Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Side Lunge Challenge

If I were a fear-based marketer, I would start this blog post in the following way

“Strength generally remains relatively high until 50 years of age when decreases of about 10% per year begin to result in a loss of function and independence;”

Source: The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 330รข€“338.

So if you are approaching 50 the decline is inevitable unless you do Pilates!!!!!

Luckily for you I have a pet peeve about statistics taken out of context and then distributed to instill  fear, so instead we shall start the blog post like this:

The Pilates Studio announces The Side Lunge Challenge

The Pilates Side Lunge on the Chair is one of the most challenging leg exercises in the Pilates Repertoire.  It builds leg strength and function! AND it is hard!  It will make you sweat and it will make you happy!

This past Sunday when we were doing the teacher’s circuit (that moment in time when the teachers at The Pilates Studio make sure they work out too) Christopher LaFleche did the side lunge with no hands.  We all got a great kick out of it because previously he had vividly described the fateful moment in his teacher’s exam where his examiner yelled across the room “No hands!”  So vivid was his description in fact, we decided we needed to send a video of Chris’ very much improved Side Lunge to his examiner.  She of course loved it! 

Little did we know that the Side Lunge Challenge would develop from this brief moment in a very ordinary teacher’s circuit!

Why let people know about the magic of movement through fear when you can have a contest instead? Do you remember our balance challenge?  Well this is going to be just as good!  If you can do a Side Lunge on the chair with no hands, show us!  You can post a video to our facebook page! You can come to the studio and we will take a video for you!  You’ll get your name on the mirror!!!!!

How many people can we get to do the side lunge with no hands?  This question actually sent me to the chair to make sure that I could do the side lunge with no hands.  We pride ourselves in the pilates world to practice what we preach.  How am I to expect everyone to do a side lunge with no hands if I can’t myself.   

Phew I can do it, but there is certainly room for improvement…Let the games begin!

Katrina Hawley, C.M.A, PMA-CPT
Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keep your Fascia Young

The other day I was working with a young man, who came to me with intense pain in his lower leg.  His gastocnemius (calf muscle) seemed to spasm after walking for a ½ hour.  After watching his gait and then looking at the structure of his feet, I surmised that while walking he wasn’t articulating through his feet, and thus the gastrocnemius was working too hard.  As I was watching him walk I was already lining up the exercises in my head that I thought might relieve his pain and change the movement pattern.  The intention was to add lift to the plantar fascia.  I knew that the exercises would relieve his pain over time, but something unexpected happened. 

This young man (seventeen years old) did the exercises with me once, and then when I looked at his posture again, his arch had lifted before my very eyes.  A half an hour of foot exercise changed the appearance of his foot.  I was flabbergasted.  I had never seen so much change so quickly. If I had a better poker face I would have acted like I knew exactly what was going to happen.  “Of course I knew that, because I am that good.”  But alas I am often too amazed at the magic in the world to not express curiosity.  And I was definitely curious.  Why did the fascial structure of his feet change so fast?

Just a few moments later it hit me.  This kid was seventeen years old.  His fascia was vibrant and young.  His body had not suffered the years and years of dehydration, and immobility.  He was not dependent on coffee yet.   He hadn’t partied hard through his twenties.  His fascia was hydrated and healthy so all he needed was a little bit of movement. 

This session led me selfishly to the Internet.  How do I keep my fascia young?  I was looking for the magic bullet, the fountain of youth.  I was searching for seventeen-year-old fascia…

I found many ideas…The internet is abuzz with ways to keep your fascia healthy…But of all the blogposts that I read only two things seemed like the thread to healthy fascia.  Move and hydrate.  Neither of these things by themselves will work as magically as the combination of the two.  Luckily, my job is movement.  I move all of the time.  I move in varied planes of motion I squat, I twist, I flex, I extend.  My body is moving…But that isn’t enough…

I need to drink water as much as I move.  This leads me to The Pilates Studio’s water challenge; at The Pilates Studio we are trying to consume 3 Liters of water a day.   Of course as has happened many times before, I texted my business partner that I was going to try and drink 3 liters of water a day and of course she was thinking the same thing and she sent me this picture.  And now at the studio we’ve tried the basil strawberry infused water as well as the lemon mint infused water. 

This sent me to the internet again in search of benefits of infused water…Once again the internet is abuzz with ideas (which makes me feel like I’m a little late to the game, but better late than never)  Infusing water is about hydration!  But there are other benefits to this stuff. 

First of all dehydration can lead to things like

·      Fatigue (seriously I’ve skipped coffee three mornings this week, and if you know me you know that that is definitely something)
·      Headaches
·      Muscle cramps  (When people talk to me about muscle cramps as if I am working them too hard.  The first thing I ask, “How much water have you had today?”)
·      Joint pain
·      Digestive problems

So why not try strawberry basil water

Proper hydration aids in
·      Nutrient transfer
·      Organ function
·      Temperature regulation (according to one website especially in the winter)  What!!!  I might be warm this coming winter!
·      Fascial health and thus pain reduction

Now lots of benefits of infused water are out there, but I did not find many studies referenced but one was quite interesting.

Lemon infused water has been shown to improve

Ph control
Kidney health
Immune system boost
Cancer fighting antioxidants

Why not stop by the studio to try our lemon mint water?  If we keep moving and keep hydrated maybe it won’t be such a mystery when the arch of a foot gently lifts before my very eyes!

Monday, April 28, 2014

10 Fun Ways to Move at the Office

I often like to think what the perfect world would be if I had my way!  It’s a fun game.  I get to imagine iced coffee fountains instead of water fountains, because of course in this perfect world iced coffee is a natural hydrator.  When I play this game sidewalks are trampolines and people are bounding down the road with abandon grinning from ear to ear.  Okay I realize sometimes when I play,  “If I had my way” my thoughts aren’t the most practical; they’re daydreams after all.  I suppose the risk of concussion from full body collisions on the sidewalk trampolines would be a liability in any city.  And a school with kids hyped up on coffee might not make the jobs of our educators any easier.  However, not all of my “if I had my way” ideas are all that bad. 

For instance, if I had my way every office and place of business would have a culture where recuperative movement is considered an integral part of productivity.  If I had my way every person who works at a desk would allow herself to get up and move for ten minutes every hour.  She would spend part of her day standing at her desk on one foot and then the other. I’m doing this right now at the coffee shop where I’m writing.  The picture is incomplete because I am too shy to ask someone to take it, but if I had my way what I’m doing right now wouldn’t be considered weird. 

If I had my way each person would try to type at least three emails standing with his feet in line heel to toe and his eyes closed.  Okay, right now I am typing this sentence in exactly this fashion, and I am both improving my typing skills and practicing my balance.   If I had my way our bodies would be the highest priority.  Our health would be more important than our deadlines. If I had my way every office cubicle and workplace in the world would also be equipped with the following: A foam roller, two soft balls, a gigantic ball, and a small spiky ball.  AND I am confident that if I had my way our economy would be better, our work more important and the communities in which we live would be safer, healthier, and happier.  But alas I don’t always get my way…

I am constantly hearing stories about the stress that we are under.  I am constantly meeting amazing people that are doing fabulous things for other people but not taking time to care for their own beings.   What if everyone that is reading this post committed to doing three of the following activities everyday for the next week?  Wouldn’t it be a small step in the right direction?  What if everyone that read this post added two more of the following activities the following week?  What if at the end of six weeks we had offices filled with people balancing on one foot with their eyes closed.  Would we start a wellness revolution?  I think it’s entirely possible.

Here are ten ideas to add movement to the office, but really the possibilities are endless!

1. Try returning emails while lying on a foam roller.

2. Plan your next presentation while balancing on a big ball.

3. Have a meeting in which everyone is standing on one foot. 

4. Attend your next conference call while lying with the soft ball under your hips.

5. At your next brainstorming session pass around a ball while standing on the foam roller.  Whoever has the ball has to spout an idea.

5. Return phone calls with your eyes closed while attempting the following balance challenge.

6. Perform the following lunge while writing your next report.  Be sure to switch sides.

7. Use a dictation app while doing a plank series.  Here’s a video if you’re interested.  
8. Every time you need to think of the right word hang upside down over a big ball.

9. Pack a lunch so that you can also take a walk at lunchtime

10. Roll the bottom of your feet on a spiky ball while filing.

What else can you think of?  Feel Free to send me pictures of things that you are doing to move at your office.  Together we will start a revolution!

Katrina Hawley CMA, PMA® - CPT
Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

Monday, April 21, 2014

Three years running…And again there are no words

There are no words to express how grateful I am to do the work that I love…There are no words to express the joy I feel when I hear that my client has a new grand baby…There are no words to express how much fun it is to move every day…No words that describe how high I feel after a session filled with problem solving…No words to describe the feeling I get with the realization that other people understand how special The Pilates Studio is…There just aren’t words, yet once again I am struck with the desire to find the perfect words because people of the Pioneer Valley voted The Pilates Studio as the best in the Valley Advocate’s readers poll. And I want to say Thank you with those perfect words!  It’s a lucky conundrum in which to find myself, but a conundrum nonetheless.
First Year Bamboo

Our bamboo has turned into a bamboo forest
Laurie and I are about to enter our fourth year as owners of this place…WHAT???? No really it’s true!  In our first year, I took a picture of our bamboo that keeps us company at the front counter…I rattled on about the bamboo that hears all of our stories, that feels the joy that people feel when they are here.  The bamboo witnesses Laurie and I at our most productive collaborative meetings or when we can’t stop laughing…Or when we sit in silence working in parallel but similar worlds.  The bamboo also witnessed us as we watched the screaming goats video…that was a funny day.  I am so lucky to do what I do while working with amazing people, and it is this fabulous valley that makes it all possible…Thank you to anyone and everyone that has put trust into the people at The Pilates Studio.  I am beaming with gratitude…But I still haven’t found the perfect words….

All I have are the pictures of the bamboo.  It’s a small snippet of where I go everyday, and for me it helps me remember that we are not just a place for pilates.  We are a place where whimsy is celebrated as an avenue to health and happiness. I strive to have a playful life and because of you it is not a struggle.