Classes by Donation Oct 16 & 18

PrintInterested in trying Pilates but not sure how to start? Next week is your chance! We’re offering mat and equipment classes by donation in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month!
Thursday, Oct 16 | Mat 6pm / Equipment 7pm
Saturday, Oct 18 | Mat 11am / Equipment 12pm
Space is limited, so contact our office soon to sign up! All proceeds will go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Everyday Pilates: Taking your classes into the rest of your life

by Dawn Lefebvre, BScN, BScKin

Do you ever feel that when you walk out of the studio, you lose all of the work you put in here? It can be difficult to translate everything you learn at the studio into your daily life. Even if you’re completely focused and put as much energy into your workouts as you can, you still need to spend time integrating what you learn here into the rest of your life. Pilates will train your body to automatically move better, but the more intention and focus you can bring to all of your movements, the safer you’ll be and the faster you’ll improve!

Even though most of the Pilates exercises don’t have you doing exact replicas of your daily activities, there are lots of parallels between Pilates and things you do outside the studio. Think of bending over to pick something up, and what it would be like to move functionally through your spine to get up and down. Or if every time you were sitting, you focused on having the same posture we work towards in seated work at the studio. Can you stay up on your sit bones, or do you tend to slouch back? Where does your head usually sit – is it in line with your spine, or hanging forward?

The next time you’re working on your computer or driving your car, try sitting up as tall as you can, keeping the back of your neck lengthened – see how much taller and more centered you feel!

Other aspects of Pilates, like core engagement and breathing, should be part of everything we do! If you’re carrying heavy suitcases, think of how much stronger and more supported your movement would be if you engaged your core and remembered to keep breathing the whole way from your car to your house!

Think of how you get out of bed in the morning. Do you heave yourself out, sheering at the neck as you drag your head along with you? What would it be like to protect your neck the way you would in a curl up, and get up to sitting safely? Your head weighs A LOT, and being able to support it well can make a huge difference in your neck and spine health.

Many things that we do seem so basic, but even a simple movement like getting up from laying down uses almost all of our muscles, changes the positions of multiple joints, and takes our spine through rotation and flexion. Not so simple when you break it down! When you add in jumping, throwing, or wielding a golf club, you can see how much more focus you need to have to keep your body moving safely through our daily activities.

Whether you’re sitting, gardening, or playing a complex sport, Pilates can assist you in moving better and more safely. The core support that Pilates builds is the basis for all movement, and is a great head start to keeping your body healthy and performing its best. Even if you just work on awareness of your spine’s position in all of your activities and supporting it using the breath and core, that’s a great start!

Watch for our new workshop on Everyday Pilates, coming this Fall! 

New Beginner Mat Class

Sidney Mat #2Interested in trying out Pilates? This is a great way to get started! Join us for our new class offered in Sidney at the Mary Winspear Centre on Fridays at 10am!

Mat classes combine high energy core work with restorative stretching and breathing exercises to leave you stronger, leaner, and standing taller!

Check out our Satellite Classes page or contact us for more information or to register!

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.