Author Archives: waveforms@yandex.com

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Pilates Power: From Reformer to Snow – Courtney C.

By: Courtney Cerniglia, Fortemente LLC

 

My Confession:

I never thought of Pilates as more than a mat class at your local gym. Leg kicks, boat pose, and planks formed my impression of the method. Comparing it to yoga, I felt it was on steroids that I didn’t want to be taking. I also thought it was a exercise fad. Not a methodology or a practice, but equivalent to TRX, step, or Zumba.

Whoops!

Courtney would die after hearing this description of Pilates, but unfortunately that’s the picture I’ve had prior to starting with Waveforms Pilates. Only when I started private sessions on the Pilates equipment did I realize the impact the practice would have on my training program.

 

A Long-Term Goal for Endurance

I’m an endurance athlete. I don’t like to call myself one, but when you have that odd love for long distance sports it becomes the only word to define you. My main sport is cross country skiing; I train for the American Birkebeiner, a 56K ski race held in Northern Wisconsin. It’s the biggest cross country ski race in North America…and hard as hell. The other sports in my life: cycling, running, and yoga; all support a year-round lifestyle of training for the Birke.

This year I trained for my 3rd Birke. The times I’ve posted for the past two years haven’t been in line with what I’d like to see. I knew I was capable of better performance, mainly because I know I’m an exercise slacker. I do what I like, when I like. Thankfully, I like exercise, so it’s enough to get me through events, but it’s not enough for an athlete who wants to perform.

This year I wanted to be serious about skiing. I wanted to gain real strength and power, and gain the mental capacity to post a time I was proud about at the 2017 Birkebeiner.

This meant I had to get serious about resistance training. I have cardio down pat (love cardio). I’m the person who loves to be dripping sweat on my bike and have shaky legs when I’m done running. I love to be sore and feel accomplished. I like to see calorie deficits posted after a long workout. I avoid the weight room and I didn’t have time for gym classes like Pilates. I thought they’d take away from the work I needed.

Whoops again!

Adding Pilates to a Training Program

In the Spring before training began, Courtney and I worked together to create a long-term training plan to build resistance endurance. This included the two areas I neglected most as a distance athlete: weight-lifting for power and low-impact resistance training. As part of the plan, I would go to Waveforms Pilates once a week for private sessions on the reformer and other Pilates equipment with Courtney.

I went in to my first session with mixed feelings. I love trying new things, but I’ve never worked with a coach at this level and I was new to the equipment. Courtney guided me through a few prep poses during the session and taught me what to focus on during the poses. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit overwhelmed after the first day.

While I’m a yoga teacher and there’s a lot of overlap, the movements on the reformer were so different than anything else I had done before. It was hard for me to concentrate on both moving correctly and the adjustments. I think many people feel this way after their first session, but of course! That’s why you don’t try something just ONCE.

It didn’t take long to catch on. After a few sessions I saw improvement I was astounded by. We worked together through the summer while I also did strength training. I toned up, built muscle and dropped fat. I started to develop real power in my core, back, and arms.

 

Gaining Power for Performance

I’ve never needed intense focus on my core muscles, as they’ve always been strong and toned. But, from my first day with Pilates, I realized although I had a strong core, parts of it were very weak. Courtney taught me how to work specific muscles within my midsection to become a solid tank. It’s never looked better or been more solid. This alone eliminated instability issues with my knees and any back pain I experienced moving through yoga poses.

Key for skiing technique, I also needed to strengthen my arms and shoulders. These areas were hands-down the most neglected part of my body. And, my shoulders are where I store tension PLUS agitation due to sitting at a desk during the day. Courtney would give me a 3-lb hand weight for shoulder exercises and I’d still want to cry from the difficulty.

Working on the reformer was great for me since there are endless variations of arm exercises you can do with your body weight. The design of the reformer couldn’t be more perfect for the poling motion of skiing. Courtney made sure she understood what muscles would be key for my technique and combined this with areas I was deficient in. Used together, she guided me through sessions that gave me the best low-impact resistance training for my arms and shoulders that allowed me to open and strengthen. In turn, this led to a more fluid poling technique on the snow and the power to continuously propel my stride forward.

 

Uniting a Fitness Regimen with a Holistic Approach

As an athlete, Pilates won’t make or break your training program. Like I described, I combined it into a full-spectrum training plan that included my normal routines, mental work, and diet monitoring. Great results never happen with a one-time quick fix. It takes deliberate practice, from all sides.

Pilates did, however, combine a mental focus to resistance training that allowed me to bring awareness to my body’s power. I adjusted the muscles I used for skiing to the ones that brought me greater efficiency and long-term strength. This alignment I learned on the reformer and practiced on the snow. It was the technical edge I needed to become a better skier.

It’s critical to work with the right coach. If I would’ve went to a gym Pilates class, I would never have seen the same results. Courtney brings a refined level of professionalism that’s backed by movement science, anatomy, and a goal-oriented attitude. I needed someone who could push me, talk to me as an athlete, and understand my constraints. Courtney kept me motivated while helping me to better understand my body as a system and how to use it as a whole for performance.

The story ends with a bit of a downer, as the 2017 Birkebeiner race was cancelled due to snow conditions. But, I felt prepared and ready to accomplish my goal. I’m stronger, leaner, and aligned. All the benefits I’ve gained, both mental and physical, will go with me as I train for next year. The best part about training through a holistic method is its universal application to whatever you want to accomplish. Pilates sets you up for success. Incorporating it into your regimen is a step towards achieving your fitness goals!

Courtney C. getting in a Ski Loop at the 2017 Birkebeiner Event


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What’s In a Name? – Waveforms Pilates

Starting a Pilates business five years ago under my name, “Courtney Anne,” I felt ready to develop a brand. I wanted it to represent the way holistic wellness feels doing Pilates work.  It’s not about me, and it never was about me, so I didn’t want to have my name representative of the business.

Spring of 2016, I began the process of brainstorming what represents Pilates, my voice in the industry, and how I wanted my students to feel after a session.  Through this journey, I solidified key aspects of my to-be brand and what I wanted to accomplish to further Pilates education.

 

Identifying a Brand

I took a Spring trip to Denver, Colorado, for a Pilates continuing education. I treated it like a sabbatical to take time to think about my business.  I collaborated with my creative-guru, engineering friend Eileen, and began the process of identifying “the brand.”

This was a scary process for me.  Though I’d been in the field for over five years, sitting down to identify what I did, why I did it, and what represented the business best, all felt like huge questions to answer.  Where do you even begin?  

My prescription: The classic brainstorming list. 

Eileen and I wrote down all the words we could think of that relate to Pilates.  GO!  We looked for connections, what were the underlying themes in words that keep coming up?  What stood out as most important?    

 

Finding Underlying Themes

After making the lists, we decided to go for a hike.  Fresh air to clear the mind and talk.  Maybe as two minds, we could better identify that string holding it all together.  We talked through the ideas that came up during our brainstorm and I shared with her my excitement about working in Pilates.

In my movement instruction, we identified a focus on form.  The movements are not random or performed without a clear intention.  They require thoughtfulness, and mindfulness.  I also love that Pilates is truly for any body, and for anyone, no matter what stage of life they are in.  I’ve worked with ages eight to eighty-six years old, with all various health considerations and fitness goals.  That is the beauty of Pilates.  I also firmly believe that Pilates helps you stay healthy and active through your entire life.  Helping you find freedom and ease in your movement.  

Claiming an LLC

Feeling refueled after my trip, I returned with many ideas I loved for a name. I started searching online only to discover many of them were already claimed or too similar to existing businesses. I was frustrated and felt back at square one. My husband, Estin, decided we needed to just pick a name we liked to file for an LLC. He realized that once we file, we could name a studio under that LLC as anything we wanted. This gave us more time to think about what we wanted our outward-facing brand to be.

When I was out for the day, he sent in a request for Waveforms, LLC.  Being a musician of synthesizers, he deals with waveforms all day: sawtooth-waves, square-waves, sine-waves, triangle-waves.  Waveforms…he thought it sounded cool.

Coming home, he told me that he filed as Waveforms, LLC.  I was initially irritated.  We had not discussed a name of anything close this beforehand.  I felt like something I had spent so much time thinking about was simplified into something I didn’t feel related to the business I wanted.

For the next few days, I tried to come up with unrelated names to our new LLC name for the studio.  I was at a stand-still.  But, the more and more I sat with the name Waveforms, underlying connections started to come together.

 

Running with Waveforms – Form and Intention

Doug Lowe, in his article about Measuring Electronic Waves describes waveforms as this:

“Waveforms are the characteristic patterns—These patterns indicate how the voltage in the signal changes over time — does it rise and fall slow or fast, is the voltage change steady or irregular, and so on.”

Suddenly, the connections was clear to me.  My husband’s music world and my movement world collided.  The body does just what this definition describes, patterns of movement.  Some efficient, some irregular and imbalanced.  This is what Pilates helps solve, bringing form and intention to our movement patterns.

Viewing a waveform on an oscilloscope, the device used for viewing an electronic wave, you can see that a wave is in constant motion.  Just as a wave in the ocean.  These patterns are capable of change over time.

Waveforms Pilates, it’s about movement and change. Constant movement and change, that can be charted overtime.  This is what Pilates is about.

 

Constant and Easeful Motion

I love the water.  Being a Scorpio, water is my natural element.  Being near the water always makes me feel calm, pensive, focused, strong, and connected to something greater.  I love watching the waves and seeing the repetitive, effortless, circular movement.  

Waves are created by sending energy through the water.  In Pilates, we send motion through our body by sending energy through it.  We keep the body in constant motion, much like a wave.

Some definitions of a wave include: to move freely; to bend or sway; to be moved, especially in opposite directions; a mass movement; a swell, surge, or rush, as a feeling or condition; any surging or progressing movement.

Yes! Pilates is all of these things.  Pilates offers all of these things.  Waveforms Pilates identifies with all of these things.  

Pilates is about finding effortless movement. Discovering inner peace and relaxation. Creating and passing energy through the body and feeling connected.

 

Pilates through All Stages of Life

Our body desires to move even when we don’t feel like it. It craves it.  Pilates helps us bring form to the movements of life.  We have peaks and valleys, just like a triangle waveform.  You may be coming off of an injury, you may have just lost a loved-one, you may have gained weight, you may be training for an upcoming race, you may be experiencing depression, Pilates can help move you.  

And when you move, you will be energized. You will feel more connected in your body and mind.  You will make measurable changes overtime.  You will experience ease in the body.  You will find better form and function.  You will feel more confident in you.  We believe this.    


We Are Waveforms Pilates

This is what we stand for:

Using Pilates to bring form and intention to movement, to allow you to stay in constant and easeful motion through all the stages of life.  

See what Pilates feels like in your body. Send us an email to schedule your first session today.


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Feel Good, TODAY!

Category : fitness , mind-body , Pilates

By: Estin and Courtney Holcomb, Waveforms Pilates

 

At Waveforms Pilates, we often discuss the concept of health and wellness and what our personal experience of wellbeing feels like. For Courtney and I, we tend to cringe when we hear these keywords: health & wellness. The modern focus of health and wellbeing seems to only focus on extending one’s life. There’s no thought or reflection on its quality. Quality of life, right now.

Perhaps it’s a philosophical discussion, but can instant gratification of living a healthy lifestyle be enough to give us long term satisfaction?

What if we looked at our health and wellness from a purely selfish standpoint?

What if we focus on instant gratification instead of *ONLY* long term goals?

I am going to eat this grilled chicken salad with avocado now because it tastes great and I feel good after eating it.

Or I can go on that 5 mile run, 30 mile bike ride, or attend a 1 hour Pilates session NOW because I want to celebrate what my body is capable of today.

It makes ME feel great NOW and I am enjoying the rewards right away. The reward can be the experience itself. 

 

 

Claiming Your Life Now, Not Later

Over the past few years, I have seen people who lived super healthy lives come down with terminal illness. I’ve seen odds stacked against people who are sick, who find health and wellness once again. Cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other things can change your life in one second – like thieves in the night. The sad reality is, our longevity is not a guarantee of the time and effort we put in to being healthy. A hope for longevity is harder to accomplish without the daily commitment to making yourself feel better.

 

A Fitness Regime for Today

Maybe figuring out what makes us feels good today, will shed light on what our true goals should be from a workout. After going to a fitness class, do you leave feeling immediately better, or do you feel destroyed? How many days does it take you to feel healthy and recovered after your workout? Did you lose time to feel good today because of a long recovery?

After completing a Pilates session, do I feel sore? Yes. Does it feel good? Yes. It is not debilitating, it does not “put me out for a week” until I can perform my next workout. It can truly be a daily practice. It makes my body feel good, works it in a functional way, and brings breath, posture, confidence, balance, and energy into my daily life. It makes me feel good today.

Fitness should not be only for longevity, but for daily wellness. Life’s longevity is not guaranteed. May longevity be the result of your commitment to the daily practices of making yourself feel better, right now.

We do not advocate someone to live a short life due to lack of self control and overindulgence, we advocate living and feeling great today, as many times as possible.

 

How are you feeling, today?

 


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Waveforms Spotlight: Kalene & Arlen B. – Journey to Pilates

Category : fitness , mind-body , Pilates , workout

Are you putting off your New Year’s’ Resolution to get back into shape? Resurrect your fitness routine? Be healthier in 2017?

Pilates can meet you wherever you are in your fitness journey – just starting in the world of exercise, coming back from being injured, or looking to improve as an athlete. All backgrounds can start and see success with the low-impact resistance training that Pilates provides.

Kalene knew that Pilates training had helped her in the past. She took her first Pilates classes through her chiropractor. As she finished her chiropractor work, she drifted from Pilates. So when a friend shared a schedule of Waveforms Pilates mat classes, she decided it was time to give it another try.

 

Starting Back Up with Mat Classes

 

Kalene now takes one-on-one sessions and mat classes in the Waveforms Pilates studio. She’s always enjoyed the upbeat pace and challenge of the mat classes. At Waveforms, she particularly likes the small class sizes and personalized attention you receive from Courtney.

“Courtney really lets you know what to pay attention to in each exercise during class. She’s good at letting you know how to do the exercises right without singling you out – which is appreciated!” Kalene said.

She’s even gotten her husband to join her!

 

Sharing the Benefits of Pilates

 

Joining Kalene to mat class, Arlen started Pilates because he saw how much his wife enjoyed it. “Literally every time she came home from a session she would boast about how well she felt and how much she loved Pilates. Not only did I need to check this out for myself, but I also really needed to start getting back into shape,” he said.  This was enough to push Arlen to come to his first mat class.

After his first few classes, he felt sore but also grounded and balanced. He liked how Pilates strengthened his core and provided quick results in strength and agility. Pairing Pilates into his normal fitness routine, he sees it as a great way to get a balanced workout that will help him progress with his overall health.

 

Enhancing Her Practice With Private Sessions

 

“Since it had been so long since I’d taken Pilates, I wanted some extra coaching alongside the mat classes, so I take private sessions as well,” Kalene explained. Private classes gives her more focus on the areas she needs and wants to improve, and familiarizes her with the movements from mat class. The personal attention helps her focus on how to get the most out of each exercise and see more benefits from extra practice.

“Courtney is very intuitive, she can see what people need and what they don’t.” Kalene said.

 

Strength, toning, and more flexibility are all benefits that Kalene has experienced since starting back up with Pilates in the fall. She encourages anyone who’s apprehensive to try a class: “It’s one of the better exercises out there.”

“No matter what kind of day I’m having, when I’m done with a Pilates session I feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally.”


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4 Easy Step for Keeping Your Fitness Resolutions

Category : fitness , mind-body , workout

Making a goal for improving your overall fitness may be easy, but keeping it up throughout the year can be a struggle.  Often times we find ourselves without a clear focus or the proper tools to succeed.  After an initial few weeks, we end up unmotivated, frustrated, and back to our old habits.

Have your goal be more than just empty words this year.  Below are four simple tools to help you with your follow through.  It’s not too late to set yourself up for a healthier YOU this year.

1. SET REALISTIC GOALS & BELIEVE YOU CAN ACHIEVE THEM

Set a first goal that you’d like to achieve. Write it down, and be specific.  Give yourself a realistic timeline based on your schedule.  Live in the mindset that your goal IS possible.  Attitude is half the battle.

2. ESTABLISH ACCOUNTABILITY & ROUTINE

Join a class and pay ahead of time.  Get a friend or family member on board to work with you.  Take a one-on-one session so it matters if you don’t show up.  Make fitness a part of your daily routine, schedule it in and don’t compromise.  This will set you up for success.

3. CELEBRATE LITTLE VICTORIES ALONG THE WAY

Recognize progress that is made along the way.  Note changes in the way you think, feel, energy levels, and overall well-being.  Smile!  You’re on your way.  Treat yourself along these milestones.  Book a massage or a trip to your favorite bookstore as you journey towards your goal.  Share your accomplishments with a loved one.

4. RE-ACCESS PROGRESS    

Give gratitude for how far you’ve come.  Acknowledge your hard work.  Keep it up!  Find a new goal or personal challenge, and start back at the top!  You’re doing great.

 


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The Ultimate Ab Workout – The Pilates Series of Five

Category : exercises , fitness , Pilates , workout

By: Courtney Holcomb, Pilates Instructor at Waveforms Pilates

 

Are you looking for an ab series that is quick and effective? Time to try the Pilates Series of Five.  This popular Pilates sequence is sure to get you feeling your abdominals and working the core!  Best part? It only takes 2 minutes to complete from start to finish.

 

The basic series includes these five exercises:

1. Single Leg Stretch

2. Double Leg Stretch

3. Single Straight Leg Stretch

4. Double Straight Leg Stretch

5. Criss-Cross

 

This series builds lean muscle tissue which is responsible for tightening the waistline.  This added strength in the core will help improve your posture so you’re standing taller and feeling more confident!

 

Perform each exercise below for ten repetitions before moving to the next. Start to finish; go through each set without stopping.  Let’s get started!

 

Single Leg Stretch

 

Keep the pelvis stable and lift the head and shoulders off the mat.  Inhale as you hug the right shin in with wide elbows. The opposite leg shoots out long at a high diagonal.  Exhale to change legs.  An exchange from right to left counts as one rep.

 

 

Draw both legs into the chest to transition into…

 

Double Leg Stretch

 

Begin with both shins hugged into the chest. Extend and reach the arms high overhead (without lowering the shoulders) and send the legs out long to the high diagonal.  Circle the arms to gather the shins back into center.

 

 

Extend the right leg long towards the ceiling and grab behind the thigh or calf. Lower the left leg towards the mat…

 

Single Straight Leg Stretch

 

Tug the right leg towards you as the left leg moves down. Take two quick breaths in through the nose as you “tug” the leg.  Pulse twice in this position. Hold the crunch in your upper body as you switch legs and exhale through the mouth.  Keep the knees straight and work for a smooth transition from side to side.  A rep is a set on the right and left.  

 

 

Draw both legs together and press them into one another. Extend the legs up towards the ceiling…

 

Double Straight Leg Stretch

 

Inhale to lower both legs down to hover above the mat. Try for as low as you can without arching the low back. Exhale and hug the abdominal muscles in towards the spine as you lift the legs back up to the ceiling. Maintain the shoulderblades hovering off the mat and arms and fingertips reaching long and forward.

 

 

To transition, interlace the hands behind the head. Draw the left knee in and extend the right leg to the high diagonal…

 

Criss-cross

 

Exhale to lift the upper body to bring the right shoulder towards the left knee.  Maintain the lift as you inhale to rotate the head and shoulders through center as you change sides and legs. Exhale to bring the left shoulder blade towards the right knee.  A full set is a crunch on each side.

 

 

To finish, draw both legs into your chest and lower the head, neck, and shoulders to the mat.  Turn your neck heavy from side-to-side.

 

Tips for Good Technique

  • Keep the torso and hips stable throughout the whole series.
  • Legs should only lower towards the mat as much as you can without arching the low back.
  • Don’t rush it! Enjoy slow, fluid movements to get the most impact.
  • Pull the abdominal muscles in towards the spine instead of letting them press out.
  • Each exhale allows you to pull the stomach muscles in deeper.
  • Keep shoulders wide throughout the exercises.

 

Start with just a few repetitions of each exercise and work up to the full series!  You can also take a small break between each exercise as you build up strength.  

 

Watch here to see the series in action.  You’ll see only two sets of each exercise – but remember – the full Series of Five includes 10 sets of each exercise!  Give it a try yourself and enjoy the burn.

 

 

Follow us! @waveformspilates

Facebook, Instagram, & Pinterest

 

Click the image below to receive a copy of this series in a downloadable format!

 


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Waveforms Spotlight: Judi M. – Graceful Aging through Pilates

Contributing author: Courtney Cerniglia

For many of us, we move through our day with full energy: long days of work, errands during our free time, running at 100%, little time to breathe. For those of us who relate to this, we often also apply it to our physical well being. Our get-it-done mentality complements powerful weight lifting sessions or fast spin classes. We exert the energy and reap the reward, leaving with accomplishment and like we “did something.”

 

This approach has its place in a healthy lifestyle, but if you find yourself attacking every workout with maximum exertion it will eventually lead to injury, overused muscles, and imbalance in your body. Following a routine that incorporates high intensity training with slower, low impact training is your best defense against injuries and for reaching your fitness goals.

 

Waveforms Pilates student, Judi, shared her Pilates journey with us. Like many others, she found peace in the calamity of her busy lifestyle through a focused practice.

 

Seeking the Strength by Slowing Down

 

Judi is an avid gym-goer and resistance trainer. To ward off osteoporosis symptoms and increase her strength, she committed to a rigid weight training program. With her high energy, this was all she thought she needed to stay healthy and exhume her extra energy. She didn’t think Pilates would fit in her regiment or that she could handle the slow, fluid movements.

After much coaxing, Judi signed up for her 30-minute trial with Courtney to try a few movements on the reformer. Apprehensive at first with her capabilities, Judi found Courtney’s unimposing approach encouraging. She realized she could do the movements and the unlocked power in moving slow through exercise.

 

“Pilates takes a lot of concentration. For my busy mind, it means for the hour session I need to slow down and focus to see results. I love this – it’s a moment in my week where I get to relax,” Judi shares.

 

Turning Apprehension Into Action – Signing Up for Class One

 

Are you apprehensive about Pilates? “I was too! Sign up for the 30-minute session and try it out. Have Courtney walk you through the basics so you’re comfortable with the range of motion and vocabulary. Then, try a mat class. It’s a more social environment if you’re not comfortable working on the equipment yet,” Judi advises.

 

“Courtney explains everything extremely well. She works with you at your pace. As you progress, she teaches you what muscles you should be aware of during each pose and what you’re trying to accomplish. It makes the whole session more effective,” Judi said. She also explained how well her Pilates training pairs with personal training. Combined, she feels she has a complete fitness program that sets her up for graceful aging.

 

Graceful Aging, Toning Up, & Maintaining Balance

 

After two years of training with Courtney and Waveforms Pilates, Judi saw improvement in her balance, concentration, and overall wellbeing. “It tones you up! Areas I thought were hopeless were strengthened through Pilates,” Judi exclaimed.

 

Pilates also inherently improved her balance. “After a certain age, your balance is all thrown off. I’ve found I’m able to maintain this through the work on the reformer,” Judi said. Maintaining balance as you age is a key indicator of your independence. Being able to rise from sitting without support or climb stairs are challenges for many that eventually will require outside help to maintain their livelihood. Pilates offers a low-impact solution to maintain and improve your balance.

 

Working With Waveforms, The Neighborhood Pilates Studio

 

L to R: Rebecca, Kalene, Amy, Courtney, Carolyn, Elizabeth, Judi, and Jazz.

“Take advantage of Waveform’s free workshops and community events. The extra work Courtney does in the community and keeping the Waveforms members engaged is impressive. I’m pleased to be working with not only a great instructor, but also an excellent business woman,” she encourages.

 

Judi enjoyed Waveform’s foot workshop in September, November food drive, and a few of the complimentary mat classes held at the studio. She enjoys the Waveform’s studio space and finds it calming, quiet, and a place to relax and focus.

 

Zhora, Waveforms Pilates Studio Cat

The only thing Judi wishes Waveforms Pilates could do? “More studio cats!”  

 

Judi is the Director of Eastshore Humane Association located in Chilton, WI, where Zhora was adopted.  She loves the Green Bay Packers, cats, gardening, and Pilates. 


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Waveforms Spotlight: Rebecca L. – Benefits of Mind and Body from Pilates Practice

Contributing Author: Courtney Cerniglia

When you first see Pilates equipment, it can be intimidating. The different shapes and forms don’t allude to what they do for you. It’s easy to look at a set of weights and realize to pick them up. It makes sense to get on a treadmill and run. But what do you do with one of these?

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Rebecca had similar feelings a year ago. New to Pilates, and working out in general, she was apprehensive to try too many new exercises at once. “I was brand new,  I wasn’t even sure if my body was capable of performing the proper moves,” she reflected. This apprehension keeps many students out of the studio, and let’s face it, many people away from exercise. There are so many options, places, and programs to try…where do you start?

 

If you’re beginning your journey in living a healthier lifestyle, may we suggest incorporating Pilates. Rebecca took the leap to join a gym and met Courtney through personal training. Courtney shared a few Pilates exercises to pair with her gym workout and Rebecca liked the variation. Soon, she started taking Courtney’s mat classes and has been doing them ever since.

“Courtney was so great at working with my beginner skill level a year ago and has increased the difficulty over time. She made me feel so welcomed and comfortable right from the start that I have only missed a few classes since I started because I enjoy them so much,” Rebecca exclaimed.

 

Sticking with her mat class routine, Rebecca began to see and feel the effects of pairing Pilates with her diet and exercise. She grew stronger and more flexible, and saw weight loss as a result of her consistency.

The benefits didn’t stop there.  As she explained, “It has also improved my self confidence, not only because of the weight loss I have experienced, but also because I’ve gotten more advanced in techniques I never thought I could do.”

 

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Rebecca continues to work with Courtney in her mat classes at Waveforms Pilates. With the kindness and care she’s found in Courtney, it’s been something for her to look forward to each week as well as an investment in herself.

 

She encourages anyone who is nervous or intimidated by Pilates to try a few sessions with Courtney. “Courtney is dedicated to properly educating her clients and is willing to show adjustments for certain moves that could aggravate problem areas.” No matter what your ability, the classes are accessible and designed for all fitness levels.  And, with the classes capped at seven students you’re sure to get individualized attention each session.

 

In addition to receiving movement education in mat class, Rebecca has taken advantage of Waveforms Pilates free educational workshops throughout the year.  Rebecca attended a special workshop to learn about Foot alignment back in May, as well as a workshop talking about Forward Head Posture and Neck Placement during exercise in October.

 

Two-Feet Forward Workshop

Reflecting she describes, “The workshops have provided me with more in depth information about specific parts of the body.  Use of diagrams and exercises has helped me become more aware of my posture and alignment.”  This information can be applied both inside and outside of class, bringing body awareness beyond the walls of Waveforms Pilates.

 

Different bodies can benefit from different forms of movement. Enrolling in a mat class is a great way to learn more about your body and it’s capabilities. Rebecca has been practicing Pilates for over a year now, and she’s seen both mind and body benefits to taking the leap to practice Pilates.

 

Join Rebecca at Thursday Evening and Saturday morning mat class!  To find our current schedule and more information on the benefits of Pilates mat, visit our webpage.  Not sure if mat it a fit for you?  Contact us to schedule a complimentary introductory class today.

 

We hope to see you on the mat!

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Getting Your Head on Straight – Pilates Exercises for Forward-Head Posture

By: Courtney Holcomb, Certified Pilates Instructor, Waveforms Pilates

 

How many text messages have you sent today?  When is the last time you pulled your head back to use your headrest in the car?  How often during the day do you spend on a smartphone, tablet, or at computer?  How many hours a day do you sit?

All of these things share something in common: They put stress on our head, neck, and shoulders.  All this, creates a lifestyle that leads to poor posture, muscular imbalances, and chronic pain.

 

The Physical Effects of Media Culture

In July of 2016, Nielsen Company released a report that the average American spends 10 hours and 39 minutes daily consuming media.  This “included how much time we spend daily using our tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs.”  All this usage doesn’t come without a toll on our bodies.

Two physical effects come of excessive media use: forward posture of our head and a sedentary lifestyle. The sustained forward and downward movement of our head pulls our body out of alignment. Sitting for hours a day or maintaining a mostly sedentary lifestyle weakens the core muscles. Together, misalignment and decreased core strength drags us down a road of pain.

 

Pressure From the Head

The average head weighs 10-12 pounds.  For every one-inch forward our head extends beyond alignment, an additional 10 pounds of pressure is put on the spine.  Our spinal extensors begin to engage in a losing battle with gravity. They pull our whole spinal structure forward with our head.  This (now common) misalignment is known as Forward Head Posture (FHP).

FHP is an excessive anterior (forward) positioning of the head in relation to a vertical reference line.  Our spine is curved, so we are not trying to flatten our neck, but rather bring it back to rest on top of the spine.  When viewed in profile, the head is designed to sit stacked over the spine with the tip of the earlobe aligned with the center of the shoulder.

Proper Posture

We also receive a lot of pressure from the downward tilt of the neck.  Added gravitation pull of 15 degrees of tilt increases of the weight of pressure to 27 pounds. 30 degrees adds 40 pounds of pressure, and once you tilt to 60 degrees (like many of us do while texting), the increase is 60 pounds of pressure on the spinal cord.

This version of FHP is ironically called “Text Neck” by many doctors, and more formally called Tilting Head Posture (THP).

Pair Forward Head Posture, with Tilting Head Posture, and that’s a whole lot of pressure for the body to bear.

 

Physical Effects of Forward Head Posture

With the head forward, our deep cervical flexors (the muscles that pull our head back) become very weak from inactivity, and our cervical extensors become shortened (from being held so long in the forward position).  Because our bodies do their best to compensate for inefficiencies, other superficial muscles take on the job that the neck flexors and extensors were designed to do.  Our sternocleidomastoid, anterior scalenes, and other superficial neck muscles try and take on the job.  This causes overactivity for the muscles and less efficiency in the body.

The overactivity of the cervical extensors can cause neck pain, the most noted symptom of FHP. With the extra pressure on the spine, you could experience nerve pain leading to headaches.

forward-head-posture-5Not only do muscles try and do their part, but the spine also will begin to compensate.  Our body loves to counterbalance; as the head goes forward, the chest begins to go back, the hips respond by rounding forward, and the body perceives balance.  Now, we end up with a tight chest and upper back, and a pinched low back.  This common counterbalance act associated with FHP is called Upper Crossed Syndrome.

 

What’s the Big Deal?     

Just like Newton explained in his Laws of Physics, with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  We cannot perpetually hold our body in a compromised posture and expect to not experience side effects.  There is a ripple effect throughout the whole body that becomes habit forming, for the better, or for the worse.  This becomes tight, that becomes weak.  This becomes long, that becomes short.

While the effects of our body are easy to visualize, other impacts aren’t obvious. Just as serious, poor posture threats our source of life: our breath.

FHP can result in up to 30% decrease in the lungs capacity. Rene Cailliet M.D., former director of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Southern California explains,  “These breath-related effects are primarily due to the loss of the cervical lordosis which blocks the action of the hyoid muscles, especially the inferior hyoid responsible for helping lift the first rib during inhalation.  Proper rib lifting action by the hyoids and anterior scalenes is essential for complete aeration of the lungs.”  Having a forward head limits the range of motion for the ribcage, causing a decrease in lung capacity.

 

Fixing Your Poor Posture to Prevent FHP

First we want to feel the effects of poor posture on our breathing. This will help us understand how damaging it can be for our well-being. Erik Dalton, PhD a pioneer of Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy, gives these simple instructions.

  1. Place your hand on your chest and breath normally.  Take a few inhales and exhales.  Sense your ability to make the chest rise and fall with each breath.
  2. Gently and carefully reach your head forward in space and take a few more breaths.  Sense the difference in the ability to move the chest.
  3. Pull the chin in and back, as if to make a “double-chin”, repeat a few inhales and exhales.

You should find that the movement of the chest decreases the further forward the head moves in relation to the spine.

 

Why Focus on the Head?

When the spine, muscles, and lungs are all affected, why focus primarily on the head?

I like how Rene Cailliett, M.D. put it:

“Most attempts to correct posture are directed toward the spine, shoulders and pelvis. All are important, but, head position takes precedence over all others. The body follows the head. Therefore, the entire body is best aligned by first restoring proper functional alignment to the head.”

We can begin to combat this by strengthening our deep neck flexors through lengthening and releasing our neck extensors.  A great rule of thumb for any imbalance in the body.  We want to strengthen what is weak and stretch what is tight.

 

How to Strengthen the Deep Neck Flexors

If our neck is already flexed forward, why are we working our neck flexor muscles?

The neck flexor muscles are what bring our head back to our spine.  Our deep neck flexors help pull the head back into alignment.  Here are three exercises I use in Pilates class that work these muscles.  Each exercise has increasing difficulty, so I advise working from top to bottom.

Also, start slowly.  The neck is a sensitive area, so begin with a few repetitions and work up to more.

 

1. Craniocervical Flexor Activation

Sit or stand and hold a loose fist underneath your chin.  Push upwards on your chin, but resist the head from tipping back.

Hold this connection for 5-10 seconds.

Repeat this 10x.

You should feel the muscles on the back of your neck engaged. Be careful not to push too hard, or to clench your first too hard.

 

2. Prone Neck Lift

Lay down on your stomach with your legs resting comfortably behind you.  Place your hands on top of one another and rest your forehead onto your hands.  Press the arms into the ground and lift the head and upper back off of your hands.  Make sure to keep the neck long and the chin tucked, as if you were holding a clementine between your chin and your chest.

Feel the neck flexors pull your head up towards the ceiling, and avoid the tendency to reach your chin forward to lift up.  Hold this for 10 seconds.

Reach energy out of the crown of the head (not leading with the chin) to lengthen and lower down.  You may find that you have to move your hands further away from lengthening and strengthening the neck.  Adjust as needed.

Repeat 5-10 times.

 

 

3.Head Hover

Lay on your back with your feet in the hook- line position (feet planted on the ground hip width apart, and knees at a 90-degree angle).

Rest your head and shoulders on the mat. Before you begin, imagine lengthening the back side of the neck to pull the chin slightly downward into a “double chin-like” position.  Take a breath in, and press the head lightly into the ground as if to push an imprint in memory foam, exhale and pick the head up off of the ground, while keeping the head parallel to the ground.

Sustain the hold for another breath or two, then lower back down.  Repeat 5-10 times.

You will feel the neck really work in this position!  You’ll also notice how heavy the head is with gravity working against you.

 

Stretching and Lengthening the Neck and Neck Extensors

After performing neck flexor exercises, it’s great to stretch the neck to help bring the head back into balance.  When stretching the neck, use caution and move slowly.  Use full breaths to support the stretch. I recommend the following stretches, these are also great after extensive time sitting at a desk, at a computer, or using your phone.

 

1. Neck Massage

Using a 4” or 6” diameter foam roller, place it lengthwise behind your neck.  Let the head rest back onto the foam roller.  Keeping the head heavy in gravity, Slowly turn the head from right to left. Nod the head up and down.

Trace small circles with the nose in each direction.  Do each step a few times before moving on to the next stretch.

 

2. Standing Neck Stretches

Stand up with the feet hip-width apart. Take your hands and interlace them at the nape of the neck.  Let the elbows be heavy and nod the chin towards the chest.  Do not pull on the neck, but let the elbows and head be heavy in gravity.

Return the head to upright and press the palms firmly together.  Place your middle fingers underneath the chin and gently press the chin up towards the ceiling.  Repeat each action a few times.

 

Correcting our Head Posture and Simple Habit Changes

As a culture, we have come to a place where many suffer from the effects of FHP and THP.  We need to get our heads on straight, or the pain and poor posture will only increase.

Though these are exercises to help us reverse the effects that have come from these conditions, there are other habits that can help us prevent or lessen it all together.  It all comes down to daily awareness of how we carry our bodies.  Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Bring your phone to your eye level when using it.  Instead of flexing the neck down, lift your phone up.
  • Use your head rest while driving.
  • Request a standing desk at work, to bring your computer up to your eye level.
  • Take breaks from long periods of sitting down, and stretch out in between.
  • Actively practice the exercises for strengthening the deep neck flexors.
  • Be conscious of the amount of time you spend consuming media and your posture while doing so.
  • Strengthen your core muscles to help support your posture throughout the day.
  • Take Pilates classes to gain body awareness.

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Finding the True “Core” of Fitness: Making Fitness Goals that Matter

By: Estin Holcomb, 2 months into Pilates training

Many of us think of training in terms of sweat equity. In order for a session to be thought of as a “success,” we should be tired, sweaty, hot, and sore. These symptoms equate to a good workout. I believed this for years, until I stepped into a Pilates mat class at Waveforms Pilates.

My transition from typical free weight resistance training and cardio (mainly running) to Pilates was not an easy one at first. I came in thinking the work I saw being done didn’t appear to be work at all. People who were training weren’t panting and out of breath; they weren’t beat red, dripping with sweat.

These physical signs had become my definition of a normal work out.

 

Stepping Into a Pilates Mat Class

 

My first few mat sessions I felt restless and a bit discouraged by the repeated corrections of my poor form and body posture. My trainer would tell me I was done because my technique was being compromised and she didn’t want me to get hurt, even though I felt I could do a lot more.

Estin Pilates Forward Flexion

The truth was my form was bad, my posture was poor, and my supportive muscle groups were weak. I had decent abdominal definition but my internal core muscles were weak and my low back was suffering as result. When we continue because we think we can do more, it can result in overuse injury, joint problems, cramping, or worse. This was a stark difference from the kind of exercise I was used to.

 

Setting Realistic Goals for Holistic Health

 

As my trainer worked with me my mindset started to change to focus on fitness goals that would increase the overall functionality of my body and improve my sense of well being. I noticed I feel taller and my limbs longer. I’m more flexible; I can bend over and touch my toes, twist and rotate my upper body from side to side, and tension I used to carry in my neck and shoulders has subsided. Most notable, I no longer experience muscle cramps through my shoulder and chest when I run.

img_4124Continuing Body Weight Pilates Training

 

Pilates resistance training focuses on form first, then builds strength and flexibility. Techniques are done slow and controlled. Through this transition, I feel like I’ve worked out without being beaten down and in pain the next day. This is making me more efficient when I train and leaving me with energy for my next session.

 

I am very excited to see what the future holds with my continued training. The beginning stages of a Pilates journey are full of exploration and discovery. For me thus far, redefining my idea of a work out has been beneficial for my overall health and training plan. It’s clear this redefinition has and will continue to be beneficial for my physical accomplishments going forward.