him by Gurdjieff’s daughter, Reyna d’Assia. Perhaps that’s so. But you’ll note, if you know Jodorowsky’s writing—or simply took a couple minutes time to watch the trailer above—that they sound enough like the author’s own words to have been brought forth from his personal storehouse of accumulated wisdom. In any case, Jodorowsky has always been quick to acknowledge his spiritual teachers, and whether these are his second-hand accounts of Gurdjieff or his own inventions has no bearing on the substance therein.

Often sounding very much like Biblical proverbs or Buddhist precepts, the commandments are intended, d’Assia says in Jodorowsky’s account, to help us “change [our] habits, conquer laziness, and become… morally sound human being[s].” As she remarks in the book, before she delivers the below in a lengthy monologue, “to be strong in the great things, we must also be strong in the small ones.” 


Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.

Always finish what you have begun.

Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.

Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.

Develop your generosity ‒ but secretly.

Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.

Organize what you have disorganized.

Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.

Stop defining yourself.

Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.

Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.

Do not encourage others to imitate you.

Make work plans and accomplish them.

Do not take up too much space.

Make no useless movements or sounds.

If you lack faith, pretend to have it.

Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.

Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.

Share fairly.

Do not seduce.

Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.

Do not speak of your personal problems.

Do not express judgment or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.

Do not establish useless friendships.

Do not follow fashions.

Do not sell yourself.

Respect contracts you have signed.

Be on time.

Never envy the luck or success of anyone.

Say no more than necessary.

Do not think of the profits your work will engender.

Never threaten anyone.

Keep your promises.

In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.

Admit that someone else may be superior to you.

Do not eliminate, but transmute.

Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.

Help others to help themselves.

Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.

Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.

Transform your pride into dignity.

Transform your anger into creativity.

Transform your greed into respect for beauty.

Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.

Transform your hate into charity.

Neither praise nor insult yourself.

Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.

Do not complain.

Develop your imagination.

Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.

Pay for services performed for you.

Do not proselytize your work or ideas.

Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.

Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.

Never contradict; instead, be silent.

Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.

If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.

When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.

Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.

Do not keep useless objects.

Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.

Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.

Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.

Never define yourself by what you possess.

Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.

Accept that nothing belongs to you.

When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.

When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.

Look directly, and do not hide yourself.

Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.

Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.

When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.

If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.

If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.

Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.

When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.

Live on money you have earned.

Never brag about amorous adventures.

Never glorify your weaknesses.

Never visit someone only to pass the time.

Obtain things in order to share them.

If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Certified Pilates Instructor

One sleepy day last fall, when most of the Senate had cleared out of Washington to campaign back home, I was invited by an aide of Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, to stop by and chat with the senator about his moonlighting gig as a wedding chaplain.

Always a sucker for the secret lives of senators, I happily obliged. Mr. Coons and I spent the better part of an hour tucked into a pair of comfy living room chairs discussing his commitments to the couples he marries, including the time he blew off a meeting with President Obama to get back to Delaware for a wedding. Then the election rolled around in November, and I squirreled away my notes to face the incoming flood of news.

A few months later, a colleague and I had a meeting with Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, ostensibly to discuss tax reform, during which Mr. Toomey mentioned that he was about to embark on beekeeping. While my colleague patiently pressed on with questions concerning the marginal rate, Mr. Toomey and I digressed to hive innovations, the behavior of queens and the merits of home-produced honey. Once his hive arrived this summer, he invited me for a look-see.

It then occurred to me that many senators likely have interesting hobbies. If I could get a few more to walk me through their leisure pursuits, we would have a fun story to tell — a welcome diversion from health care policy, intraparty fighting and presidential tweets. My editors and I decided that a photo essay was the most inviting format. We wanted a good number of lawmakers but not too many; a mix of party affiliations and compelling interests: no runners!

Over the next few months, I gathered my own coalition of the willing, snooping around to find out who liked to do what and asking senators’ staff for time to watch them doing it. Happily, nearly everyone I asked was delighted to oblige.
On a trip to Maine for a health care story, I visited Senator Susan Collins, a Republican, at her home in Bangor to talk community ratings … and muffin baking.

Most of the time, however, I had to do my reporting at the beginning of a long legislative day — ruck marching around the National Mall with Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, for example, at dawn — or as the sun set behind the dome.

There were some snags. The day I drove three hours each way to Mr. Toomey’s house was unseasonably cold, so his bees largely hid in the hive; our photographer had to return on a warmer day to reshoot them.

When a Times-assigned photographer was suddenly unable to make a planned Pilates lesson with Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, I suggested that Senator Angus King, an Independent of Maine whose hobby is photography, come shoot us in action. He was pleased to comply, until I was sternly warned that it was against company policy to hire a United States senator as a freelance photographer for The Times. My bad!

But mostly it was all gravy, readers. I ate the muffins baked by Ms. Collins warm from the oven and sprinkled with baking sugar. I listened to Senator Debbie Stabenow, a pianist, belt out Carole King. I learned a few things about Pilates — let us all tip our mats to Ms. Heitkamp, who arranged to be a tad late to a subcommittee hearing just to help me work my core — and won a challenge coin from Ms. Ernst for my early-morning marching efforts, even though I wore no rucksack.

My only disappointment was a senator who declined to practice yoga with me, perhaps because I suggested we do the interview while inverted in tripod headstands.


“Let us all tip our mats to Ms. Heitkamp, who arranged to be a tad late to a subcommittee hearing just to help me work my core,” writes the author, pictured above with Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Photo Credit: Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times