More Core Classes

Core poster onlineOur Core classes will be running for another four weeks, starting May 26! Choose from Monday evenings at 6pm or Wednesday mornings at 10am, and the series of four classes is $75. This is a great way for new clients to learn about what the core is, and for more experienced clients to find more depth in their workouts.

Everyone is welcome! Contact the office to register!

Fascia: Why Pilates is even better than you thought

by Dawn Lefebvre, BScN, BScKin

Think about the word ‘fascia’ – can you fascia water describe what it is? Most people can’t, but you know you’ve heard of it and feel like you should know what it means…

Fascia has become better understood in the last few years, but previously it was mostly considered a covering for muscles. In dissections, it was the white stuff that needed to be taken off to get at the muscles (think of the white stuff you scrape off a chicken breast). We are starting to learn just how important and valuable fascia is, and there will be much more information about it in the next few years as more people recognize its significance.

Fascia is an elastic connective tissue that runs throughout our whole body. It’s like a second, deeper layer of skin, made up of several different levels and types of fibres. It looks like a thin layer, but microscopically it’s actually a dense web of fibres. One of the greatest characteristics of fascia is its interconnectedness – because it is present throughout our bodies, it connects everything to everything else! Fascia connects the sole of your foot all the way up to the back of your head, and everything in between!

This really helps remind us how related different things are in our bodies; because of the high degree of connection, something affecting one part of your body can very easily affect another part, even if it’s not nearby or doesn’t seem like they should be related. For example, if you have surgery on the front of your abdomen, like getting your appendix removed, the fascia in that area is affected and you would expect to have altered sensation and pain in that area for awhile. But then maybe your shoulder on the opposite fasciaside starts to hurt – you probably wouldn’t relate it to your surgery. Imagine that you are wearing a tight shirt, and the fabric is twisted and knotted around the incision site. Think about how that twisting would pull on the rest of the fabric, even affecting the way the fabric sits on your shoulders. It would feel tighter and like it was pulling at a funny angle. This is what happens to your fascia inside your body! Any injuries, surgeries, and even just tension that you have in your body pull on your fascia, and affect everything else to varying degrees.

(Continue reading here from the e-letter)
So, how do we work to fix this? Release work is very helpful in working with fascia, especially when it’s done slowly and connected with the breath. When you get a massage or use a foam roller, you might think the purpose is to release tension in the muscles.  Your muscles are definitely affected, but these types of release work also address the fascia. And of course, because everything is connected, release work doesn’t just target the muscles or the fascia, but both at the same time, so it also addresses adhesions that can occur between muscles and the fascia surrounding them. Adhesions occur when the muscle and fascia get stuck together, and can be the cause of tightness, pain, and even injury.

Foam rollers and balls are self-massage tools that you can useYamuna balls to release your fascia, and are an important part of keeping your body healthy, even if you aren’t very active. You might expect that athletes would have a much higher risk of injury and need more body work, but inactivity can put us at risk too.

Fascia holds a lot of water, and if you’re not moving that water around through activity or foam rolling, it will get stagnant. Imagine your muscles surrounded by murky, stagnant water full of waste products from your cells, and then imagine squeezing all the old water out to allow fresh, new water to take its place! (Sounds pretty great!) This helps with circulation and improves the health of all your tissues. After exercise, fascia is dehydrated and foam rolling can help encourage rehydration of the tissues.

Another way that inactivity puts us at risk is that if we aren’t moving much or challenging our bodies, our fascia becomes disorganized. The network of fibres will develop in relationship to the stress put on them, so if we don’t train our fascia the arrangement of the fibres is affected. Rather than having a regular, organized, functional arrangement, the dense web will become chaotic and lose its elasticity, and eventually function is decreased or lost.

Fascia responds to specific types of training. Because of its elastic properties, movements that challenge recoil, like bouncing or jumping are important. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be huge, ballistic movements – you can begin to train your fascia just by bouncing on the spot without your feet leaving the ground! Challenging the body to move in different planes and directions is also great for promoting optimal fascia training and development.

The great thing is that by doing Pilates you’re already training your fascia! The fluidity and grace that Pilates builds relates to the whole-body integration that reflects healthy fascia. Approaching the body as an integrated system rather than focusing on separate muscles also relates to the fascial network.

The spring resistance used in Pilates relates closely to the elastic properties of fascia, and Rubber Bandthe types of movements and stretching that we do in Pilates provide what fascia needs to be healthy.  Think of jumping swan, jumping exercises done on a jumpboard, and running on the reformer, or recoil pushups on a wall. The different types of stretching we use address fascia differently, both moving fluidly in and out of a stretch and melting stretches which are held for a longer time.

The Pilates focus on body awareness and proprioception (knowing where your body is in space) also relates to fascia. Fascia has been found to have much greater proprioceptive ability than muscles, so it’s actually your fascia telling you if you’re not sitting up straight doing armwork on the reformer, or that you’re extending more in your thoracic than lumbar spine doing a swan. By doing Pilates, you’re improving the mind-body connection and increasing your ability to listen to your fascia!

Try out our fascia class to learn more about it, and get practical experience stretching, releasing, and training your fascia! The class starts in mid-April and runs on Monday nights and Wednesday mornings. See the fascia class blog entry for full details! Spots are filling quickly, so register soon! Everyone is welcome, no experience needed!

Fascia classes are back

Fascia April 2014We have a new series of Fascia classes starting mid-April, sign up to learn all about what fascia is, and how to train, stretch, and release it!

This will help you with your Pilates practice as well as sports and daily activities, helping to keep you injury-free and active!

This class has been very popular, so make sure you contact us soon to register! No experience required, everyone is welcome!

 

Happy Nutrition Month!

Nutrition MonthHappy Nutrition Month! To celebrate, we have two contests running, so you have two chances to win a pair of ToeSox!

#1: Recipe Contest - Throughout March, we’ve been collecting recipes and now have an amazing selection of salads, appies, entrees and desserts! If you haven’t checked out the bulletin board, make sure you take some to try, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite! The recipe with the most votes wins a pair of ToeSox!!

#2: Nutrition Tip – Everyone who posts a tip will be entered in a draw for another pair of socks. So far there are very few entries, so you have a great chance of winning!! Email the office or pick up a form in the entry and post your tip on the bulletin board!

 

What is the “core” anyway?

Understand the conceptual and physical definitions of core to enhance your workouts!

by Dawn Lefebvre, BScN, BScKin

Core is one of the fundamentals of Pilates, but it can be hard to know exactly what it is! As clients you hear it many times in a single workout, used in lots of different ways, but do you understand what it means?

The word “core” usually means the apple corecentre of something (like an apple or a planet), and this is actually a good symbol for our core too. Our core is our centre, and everything else attaches to it. Another metaphor is to think of an atom, where the nucleus is at the centre with its electrons moving around it. This constant motion in the periphery is like the movement of our limbs around our core. One of the most essential elements of Pilates is the concept of core stability, where we maintain our centre while moving our arms, legs, and even our upper torso. Think about doing Hundreds, where your arms are moving (and sometimes the legs as well!) and your upper body is curled up – during all of this, your core is holding you stable, allowing everything to happen in a smooth, controlled manner around it.

As important as having a clear understanding of the core is, it’s also essential to remember that the core doesn’t work in isolation. We need to learn how to engage the core properly, but even more we have to be able to use the core to connect with the rest of our body and have it function as the connection point for our whole body as a system. The other half of understanding your core is breath – watch our blog for more detailed info about the importance of breathing well (in Pilates, and all the time!) 

Outside of Pilates, the core is often misunderstood, with people focusing only on superficial muscles like the obliques and the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack” muscle). While these are definitely part of the core and important parts of the overall system, their function is limited and there are several deeper muscle layers that provide the stability and control that is required for safe, functional movement. The deep core muscles act like an internal corset, supporting the whole upper body and protecting the spine. While we often think of the core as being in our abdomen, our corset doesn’t just sit in the front! The core also includes muscles in our back that help support the spine and assist the front muscles.

Our “corset” is made up of several muscles: diaphragm at the top, pelvic floor supporting from below, transversus abdominis wrapping around the lower torso from front to back, psoas connecting the spine to the femur, multifidus supporting the spine, and finally the rectus abdominis and internal and external obliques on the outside, completing the front and sides of the corset.

This complex system can’t be trained just with crunches, and it is so much more than just a muscle on the front of our abdomen that helps us look good in a bathing suit! Our core helps us move safely and efficiently, whether we’re walking to the mail box or running a marathon. Together with breathing, the core protects, supports, stabilizes, and enhances all of our movements – in Pilates class, and in the rest of your life!

Our core class is starting in March, register to “find your core”! See our blog post or contact the office for more details about this series of four classes.

Core classes are starting again in March!

Core Feb 2014

Our Core classes will be running for another four weeks, starting March 3! Choose from Monday evenings at 6pm or Wednesday mornings at 10am, and the series of four classes is $75. This is a great way for new clients to learn about what the core is, and for more experienced clients to find more depth in their workouts.

Everyone is welcome! Contact the office to register!

Celebrate Valentine’s Day the Pilates Way!

Valentine's Day PosterValentine’s Day is a month away!

Try something different this year and sign up for our Couples Pilates Session! Join us on Friday, February 14 at 6pm so your significant other can see what Pilates is all about, and enjoy Valentine’s goodies afterwards!

The session is $20 per couple, and because February is Heart Month, proceeds will go to the Heart and Stroke Foundation!

Space is limited, contact the office to register!

Who Likes New Year’s Resolutions?

resolutionsNew Year’s Resolutions… love ‘em or hate ‘em, they do represent an important step towards improving yourself! Goal setting (not just when the new year begins, but all year round) is important when you want to make changes, and resolutions are really just goals with a fancy name!

There seems to be so much more pressure around goals set at New Years, so why not take the stress out of it and plan to regularly set goals throughout the year? This might seem even worse (who wants to be held to resolutions all year round???), but setting frequent goals can help you achieve them much faster and gives you more chances to succeed.

Doing it Right

When setting goals, there are a few things you should do to make them effective. Include a Targetsmeasurable end point, with a specific timeline, and choose goals that are realistic. For example, if your goal is “to lose weight,” how will you know when you’ve reached your goal? “I want to lose 100 pounds in 2 months” is not realistic and just sets you up for failure. Try something like “I want to lose 20 pounds over the next six months.” This is a healthy, realistic amount that gives you a specific amount of weight and a specific time to do it in. This way you can easily see if you achieved it or not, and stay on track because you can see how close you are to completing it.

If you don’t want to focus on your weight but still want to be healthier, instead of “I want to be healthy,” try adding in specific habits or routines that will lead to a healthier life. “I will go walking for 20 minutes each day and go to Pilates (!!) twice a week for the next 3 months” are realistic, specific behaviours so that you can easily see whether you’re meeting your goals or not.

Setting small and large and short and long-term goals are all important. Smaller, short-term goals (eg “I will take the stairs instead of the elevator every day at work”) can help you work towards a larger goal like weight loss, but are more regular and more easily achievable. These process goals are important in helping you stay motivated and on track!

Start Small for Lasting Change

Another really important part of making lasting change in your life is starting small and possibilitybuilding on your successes. Even though you might have lots of things you want to change, trying to do them all at once will be overwhelming and this all or nothing approach will mean that you will probably give up on everything because you can’t do it all. Does that sound familiar? I think most of us have probably attempted this at some point! Try starting with one change for a week or two, and once you’re able to maintain that, add another. This way, after a few months you’ll have made lots of changes, but by doing it a little at a time you might not even notice!

Remember to Celebrate!

It’s so important to celebrate your success! Try to find rewards that won’t sabotage your efforts – if you’re trying to lose weight, going out for dinner might not be the best choice! You can plan a healthy activity like going on a ski trip (providing there’s snow at the hill of course), or do something that directly celebrates your journey and go shopping to buy some new clothes for the body you’re working so hard on! One of my favorite rewards is shopping for new workout clothes – I get to shop, and I also get things that will motivate me to exercise even more! Remember to reward yourself along the way for the little successes you have, not just when you achieve a large, long-term goal. Every little bit counts!

We’re here for you! Always feel free to ask us questions about being healthy! Pilates is a great way to focus on your mental and physical health and if you’re not already coming, now is a great time to start!

New series of Fascia Stretch Classes starting January 27!

Fascia Poster

We have a new four-week series of Fascia Classes starting at the end of January!

Using Pilates apparatus and techniques, learn how to stretch, release, and train the fascial system. This will help you with your Pilates practice as well as sports and daily activities, helping to keep you injury-free and active! 

Classes run on Mondays at 6pm and Wednesdays at 10am – contact the office to register! Everyone is welcome, no experience required!

Studio Holiday Closure – Happy Holidays!

Christmas HolidaysWe wish everyone a very happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!

The studio is closed for two weeks over the holidays, from December 22 until January 5. We’ll be back in January with some surprises, so look for those in the new year!

Wishing You
all the Joys of the Season
and Every Happiness
Throughout the Coming Year