Eight Ways to Keep Up Your Workout Motivation This Winter

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Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter is fast approaching here in New England, and while it is easy to start going into hibernation mode, remember that Summer bodies are made in the Winter. Sure, when it’s dark and chilly out, it is much easier to stay in bed under the warm covers. Or on snowy days (yay snow days!) it is easy to sit inside catching up on Netflix shows and eating heavy, comforting foods. However, this will only derail your health and wellness goals.

Committing to your Pilates practice, or any workout really, is just a stepping stone to a greater reward and that is making a stronger feeling YOU. The only person who can make the change is you. Don’t be upset by the result you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do. Remember, the only bad workout is the one that you didn’t do.

So let’s look at some motivational tips to keep you active during the Winter:

  1. Set a Goal and Reward Yourself for Achieving It – Set a goal such as “I will do _____ amount of workouts for _____ amount of time”. For instance “I will do three workouts a week, every week for the next three months” Then think of a way to reward yourself at the end of your goal. Maybe you treat yourself to a massage or maybe you buy those shoes you’ve been eyeing. Having a reward at the end will give you a goal to work towards and help keep you on track for achieving your goals by Spring/Summer.
  2. Keep a Journal – before and after every workout, write down in a journal how you felt. When you are low on motivation you can read back over the last time you worked out and how great you felt afterwards. It will motivate you to hit your mat. This will also give you insight into what caused you feel to sluggish etc.
  3. Create a Goal or Vision Board – Remember why you started. Think about why you want to work out or make these health changes. What was your aim in doing so? Keep that in mind and let it be a motivating factor to working out. Add images of yourself at your ideal weight, or the swimsuit you want to buy, or pictures of that spot in the Bahamas that you want to visit in the Summer. Add quotes, images or anything else that will motivate and inspire you. Put this in a spot that you will see everyday, throughout the day.
  4. Set Up Yourself Up for Success – literally set out everything you need to get in your Pilates practice or workout. Keep your mat out in a spot that when you walk by and have time you can just get down and do your practice. Set out warm clothes to get you ready to step out and take on the day.
  5. Find an Accountability Buddy – find a partner to do your practice or workout with. Schedule a workout date and stick to it. It is harder to not do your workout if you know someone else is counting on you to be there and to motivate them. You can set a workout goal together and cheer each other on.
  6. Time for You – set a time each day that is your time to practice self care and get your practice in. Even if you have to get up an extra 15 minutes to do so. Set an alarm on your phone to wake you up early so you can get in your workout. Think of how great you will feel starting your day with a quick and energizing practice.
  7. Mix it up – Try a new workout! Maybe instead of your daily walks outside, that you can’t keep up with because of the cold and snow, you try an indoor workout. I LOVE spin classes. It is inside, helps you get your sweat on, has fun music and is a challenging workout. Join a gym and try out some of the classes. The added benefit of this is getting in your cardio in conjunction with your Pilates practice.
  8. Workout at Home – Try my 6 week Mat Pilates for Beginners series (or my other videos) on YouTube. These can easily be done at home, office or anywhere else you can roll out a mat.
Remember…it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Do you have any motivational tips you want to share? Post them in the comments! And I’ll make sure the heat is on the studio, come get your sweat on this Winter!

Boston Voyager Magazine: “Inspiring Stories”

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I was super excited when I was approached by Boston Voyager magazine to be featured in their section of “Inspiring Stories” in the Boston and surrounding areas. I think we all have unique life experiences that we should share, and I was more than happy to do so for Boston Voyager.

In the article, I share how and why I became a Yoga and Pilates teacher. In my years of teaching in the Boston and Central MA areas I have met some wonderful people that I have been able to share my love and passion for Yoga and Pilates with. It is my hope that I have been able to touch lives in a positive way through my teaching. That is why I do what I do.

You can read the article here, on the Boston Voyager website.

Exercise of the Week: The Pilates Mermaid

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I have always had an obsession with Mermaids, ever since I was a kid. I decided to celebrate the one year anniversary of the studio being open by redesigning my logo. I wanted to use the Mermaid a year ago, when I opened, but went in a different direction.

As I was redesigning the logo, I thought about the Pilates Mermaid. This is one of the few classic Pilates exercises that is actually done on all of the apparatus: the Reformer, Tower/Cadillac, Wunda Chair and the mat.

The Pilates Mermaid has many benefits including being a delicious stretch for the side body. Enjoy the video below on the Pilates Mermaid! Bust out your mat and give it a go!

 

Healthy Date Truffles

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When you are on a sugar-free diet you begin to realize how much you miss that bite of chocolate after dinner. While you can nibble on a square of 90% dark chocolate, it’s just not the same. Too bitter and not enough sweet. Enter these totally sugar-free and gluten-free Date Truffles.  No matter what nutritional plan/diet you are following (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free or Paleo) these dates are a simple but delicious treat.

Ingredients:

  • 20 Medjool Dates – pitted and soaked
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons of raw cacao powder
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons of raw cacao nibs
  • salt to taste
  • Stevia/Truvia/Honey/Agave for extra sweetness (optional)
  • spices – I add a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Additional add ins – I add almond pieces and raw, unsweetened coconut
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Vanilla, Orange, Mint extract (optional to change the flavors)

Preparing the truffles:

  • Pit, soak and drain your dates. Cut them in half for easier processing.
  • Add those to a food processor with all of the other ingredients above.
  • The choices for add in’s are pretty much endless.  Add dried fruits, different nuts, shredded coconut. You can change the flavors with different extracts such as orange, vanilla, or even mint.
  • Process until everything is blended and you get a dough like consistency. These can be pretty sticky though. If too wet or sticky add a touch more of the cacao powder and blend again.
  • I spray my hands with a Pam like product, or use coconut oil, butter, etc so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands and you can roll these into the balls.
  • Take a tablespoon sized amount of the dough and roll into between hands into a small ball shape.
  • You can roll these in coconut, cacao powder or even nuts.
  • Freeze! Placing them in the freezer helps to firm them up a bit so they are more of a truffle consistency instead of a mushy, dough like ball. These don’t get too hard in the freezer so you can eat them right out of the freezer.
  • Enjoy!

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions.  And if you tried these let me know what you thought!

9 Blocks to Achieving Your Goals

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Several times this week, I have heard from clients that they feel stuck or unable to achieve their health and wellness goals. As I begin work on a new project (launching in the Fall), this of course had me thinking about why people get to a point where they feel stuck or that their goals are unattainable.

While thinking about this and researching the main blocks that people hit when striving towards a goal, I found a recent study that shows a shocking 92% of people never achieve their goals. Here are some of the main reasons why.

9 Blocks to Achieving Your Goals:

  • Motivation – You’ve set a goal but lack the motivation to achieve it. If this is an area you struggle in, read my recent blog post on Motivation.
  • Accountability – this seems to be one that a lot of people struggle with. It’s hard to achieve those goals if there isn’t anyone or anything to hold you accountable.
  • Having a vague goal – many people set goals that are just not specific enough. For instance the number one goal most people have is to “lose weight”, but that is too vague. How much weight do you want to lose and by when?
  • Procrastination – In today’s society, “Netflix and chill” is totally a thing. The problem with this is that it is easier to binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black, than it is to workout. If you keep putting off your goals, you will never achieve them. Remember, a little progress each day adds up to big results. #progressnotperfection
  • Lack of support – I like to think of this one in the line of what I call “enablers”. You know, those friends or family members that are like “Enjoy life, eat the cake!” or “One night out for drinks won’t kill you”.  Not having a person or a group of people that share your goal and will help you to achieve it can set you up for failure.
  • Distractions – “Squirrel!!” Do you suffer from “ohhh look something shiny” syndrome? We are constantly being bombarded with things trying to grab our attention, and that makes it easy to get distracted. Trying to multi-task and be a jack of all trades falls in this category too. Pick one thing and give it your 100%!
  • Not having a plan/knowing where to start – It’s a great thing to have goals! It feels wonderful to say “I’m going to achieve XYZ”. However, when it comes time to put your goal in motion, you get stuck. Whats the first step? And then what? What if my goals change? Set a clearly defined plan of how you are going to achieve your goals from the very beginning.
  • Not having a deadline – See “having a vague goal”. I hate to refer back to SMART goals but they totally work! Your goal must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Sensitive. Meaning if you do not have a dead line set, it’s much easier to let Distractions and Procrastination take the drivers wheel.
  • Negative mindset – you MUST believe in yourself and your goals. If you have always struggled with losing weight and keep saying to yourself “I’ll never lose weight. I’ve tried losing weight before and it never works” then guess what? You’re going to fail. Keep a positive mind set towards yourself and your goals in order to achieve them and be successful. Stop the negative self talk RIGHT NOW!

I plan on going into greater detail on each of these points in future blog posts. What are your personal roadblocks to achieving your goals? Sound off in the comments and let me know. Also, what tools have you found to overcoming these roadblocks?

 

Book Review: The Pilates Powerhouse

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I truly believe that anything we do is a process; a process that we must consistently put in the work. Since, I’m so passionate about Pilates, it is well…Pilates that I consistently work on. Part of this process is that I am first and foremost a student of the method. My own practice is always a work in process. The Pilates nerd in me also loves to read anything I can find on Pilates, anatomy, and movement in general.

Mari Winsor’s “The Pilates Powerhouse” was the latest book I picked up on the Pilates Method. Winsor helped bring Pilates into higher recognition through her work with actresses, actors, musicians and professional athletes.

Mari gives a brief introduction to Pilates and it’s creator Joseph Pilates, as well as writes about how she came to meet Romana Krysanowska, who would later become her teacher and mentor. Mari found her way to the Pilates through the dance world. Pilates helped to her to become stronger and ease some injuries she had.

One of the things I really loved about this book was the testimonials from celebrities at the beginning of each chapter. Some of these are people I didn’t even know did Pilates. Melanie Griffith, Vanessa Williams, Patrick Swayze and even Danny Glover. DANNY GLOVER!? Danny Glover says Pilates kept him injury free while filming the Lethal Weapon movies and Patrick Swayze says Pilates helped him get ready to film Dirty Dancing. 

In the first chapter, “The Joy of Movement”, Winsor talks a little about the mind, body, and spirit connection in Pilates. How we must take some time each day for ourselves to move. And that this movement must be focused on quality over quantity.

The second chapter goes over what we now know as the “Pilates Principles” and Mari adds in a few more. These include: Breathing, Relaxation, Concentration, Control, Fluidity, Inside Out/Outside In (the idea of centering), Strength and Flexibility, and Freedom and Control.

The Powerhouse is discussed in Chapter Three. Mari writes about the actually location and anatomy of the Powerhouse. She also talks about the Powerhouse as a center of communication.  I loved this idea of the Powerhouse as a command center where we “operate best from. That center is the part that we love about ourselves, the person we wish to be all the time. The center or powerhouse is the place where you speak from, where you feel emotional pain, joy and elation”. It’s about so much more than six pack abs people!

Then we move into the exercise portion of the book. The mat order follows the usual order we are use to. Beginner level exercises are noted by one dot, Intermediate by two dots and advanced by three dots. I like this as it keeps the order of the exercises throughout the book in an easy format to follow that flows well.

Each individual exercise includes the goal of the exercise, the set up or “Prep”,  the execution of the exercise or “Ready” and then the “Action”. Each exercise is followed with several photos that show the exercise in action.  I found the exercises easy to follow, even for someone who may be new to Pilates and she included some great cues. I found the instructions to be clean and very concise.

Some interesting notes on the exercises is that some of the levels were different than what I had learned in my training so I was wondering why on those. Definitely had me thinking. For instance I learned One Leg or Single Leg Teaser as a prep for the other Teasers to follow. In the book Winsor has it listed as an Advanced exercise. Another is Mermaid, I learned that as a beginner exercise and Winsor has it listed as Advanced. I just thought that was interesting and had me really think about why these would be less accessible to a beginner.

The book continues with a discussion on injuries and Winsor creates some injury specific classes for cases such as neck injuries, lower back pain and weakness, and asthma. This included modifications for some of the Pilates exercises as well as some other non-Pilates exercises that Mari has used for herself and her clients.

The book finishes with a brief touch on the Pilates apparatus and what to expect when you walk into a Pilates studio. Overall, I really loved this book. I enjoyed learning more about Mari and her journey into Pilates. I think this is a great book for everyone, Pilates newbies, advanced students and teachers. I highly recommend picking this one up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

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Because I’m so passionate about Pilates, I love sharing information about this wonderful form of exercise with my clients, family and friends. I’m always looking for interesting articles about Pilates to share on the studio Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram. If you’re following me on any of these you may have seen some of my educational and fun posts. If you are not following me…why not?! Get off over there and hit those “like” and “follow” buttons.

So the other day when I came across an article titled “What are the Benefits of Reformer Pilates?” I was excited to read the article and hoped to have some great information to share with y’all. However, when I opened the article to read it I was more like wah-wah. I was underwhelmed by the article and actually decided to NOT share it. Which inspired me to write this blog post instead.

A lot of people who are new to Pilates get a little overwhelmed with this piece of apparatus that perhaps looks like some sort of medival torture device. I hope this blog post is a great primer to the wonderful piece of Pilates apparatus known as the Universal Reformer and that it takes some of the fear out of starting your Pilates practice because of the unknown.

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What is the Pilates Reformer?

The Reformer is the most recognized and most popular piece of apparatus in the Pilates studio. This is the central piece of equipment used in most Pilates classes and studios. The Universal Reformer, so called because it is used for “universally reforming the body”, creates a balanced workout that is great for everyone regardless of fitness level.

Invented by Joseph Pilates himself, the Reformer is a bed like piece of equipment with a moving carriage. The carriage is attached to springs that give resistance to the exercises performed on the Reformer. The Reformer has straps that both the hands and feet can be placed in for various exercises.

The work on the apparatus focuses on a full body workout with small and controlled movements using the springs for resistance. Just like a Pilates workout on the mat, focus is put on building core strength, but now we work against the springs to focus on control and centering.

Your session on the Reformer will be a full body workout. Classes typically start off with a warm up while lying down. As the class progresses you will focus on specific muscle groups through exercises that have you lying down, sitting, standing and even being in an inverted position. While Pilates on the Reformer is low impact and safe on the joints, you will still find it a challenging workout.

The Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

The benefits of working out on the Pilates Reformer are similar to those from a mat workout. This is a full body workout that will help to lengthen and strengthen the legs, glutes, hips, arms and back as well as strengthening the core.

Benefits of your Reformer workout will include:

  • a stronger core
  • improved flexibility
  • greater balance and posture
  • relief from physical pain such as back pain and stiffness
  • creates longer and leaner musculature
  • builds all over body strength
  • teaches stability

I hope this takes some of the fear out of starting your Pilates practice because you were unsure of that thing in the studio that looks like a torture device.

If you are ready to get started on your Pilates practice, please call or email the studio to set up your New Student Intro special. Worcester Pilates is a boutique studio that offers private, one on one instruction to help you reach your health and fitness goals.

Listen to Your Body

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Our bodies are pretty resilient, in fact they are often stronger than we think or give them credit for. It is often our minds that let in fear and doubt that prevent our bodies from showing just how strong they can be. However, there are those times that are bodies speak to us and say “Hey, something is not right here”. The body tells us this through pain.

Whenever we are feeling pain, it is our job to stop and listen to what the body is saying. It is time to pay attention to our bodies in this moment and to say “I see you!”, “I hear you!” This is not the time to push through, adopt a “no pain, no gain” attitude or to think “I’ll rest when I’m dead”. No…this is  the time to really to listen to your body, to not push forward but to back off and take some rest.

Recently, I did something to my back that was causing me a great deal of pain. I listened to my body and decided to take a few days of rest. When I felt that I was feeling better, I knew that then was the time to get back to my Pilates practice. But it had to look differently. This is one of the things that I love about Pilates. It is smart movement that truly links mind and body together.

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Our Pilates practice can look different from day to day, depending on what our bodies are telling us. Maybe instead of strength, we focus more on stretch or stability. We slow down and take our time through the movement. Slowly and smoothly = Contrology. Maybe we pick just one of the Pilates Principles such as Breath or Concentration and make those the focus of our workout for that day.

Our bodies are a precious gift and we need to take care of them. Sometimes we just want to move, but we need to listen to our bodies and meet them where they are in that moment. Check in with your body and see what comes up before, during and after your workout. Take care of your body and it will continue to take care of you.

 

Happy Pilates Day – Pilates Studio Tour

Yesterday was World Pilates Day, a day where the Pilates community takes time to celebrate the work that Joseph and Clara Pilates created. I did my first Facebook Live video to talk briefly about Pilates Day and to do a quick tour of my studio, Worcester Pilates.

I also shared some fun Pilates facts over social media throughout the day. Check out the video below. If you have any questions or comments on Pilates or the studio, please comment on the video with them and I will answer in an upcoming Facebook Live video. It is my goal to do more of these to help share information and my knowledge on the Pilates method.