Thursday, October 27, 2011

Art and Wine at The Pilates Studio in Hadley

Stress relief comes in many ways.  I’ve discovered in the past few days that for me stress relief came with an art opening and a wine tasting at The Pilates Studio…It was a time to be social and have fun, and also a time to slow down and taste. 

The viewing!!

The Relaxing!!!
The Artist!!!!!
For the next few months the walls of The Pilates Studio will be graced with the paintings of our very own Jennifer Sussman and on this past Saturday we had an opening reception for her.  It was such great fun to see the studio as a space for art, and it was even more fun to see the space transformed not just by the paintings on the wall but also by the energy in the room.  People were lounging and relaxing.  The minds in the room were not concentrating on bodies, but on paintings.  It reminded me of a principle from Laban Movement Analysis (not to get too technical).  The exertion/recuperation principle is the yin and yang of the movement analysis world.  In the studio, I teach pilates to help people recuperate from stillness in their lives.  Yet practicing Pilates all of the time can be its own exertion, and practicing stillness can be just the balance needed. I learned this weekend that looking at art and speaking with people about art provided recuperation for the space.  Now, the energy feels different.

And then there was the Wine Tasting

Tasting wine with food pairings

Dark Chocolate with A Cabernet 

MMMM Chocolate

learning new things

Finding the body of the wine

checking out the color

Taking notes: hearing stories

 Our latest Mat Chat was a wine tasting with Faye Omasta from the Traveling Vineyard.  The most striking thing for me was learning to slow down when tasting wine.  I spend my day watching people move, and keeping people safe from injury…When tasting wine I had to stop to notice the color of the wine, I had to see the body of the wine, I had to smell the wine, swirl the wine, and then finally taste the wine…I got to imagine the locations of the wineries, and taste foods from these locations with the wines.  I was lead on this journey by a knowledgeable source and I got to hear many impressions of the same wines…It was a time to slow down and notice.  It is funny that this is what I ask my clients to do with their bodies every day…slow down and notice.  Its something that can be learned in many ways.

I look forward to all of the gatherings we have at the studio, because they create an atmosphere of learning and a community that values more than just exercise.  These gatherings make a space for friendships to blossom.  We are not alone in this world and its always nice to be reminded of that!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Pilates Studio in Hadley presents at the 18th Annual Women Business Owners Conference.

On Wednesday, Laurie and I were honored to be panelists at the 18th Annual Women Business Owners Conference at Mount Holyoke College.  First of all, it was so exciting to get the call from our business advisor Lyne Kendall who asked that we participate.  She wanted the other entrepreneurs to “hear our story.”  To be quite frank, when you are in the midst of it you often don’t realize that your story might be of interest, or even very different from the rest of the world.  But we did as told, put together the talk and told our story.  Now I realize that maybe the followers of this blog might want to hear our story too.   

I started the talk with, “Did I ever think that I, with a B.F.A in dance and an overzealous interest in anatomy, would be surfing the internet to research business valuation techniques as well as creating a proforma balance sheet…Well no, but in May and June that’s what I found myself doing.  The even more surprising thing was that I was enjoying every minute of it, and even better I was doing this with my very best friend…

Then I talked about the history of our friendship.  We met at the studio 10 years ago.  Our friendship developed so much so that the original owners of the studio changed our schedules so that we were working in different locations (apparently we were a little "too chatty")  However, when ownership of the studio changed, we conveniently changed our schedules so that we would be working together all of the time again.  As time passed a collaborative process developed between the two of us.  We learned how to accentuate each of our very different strengths into a synergistic division of labor…(that might not make sense but it does if you really think about it) 

At the Talk we also went on to tell the story of our tagline…Laurie and I are very passionate about our tagline because it succinctly accentuates the reason we love our business so much.

The Pilates Studio: Strengthening Community One Core at a Time. 

To me that’s enough said but Laurie and I were supposed to fill 35 minutes at this conference so we had to explain a little bit.

When we decided to buy the business last spring we set out to write a business plan.  We spent hours talking about how great the studio was and trying to find what, besides the fact that Pilates is an excellent exercise method for creating strength and flexibility, was it about the studio that we loved so much! 

As we were writing this business plan, we of course would go on tangents.  Do you remember when Mary had her whole family come to the studio to take a mat class for her 60th Birthday?  Isn’t it great that Nel, Allie, and Sara go to lunch at Esselon after their session? Do you remember when Debbie and Laurel were planning a surprise party for Alice, and you had to remember not to spill the beans when Alice came to Mat Class?  I love that our clients love each other! Do you remember the party we had last year?  Who knew that a party at a Pilates Studio could be so much fun?  We need to have more of those?  Interspersed between all of this reminiscing we were doing the "tedious work" of analyzing the market, making spreadsheets, and creating a marketing plan…

At some point during this process Laurie and I were both at work.  I was teaching a session and when it was finished I went to the desk and her eyes were huge when she said, “I’ve got it.  The Pilates Studio building community one core at a time” 

I said, “That’s perfect”  and then I taught the next session,.

When I came back to the desk Laurie said, “The Pilates Studio:  Strengthening Community One Core at a Time.”

"Well that's even better!"

We were definitely going to have to have another party.

From here several ideas came to mind.  We wanted to continue strengthening the community at the Pilates Studio so we decided to:

1.  Have snacks after some mat classes…Community is strengthened when there are snacks.  This idea actually came to mind one day when I left my lunch on the counter and went to talk to a client. When I came back to the desk the students from Laurie’s mat class were standing around the counter chatting and eating my lunch.

 2.  We implemented Open Studio – This happens on Fridays from 1-2.  Anybody can come to the studio and for just $5, they can get an extra workout that week or any week for that matter. 

3.  Our lecture series now known as MAT CHATS.  This concept was born when Laurie came to me and said you know how everybody keeps asking you questions about anatomy…What if we have a lecture series…We can ask our clients to participate too!  

4.  We decided to have a community page on the website.  We would link to anything our clients were passionate about.  We have authors, passionate philanthropists, volunteers, who come to the studio, and they are passionate about many things in the community.  We want to share their passion with the rest of the community.  

5. We also support local businesses.  
WE bank locally.  The same mat class that ate my lunch surrounded our loan officer one day when he came to the studio.  Their sole purpose was to tell him how important the studio was to them.  They are a feisty group of ladies. 
Our graphic designer is local
Our printer is local
Our accountant is local, and we were given the advice that of all the people you work with you need to love your accountant!!! It was the best advice and we also LOVE our accountant!
Our lawyer is local.  He is the person that pointed us to the small business development center in the first place  

At the Pilates Studio in Hadley
We really are Strengthening the Community One Core at a Time.

At this point in the speech I handed the microphone to Laurie, and she spoke of the details of our social media strategy...In a sense it is how we connect with the community around the Pilates Studio on the web....

She talked about our blog, she talked about facebook, she talked about constant contact, she talked about search engine optimization.  She did this all with the sense of humor that makes the students in her mat classes get core work from laughter as well as Pilates.  This is a prime example synergistic division of labor I was writing about earlier...Laurie was the person that went with me to buy my first cell phone.  She sent me my first text (when I was still resisting)  She signed me up to friendster and then myspace, and finally to facebook...I am lucky to have such a brilliant business partner that is on the cutting edge of technology.  Wahoo I say!!!!

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, R.S.M.E
Co-owner The Pilates Studio


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hip Power at the Pilates Studio in Hadley: Part III Strengthening the Gluteus Medius with an elevated hip

We have talked about what to do before a Pilates side lying series when a person has an anterior tilted pelvis, and we have talked talked strategy in the case of a posterior tilted pelvis. (Check out the picture below for reference)

In this post, I want to address how to prepare for a side series when a person has an elevated hip. 

First of all, as we address asymmetry in the body, let’s remember that our bodies are not symmetrical.  For instance the liver is much larger than the stomach, the heart is on the left side, we have a larger right lung, and only one bladder.  These asymmetries exist in the body’s visceral and parietal cavities, yet often we demand that our Myofascial and Skeletal system be symmetrical. I recently read a statement by Tom Myers who was referring to symmetry in the body. He stated, 

When I am working with a client for the first time, and I am relaying information from the assessment, I always start with the same statement.  I say, “I have spent many hours in courses where I have learned about the perfectly symmetrical body.  However, in all of my years of practice I have yet to see a perfectly symmetrical body.”  Why not?  Well because we are not symmetrical beings.  Aside from the organs, we have dominant hands, which affect musculature and spine rotation.  Thus with the exercises below symmetry is not the goal we are looking for balanced strength and function.  If an asymmetry exists in the body the goal is not to “fix” the asymmetry.  The goal is to help the body to find efficiency in movement. 

When a hip is elevated there can sometimes be a lack of efficient movement because certain muscles are locking the pelvis in a position in which movement can’t be accessed.  The following exercises may not drop the elevated hip, but they are the first step towards release in the locking muscles.

In the following series we are working with the assumption that the right hip is elevated.  If you assess yourself and find that your left hip is elevated simply switch all the Right’s for Left’s!

If your Right hip is elevated before your hip series you should first:
1.     Stretch your right inner thigh.  When the right hip is elevated then the right inner thigh is locked short (a concept that I learned from Tom Myers) Thus, stretching the right inner thigh will help to release the pelvis.  In the photo the pilates ladder barrel is being used, however any table top, counter, couch can be used to do this stretch.  I have received feedback from people that bathroom counters are the best for this stretch as well as the next one.

2.     Stretch your left hip – It is also true that when the right hip is higher that the left hip also tends to be locked short.  Bathroom counters are also great for this stretch

3.     Strengthen your left inner thigh – once the locked hips and inner thighs are released then it is time to strengthen the opposites.  So first we must strengthen the left inner thigh.  This is a picture of simple sidelying leg lifts with the inner thigh of the left leg

4.     Strengthen the right hip  - simple leg lifts can do this nicely.  

After doing this series stand up and take a walk around the room.  Notice if your pelvis feels or looks any differently.   Now try the videos below.  They were posted previously, but they are good ones!

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, R.S.M.E.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list in the upper right corner, when you sign up you’ll get access to The Pilates Studio’s free e-book “12 easy ways to Relieve morning Aches and Pains”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gotta have Balance with my Hip Power Part II: Anterior Tilted Pelvis

As we continue our homage to the Gluteus Medius and the lateral line as part of the core, this week’s post will discuss another postural pattern that may put the pelvis in a position that makes engaging the Gluteus Medius a challenge.  The Anterior Tilted Pelvis is illustrated in figure three above.  As you can see the top of the pelvis is tilting to the front of the body and the bottom of the pelvis is tilting to the back of the body.  This postural pattern can lead to pain in the low back as well as pain in the hips and knees.  When the pelvis is in this position the thigh bones tend to internally rotate which creates poor tracking of the kneecap. 

All of these aches and pains can be aided by Gluteus Medius strength, but the conundrum is that this pattern makes it challenging to strengthen the Gluteus Medius.  If a person does not address this pattern before trying a hip power series, most likely the patterns already in place would just get stronger.    But of course there is hope.  The following suggestions are intended to prepare the pelvis for a pilates sidelying series. 

1.     Hip Flexor Release Series – One possibility for a Hip Flexor Releasing series was outlined in a previous post.  Most often, the short muscles in the front of the hip cause an anterior tilted pelvis and releasing them can aid in pelvic placement.
2.     Child’s Pose/Rest Position – When a pelvis is tilted forward this position the myofascial tissues of the low back are shortened and sometimes the easiest way to introduce length into tissue is with the breath. In this rest position
3.     Quadruped Flexion-Neutral – This position allows the body to continue releasing the tissues of the back and also lets the body find abdominal engagement 
4.     Quadruped Hip Extensions – This exercise is a great way to engage the hamstrings and gluteus muscles while also engaging the abdominals.  Remember to imagine that there is a magnet in front of your head and behind your tail so that your spine is as long as it could possibly be.
5.     Illiacus stretch – This is a repeat from the hip flexor release series above but it’s a goodie!
6.     Clam – Now lying on the side the clam shell works beautifully to balance the tilt of the pelvis. 
And now you’re ready for your favorite hip series!  If a visual of the exercises listed is needed then check out the video below.
In the video Laurie Johnson illustrates the exercises above.  
Check out the video and feel free to leave comments to tell us what you think.  You can also subscribe to our youtube channel as we will be posting different videos periodically!

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, R.S.M.E
Co-Owner The Pilates Studio