Getting Back to a Pilates and Fitness Routine After Summer Holidays

After summer holidays, it can be difficult to get back into your routine. Even if you are active during your holidays, your regular exercise (and Pilates!) regime may slip. Old movement patterns may return and they might be accompanied by some bad habits. Now that fall is around the corner, it’s a great time to start thinking of ways to ease back into your Pilates and fitness routine.

When returning to your classes, it’s important to remember to listen to your body and assess how you are feeling. If you had any injuries, or noticed any discomfort during your holiday break, it’s important that you let your instructor know so that they can offer suggestions and feedback. If you’ve been away from Pilates for more than four weeks, we strongly encourage you to book a a private appointment to review your program.

In addition to resuming your exercise and Pilates classes, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you have a healthy and balanced diet and are getting enough sleep. All of our body systems are connected, and staying nourished and rested will help both physically and mentally when returning to work or school in the fall.

We are offering some great workshops and specialty classes this fall that will be a great addition to your existing equipment or mat Pilates classes. Our Back to Routine – “Core, Fascia and more” series will run for four weeks, starting mid-September. Heather will be returning this October to instruct two MELT workshops, and we also have plenty of space in our Yoga and FIT Camp classes.

Contact us at the Victoria Pilates studio for more information or to register for a workshop or specialty class!

Studio Member Gerry Poultin Takes Championship in Squash at World Masters Games!

Gerry Poulton Victoria PilatesStudio member Gerry Poulton recently returned from Auckland, New Zealand as squash champion in the 70+ open category. Winning all of his matches, Gerry remains a repeating champion in this category.

The World Masters Games occurs every four years, and is hosted in a different country each time. This global event is the largest multi-sport competition in the world, with contestants ranging from 35-80+ years old, competing in a variety of categories and sports.

The next games will occur in 2021, in Kansai, Japan. The previous competition was held in Turin, in 2013.

Congratulations Gerry!

Benefits of Pilates for Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders affect the central nervous system (i.e. brain, spine, nerves, neuromuscular system, & muscles). Some of the most common neurological disorders are Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Lupus. However, neurological disorders can also arise from brain damage, severe injury or trauma, autoimmune disorders, cancers, viral, bacterial or parasitic infections and more.

Though each person with a neurological disorder may experience different symptoms or severity levels, Pilates can help improve a wide range of these symptoms. Alongside prescribed medication, Pilates is a great form of exercise to help combat some of the symptoms and side effects of neurological disorders. Though scientific research is limited, many studies are now showing that Pilates has a positive effect on those with MS and Parkinson’s. The MS Society is currently funding more studies and recommending more people diagnosed with MS to start a Pilates practice.

Working with a qualified Pilates instructor to create a program specific to your needs can help improve coordination, balance, range of motion and core strength, while also helping alleviate pain and discomfort. Victoria Pilates specializes in Pilates exercise programing for neurological conditions, and incorporate the latest research in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation into Pilates programs. Studio owner, Susan VanCadsand along with the team of instructors at Victoria Pilates, have completed advanced training for MS & other neurological conditions, as well as Traumatic Brain Injury, Ataxia, Parkinsonism, stroke and other neurological disorders.

Their studies have helped them create programming to overcome the most common symptoms of neurological disorders including balance difficulties, weakness, muscle spasticity, gait abnormalities, as well as the principles and applications of neuromuscular rehabilitation and neuroplasticity.

It can be hard for some people living with neurological disorders to participate in regular physical activities. Due to the uniqueness of Pilates and specialized equipment, programs and exercises are tailored to the exact needs of the participant. It is also important to remember that a sedentary lifestyle can further complicate the progression of many disorders, so maintaining movement is an important part of a complete health and wellness regime.

Victoria Pilates has created an exercise and rehabilitation approach that can provide positive relief to individuals who are experiencing conditions that affect their neurological system. It is a wonderful tool for individuals for the purpose of neurological rehabilitation. This specialized programing can be used to help relieve the challenges of neurological disorders at any stage of the injury or disease process but is especially promising in the early stages of the condition or injury.

Since little research has been done on the use of exercise for neurological conditions, Victoria Pilates has incorporated their own personal research on exercise and physical therapy for other neurological conditions and injuries, including stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Ataxia, and traumatic brain injury. The core program focuses on movement issues such as poor balance, muscle imbalances, and compensatory patterns. Susan’s personal experience working with the Parkinson and Epileptic Association, along with extensive experience working with other MS clients, she believes there to be significant potential for treating other conditions to positively impact those suffering from other neurological conditions.

During the Month of May, we will be raising awareness and funds for those with neurological disorders. All funds will be donated to the Neurological Wellness Association. We will also be offering complimentary 15 minute consultations, in person or over the phone, with studio owner and director, Susan VanCadsand, for anyone who is living with a neurological disorder and is interested in exploring Pilates.

For more information on Pilates and Neurological Wellness, take a peek at these resources:

Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Conference & Recent Instructor Training

As many of you know, this fall session was a busy one for Susan and the instructors!
Susan attended the 16th annual meeting of the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) in Phoenix, Arizona. This year’s conference featured research into efficacy of the Pilates Method. They were able to bring the highest qualified and talented Pilates educators available covering a wide spectrum of essential topics.
The four-day conference ran two four-hour workshops each day along with two mat classes to keep everyone moving! It was very exciting to see the development of the organization and how much they have improved their standards.
Immediately following this conference, Susan, Lisa and Krista went off to New York for The Female Pelvis Cycle of life conference where they attended presentations and workshops taught by experts in the industry, Tom Myers and Dr. Eden Fromberg. They each gained a new certification and learned more about the assessment and treatment of both female and male pelvic health.While they were there, they decided to forgo sleep and enjoy Central Park, a Broadway show, sightseeing, and even a trip to the original Joseph Pilates Studio!
November was a fun month filled with traveling, workshops, and discussions, and our instructors are very excited to share what they’ve learned with you.

Pilates Mat Repertoire Book Release

Thank you to everyone who attended the open house and book launch on September 24th. We are over the moon that it has been released. For those of you who were unable to attend and still would like to purchase a copy, pop into the office anytime!

A complete approach to better health, “Pilates Mat Repertoire” will help you better understand the various exercises through verbal explanations along side detailed images of each step of the movement being performed. The book will help guide your practice, helping you to develop your technique both in the studio and at home. Whether you are completely new to the practice, or have an established routine, the information presented will help refine your practice.

Pilates is a movement regime that teaches you to move efficiently and safely every day, throughout your life. The founding principle of Pilates is to concentrate the mind and body while working in flowing precision. Practicing this movement regime will allow you to understand the brilliant design of Joseph Pilates’ exercises and empower you to master the techniques needed to perform the Mat Repertoire. Your body will be transformed as you become a healthier person in body, mind and spirit. Pilates provides benefits for all ages that cannot be achieved through traditional aerobics or strength training programs.

Here are six reasons Pilates is so beneficial and practiced by so many people:

1. Builds long, strong, lean muscles
2. Is a whole-body movement regime
3. Teaches the importance of breath
4. Strengthens your core
5. Prevents future injuries
6. Teaches you how to move efficiently

Please feel free to ask us questions about the principles of Pilates anytime.

Getting Back to Pilates & Reviewing Studio Guidelines

After a long warm summer of lazy days at the lake, BBQs with family and friends, and perhaps even a summer vacation, it’s all too easy to skip your indoor workouts or Pilates classes! Hopefully you were able to sneak in some outdoor exercise, or for some of you, keep attending your Pilates classes through the summer!

For those of you who have been busy over the summer, it doesn’t have to be a strain to return to your routine. When starting back up with your Pilates after a long period of rest, it’s important to be mindful of your body, and make sure to let your instructors know of anything that may have changed over the summer, ie: new injuries, areas of stiffness, or even new fitness goals.

Booking a private session with a Pilates instructor is a great way to make sure to get a new routine, tailored to your needs (see more below!). The next step is to make sure you’re registered in a regular class. Attending at the same time (or times!) each week helps keep the routine and keep you accountable for your health and well being. If you know you’ll be missing a class, make sure to sign up for a make up class!

For those of you returning, and those new to the studio, please take a moment to review our studio guidelines:

1. You are welcome to come to class 10 minutes early to stretch and warm up. Please avoid showing up earlier than this, as there may not be enough space for those who are still in their class, or the instructor may be preparing for the next class or client.

2. Please remember this is a scent free environment. Some of our patrons have allergies and sensitivities. (Deodorant and shampoo are ok, however, perfume/cologne is not)

3. You may book make up classes for absences, but you must give 24 hours notice for an absence. In emergency situations, or illnesses, please call or e-mail as soon as you can. Make ups can be granted in these situations. Unless there is an emergency, no-shows are not eligible for make up classes.

4.  If you accumulate make-ups due to unexpected absences, it is best to book them within the current session. However, if this is not possible, they can be carried over one more session, so long as you are registered. Make ups cannot be used as credit for the new f registration.

5. If you have missed more than one month of equipment classes, you will need to be scheduled in for a program review to make sure you have an up to date program that addresses your current needs and that you understand and remember all of the exercises.

6.  Most importantly -  Have fun! :)

Please contact the studio with any questions or concerns you may have in regards to registration, policies, or anything else! Our office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30-1:30 plus two evenings per week (alternating between Mon/Wed and Tues/Thurs)

Continuing Education With Our Instructors – The 3 Core Perspectives Workshop

Wendy_Leblanc-ArbuckleOver this past weekend, renowned Pilates elder, Wendy Leblanc Arbuckle (Pilates Center of Austin) held an intensive workshop at Victoria Pilates. Most of our instructors were in attendance, along with professionals from the USA and other areas of BC.

Victoria Pilates owner, Susan Van Cadsand, has known Wendy for a number of years, and shares an aligned vision with Wendy’s teaching style and techniques. Susan asked Wendy to instruct her “3 Core Connections Perspective” to help further educate Pilates instructors and movement professionals in how to develop their instruction styles.

Wendy helped instructors develop their cuing techniques and to further understand the deep relationships between all of the body systems, and human movement potential.

Anyone familiar with Pilates understands that core control involves the entire body. However, Wendy’s perspective elaborates further, and helps instructors to gain a better understanding of how this happens through core coordination. Through cue refining and learning about the core as a relationship with ourselves and our environment, practitioners were able to gain a more intuitive perspective of body awareness and intelligence.

Everyone who attended the workshop enjoyed it and look forward to sharing Wendy’s teachings with you!

Life is Motion!


While Pilates exercises seek to restore the body’s capacity for flowing motion, osteopathic treatment seeks to restore the inherent motility of each body part.  By restoring the individual parts, and integrating the parts into the whole, health and harmony are achieved.

Optimum health depends upon the free movement of the joints, bones, organs, muscles, and connective tissues.  The heart must beat fully and the lungs expand freely for vibrant health.  Other organs also must move in their natural rhythms.  The gut must pulsate enthusiastically as it pulls in nutrients.  The liver must rock as it processes toxins to render them harmless.  And the most essential organ—the brain—must expand and contract six to fourteen times a minute to enliven the whole body.  Restriction of any of these critical motions can damage health.

Because the body parts are interconnected, restriction of motion in one area can have profound effects elsewhere.  An ankle sprain doesn’t just restrict the normal range of motion of the foot.  It can have a ripple effect elsewhere, as other joints are strained, stretched and pushed out of alignment as they try to compensate for the ankle’s dysfunction.  Low back pain may originate as an ankle problem.  As the pelvis reacts to the ankle’s instability, the sacrum rotates out of alignment, twisting the vertebrae above, and trapping nerves.   Hence a sprained ankle may lead to sciatica, low-back pain, headaches, and pain in the opposite shoulder.

Injury to one kind of structure can also cause a problem in a completely different system of the body.   A fall on the ice can jar the spine resulting in a blockage of spinal nerves at any level, perhaps those that feed the uterus and reproductive organs, leading to painful menstrual cramps.

Just as essential as the motion of the tissues is the free flow of fluids that permeate the body.  Injury can twist the blood vessels that bring nutrients to damaged tissue and the lymphatic channels that wash away inflammation-causing debris.  The injured site then becomes increasingly compromised.  Further, injury can constrict the nerves that manage the complex task of healing.  Restoring motion to all these systems, not just to the joints, is essential to healing.

Once the somatic dysfunction is identified—an area of restriction or rigidity—the area can be aligned, its fluid pathway can be restored, and it can be integrated with the rest of the body.  The body orients naturally towards health.  When anatomic restrictions are removed, the body’s self-regulating mechanisms are liberated to optimize the healing process.

For an osteopathic practitioner, the basic principle is to find what is not moving, invite it to move, and trust the body’s capacity to heal itself.

-Article by Jenny Trost


Jenny Trost is a certified Osteopath. Through her business, Pacific Osteopathy, Jenny offers treatments from her studio as well as out of the Victoria Pilates studio. For an appointment with Jenny, contact her at 250-891-2391 or

Pilates… What’s it all about?

Understanding the Pilates Principles

If we asked you about the foundation of Pilates, you would probably think of core and breath, but those are actually just two of the six principles of Pilates. As we get back into our fitness routines this the fall, it’s the perfect time to go back to basics and gain a better understanding of what Joseph Pilates intended with this great system of movement and breath.

Joseph Pilates believed that, above all, we need to learn to breathe correctly! Breath is essential for life, but it is also important for creating effective movement. Correct breathing oxygenates the blood and increases circulation. Understanding how to breathe properly allows you to use your lungs more completely, filling them all the way from the collarbones down to the lowest ribs and filling the whole rib cage front to back. The act of breathing also facilitates movement: movement flows with the breath, and the rhythm of breath also helps control the pace of movement. Proper breathing patterns and mind-body connection are fundamental to the study and practice of Pilates.

Joe Pilates said, “The brain trains the body, and the body trains the brain.” Concentration is the key element in connecting your mind and body. You must be present with your mind to work your body to its fullest potential. The body can learn parts of a movement but must connect with the brain to experience the whole of the movement. The amount of attention and concentration you bring to your practice of Pilates will determine how effective it will be.

Have you wondered why we ask you to do just 4 or 5 repetitions of an exercise, when you feel you could do 15 or 20? Pilates is based on muscle control and repeating an exercise only as many times as you can do it meticulously well. This allows our system to remember only proper, effective movement and helps prevent injuries from overtraining or incorrect form due to fatigue. The mind-body connection supports you in achieving control and creating the best movement possible. Pilates teaches our body to move as it was made to move: as an integrated, cooperative system.

Your center is the foundation for movement. All energy for a Pilates movement starts from your center and flows outward to your limbs. Pilates teaches you to work from the inside out, activating the deepest core muscles and basing your movement from there. Through each exercise Pilates teaches you to increase strength in the ‘core’ of the body: the muscles and connective tissue system in the area of the abdominals at the front, back, and sides of your midsection, extending from your lower ribs to just below your buttocks. You will learn to connect your deep core with movement and breath, making your movement stronger, more stable, and more connected.

The Pilates exercises are designed to put bones in the best position to work efficiently. Pilates teaches you to apply precision and control to your whole workout, using the mind-body connection to focus on correct execution. Your body learns by repetition: practice, when done safely, precisely and with control, does make perfect! Pilates helps prevent injuries by intelligently strengthening and conditioning the whole body in a balanced way. Pilates focuses on the smaller muscles just as much as the larger ones, so you won’t over-train your already stronger, more dominant muscles.

Flowing Movement
Flowing movement is not often a focus of other exercise programs, and Pilates is unique in that it teaches the body to move as we do in real life: with continuous, fluid motion. Pilates trains our more than 600 muscles to work intelligently and efficiently together with our connective tissues and the rhythm of breath. You will move more safely, more smoothly, and be less prone to injury. By practicing Pilates on a regular basis, you can train your body to move in a more efficient, cohesive manner.

Because the whole body works together as a system, the six principles inter-relate and overlap. It’s not possible to focus on just one while excluding the others, but we can learn about the different aspects that make Pilates the amazing system that it is!

Run – to Pilates!

Surprising ways Pilates can improve your running

by Dawn Lefebvre, BScN, BScK

You already know the benefits of Pilates, but did you know that it can help your running? There are obvious benefits, like stronger legs and better leg alignment from doing footwork on the reformer, but there are lots of hidden advantages as well!

In a cardiovascular activity like running, breathing is so important. The oxygen you take in with each breath is what helps the body’s muscles and cells function and generate the energy you need for endurance activities. The more effectively you breathe, the better your oxygen supply and performance will be.

The Pilates focus on breathing into the lungs three-dimensionally helps you utilize the whole lung, instead of just breathing shallowly into the chest. Pilates gives you the opportunity to practice optimal breathing so that you can take that with you on your runs. Exercises like the Hundred use percussive breathing to incrementally expand and release the lungs, stretching the fascia and muscles in the ribcage and torso and preparing you for the greater volumes of air being exchanged with more exertion.

Extension exercises like Swan help undo the rounded postures that daily life pulls us into, and assist in maintaining a neutral spine while running. This helps open the lungs, again helping to maximize oxygenation. Think about what it feels like to run hunched over – could you fill your lungs? Try it right now by rounding your shoulders forward and collapsing your chest, and try to take deep breaths. Then straighten up and try again, noticing how much better you can fill the lungs. Running is hard enough without having to gasp for air because of your posture!

Tight muscles, especially in the back line, are other common challenges that runners face. The quadratus lumborum (QL, the big muscles along the spine in the lower back), hamstring, and calf are often chronically tight. Many Pilates exercises provide dynamic stretching for the legs and back, giving you a chance to stretch without doing a “stretch.” Spine stretches and Saw lengthen the whole back line, from your back down through your legs. Rollups add more core work to a similar stretch, with the whole body working to lengthen the spine as you roll up and down.

See if you can observe these concepts in your running and Pilates workouts, and notice the difference they make. We would love to hear about it! You can also apply this to other activities like walking. Good running starts with good walking, so make sure to check out our Hip & Knee Workshop and Walking Classes this summer!