From Couch to Swimming a 5k

From Couch to Swimming a 5k

For years, swimming a 5k has been on my bucket list. To most, this sounds beyond crazy but I come from a background in racing triathlon and swimming was always my favorite. I struggle with finding motivation to workout. It probably sounds ironic since I’m a fitness instructor but I need a reason to get the gym and for me that reason is racing.

The Fat Salmon is a local 5k swim in Lake Washington that happens every year in July. You swim from I-90 to 520 with a massive group of swimmers. Some will be there to win the ultimate prize, a fat salmon, and others, like me, will be out there to prove to ourselves that we can do more than we think we can.

It’s been months since I’ve been in a pool. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been in a pool at all in 2018, but on May 4th with only 10 weeks to the race date, I signed up. After a quick google search, I found a 10-week training plan for swimming a 5k and made room in my busy schedule so I could get at least two swims in each week.

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My first swim started at 3000 meters. To give you some perspective, a mile is 1500 meters. It was physically and mentally challenging but I got through it. What helped me the most, aside from muscle memory and natural swimming abilities, was using all the mental training techniques I’ve learned through my years of Pilates instruction and my Franklin Method education. I imaged my heart rotating around my lungs as I rotated my torso through the water. I pictured my scapula as two slippery bars of soap that were easily sliding and gliding across my ribcage as I got each arm out in front stroke after stroke. To stabilize my spine and pelvis and to kick from my hips, I focused on the relationship between my multifidi, my psoas, and my thoracolumbar fascia. And finally, I pictured my right upper trap (my problem child) as staying soft, relaxed, and draping over my ribs like a cloak.

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Since starting my training, I’ve swam 9400 meters with two more 3400 meter workouts this week. I’ll slowly start to build my swim distance in the pool maxing out at 4700 meters in week 7 and add an open water workout in Lake Washington in June.

My point in sharing this story is to inspire others to take on what you think you can’t because if you can focus on the bits and pieces, you can do it. Physical fitness has always set a precedent in my life of pushing me to new places beyond where I thought I could go.  What these last two weeks of training have proven is that what you’re focusing on and what you’re buying into, can make or break you. Pilates has given me the ability to not only physically accomplish my goals because of healthy body that moves efficiently, but the mental tools to cross swimming a 5k off my bucket list.

The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

As time progresses and technology continues to take over the world, it seems the general population is gaining a new regard for the health and wellness practices of old. Primal diets and functional movements are common now, whereas 10 years ago, the mention of such ideas would raise eyebrows. Along with functionality and eating like our early ancestors, the appreciation for fermented foods has increased exponentially over the past few years. First, we’ll explore why, and then, we’ll offer you some delicious options that will help get your gut health on point.

So, what’s so chat-worthy about fermented foods?

1.    They provide a yummy way to get prebiotics and probiotics.

Pre- and probiotics ensure the healthy bacteria in the gut stay high in numbers and ready to fight off any illnesses that try to invade it. This is crucial, as many healthy professionals will agree that illness begins in the gut. Probiotics are believed to aid in digestion, help keep you on your feet during the months when everyone else is battling the cold and flu, and even reverse certain diseases.

 2.    They help you digest your food.

And better digestion means your body gets more nutrients. If the bacteria in your gut aren’t properly balanced, no matter how healthy your diet may be, your digestive system won’t have the ability to absorb all the vitamins and minerals you take it, thus stifling its ability to efficiently distribute those nutrients throughout your body. What good is an A-1 diet if you can’t use its vitamins and minerals? Not only do fermented foods help you use more nutrients; they also add nutrients to some foods that didn’t have them before they were fermented!

3.    They may help avoid common debilitating illnesses.

And who wouldn’t want to do what they can to avoid type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or IBS? That’s right, everybody wants to avoid that stuff. Now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of fermented foods.

FERMENTED FAVORITES

1.     Can you say kombucha?! It’s all the rage nowadays, so much so that folks are skipping the every-other-daily run to the grocery store to brew it right in their own kitchens. Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea that has its roots in ancient China, where it was believed to relieve arthritis and ward off certain types of cancer. Today, people use it to treat anything from acne to autoimmune diseases, as it’s a staple in self-healing diets. You can find it in grocery stores everywhere in an abundance of flavors. If you’re the adventurous type and decide to make it yourself, make sure you do your research and do it right; you don’t want your kombucha making you sick.

2.     The second fermented favorite on the list is kimchi, the spicy pickled vegetables from Korea. Usually made with cabbage or radishes, it has become a common side dish in restaurants across the United States over recent years. It’s high in fiber and vitamin C, promotes digestion, and regulates cholesterol. Kimchi may also contribute to beautiful hair, skin, and nails, so eat up!

3.     Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about pickles! You probably didn’t even know you were enjoying this wonderfully fermented food, because it’s such an integral part of American life. But not only are these fermented cucumbers delicious and refreshing, they’re wildly good for you, too. They’ve been said to heal ulcers and protect the liver, and drinking the juice after an especially strenuous workout will knock that lactic acid right out.

Other fermented foods include tempeh, kefir, and sauerkraut. So find one or two you love, and begin to incorporate them into your daily meal plan. Your tummy will thank you!

Meet our Newest Instructors!

Meet our Newest Instructors!

MEET OUR NEWEST INSTRUCTORS!

When you’re in the presence of someone whose passion for what they do seeps through their pores, you know it, and that’s just what you get when you’re around Emerald City Pilates’s newest instructors, Sara and Michelle.

Sara Kimmel’s ambitious nature shows in all she does, which explains why she challenges her clients to push themselves towards their full capabilities. Sara has been an athlete her entire life; she used to be a competitive equestrian, and she’s now a skier and cyclist. As an athlete, not only does she understand the importance of a healthy body, she also knows the frustration an injury can bring. In fact, it was through a back injury she discovered Pilates, which gave her back the ability to live an active life.

Her desire is to assist her clients in gaining strength, maintaining it, and accumulating the confidence that comes along with discovering just what their bodies are capable of. She knows that correct, consistent movement is the key to being able to fully engage in the activities that matter most.

Sara focuses on proper alignment and technique with her clients, and she can never learn enough about her craft. She makes it a priority to stay up-to-date on the newest in exercise science and the body in order to best serve her clients.

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Michelle Gantz is ECP’s newest Senior Instructor. Michelle comes to us with tremendous knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm. She is a STOTT Pilates Level 2 Instructor, STOTT Pilates and Merrithew Instructor Trainer, and Licensed Massage Practitioner. In addition to those accomplishments, she has over 10 years of experience teaching yoga.

Michelle understands that everything in life is subject to change, therefore, she is sensitive to the needs of her clients, knowing that what they needed yesterday may not be what they require from her today. Her goal is to help them feel better after their session with her than they did before they walked in. She has the ability and know-how to help athletes improve their performance and to create regimens for clients experiencing osteoporosis or who have undergone hip replacement surgery. No matter your goals, she can raise the bar or modify movements to accommodate your personal needs.

Don’t worry though; she’s not all business all the time. Michelle enjoys a good laugh, making her sessions fun and personal, and staying active by biking, running, skiing, and of course, Pilates.

Drop into the studio and make sure you introduce yourself to Sara and Michelle. Take a look at their schedules to see if you fit, and if so, schedule a session! They’d love to get to know you and take you to the next level.

Pilates and Olympics? A Win!

Pilates and Olympics? A Win!

Pilates and Olympics? A Win!

Who doesn’t love the Olympics? The Winter Olympics are unique in that we get the opportunity to look on as the greatest athletes in the world compete in snowy, icy sports--many of which are obscure (curling, anyone?)--and fight for a spot on the podium, bringing pride to their nations.

Every four years, we get to see balls of muscles barrel down the luge at 90 miles per hour, or figure skaters deliver inspirational routines of strength and precision that most people couldn’t even accomplish on their living room floors. As we root for our country to bring home the gold, we at Emerald City Pilates tend to view the Olympics from a slightly different vantage point—through the eyes of Pilates instructors—so we’d like to coach you up on how the practice can have a direct effect on the superheroes who compete on the world’s biggest stage.

 Figure Skating

We’ll start with a crowd favorite, figure skating. Johnny Weir, decorated American figure skater and Olympic commentator, said, “I start every day with Pilates. In my sport, your body has to be small up top and larger on the bottom, to maintain your center of gravity when you’re jumping or rotating. Pilates helps me do that. Plus, it doesn’t bore me,” according to lambdalegal.org. Center of gravity is everything in figure skating. If a skater loses control, even for a moment, it could mean sacrificing a few tenths of a point that might cost them a medal, or a nasty fall onto the ice that could transform an otherwise beautiful routine into a disaster. Pilates offers proprioceptive awareness that allows for skaters to make quick adjustments in mid-air, improve their balance, and learn to apply their core strength to each movement, which is more than enough reason for all ice queens and kings to sign up at their local studios.

Luge

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What do you know about Alex Ferlazzo, the highest-finishing Australian luge athlete in history? Well, he started his career because his mom took a Pilates class. That’s right—she met the Australian luge team recruiter at Pilates one day, and soon after, her son was trying out for the team. However, talking about luging in the Pilates studio isn’t enough. It’s a dangerous sport, flying down an ice slide at 90 miles per hour on a sled with nothing to protect them, so these athletes better make sure their training is on point. Their powerhouses must be in tip-top condition, in order to help them stay on the sled and navigate the twists and turns of the course. Then, once the competition is over and the competitors’ necks are stiff from all that luging, Pilates can help relieve any pain and tension that might come with the territory.

Hockey

The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team just took the gold in Korea! We’re proud of their accomplishment, and excited about what the future might hold for those ladies. When it comes to Pilates, all hockey players could benefit from the practice, especially with the array of training opportunities the Reformer has to offer. Since total body strength is a must for hockey athletes, Pilates on the ball, on the mat, or on the Reformer are all beneficial practices, but the Reformer offers sport-specific exercises to improve dribbling, scoring, and stability on the ice.

The next time you sit down to watch an Olympic event, see if you can point out how a Pilates practice can help improve the athletes’ performances!

Highlight Artist: Stephen Jaffe

Highlight Artist: Stephen Jaffe

Highlight Artist: Stephen Jaffe

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Skulls, trees, tribal masks, and ballpoint pens. It’s not the normal conversation piece on the way of your foyer, and that’s what makes it so captivating.

Emerald City Pilates is pleased to introduce you to our latest highlight artist, Stephen Jaffe. If you’re into funky, contemporary pieces that twist your perspective, you will love Jaffe’s work.

Jaffe resides in Los Angeles, and you can see the vibrant city’s influence on his art. As he gallivants through the streets of the city, he finds certain leaves, lines, or faces that become the muse for his next piece. On his website, you can see him display his completed canvases next to the influences that guided his pen. It’s certainly worth your time to check out.

His “waste not, want not” approach fills each canvas with scenes and doodles that force your eye to seek out the details in the sea of his ballpoint-penned genius. He started his craft by doodling in the margins of his notebook paper during classroom lectures, and eventually, the work permeated from the margins into the entire page. A classmate saw it and asked if he’d ever done it on a canvas, which he hadn’t. Her suggestion, along with urging from family members and friends, sparked his brilliant pieces you see today.

Does Stephen sit around contemplating what his next piece might be? Not at all. He describes his work as that of a “stream of consciousness,” where his pen runs free, chasing his imagination as it gives birth to whatever shapes or ideas impregnate his mind. You’ll sometimes find music or sports themes in his work, but rarely will one work of his art focus on a single motif. Jaffe says these pieces provide a “window into [his] crowded mind.”

If you missed him in the studio, you can check out his work anytime at stephenjaffeoriginals.com. There, you can peruse his signature pieces, and you can even order one of his prints to display in your home or business.

HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE FRANKLIN METHOD?

HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE FRANKLIN METHOD?

Join us for our Franklin Method Workshops| Saturday, May 19th


HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE FRANKLIN METHOD?

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Allow me to introduce this brilliant step in the direction of mindfulness and movement that is proven to enhance the efficacy of fitness regimens, everywhere. The Franklin Method, which has been utilized in elite centers such as Juilliard Dance School and the Olympic training center in Colorado, works to improve the body’s senses, helping it recognize exactly what’s happening in and around it, in order to respond to stimuli in the most efficient way.  In the words of Eric N. Franklin himself, “Better information improves your navigation,” and his way of doing things helps us to pick up on that information. 

According to franklinmethod.com, “The Franklin Method® uses Dynamic Neuro-cognitive Imagery, anatomical embodiment and educational skills to create lasting positive change in your body and mind. The Franklin Method was founded by Eric Franklin in 1994 and is taught all over the world, including the Universities of Vienna, Cologne, Karlsruhe and the Juilliard School in New York.”

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When you take the time to listen to this brilliant man speak, you’ll hear him say things like, “The body reflects thinking patterns,” and, “Tight thoughts produce tight muscles.” When we hear those things, one of our favorite buzzwords pops into our heads: MINDFULNESS! It seems the whole realm of physiology experts has grasped the fact that health starts in the mind, and if our minds are correctly engaged, our bodies will follow and manifest said health. Essentially, you are learning to mentally observe every move the body is making.

This technique empowers our thought lives. It reminds us of our power to change. We don’t have to do anything the way we’ve always done it, simply because it’s the way we’ve always done it, including, but not limited to the way we walk. We can maximize each movement of our body, once we learn how every part works together. By doing so, we increase the awareness of what our bodies are doing in any space, which enables us to notice and navigate the details of every experience. Participating in each movement, instead of just letting things go on as usual, gives our bodies and minds more energy, as opposed to sapping our energy--the way that drudging through life does. As Pilates specialists, the Franklin Method is a natural companion to our own philosophy.

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Joseph Pilates said, “The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” With concentration, centering, breathing, control, precision, and fluidity as its core principals, Pilates forces us to recruit our minds and bodies in order to get a full workout. The Franklin Method is a natural supplement to the Pilates ideology.

Oftentimes, when a new idea hits the health and fitness world, it’s often labeled a competitor. But truth is truth, right? So when we learn something new that echoes the truth we already hold, there’s no need for competition. We can combine the truths and proceed to improve ourselves, using this newfound knowledge. That’s what the Franklin Method does for Pilates.

If you’d like more information about the Franklin Method, contact Jessica, who is a Certified Franklin Method Educator.


Interested in learning more about The Franklin Method? 

Mat or Machine--Which is More Effective for Chronic Back Pain?

Mat or Machine--Which is More Effective for Chronic Back Pain?

Mat or Machine--Which is More Effective for Chronic Back Pain?

So you’ve done your research, and you’ve decided to invest in your lumbar health by giving Pilates a try. However, you’re having a hard time deciding if you should go for the mat class, or try your hand at the equipment you see in the studio. Read on to see what the experts say.

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According to the study, “Effectiveness of Mat Pilates or Equipment-Based Pilates Exercises in Patients with Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” to find relief for your lower back pain, equipment-based Pilates is the better option. Experts in the physical therapy field conducted a study at a private studio in Brazil and came to this conclusion. The study included 86 patients randomly placed into two groups—half in the mat Pilates group, and the other half in the equipment Pilates group. Participants were observed in 12 sessions over 6 weeks, and after a six month follow-up, the experts found that equipment-based Pilates was a better option than mat Pilates in the effort to alleviate chronic lower back pain.

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Participants with disabilities and kinesiophobia, the fear of movement based on the belief that it will cause more pain or injury, saw significant improvements when they practiced equipment-based Pilates. It’s possible that equipment-based practices saw better outcomes become of the stabilization machines provide for people with disabilities, along with the perceived protection machines offer for those who are afraid of getting hurt again. Either way, the jury is in: taking a few spins on the Reformer and other Pilates apparatus is a good way to alleviate your lower back pain.

The results of the study suggest that under the care of a Certified Pilates Instructor, you could be well on your way to the quality of life you enjoyed before your back pain took over. Below are the benefits of seeking the expertise of a quality professional:

1.     She will design a tailor-made workout, specific to your needs. When you put your wellness in the hands of a quality pro, she’ll dig into her toolbox to create a regimen with your name all over it. You won’t have to worry about your next move, because your instructor will have already done the work to ensure each movement will help improve your strength without aggravating your injury.

2.     She will make sure you do each movement right, every time. Certified professionals are not careless with your sessions; they are there to see to it that you get the most out of the time you put in, and they do that by watching your form like a hawk. When you work with a good instructor, you won’t be able to get away with less than your full effort, and they’ll make you realize that you don’t want to, either.

3.     She will track your progress. At times, we feel like we’re working hard and not getting any results, or we’re not aware of the myriad of ways we can assess our progress. Professional instructors know what to look for when it’s time to measure gains, and often, they can spot forward movement in places you never even thought to look.

If you’re ready to strut through 2018 with less back pain, stop by ECP and set up an initial assessment with a certified instructor, today. There’s no reason to wait.

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain—Results of a Systematic Review

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain—Results of a Systematic Review

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain—Results of a Systematic Review

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Do you suffer from lower back pain? Do you know someone who does? Surely you do, since according to thegoodbody.com, eight out of ten Americans will experience back pain. On top of that, chronic low back pain is on the rise, and when it strikes, it affects every aspect of your wellbeing, from working, to exercising, to sleeping. This ailment becomes a hard-to-end cycle, because as the culture becomes more sedentary, instances of chronic pain continue to rise. It’s important to note the prevalence of the phenomenon and become educated about what you can do to alleviate such pain now, or if it ever comes knocking on your door.

When many Americans search for the most effective remedy for chronic discomfort, they usually come up short. Medications can only suppress so much, and they do very little to eliminate pain; they simply reduce symptoms for a short while, often bringing more side effects to the equation. If you find yourself in the doctor’s office searching for a solution for the pain in your back, consider stopping at your local Pilates studio for an effective alternative.

A recent evaluation of randomized controlled trials suggest that Pilates is an effective means of alleviating chronic back pain, compared with massage therapy and other exercise regimens. Let’s take a look.

In, “The Effectiveness of Pilates Exercise in People with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review,”* we find evidence to prove Pilates significantly effective in alleviating chronic lower back pain. Statistics show improvements in both the amount of pain, as well as in functional ability, when a patient takes on a Pilates regimen for a timespan of six weeks. Naturally, the longer a patient sticks with a program, the longer-lasting the positive effects seem to be. Pilates seems to be just as effective as a massage therapy regimen when it comes to alleviating chronic lower back pain, with the best results stemming from practicing Pilates more than once a week, while combining it with other forms of movement or exercise.

What that means for you is that while your brain may think a sedentary timeout is the best way to heal up a bad back, the exact opposite is true. While it’s wise to avoid activity that proves too strenuous on the spine and other joints, Pilates is a proven solution that’s easy on the joints. It limits impact on the lower back and everything connected to it, while improving the strength of the core. So, if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffers from this affliction, there are some practical steps you can take to improve your quality of life:

1.     Examine your lifestyle and investigate the reason for your chronic back pain. It might be your posture in your desk at work, an underlying condition, an old sports injury, or anything in between. Whatever the root cause, knowing from where the pain stems could be extremely helpful in creating your plan to heal.

2.     Pay your local Pilates professional a visit. Pilates is easy on the joints and heavy on the core work, two vital aspects of a fitness routine that will help fend off this nuisance.

3.     Stick with the plan. Taking charge of your wellness is not a quick fix. We can’t expect a handful of sessions to do much of anything to solve a chronic problem in our bodies. What we must do instead is implement consistent action plan that will propel us towards health, and sooner, rather than later, we’ll be able to kiss that pain goodbye.

*”The Efficacy of Pilates Exercise in People with Chronic Lower Back Pain.” July 2014, Volume 9, Issue 7. www.plusone.org

EASY VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

EASY VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

EASY VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Comfort food is a beautiful thing, especially when the temperature is biting and the chill gets in your bones. Cold, dreary weather is soup weather, so today, we are passing our favorite butternut squash soup recipe on to you!

Not only does butternut squash look inviting and nutritious, it’s a hefty source of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Here’s a fun fact: butternut squash is classified as a fruit, because it contains seeds! Who would have guessed that?

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The orange color of this fruit is common in foods that contain beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is great for our skin and immune systems, but you probably recognize its name from hearing that it does good things for your eye health. Additionally, it’s full of fiber and folate, which is a win for heart health; potassium, which keeps our bones strong; and vitamin B6, which contributes to the health of our nervous and immune systems. And don’t forget about vitamin C--butternut squash can provide nearly half of your RDA with just one cup!

When choosing a butternut squash, look for one that’s kind of heavy with a matte skin. If the skin is glossy, leave it where you found it.

While there are numerous satisfying ways you could prepare butternut squash, like cubed and cooked into a pot of lentils, stuffed into a tortilla with sautéed spinach, or as a stand-alone side dish, this soup is just what the doctor ordered while we wait for spring to reappear. So without further ado, here are the steps to getting the gourd from the market and into a bowl on your table.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups vegetable broth (You can make your own by placing 3 stalks of chopped celery, one onion cut in quarters with the skin on, 1 head of garlic sliced in half through the cloves with skin on, 2 chopped carrots, 1 tbsp sea salt, 6 cups of water, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbsp rosemary, and 1 tbsp dried basil to a crock pot and cooking it on medium for 8 hours. When time is up, strain the broth into a glass container and use or refrigerate.)

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

3-5 peeled garlic cloves

½ of a sweet onion, sliced

I tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp spice blend (cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika)

½ tsp sea salt

Sunflower seeds (optional)

Preparation:

1.     Preheat the oven to 400. Toss the squash, garlic, and onion together with coconut oil in a bowl. Once all ingredients are covered, lay them out on a cookie sheet. Be sure to give the pieces of squash a little space between each other.

2.     Roast for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and flip the ingredients on the cookie sheet, then roast for another 20 minutes. Check to see if a fork can go through the cubes of butternut squash. If so, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. If not, keep cooking until tender.

3.     Place the squash mixture in a food processor, and slowly add the veggie broth, spice blend, and sea salt. Blend until smooth.

4.     Pour the mixture into a pot. Cook on medium until heated. DO NOT BOIL.

5.     Remove the soup from the heat, and add extra seasonings to taste. Garnish with sunflower seeds.

Once you try this recipe, let us know what you think by leaving a comment. Happy eating!

HOW TO MAKE 2018 WORTH IT

HOW TO MAKE 2018 WORTH IT

Resolutions are born on January 1, and they’re usually dead within 30 days. This year, before you throw your hands up in frustration of another goal that didn’t outlast your neighbor’s Christmas lights, allow us to introduce you to a different method of becoming closer to your best self in 2018.

There are four areas of our lives that should get major attention when we talk about becoming the best we can be. Those four areas are our spiritual selves, physical selves, intellectual selves, and relational selves. We’ll examine each of these, one by one.

SPIRIT

No matter what you believe or don’t believe in, most people would agree that our lives have a spiritual component. The spirit is the wellspring of emotion and character, thus, if it’s in bad shape, the entire being will follow suit. This year, make a commitment to nurture your spiritual self, either through consistent meditation, attending the religious assembly of your choosing, taking long silent walks in nature, journaling, or any number of other contemplative practices. Doing so will help you stay calm in stressful situations, give you a clearer perspective on what deserves your energy and what doesn’t, and renew your sense of purpose.

BODY

When we think of health, many people usually think about their weight and stop there. While physical health isn’t the end all of a life best lived, it is a major player. We only get one body here, so we would do well to keep it in working order. Of course, movement is important, and your Pilates practice (and pretty much any other movement you choose to adopt) is an ideal way to stay strong and flexible, but what you put into your body is just as important as what you do with your body. This year, instead of trying to turn into a total health nut overnight, make it a point to adopt small transitional changes over time. Slow and steady wins the race.

INTELLECT

Now, let’s talk about our brains, the single most important organ in our bodies. Our brains are so advanced and intricate, science can’t figure out most of the details of how they operate. They’re brilliant pieces of work, and it’s our responsibility to keep them flexible and alert. How can we do that? Read! Explore! Have conversations about deep things with people who are living the life you aspire to! Feed your brain by studying topics that you may not have considered before, or make it a goal to become an expert in your field. Whatever you do, don’t let that beautiful organ rot away by spending too much time in front of screens or engaging in conversation that doesn’t uplift you or anyone else.

RELATIONSHIPS

Finally, we need to consider our relational health. If you’re not doing well in your interactions with others, then your spirit, mind, and body will surely show it. The best way to excel in this area is to find ways to serve and affirm other people. Give more of yourself than you expect to receive. You can achieve this by doing your part to mend broken relationships, volunteering, or just checking in on the people you love to see how they are. Relationships are so important, because if we were meant to go through this life alone, we’d be the only ones here.

Think of these four facets of health as guidelines for who you want to become in 2018. Instead of setting hard and fast resolutions, each day, check in with yourself in stillness and ask, “Is what I’m doing today helping me attain spiritual, physical, intellectual, and relational greatness?” If the answer is no, you can regroup in that very moment. Keep up with your progress using a journal, or even a blog—any form of documentation will do. At the end of the year, if you’re a more accurate reflection of who you aspire to be than you were on January 1, 2018, you’ve successfully completed this leg of your journey.

Happy New Year.

Golden Milk-- The Tasty Immunity Booster You Didn't Know You Needed

Golden Milk-- The Tasty Immunity Booster You Didn't Know You Needed

Today, if you’re willing to spend a solid five minutes in the kitchen, we have a most satisfyingly delicious, antioxidant-filled, mind-soothing treat for you. You might be wondering how a mere five minutes of work can yield such promising results, but they can.

Do you have a jar of turmeric in your spice rack? It’s that beautiful yellow spice that gives the color to many Indian dishes, such as curry and yellow rice. Inside turmeric is a chemical called curcumin, which is quite magical in its own rite.

Benefits of curcumin:

·      It fights infection and boosts immunity, a must for cold and flu season

·      It fights inflammation in the body, which in turn, helps the heart perform more efficiently and improves the health of joints and muscles

·      It increases liver function, which helps your body detoxify more effectively

·      It gets rid of abnormal proteins in the brain, which increases brain function

·      It supports weight loss (keyword being supports, meaning you must use it as a supplement to a clean diet and consistent fitness plan)

·      It naturally enhances the mood, which is key during this gloomy season of the year

·      It is excellent for skin health

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Curcumin isn’t perfect, though. It can be difficult for the body to absorb, so in order to override this flaw, all we need to do is consume turmeric along with black pepper. Once we do that, the bioavailability (which is the proportion of a substance which enters the circulation and has an effect on the body) increases by up to 2000%! Black pepper for the win.

Did you know that all those benefits were waiting for you in that brilliant little container of yellow stuff? It’s almost too good to be true! But that’s not even all of what it has to offer. The spice is delectable, and when you introduce your taste buds to this Golden Milk recipe, you’re going to want to partake in a cup of this magical elixir on a daily basis.

Now, we’ve heard people say, “I tried something like that from a tea bag, and I didn’t like it.” Listen, if you tried something like this from a tea bag, you didn’t try this at all. There is no substitute for this drink. Forget about what you thought you knew of Golden Milk, and give the recipe a try. Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups of your milk of choice (cow’s milk, almond milk, and rice milk are all good options. If you’re battling a sickness, opt out of the cow’s milk, which is a mucous-producer.)

1 tbsp of organic turmeric

½ tbsp. of cinnamon

1 pinch of black pepper (to help increase the turmeric’s absorption in your body)

1 tsp of honey or maple syrup

¼ inch slice of fresh peeled ginger root OR ¼ tsp of ginger powder (you’ll want the root if you can get it, though)

1 pinch of cayenne pepper (This is optional, but we don’t recommend you skip it!)

In a blender, mix all the ingredients together. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan, and heat on the stove for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to boil it. Pour into a mug, curl up for a scrumptious experience, and drink immediately.

Helpful Hints to Beat S.A.D.

Helpful Hints to Beat S.A.D.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but not for everyone. Fall and winter bring feasts and holiday gatherings, but for many Americans (especially those of us who reside in the Pacific Northwest), this season also brings Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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SAD is a certain type of depression set off by the lack of sunlight that accompanies the fall and winter months. While there is a rare type of SAD that occurs during the spring and summer, most of the people who suffer do so during the colder, darker months. In fact, as we go deeper into winter, the illness seems to ramp up. The severity of symptoms vary from person to person, and while only a small amount of the population suffers from it, those who do can testify that it alters and disrupts life in a big way--not only for themselves, but also for the people around them.

As with all types of depression, SAD zaps energy, disrupts sleep and appetite, and messes with your moods. As a result, everything in your life is affected, from work performance, to social activities, to relationships. If you suddenly feel blue and can’t seem to shake it, if your sleep patterns are all over the place, or if you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, you may very well be suffering from this disorder. If you think you are, don’t wait—put together a game plan to help get as close as you can to your normal self, until the sun finds its way back around to us in the spring.  

What can you do?

There are some practical measures you can take the stave off the symptoms of SAD throughout the winter months.

Get a light box. These little boxes provide us with light therapy that’s been proven to aid in reducing the symptoms of SAD. Click here for more information on how to choose one, and please consult your doctor before purchasing. They will be able to diagnose you correctly, determine if you need anything more in the way of treatment, and give you tailored instructions on how to get the best use from your box.

Don’t quit moving. When depression hits, usually all we want to do is stay in bed and keep our distance from other people, but that’s exactly the opposite of what we should do. Exercise increases the feel good hormones that run through our bodies, so boost your serotonin and get to the studio for a rigorous workout! It might even help to bring a friend along.

Eat yourself happy. Sadness does weird things to our appetite. Depending on the person, you may want to eat much more or much less than usual. It’s easy to slip into “comfort eating mode,” but doing so is only going to hurt you. When we eat foods that lack the nutrition we need, we inevitably feel worse, even if our taste buds feel good in the moment. Additionally, if you eat for comfort all winter, when the warmer months show back up, you’ll have to start over on your fitness regimen, which might prolong those feelings of sadness even more. Certain foods, such as black beans, walnuts, green tea, fatty fish, and turmeric (click here to check out this yummy Golden Milk recipe!) help to lift our spirits, while keeping us on track of our health goals. So, make sure you eat living foods for happier moods.

Find a beach! If it fits into your schedule and budget, take a little break, and make your way to someplace sunny. The best cure for minimal sunlight is a heavy dose of sunlight. If a tropical trip isn’t in the cards for you, all is not lost. Purchase a high-quality D vitamin, and take it every day. It will serve as a valuable supplement until the weather starts to heat up, again.

May the winter be good to you, but if it’s a challenge, may you overcome.

Pilates for Snowboarding

Pilates for Snowboarding

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You know what’s cool about a holistic health and fitness regimen? Realizing that what you’re doing in the Pilates studio and in the kitchen are fully translating over to other areas of your life. This snowboarding season, when you get on the slopes, you’ll think to yourself, “Wow—my Pilates practice really took me to the next level on my board, this year!” And every single word of it will be true.

As you well know, one doesn’t just up and decide to snowboard—your body has to be ready for the wild twists and turns this adventurous sport will bring. Success on the slopes means that your body, from top to bottom, must be strong and stable--and your mind has to be ready for a challenge, as well--if you’re going to stay upright and impress yourself by landing some new tricks. Let’s take a look at how putting in work in the Pilates studio can mean your best season ever. If you’re new to the sport, Pilates can be the difference between staying on your feet and becoming Insta-famous for epic face-plants.

1.     Agility—One of the coolest things about the sport of snowboarding is the way it looks! Who hasn’t watched one of these athletes do their thing and thought to themselves, “Man, it’d be awesome to do that!” The reason it looks so impressive is the massive amount of agility involved. When someone can navigate their way through the snow, knowing how and when to move to avoid any glitch that can take them down, especially while wearing all that gear, is all because of their level of agility. Pilates improves agility through its various lengthening movements, like Leg Circles and Double Straight-Leg Stretch.

2.     Core strength—If you plan on nailing those ollies and nollies--or just staying upright, for that matter--then your core better be on point. Your core is your powerhouse, and if it lacks strength, the time you spend on your board will involve much more work than pleasure. Because of all the rotating this activity involves, you’ll need a solid measure of core strength, endurance, and flexibility. The Hundred, Roll-Up, and Teaser II are all moves to give you just that.

3.     Stability and balance for posture-One of the biggest mistakes snowboarders make when starting out is not remaining diligent about their posture. Bad habits like bending at the waist and back instead of bending at the knees and hips, putting too much weight on one foot or the other, and lacking fluidity to adjust to the changing terrain will keep you on the beginner slopes much longer than you really need to be. To improve your posture, work on your stability and balance. Strength in these areas will give you the confidence you need to slice through the snow and ice almost effortlessly. Exercises like the Corkscrew, Side Plank, Standing Leg Extension will teach you to recruit the correct muscle groups to maintain your position as you snowboard.

4.     Lower body strength—If you’ve ever spent a day snowboarding, you know that if you’re not in shape, you spent the next day nursing your sore legs and butt. We know it’s obvious, but if you think you’re going to skip leg day because it’s not bikini season, you got another thing coming. Head on over to your studio and get your instructor recommended dosage of Bridges and Leg Raise variations, in order to hit those limbs from all angles. You’ll be glad you did.

Meet the Massage Therapist- Melanie Farmer

Meet the Massage Therapist- Melanie Farmer

Meet Melanie Farmer, our in-studio Massage Therapist

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Tell us about yourself / your family:

I’m an independent health-care practitioner. One son who lives in DC with his girlfriend.

Did you grow up in Seattle / how did you end up here? 

I grew up in Kansas City and moved to Seattle in 1985. Moved here for the arts community and creative freedom.

If you could go anywhere in the world -- where would you want to visit?  Mongolia

Favorite type of food or restaurant: Japanese

Favorite drink: Water

Favorite season: Summer

What do you do for fun when you're not massaging? Riding – I’m an equestrian

Is there a motto you live by?

Give what it is you think-feel you are lacking in your life

What 3 items would you bring with you if you were stranded on an island? Water, Food, Shovel

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Eagle

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Mary Magdalene 

Describe Emerald City Pilates in three words: Authentic, Smart, Technical

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to Pilates? Riding, Walking, Yoga

Melanie is available for in-studio massage the second Sunday of each month. To learn more about Melanie and schedule a session with her,  please check her bio page

Meet the Instructor- Jordan Blair

Meet the Instructor- Jordan Blair

Get to know Jordan Blair

Tell us about yourself / your family: 

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I am a Seattle native, and I have a son studying linguistics in college.

Did you grow up in Seattle / how did you end up here? 

I grew up near Black Diamond and moved to the big city as soon as I graduated high school.

If you could go anywhere in the world -- where would you want to visit? 

I am Italian, and would love to visit Italy.

Favorite type of food or restaurant: I am a big fan of tacos and burgers.

Favorite drink: Rye.

Favorite season:  What’s not to love about the sunny warm days of summer?

What do you do for fun when you're not teaching?

I am an avid fitness junkie, and in addition to Pilates, I love lifting heavy things up and putting them back down.

Is there a motto you live by?

Sidebending is the key to a happy life.

What 3 items would you bring with you if you were stranded on an island?

Sunscreen, snacks, and Ironman to fly me to civilization.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? A crow or a wolf.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Neil Gaiman.

Pilates:

Why did you start practicing Pilates? I started practicing Pilates in 2004.

Why did you become a Pilates teacher?  

I have always felt passionate about fitness and health, and this was such a natural fit for me.

Describe Emerald City Pilates in three words

Fun, friendly, and supportive.

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to Pilates? 

I love long urban hikes.

Jordan is available for Private and Duet sessions on Monday from 3:30pm-8:30pm. To learn more about Jordan, and schedule a session with her, please check her bio page

Meet the Instructor- Nora Kosack

Meet the Instructor- Nora Kosack

Get to know Nora Kosack

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Tell us about yourself / your family:

I am married and we adopted a sweet little pup called Ava.

 

Did you grow up in Seattle / how did you end up here?

We moved from San Francisco to Seattle two years ago. I grew up in Frankfurt Germany and always wanted to live in the beautiful PNW.

If you could go anywhere in the world -- where would you want to visit? New Zealand

Favorite type of food or restaurant: ITALIAN

Favorite type of drink: Hawaiian Mai Tai

Favorite season: Spring/Summer/Fall and Winter ;-)

What do you do for fun when you're not teaching? hiking, playing with my pup and doing pilates.

Is there a motto you live by? Everything happens for a reason.

What 3 items would you bring with you if you were stranded on an island? my husband, my dog and sunblock.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Surprisingly a dog, but only in our home ;-)

Pilates:

Why did you start practicing Pilates? out of curiosity and lower back pain.

Why did you become a Pilates teacher?  to transport Pilates out into the world.

Describe Emerald City Pilates in three words: individual, knowing and fun.

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to Pilates? I love hiking and cycling.

Nora is available for Private and Duet sessions on Mondays from 6am-11am, Wednesdays from 12pm-5pm, and Thursdays from 6am-12pm. To learn more about Nora and schedule session with her, please check her bio page

Meet the Instructor- Ellen Liang

Meet the Instructor- Ellen Liang

Get to know Ellen Liang, our new Thursday evening instructor.

Did you grow up in Seattle / how did you end up here? 

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Born in New York where I spent my first decade, then lived in Spain, France and Taiwan, college years in New York and France...also lived in Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong. I moved to Seattle from Hong Kong in 1998 because I had always been attracted to the West Coast and was seeking an outdoor lifestyle and a good place for my daughter to grow up.

If you could go anywhere in the world -- where would you want to visit?

Cambodia and Laos (where I am going soon), I love SE Asia; also interested in Sri Lanka and India, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and more...

Favorite type of food or restaurant:  Vegetarian or seafood, usually Asian and spicy

Favorite drink: Wine

Favorite season: Summer

What do you do for fun when you're not teaching?

Pickleball, hiking, making pastries, watching foreign or indie films, reading literary thrillers

Is there a motto you live by?

Care for your body like the house it is for your soul, and live in every space.

What 3 items would you bring with you if you were stranded on an island?

E-reader, comfortable bedding, Swiss Army knife

If you could be any animal, what would you be?

A pampered dog

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Jane Goodall

Pilates:

Why did you start practicing Pilates?

I had been practicing yoga for about 10 years and found it to be a great complementary practice, with more focus on individual muscles.

Why did you become a Pilates teacher? 

I had been teaching yoga for a few years and wanted something new but similar in my toolbox. I became especially interested in the rehab aspects of Pilates and believe it provides a more targeted and deliberate approach to correcting alignment than other disciplines.

Describe Emerald City Pilates in three words. 

Urban training sanctuary

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to Pilates? 

Pickle ball, hiking, dance

Ellen is available on Thursday evenings from 4:30pm-8:30pm. To learn more about Ellen, check out her bio page

PILATES FOR PREHAB

PILATES FOR PREHAB

PILATES FOR PREHAB

Whether you know it or not, many injuries begin before the point of contact in which the actual injury occurs. Quite often, we don’t “just get hurt;” We were likely already suffering from some type of imbalance or inadequacy that later met with the wrong movement, and BAM!—we’re looking for the ice pack.

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If we’re honest, most of the time, we’re mindlesssly going through the motions of life, ignoring nagging little pains (because they’ll resolve, eventually), and are generally unaware of what’s going on within our bodies. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can protect yourself against injuries, big and small, by implementing a little prehab into your self-care regimen.

“Prehab” is the term that’s been assigned to proactively avoiding pain and injury before it becomes a problem. By building strength and stability around areas that are prone to injury, you decrease the possibility that anything will actually happen.

Pilates is the perfect prehab approach, because:

·      It is corrective. Corrective exercises are those that fix the problems we may have with our muscle balance or posture that cause an array of preventable injuries. Although recurrent knee issues, ACL tears, and muscle pulls might be common, they’re not normal. When the body is functioning as intended, we are much less susceptible to injuries like these.

·      It’s all about the core. If you’ve spent any time around a Pilates enthusiast, you know this to be true. The “Powerhouse” is the connector of every bone and muscle in the body. It’s been said that if you have a strong core, you have a strong body. If you don’t have a strong core, no matter how fit you might look, you have skipped the foundation. At that point, injury is sure to follow, because your body can’t fully support itself without a solid core.

·      It forces you to stay present. Most people are doing something “here,” but their mind is “there.” When we don’t fully concentrate on what we’re doing, we open ourselves up to pain. When we are mindful, we can focus on our movement, position, and breath. Mindfulness staves off the possibility of things “just happening,” or “coming out of nowhere.” It’s said to be a superpower, and for those who’ve mastered it, life unquestioningly moves up a level.

If you take part in any sort of sport or competitive event, consider using Pilates for your prehab needs. Not only will you see dramatic changes in your core, posture, and mindset, but the increase in your confidence will be exponential.

PRO FOOTBALLERS ARE JUMPING ON THE PILATES TRAIN,  AND YOU SHOULD TOO!

PRO FOOTBALLERS ARE JUMPING ON THE PILATES TRAIN, AND YOU SHOULD TOO!

PRO FOOTBALLERS ARE JUMPING ON THE PILATES TRAIN, AND YOU SHOULD TOO!

Professional athletes often challenge the status quo, signing up for any activity that will take their game to the next level. Several years ago, we learned that professional football players were attending ballet classes to improve their game. While the world today is a little more flexible than it was when footballers were beginning to learn first and second position, some men are still squeamish about entering women-dominated domains.

Pilates is for everybody. It was created by a man and initially used to rehabilitate soldiers who’d been hurt in the line of duty. However, as with other fitness regimens that don’t involve throwing iron around, the misconception is that men don’t necessarily fit in Pilates studios. Well men, it’s time for a revolution.

In case you need further convincing that Pilates is a challenging, well-rounded place to enhance your fitness using variety and engaging the mind, read on to learn how the practice has improved the game of three NFL athletes.

·      Tom Brady—Quarterback for the New England Patriots

Why he does Pilates: According to his former instructor, Tom Brady uses Pilates to improve his footwork and to strengthen his lower body. The variety of the Reformer was a draw for him, too.

Why you should, too: You’re probably not going to need footwork like Tom Brady in your everyday life, but agility is important, no matter what your daily routine consists of. If you spend time playing any recreational sports, footwork is important. If you hike on rocky terrains, footwork is important. If you run around chasing your kids or step on and off of curbs throughout the day, footwork is important. Pilates helps develop the agility and body awareness that help maneuver your body from position to position, effortlessly. The difference between a challenging hike on uneven ground and a disastrous hike on uneven ground is your ability to remain upright, no matter what uncertainties try to trip you up.

Martellus Bennett, Tight End for the Green Bay Packers

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Why he does Pilates: According to stack.com, “To counteract the joint compression caused by weightlifting, I go straight from weights to Pilates as often as possible. [It] helps me work on rebalancing and activating my muscles…supporting muscles that hold up the bigger ones.” His instructor added that Pilates helps him change directions on the field, since his regimen has brought a major increase of flexibility to his hip flexors.

Why you should, too: The weight room is important, and no one’s asking you to lighten your load in there, but just know that Pilates can provide balance to your efforts under the weight bar. “Little muscles” are often ignored in the weight room, as the exercises that target these muscle groups aren’t as well-known and celebrated as the bench press, curls, and squats. However, little muscles provide support and stability for the big ones, help keep you free from injury, and make the big muscles look better. That’s something we can all get behind.

 Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver & Punt Returner for the Pittsburgh Steelers

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Why he does Pilates: Brown’s time in the Pilates studio is geared towards core strength and explosion, which means lots of work for the hips and glutes. According to stack.com, he commented, “It’s not like weight training…it’s all about control and body position, which receivers like myself need the most.”

Why you should, too: The muscles on both sides of the body need to be balanced. It’s no good to have one side overpowering the other. Pilates provides thorough corrective work that will make sure your muscles are parallel as possible. Core strength, control of the body and breath, and body awareness are the foundations on which anyone can develop true strength from within. When these three elements are established and developed, the leaps and bounds in gains, lower recovery time between sets and workouts, and mental stimulation will speak for themselves.

So fellas, are you ready to claim your position in the Pilates studio? No more hesitation. Once you get into your first session, you’ll realize that you’re truly at home.  

FOR THE FIRST TIMERS

FOR THE FIRST TIMERS

FOR THE FIRST TIMERS

You did it! You signed up for your first Pilates class, you’ve laid out your fitness gear like it’s the first day of school, and you’re ready for the challenge—at least you think you are. Here’s what you can expect on your first day.

1.     You’ll walk in to calm, smiling faces. You’ll let your guard down and start to think that your session is going to be either a nice hour of stretching to help loosen you up from the workouts you did earlier in the week, or a tactic to help you back away from the couch potatoness that is your present life. Either way, you’ll laugh at yourself in two hours when you think back to this moment.

2.     You won’t remember sitting upright being so difficult! In fact, you probably won’t remember the last time you sat upright.

3.     You’ll appreciate how long a minute actually is, because time seems to stop in those seconds when you’re holding your arms parallel to the ground.

4.     You’ll be tempted to ask if you can do fifties instead of hundreds, being that it’s your first day and all.

5.     You’ll think to yourself, “My run would have been over by now,” or “One episode of my series on Netflix would be have been over by now.” You’ll start to question all your life choices.

6.     You’ll wonder why your instructor didn’t have you do push-ups at the beginning, before your arms and shoulders were screaming for mercy. But you go with it, because she’s the professional.

7.     You’ll try to keep your grunting and tears on the inside, since this doesn’t seem to be that type of party. How are these people breathing so…seamlessly?!

8.     You’ll lie on the floor after it’s done, hoping no one will notice. “That was totally not what I expected,” you’ll admit to yourself. Yes, it hurt. But did you like it? You kinda did! You’ll peel yourself up off your mat, wipe the egg off your face, and sign up for a package of classes. You’ve found your new thing.