Staying Well in the Summer

Staying Well in the Summer

I Haven’t Been Sick in Almost Three Years

That’s what he announced, as he ate his bowl of green stuff and sipped his tea. The girl, surrounded by dirty tissues, gave him a watery-eyed glare—made of one part annoyance and one part curiosity—and visualized a life free from cold and flu seasons. Imagine what that would be like. You could win perfect attendance at work for never using sick days. You could sip chai in the fall instead of cough syrup. Even beyond that, those nagging illnesses or constant belly bloat could be history. For real.

A healthy immune system battles anything awry in the body, and it’s designed to win. Our gut, which houses 70% of our immune system, serves as home for little bacteria that regulate its function and fight infections. Diets lacking in appropriate nutrition damage the balance of the gut flora, inviting all kinds of sicknesses and ailments to set up shop in our bodies. This doesn’t just include colds and flu, but asthma, autoimmune disorders, and some cancers. Even people with pretty decent eating habits are often lacking the necessary good bacteria for the immune system to do its thing at full capacity. If you’ve had enough of spending your resources on sicknesses, and you’re ready to get your tummy flora back in tip-top shape, it’s time to recruit some high-quality soldiers for your gut’s probiotic army.

MegaSporeBiotic is a spore formula probiotic, designed to survive the acids of the gastric system. It colonizes well in the system and supports the growth of good bacteria already growing in the intestines, making it significantly beneficial to gut health. Spore formula probiotics, and the people who use them, boast improvements of a plethora of sicknesses, including:

Asthma and allergies

Urinary tract infections

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Colds, flu, and other infections

Side effects of antibiotics

Bacterial overgrowth/candida

Pain from Rheumatoid arthritis

Additionally, MegaSporeBiotic is reported to help lower the risk of heart disease and cholesterol, and it improves digestion through correct absorption of nutrients. This brand of probiotic is special, in that it is the first commercial probiotic of its kind to produce such a large amount of carotenoid antioxidants throughout the intestinal tract, where it can be absorbed and get to work.

If you’re ready to get to the root of your health problems, consider giving MegaSporeBiotic probiotics a shot. Call, email, or see us at the front desk of the studio for more information. 

Pilates FORE Golfers

Pilates FORE Golfers

Pilates FORE Golfers

Golf season is in full swing, and when it comes to flexing your skills on the green, you don’t want to be out of bounds. To give you the edge, read on to see how Pilates can keep you in the zone on the apron.

The main elements of the golf swing are the set-up, the backswing, the downswing, and the follow-through. Each element possesses intricacies that could be the difference between your name on the leader board and being the last pick for the next fundraising scramble. Let’s go through each element and why Pilates is the ideal way for you to develop your skills.

The set-up

This is another name for the stance, or the way you set your body and club in alignment with the ball. This part of the swing requires a great deal of static balance. Pilates stabilizes the muscles around the joints and increases the muscle strength in your trunk. These improvements have a direct effect on your balance, which is key for the setup and subsequent quick-burst movements of the swing. Since golf is about precision, any drop-off in balance could ruin the whole movement, adding more strokes to your scorecard than necessary.

The backswing & downswing

These are the circular movements of the golf swing, and they require a great amount of core strength and body awareness. Pilates is king when it comes to improving trunk strength and control, as it strengthens and stabilizes the small, deep muscles of the back and core. These muscle groups stabilize the position of your spine, which will engage in a great amount of twisting and turning during the back and downswings. Additionally, Pilates classes will take your body awareness to a whole new level, given that you must engage your mental faculties when performing the movements. Body awareness is knowing what your body is doing and listening to it in order to control and adjust what happens next. Having the ability to make quick adjustments during sports is a skill that will give you a leg up on the competition. When your body awareness is on point, you don’t have to surrender to whatever happens next—you determine what happens next, even in a split second.

The follow-through

The follow-through utilizes the same skills as the backswing and downswing—balance and body awareness. Additionally, being that this is the back end of the movement, it’s easy to slack off on the technicalities of your form. This is where mindfulness comes in. Pilates increases the level of mindfulness within you, forcing you into presence and feeling what your mind and body are doing in each moment. And since golf is one of the few sports with an environment geared towards mindfulness (consider the silent audience), the skill of presence crosses over here from Pilates, beautifully.

Convinced yet? Sign up for a private lesson today, and you’ll be playing lights out in no time.

Stop the Desk Slump- How Pilates Can Help

Stop the Desk Slump- How Pilates Can Help

From Desk to Mat: How Pilates Can Heal Your Postural Woes

Thirteen.

That’s the average number of hours Americans sit each day. Many of those hours are spent at a desk, in front of a computer, practicing bad posture. Since this is everyday life, it’s easy to overlook the damage that something seemingly as trivial as the way we sit at a desk might cause, but the truth of the matter is this single practice might be causing more health issues than you realize.

Desk jobs can cause kyphotic spine, or forward movement of the head, forcing your back and neck to work considerably harder to keep your body upright. This movement increases the probability of injury, creating the potential for disc injuries and pinched nerves. Have you ever wondered how someone could throw their back out or pull a muscle doing something as simple as reaching for their purse or keys? Well, this is how.

Consequences of Poor Posture

·      Poor posture does more than make you look sloppy in candid photos. If you feel like you’re consistently low on energy, or your breathing isn’t quite right, your posture might be to blame.

·      When our positioning is consistently off, we might be exacerbating health issues, such as digestive problems, poor circulation, headaches, and chronic fatigue.

·      If we don’t protect our spine and muscles, they can’t work correctly. Throwing these structures out of wack can cause them to arbitrarily collapse.

What You Can Do About It

·      If your spine suffers from the desk job blues, Pilates can help you sing a different tune. Its balancing movements and focus on the core strengthen the muscles that support the spine, helping you regain that beautiful curvature your backbone so craves.

·      Additionally, Pilates improves strength and mobility, enabling you to hold seated and standing positions for longer periods of time without breaking down your posture.

·      Your flexibility will improve, along with your body awareness. You’ll more easily notice when you’re not sitting pretty at your desk, and you’ll be more mindful to fix it.

·      You’ll likely suffer from few to no injuries, aches, and pains.

Many times, people don’t know they feel bad until they start feeling better. A regular Pilates practice has the potential to help correct and proactively combat any damage that regular, long days at the office have the power to inflict on your spine. Getting your posture in check with Pilates could eliminate the need for medicinal treatments for your ailments, by getting to the root of the problem. If long hours at the office are breaking you down, Pilates could be the answer to help get you back in line.

Nutrition Coaching now at Emerald City Pilates!

Nutrition Coaching now at Emerald City Pilates!

DRUMROLL, PLEASE!

We are excited—no, GIDDY—to introduce our latest team member and what she brings to the health and fitness table. Please welcome Kelsey Jewell to the ECP family, your new go-to gal for all things nutrition!

Kelsey, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, holds a nutrition degree from Bastyr University. While she does not diagnose or treat disease, she does help bring balance to the body by recommending nutritious foods that promote optimal wellness. Her expertise will help you manifest the healthiest version of yourself.

Kelsey will lead our monthly nutrition meeting, “Kegels & Kale,” provide individual nutrition coaching, and offer three unique programs designed to get your nutrition on point.

RESTORE

If you suffer from severe health issues, such as autoimmune disorders, mental health conditions, disruptions in your digestive system (dysbiosis), or other illnesses that require extensive detoxification, this six-month program is for you. It includes an evaluation of your health history and current habits, a comprehensive analysis of your tailored nutritional needs, and follow-up recommendations for movement. This option allows us to walk you through the process of restoration for an extended period of time, equipping you to convert the program to a lifestyle.

REVISE

Have you lost track of your fitness goals? Do you need to correct nagging health issues, such as acne, recurring headaches, or food sensitivities? Then you’re a perfect candidate for this three-month plan! Together, we’ll discuss your goals, review your health history and current dietary habits, and customize a meal plan for you. You will also receive a life transition guide, recipes, supplemental protocol, and recommendations for lifestyle and movement.

REFRESH

If you’re looking to make small, effective changes by utilizing a whole-foods, nutrient-dense diet to help increase energy, then this monthly, hour-long consultation is the first step in discovering the status of your foundational health. We will assess your current dietary intake and extensively review your health history, in order to outline a game plan to help address your health concerns. We will educate you on the right dietary choices to fuel your own busy lifestyle, provide you with reliable diet-related resources, give you a chance to ask whatever questions you have, and discuss next steps.

Which of our new offerings would best suit you? Shoot us an email if you’re ready to get started with Kelsey today, and stay on the lookout for more details about the new RESTORE/REVISE/REFRESH programs.

Mat vs. Reformer Pilates- Which one is right for you?

Mat vs. Reformer Pilates- Which one is right for you?

As if its ability to strengthen the core and increase mindfulness weren’t enough to keep us singing its praises, another sprinkle to add to the topping of Pilates deliciousness is the fact that there’s more than one type to choose from.

You’ve probably heard of mat Pilates, and you’ve likely heard of the reformer, but how do you know which method is best for you? Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the two to help determine which option is more suitable to your goals and lifestyle.

How are they the same?

In the 1920s, Joseph Pilates created a new exercise program to provide functional rehabilitation for war veterans. People found Pilates to be low-impact and highly effective, which is why it’s still widely practiced today. The program is built around strengthening and initiating movements from the core, or the “powerhouse,” as Mr. Pilates called it, and the rest of the body will follow suit. Because of the foundation of the program, you can expect to gain strength, a strong core, flexibility, body awareness, and mindfulness from Pilates, no matter which option you choose to jump into.

If both options will benefit me in this way, why make a choice?

The Mat

Mat Pilates is the foundation of the program’s concepts. Designed to improve strength, flexibility, and posture, a highlight of this low-impact method is that it requires your full attention for accurate body control. In mat Pilates, you use your own weight for resistance, so there’s nothing else to support you, which is important in the development of core strength and body awareness. Mat work can do wonders for your core and posture, as long as you are sure to execute the movements with correct form.

The Reformer

The Reformer is a specialized apparatus designed to take you through a variety of movements with additional resistance. This machine supports the body, helping to perfect your form during the exercises. The springs in the apparatus make it possible to significantly increase resistance, more intensely taxing the muscles and more rapidly building strength and coordination. The cables on the reformer force your body to get full range of motion during workouts, increasing your flexibility and joint health. Plus, the machine just looks super cool, so there’s that.

So how do I choose?

Well, which one is calling your name? If you’re stuck in the middle, one aspect to consider is that you can do mat Pilates just about anywhere, but to do work on the reformer, you need to be around the machine. That may not always be possible, so having mat knowledge is beneficial. Also, you’d need a trainer to teach you how to use the reformer, so consider if you have the resources to hire someone to show you the ins and outs. On the other hand, if you’d like more resistance and variety, the reformer is the way to go. There really is no wrong or right, so think about which option tickles your fancy. But don’t think too long—the benefits are waiting for you!

Do You Mind?

Do You Mind?

Do You Mind?

The breakneck pace of the average American’s professional and personal life is doing potentially irreparable damage to every facet of our health. Most of our days are filled with things we must do, things we should do, and things we’ll never have the time to accomplish (and subsequently end up feeling bad about). The tasks we get around to, we usually perform on autopilot. Our lifestyle has taken the life out of living, but fortunately, there’s a fix for that. It’s called mindfulness.

Mindfulness has become a buzzword in recent years, and is defined as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Ideally, with practice, we can infuse mindfulness into every activity of our day—in our eating, in our conversations, and fitness practices.

Pilates has six core principles, each of which helps us understand the spirit behind the practice. Let’s take a look at them together and explore how mindfulness is inherent to this activity.

Concentration

Pilates is not a passive activity designed to take your mind somewhere else. In order to learn and execute the core-strengthening movements involved, you must turn your full attention to what your body is doing. It’s a wonderful way to strengthen the mind-body connection.

Centering

Centering is getting your emotions in check. It is concerning yourself only with the present moment and releasing any negative thoughts, which is precisely the headspace you want to be in during your practice.

Control

While many fitness programs emphasize strength, numbers, or speed, Pilates is all about control. Your mind must be fully engaged in the movement of the moment, if your goal is to see your efforts reap the most benefits.

Precision

Correct form and movement in your practice is essential to progress and growth. In order to perform the exercises with precision, you must concentrate on how each part of your body feels when you’re doing them right, so you can correct yourself when your form is incorrect. Precision requires focus.

Breathing

In Pilates, your breathing is just as important as your movements. In fact, one way that you can invite mindfulness into your everyday life is to acknowledge your breathing, trading shallow ones for deep ones.

Flow

Flow is the beauty of Pilates. Participating in each movement’s leading to the next, whether painful or peaceful, helps us employ the same technique in life.

Pilates is the ideal way to implement mindfulness into your hectic world. Make practicing a priority, and watch how awareness begins to trickle into every area of your life

Foods that Flatten

Foods that Flatten

Spring never changes its arrival date, but somehow, this pesky season has a way of sneaking up on us every year. If winter zipped past before you could mumble through the chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” fear not. While we don’t have a secret concoction or a magic pill to help you reach your health goals, we do have a collection of foods, provided by Mother Nature herself, to help you make moves in the kitchen and whittle your waistline.

It’s time to focus on foods in their purest possible forms, specifically NSVs (non-starchy veggies) such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and tomatoes. To satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for apples, berries, citrus fruits, or pineapples (or the fruit of the goddesses, if that’s what you want to call it) in lieu of rich, sugary desserts. And when it comes to protein? For meat eaters, baked or pan-seared chicken breasts are excellent options, salmon and tuna are great fish options, and for the vegetarians, you can’t go wrong with eggs. Vegans, we haven’t forgotten about you! Choose nuts, nut butters, and tempeh.

Another time-tested strategy for eliminating excess fat around the midsection is to consume adequate amounts of water. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll likely see higher numbers on the scale than you would if you were well-hydrated. That’s because when your body feels like it’s lacking a vital resource, it will hold on to the little bit it has available. Increase your water intake for a week and measure the progress with before and after pictures. Be careful though—there is a such thing as drinking too much water. You don’t want to flush out the sodium your body needs to operate optimally. A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by two. The quotient from those two numbers is the number of ounces of water you be drinking each day. So, if you weight 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water in a 24-hour period.  

Of course, you must eat these super-foods as part of a healthy diet, not as an add-on to an unhealthy one. Apples won’t make much of a difference if most of your other calories come from oversized burritos, fries, and soft drinks. Be intentional about eating well 80% of the time to see your efforts in the kitchen and the gym pay off in a big way.

You didn’t think we’d leave you with all this information but no application, did you? Try this simple pineapple recipe, guilt free.

Pineapple Carrot Smoothie

  • ¾ cup chopped pineapple
  • ¾ cup chopped carrot (make it small)
  • 1 chopped banana
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 ½ cups papaya juice or almond milk

Blend ingredients to desired smoothness and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite tummy-flattening recipe? Share it in the comments!

Pilates & Plates: Why You Need to Add the Practice to Your Weight-Training Program

Pilates & Plates: Why You Need to Add the Practice to Your Weight-Training Program

Get comfy. It’s story time.

One day, a fit and muscular girl walked into Pilates class. Confident as she grabbed a mat and ball and announced that this was her first experience of the kind, she placed her mat on the floor and waited for the rest of the class to arrive. Looking around as her classmates for the day entered the studio, she decided that this hour would be a piece of cake—she was waaaaay fitter than these other people—and she smiled with self-satisfaction.

About 30 seconds into arm holds (and three minutes into class, period), she began to frantically search the room for someone—anyone—whose shoulders seemed like they might burst into flames before hers. From there, the class only grew more difficult, and she spent several counts panting and wondering why she stepped into this torture chamber to begin with. Pride wasn’t enough to sustain her. She left class humbled and achy, but signed up for more.  

New Girl’s heavy weight training didn’t translate to the Pilates mat, which is why she needed both.

When it comes to Pilates and weight training, it doesn’t have to be either/or—it can be both/and. Participating in a variety of exercises, especially those that seem so different from one another, only serves to make you an all-around fit specimen of a human.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ways that Pilates compliments your efforts in your weight-lifting sessions.

·      Weight training focuses on big muscle groups that make you stronger and more powerful, while Pilates focuses on the little muscles that are often forgotten. When the little muscles are also strong, they serve as better support for the big muscles, and they also make the big muscles look better.

·      Pilates helps to improve flexibility, an aspect of weight training that is often overlooked. Nagging aches and injuries are a sign that your body isn’t getting the stretch it needs to sustain your weighted resistance training, and sooner or later, you could pay for the neglect with a pull, a tear, or a pain that keeps you out of the gym for weeks. With Pilates, flexibility is the workout, so if you add this gem to your regimen, you’ll be sure to elevate your elasticity game.

·      Pilates is one of the most effective practices to improve core strength, which is of utmost importance in weightlifting. Every lift requires an active core to hold weights in place and keep your body under control while you lift. With a strong core, your body works less, your form improves, and you reduce your predisposition to injury. 

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try a Pilates sesh or two, and see if there are any gaps in your fitness regimen. If you’re already a regular, invite a friend who spends most of their time pushing weights. You can guarantee they won’t leave without a challenge.

Pilates for Runners

Pilates for Runners

With spring and summer comes the uptick in outdoor running in the Seattle area. It’s a good time to remind runners how much pilates can benefit them and improve their running practice. Here are some ways regular pilates sessions can round out your fitness routine:

·      Increased core strength. Having a strong core helps you maintain proper form, and helps you move efficiently. Many exercises commonly used to strengthen core muscles only work the surface core muscles. Pilates trains you to engage and strengthen the deep core muscles.  Strengthening these deep muscles provides greater stability of your core for longer periods of time. This means being able to run longer with better form, alignment, and balance, all of which lower your risk of injury.

·      Improved balance. Pilates emphasizes balance to continuously challenge your core and form. Balance decreases with age, and most people find that a regular pilates practice improves their balance. As any runner knows, balance is crucial when running down hills or stepping on a rock.

·      Postural corrections. Correcting postural imbalances will help give you better running form. Pilates teaches you proper posture and helps identify any weaknesses that deter you from proper form. Students learn which muscles to fire and strengthen to hold balanced posture.

·      Side to side and rotational movements. Running occurs with forward motion, enhancing and tightening the muscles that propel you forward. For the strongest form, with less injury or chronic pain from repeated running, moving well from side to side and rotationally is necessary. Pilates works the body and spine through all planes of movement in a balanced way.

·      Breath control. Breathing is the first principle of pilates, and each exercise has specific breath patterns designed to teach students how to maximize the breath. You will focus on breathing deeply and fully into the lower lobes of the lungs. Pilates teaches you how to engage the diaphragm and how to use the breath to bring awareness to the core and movement. 

Recent studies have showed that runners have a greater life expectancy (average of 3 years longer), and that running as little as five minutes a day prolongs life spans. Whether you are starting to add running into your routine, or training for competitive races, pilates is an excellent way to improve and balance out your fitness routine.

To learn more about Stephanie and schedule an appointment with her, check out her bio page

Learn More About Your Core- The Psoas

Learn More About Your Core- The Psoas

According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 80% of all Americans will have low back pain at least once in their lives.  If you’re trying to cure your low back pain, be sure to investigate all possible underlying causes.

Many times, low back pain is called by muscular imbalance. Muscular imbalance comes in many forms. A weak muscle can cause the surrounding muscles to overwork.  On the flip side, short/tense muscles can be an equally problematic source of pain.  When it comes to trunk stability, the Iliopsoas (commonly known as the psoas – pronounced soh-uh s) can be a major player in spine mobility/stability and overall health.

Dysfunctions of the psoas can effect the position of the spine and pelvis and lead to increased stress on the low back.  The psoas serves to stabilize your trunk and pelvic region. It is included in the hip flexor muscle group (think running, walking, biking, squats). Due to its length and support role in the body, dysfunction of the psoas can cause a variety of problems including low back pain.

The psoas is the only muscle in the body to stretch across your pelvis, connecting your spine to your lower body.     Deep stabilizers of the body must achieve the same delicate balance as the Seattle symphony at Benaroya Hall. A loud and off key Tuba (psoas) could ruin the performance… Any of these common symptoms may indicate your Psoas is throwing off your physical performance.

  • Excessive low back curve                      

  • Tight hip flexors

  • Trouble rounding your low back when stretching forward

  • Sitting for long periods of time without getting up

  • Repetitive hip flexion (running, walking, biking, squats)

Due to the attachments of the psoas, a short/tight psoas can force the natural curve of the low back to grow bigger and the pelvis to tilt forward. Not only does this posture push the bones of the spine closer together leading to pain (Ouch!) but it can also weaken glutes and abs, and shorten your hip flexors.   Sitting at a desk all day can mean practicing this posture for hours at a time, creating poor muscle patterns and postural issues. We would recommend getting up and moving around between long stints of seated work.  Most experts recommend moving or stretching at least every 30 minutes.   

It is equally important to combat these imbalances by targeting specific muscle groups during your normal workout routine. The key is to quiet down the overactive muscles and wake up the ones that have trouble helping out.

Here are a few muscles to focus your workout outside of work to balance the musculature of the lumbar back and pelvis:

Strengthen:

  • Transversus Abdominus

  • Pelvic Floor

  • Multifidi

  • Abs

  • Glutes      

Lengthen/Stretch:

  • Hip Flexors

  • Quads

  • Low back

If you want to know which Pilates exercises target these muscle groups, connect with one of our instructors for more information!

Are You Ready for Duets?

Are You Ready for Duets?

Are you thinking that you should make the move from private sessions (1:1) to duet sessions (2 students:1 instructor)?  Private sessions, or one-on-one sessions, are great as you are just starting to get to know your body and becoming familiar with Pilates exercises and terminology. But depending on your budget and goals, making the jump from privates to duets could be a good option depending on how you answer these three questions: 

  • Do you know your body well?  Pilates is all about exercising with proper form so if it’s hard for you to tell what your body is doing, the likelihood of being able to self-correct without hands-on cueing by your instructor can be difficult.  Also having a decent understanding of basic anatomy and movement terms will take you far as duets tend to be faster-paced. 
  • Do you have an injury?   Pilates has a deeply rehabilitative aspect and it can be great for helping people with chronic and acute injuries. If you have a specific injury bringing you to Pilates, duets may not be the best option since you’ll be sharing your instructor’s attention with someone else. Not to mention, the added benefit of having a private Pilates session tailored 100% to your body’s needs when you have any type of injury can do wonders!
  • Do you have someone you want to work out with?  Half of the battle with duet sessions is finding someone to work out with.  If you have a friend, family-member or work colleague that you know you will be a good partner for you, duet Pilates can be an excellent option. It’s a great way to have fun and get in shape together while saving some cash.  If you don’t know anyone you could pair up with, check with your instructor as there may be another client at the studio that they could pair you up with. We’ve had lots of success with this at Emerald City Pilates so let your instructor know if you’re interested in being matched up. 

There are many factors not covered in this blog that can be helpful in making the decision between private and duet Pilates but in my experience, the three questions above are key points to consider when exploring this option for yourself. 

Pilates for Swimmers

Pilates for Swimmers

Summer is just around the corner and for many of you that means time for summer sports like running, swimming and hiking.  I started doing Pilates to help me with chronic shoulder and low back injuries associated with racing triathlon. Pilates helped me to train for all three sports -  swimming, biking and running - but today I want to talk more specifically about Pilates for swimmers since Pilates literally saved my shoulders. 

Professional swimmers like Olympic Gold Medalists Natalie Coughlin and Miss Franklin are just a few of the high level swimmers who rely on Pilates to help them perform in the pool. The core strength, body awareness and control, and precise movements of Pilates are exactly what help them to adjust their bodies in the water and get them to the wall faster. But if you’re like me, you’re not out there to win Olympics medals, but instead to enjoy yourself. 

The biggest issue I had as a swimmer was my shoulders. I always had some type of a problem whether it was a painful impingement or a super tight chest. As much as I loved swimming, it gave me postural problems. I can remember practices where I just kicked with a kick board because my shoulders were too injured to work. It was a huge drag! 

Pilates was great for me because it worked so specifically on strengthening my rotator cuff muscles, those tiny shoulder core muscles that keep the ball of my upper arm bone perfectly centered on the tiny socket of my shoulder blade. It also helped to increase the strength of my shoulder blade stabilizers and movers so that those muscles were working correctly. When those muscles weren’t working correclty, it would eventually turn into an injury of some sort. 

And the best part is, with the tiny core muscles and stabilizers of my rotator cuff and shoulder blade working correctly, that meant my larger, more powerful muscles like my lats could work harder and more efficiently to help me create more force in the water. With my tighter, stronger abdominal core I was also able to keep a better body position in the water which decreased the drag off my body and the load on my shoulders and made me faster! 

STOTT Pilates does an excellent job of training instructors so they can teach you how to use your shoulders properly, just as I did. I recently found this amazing video which showcases specifically how Pilates can help with swimming specifically— especially if butterfly is your thing. Make sure you check it out because it’s really cool!

Pilates is something I would recommend for any athlete at any level. We know that many professional athletes like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant love it, but it is as useful and helpful to all the weekend warriors out there (like myself).    If a chronic injury is keeping you from doing a summer sport you love, make sure you schedule an appointment to come and see us. All Emerald City Pilates instructors are STOTT trained and we can help you get back out there doing what you love in a body that feels like a well trained machine.   

Kegels & Kale-Recap

Kegels & Kale-Recap

Thanks to all our members who made it to our monthly nutrition meeting, Kegels & Kale. 

We had a great discussion led by Kelsey Jewell, our nutrition expert, about calorie counting and weight loss.  The big take-away was:   Make sure you are eating enough high quality, nutrient dense foods to support your body’s caloric needs and stay away from fake foods and under-eating, as both can cause serious problems and keep those pounds from melting off!

Kelsey will be offering one on one nutrition coaching at the studio starting in May. Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.  

Make sure you stay tuned as we will be offering a KILLER deal to work with her and welcome her to the team—just in time to help you look good and feel great for our gorgeous pacific northwest summers!

Pilates & Yoga

Pilates & Yoga

Do you think that Pilates and Yoga are the same?    

It’s not uncommon for Pilates and Yoga to get grouped together. They share many positive benefits such as increased balance, flexibility and core strength while also helping to improve your ability to control your wandering, monkey mind. But what makes Pilates and Yoga different and how can you help determine if group yoga classes or private Pilates session are the right fit for your body and your goals?

Here are the 3 ways that Pilates is different than yoga: 

  1. Emphasis on the core muscles - yes, you hear this word used in Yoga but can your yoga instructor tell you exactly what your core muscles are and how they work? Most likely, they can’t. Pilates instructors know exactly what your core muscles are, how they work, and how you can best get them to work correctly. Pilates' number one goal is proper form and using your body perfectly where in yoga, it's more about achieving a pose.   To learn more about the abdominal core muscles read our previous blog post Learn More About Your Core!
  2. Equipment- Pilates incorporates a ton of equipment into the workout, both small and large apparatus. This equipment helps to better recruit your core muscles in the way they were designed to function through proprioception. Proprioception improves the communication between your body and your brain which produces efficient, easy movement patterns—the stuff that keeps your body moving happily and with ease for the long run. The resistance from the springs in the large equipment also does an awesome job toning the larger, superficial muscles that you want to work so you look lean and feel great. 
  3. Pilates instructors are trained by physical therapists to work with specific injuries so whether it’s your rotator cuff, a bulging disk or a joint replacement, your Pilates instructor can help you cross the bridge from PT to real life because it's based off of modern exercise science and the latest information about biomechanics. This is especially true of Pilates Instructors trained in STOTT Pilates, which we are at Emerald City Pilates.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some yoga, especially aerial yoga (go try this today if you can), but when I’m in a yoga class, I am so grateful that I have been practicing Pilates and have in-depth knowledge about how my body works and a strong, well-functioning core. This knowledge and strength allows me to make smart decisions about how to move through the poses, so I can back off on something that might hurt me or go for it on those poses I can excel at. It’s hugely beneficial to know what’s best for your body, and Pilates gives you that education. 

Learn More About Your Core- Part 1

Learn More About Your Core- Part 1

Learn More About Your Core- Part 1

Do you have low back pain?  Do you know someone who does?

Low back pain can pull you out of your normal routine faster than you can say “Pilates”. Whether you are one of the millions of Americans that already suffers from low back pain, or you are just looking for a preventative measure to combat it, the first step is to familiarize yourself with some key muscles.

I would first like to formally introduce you to your Transversus Abdominus. Among a host of other functions, the Transversus (TrA) is integral to the stability of your low back and pelvis. Here’s how it works: this muscle spans from your lower ribs down to the top of your pelvis with its fibers running in a horizontal direction. It pulls inward three dimensionally around your waist. (Yes, corsets and girdles literally stole this idea from a natural function in your body. They just missed the part about how it also aids in breathing)

The TrA has been shown to be one of the most important defenses against lower back pain and serves as the blank canvas for the rest of your abdominal musculature. 

Lets get one thing clear: The Transversus Abdominus is NOT your six-pack muscle (that's the Rectus Abdominus). The TrA is deeper and flatter. When used correctly it draws the waist in slightly allowing for an abdominal hollowing. You know that one pair of high waisted jeans that are just a little bit too tight? Imagine the action you use to button up the last button before you go out on the town to show off your moves.

You can begin to train your TrA with the simple breathing exercise below

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet hip distance apart
  • Breath deeply in through your nose and exhale through 2 pursed lips like you are trying to blow out a birthday candle
  • Place two fingers an inch in from your hip bones and try to feel a gentle muscle contraction as you exhale
  •  See if you can consciously control the activation of this muscle 

Proper use of the TrA is super important when performing daily actions.  For example, lifting those ridiculously heavy 5-gallon containers onto the water cooler at work. Or, practicing your dirty dancing lift in the lake with your best friend this summer. So lift and move intelligently, and if you're not sure you've activated your Transversus Abdominus, come see us for some Pilates strengthening! 

*Natasha is available for private and duet Pilates.  Click here to schedule an appointment with her. 

 

Meet the Instructor- Stephanie

Tell us about yourself / your family.  

My name is Stephanie Crowe and I am a STOTT Pilates Certified Instructor. I have been consistently practicing Pilates for over 5 years, and have been teaching for 2 years. In addition to my STOTT certification, I also hold a Masters of Science in nutrition from Bastyr University, and have worked in the health and wellness field since 2004.

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

 I grew up in a small farming town in Texas, during high school we moved to Austin, where all of my family still lives. During a work trip to Chicago, I met a young man from Seattle that knocked my socks off. A year later, I moved here, and many years later we are married and have a young daughter.

When did you start practicing Pilates?  

I began practicing Pilates after developing intense hip pain after having my daughter. I committed to weekly private sessions.. After a handful of sessions I noticed a big difference in my hip pain, and increased my weekly sessions to twice a week, and from there I could not believe the difference in my body and all aspects of my life. Pain relief, improvement in my posture and core strength, stress relief, major improvement in sleep, just to name a few.

Favorite restaurant?

My current favorite restaurant is Drunky’s Two Shoe BBQ in Fremont. Great BBQ, an amazing pickle plate, and it feels like home.

Favorite wine?

Nebbiolo!

Why did you become a Pilates teacher?   

The part of being a nutritionist I loved the most, was being part of clients dramatically changing their health and lives for the better. After deciding to change my career path out of hospital work, I knew becoming a Pilates teacher was a fantastic way to continue to be part of that personal change. It is an honor to work with people on the journey to better health and wellness.

Describe Emerald City Pilates in three words.    

Professional. Precise. Inviting.

Do you have a favorite "type" of student when you teach Pilates?    

One of the ways Pilates continues to impress me, is that there is something for everyone. Whether a client’s goal is to improve posture and balance, or to rehabilitate from an injury, I enjoy working with anyone, at any fitness level, to make gains.

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

Antarctica.

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

I love to walk, hike, and garden. And occasionally skip down the aisles of grocery stores.

Meet the Instructor- Natasha

Tell us about yourself / your family.  

Born to a couple of baby boomers turned teachers, I grew up camping, swimming, and hiking in CA, always looking up to my surfer big brother. Stereotypical, right?  Growing up in a small, active family, I developed a great curiosity for the limits of my own body and a need to learn how it functions! 

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

 I was born in Santa Barbara, CA and grew up in a small town called Santa Ynez, known for its vineyards and rolling golden hills. After deciding I'd like to try out the city life, I attended UW and have made Seattle my home ever since. 

When did you start practicing Pilates?

 I was first introduced to Pilates as a young Dancer training in NYC. I took a Pilates mat class every morning to gain strength and body awareness. Later in my Dance career, I found STOTT pilates due to a dance related injury and the rest is History! 

Favorite food?

Well, I'm a lover of all things chocolate… but I can't pass up a spicy fish taco smothered in hot sauce either. 

Favorite wine!

Despite my upbringing in the wine country of southern CA, I'm far from a wine connoisseur, however, I'm known to gravitate to a delicious Pinot Noir or a Shiraz.   

Why did you become a Pilates teacher?   

I've always been interested in the way bodies move. After the rehabilitation of a dislocated knee and shoulder, I realized what a difference pain free, thoughtful movement can make in someone’s life. I became a Pilates instructor to help others connect with their bodies and experience movement with a new understanding of their individual body.   

Describe emerald city pilates in three words.    

Informative, restorative, stimulating 

Do you have a favorite "type" of student when you teach Pilates?  

Working with an injury is something unique to pilates. I enjoy helping clients work around or through their physical limitations and on toward their goals. Whether that be increased range of motion after an accident, general flexibility, or gaining body awareness.      

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

Top of my list for travel destinations is Colombia. I could practice my Spanish, eat some delicious food, AND go to South America for the first time! Who could pass up that opportunity?! 

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

Aside from Pilates, I take regular dance classes of various styles, swim whenever I get the chance, and ride my bike everywhere! I love seeing what this body is capable of! 

Meet the Instructor- Rachel

Tell us about yourself.   
I am a Pacific Northwest native. I love to travel, experience different places, meet new people and spend as much time as possible outdoors. When it is just too wet and cold, staying home, cooking something delicious, opening a bottle of wine and hanging with friends is perfect for me. I have a degree in Communication Disorders and also work part time with children as a Speech Language Pathology Assistant. Doing that along side teaching Pilates I have found to be a really nice balance. 

I grew up as a middle child with one older brother and a younger sister. My family now lives all over the world (southern CA, Denver, Madrid) but Seattle is where we like to call home, even though I am the only one here. I am very close with all of them and love when we are all able to get together!

Did you grow up in Seattle?   
Seattle was home to me until I turned 18 and moved to Northern California for college. During that time my parents were transferred to Southern CA for work so when I graduated I moved down to be close to them. After 10 years in California, I moved back to Seattle to pursue my dream of becoming a Pilates instructor, experience the city as an adult and reconnect with old friends.

Tell us about your first Pilates experience.

My first experience was after walking by a Pilates studio every day in the town I was living in and becoming so curious about the reformers I saw in there! I had to try it out. I went and instantly fell in love. It was an emotionally challenging time in my life and became a huge outlet for me, something I constantly looked forward to. I continued to do Pilates while living in Spain for a period of time and that is when I decided I wanted to make it a larger part of my life.

Do you have a favorite food or favorite restaurant?
I am such a foodie!! I love it all!! But if I had to choose one type it would probably be Mexican. I can’t go too long without tacos. And of course any Seattle seafood is always at the top of my list. 

Do you have a favorite wine?
I love a good California Cab and am a sucker for Spanish wines.

Why did you become a Pilates teacher?

I became a Pilates instructor because Pilates transformed my life in so many positive ways, both physically and emotionally, I wanted to share that feeling with other people. 

Describe Emerald City Pilates in three words.

Comfortable, fun and inspiring!

Do you have a favorite "type" of student when you teach Pilates?  

My favorite “type” of student is anyone who is open and excited about learning about their bodies and how we use Pilates to move and feel better overall.

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

I would love to go to South America, I have family in Chile I have always wanted to visit, and Machu Picchu in Peru is definitely on my bucket list!  

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

In addition to Pilates I love to go for hikes and explore the beautiful parks we have here in Seattle as well as snowboarding on our beautiful mountains. Aside from that, especially on the really rainy days, spinning is another way I like to get my body moving. 

This month's Kegels & Kale topic will be....  Sugar!

This month's Kegels & Kale topic will be.... Sugar!

Are you constantly craving sweets and don't know why?  Do you want to be able to gain control without deprivation?   

The federal government’s decision to update food labels in 2016 marked a sea change for consumers: For the first time, beginning in 2018, nutrition labels will be required to list a breakdown of both the total sugars and the added sugars in packaged foods. But is sugar really that bad for you? Is the sugar added to foods really more harmful than the sugars found naturally in foods?   The answer, according to the New York Times, is "it depends".   Read that entire article, here

With so much information on the web and in the media, understanding sugar and how it can affect your health can be overwhelming and confusing.  Topics will include:   

  • The role sugar plays in our food system
  • Is sugar addictive?
  • How to deconstruct cravings
  • Cooking without refined sugar

Jen, our nutrition expert, will be leading this hour long discussion on sugar and sugar handling so you are more empowered to make healthier decisions around sugar. 

We will be meeting at Sweetgrass Food, Inc. on Saturday,  March 11th from 9:45am-11am. Space is limited to 10, so reserve your spot ASAP. Free for members and new clients, $20 for the general public.  Click here to reserve your spot

We hope to see you there!

Meet the Instructor- Jessica

Meet the Instructor - Jessica

Tell us about yourself / your family:
I was recently married in the fall of 2016. In addition to my new husband, I have two dogs, a shy great pyreenes named Freckles and a pomeranian named Tucker.  

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

I grew up in Stockton, CA and moved to Seattle in 2003 to attend Seattle University. I liked it so much that I decided to stay. Eleven years later, I'm back at Seattle U working on my MBA.   

Why did you start practicing Pilates?
I started racing triathlon in 2004 and soon afterwards began experiencing all the chronic aches and pains that come with racing. After visiting my orthopedic doctor for low back pain, I learned that I had an extra lumbar vertebrae (L6) also called a lumbarized sacrum. He told me I was doomed to a life of back pain and that I should stop racing immediately.

I found his solution ridiculous so I found a physical therapist to work with so I could continue to pursue my dream of becoming a pro-triathlete. We worked together for 6 months developing my core strength and she then suggested I check out STOTT Pilates. After my first session, I was hooked! It was a great way to keep up the work I had been doing with the Physical Therapist while also correcting any imbalances from triathlon training without taking away from my ability to train. 

In addition to the physical benefits, I also enjoyed the positive mental affects like improved focus and mindfulness when things got tough with racing/training.  I'm glad I didn't listen to that doctor because I went to the International Triathlon Union Age-Group World Championships in 2005 and received local sponsorship in 2006. 

Favorite food / or favorite restaurant-  

Lettuce wrapped burger and fries with mayo! My fave restaurants are Brouwer's and Little Woody's. For an extra special celebration, I'll head to Ma'Ono in West Seattle and get the gluten-free fried chicken. I have quite a few foods that I don't eat since I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's but that doesn't stop me from eating delicious food. I'm an excellent resource for all delicious things gluten free, soy free, dairy free and high fod-maps foods as well 

Favorite wine?

I'm not much of a wine-o, more of a tequila or whiskey gal. My go-to whisky is High West Campfire and my favorite Saturday night beverage is a well made Manhattan. 

Why did you become a Pilates teacher?   
I wanted to help people improve their lives through movement and feeling better in their bodies. 

Describe emerald city pilates in three words. 

Fun, smart, strong   

Do you have a favorite "type" of student when you teach Pilates?   

My favorite students are the one's who incorporate what they learn in their sessions into their activities of daily life. Pilates is an opportunity to learn how to use your body as it was designed to be used, and when you take these lessons beyond the studio, the positive results can be life-changing. 

I also like working with spinal abnormalities and anomalies since I happen to have one myself.  

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

I'd love to go back to Sayulita, Mexico but also want to visit Croatia and Bora Bora so I can stay in one of those cool huts that's over the water. I'm addicted to ocean swimming!! :)

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

I LOVE to swim. I'm good at it and it works well with my special spine and Hashimoto's. I've also been enjoying aerial yoga but make sure to modify exercises so it works for my body. The inversion component feels great on my body and all the flipping is super cool!