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Do These Pilates Moves Right Now

I just got an email from a client who is stuck in a hotel over the holidays and wants to know what she can do right now to do some pilates…

Here’s what I told her:

Pelvic Lift – 10 up and down, 10 pulses

Single Leg Stretch

Single Straight Leg Stretch

Criss Cross


Prone Leg Lifts & Pulses

Planks – Do 10 Leg Lifts each Leg.

Side Plank with Twist Reaching Under
But words aren’t enough…I know!  So, here’s a quick video I shot while my daughter was napping today to show you the exercises! Don’t laugh I’m wearing my geeky glasses and my baggie bum lounge pants.  Gotta love a lazy weekend!

Quick Pilates Workout from Anne Samoilov on Vimeo.

Easy Ways to Get a Great Pilates Reformer Workout at Home!

(…even without expensive studio equipment)

So, you’ve bought your reformer…Maybe it’s a home version of the studio machines you are used to working on. Maybe it’s a sub-$500 model that uses a bungee style chord instead of the springs.  Maybe it’s a resistance band setup that hooks up to a door and mimics a reformer.  Whatever you have chosen, I’m here to tell you that you still can get a great workout at home…

Here are a few simple things to remember and try…the first one being my personal favorite!!

  • Take A Few Private Pilates Sessions with a Certified Instructor – on your machine
  • Use the DVD or Manual that came with your machine to get started.
  • Focus on Stabilizing your Body and Breathing before you do any movement.
  • Try to imagine every single exercise coming from your center.
  • Make sure to do exercises that move you in opposition.
  • Move slowly through the exercises.  (You don’t have to do this all the time, but try to vary your pace)
  • Make sure you do all of the following types of movements: Flexion, Extension, Rotation, and Stabilization.
  • Get a New Workout – Ultimate Pilates Workout
  • Download Audio Workouts from Lynda Lippin
  • Read The Pilates Body and The Female Body Break-Through
  • Add another activity like interval training, circuit strength training, or yoga to make your pilates workouts even more effective.

Now, that you know what to do … get to it… Let me know if you have any questions about your machine or if you want additional exercises for specific body areas and issues!

5 Habits You Should Break if you Attend Group Pilates Classes

I’m always trying to think of ways to make my pilates classes better — for the students and also for myself. I realized that no matter what I do to give you a good class–whether I add new exercises or change the order or focus on certain areas of the body… ultimately you are the one who needs to do the work and get the most out of it.  Since I try to offer you solutions to fitness roadblocks, I’ve decided to share the things that often break the flow of a pilates group class…If you are guilty of doing some of these things, I’m not saying that you should never speak in class, I just want you to be aware of your actions and how that affects everyone including yourself.

Habit: Request Lists to your Teacher

Now, I know there are some things that feel great and you want to do them, but try to restrain yourself from blurting out exercises you want to do during class. I know that in my case, I always plan in advance the basic structure of a class. I also know that I have to alter that structure already if there are any new students or people who need modifications. It’s very disruptive and also distracting to have yet another “change” to make during the class. Be aware that if you really love some exercise, you can most likely do it at the end of class.

I will say, though, that I get to know what people like and do try to weave those exercises into class. Some people like the butt blasters – hips/butt series on the side, others really like Short Spine, and still others want to do additional arm work. I’m okay with getting your likes…just be respectful of the other students and me too!

Habit: What’s this do?

I love educating people on what exercises do for the body, but the truth is…in a large class or even in a small one, it takes my attention away from everyone to answer one person. Keep in mind that your instructor needs to focus attention on every body to insure everyone is getting something out of the exercise. If no one seems to be getting the exercise at all, I try to adjust my instructions or simplify the exercise. If you are one of these people who needs to know specific reasons for doing certain exercises, make an appointment for a private lesson or again, ask the instructor after class.

Habit: Counting…

Some people really love making sure we do no more or less than 10 reps on every single pilates move. The truth is, I’m looking for a certain number of good form repetitions. Also, if I see a class in general looks tighter in their hamstrings or hips, I might let them do a few more leg circles or some other lengthening exercise for the back of the legs. If I see a class of people that look like they need a bit of tightening in the bum, I might do more footwork then normal.  Conversely, if I know the class consists of people who have some form of lower back pain, I probably won’t do certain exercises in order to avoid further injury or strain.

If it makes you feel better to count, do it, but don’t yelp out to the class, um, that was only 5. Their just might be a reason for only doing 5.  Instead, try to make each one of your repetitions count.

Also, sometimes I am horrible at counting because I’m watching your bodies or adjusting a machine for 1 person –I’ll admit it, so if you like to count and I notice it, I’m going to make you do it for me! Hahahah….so beware!

Habit: Holding Your Breath

This is a simple one…I don’t care when you inhale and exhale. Just do it. And let me hear you! You don’t have to do dragon breath or lion breath (not sure what the yoga breaths are called, but I think you know what I mean), but try to inhale through your nose and then exhale through pursed lips. The breath gives you power and helps you stabilize your body. Check out 2 of my earlier posts on the benefits of breathing: Just Breathe and Pilates Breathing For Beginners.

Habit: Beginners Rule!

If there’s something I see often…it’s beginners who want to take on pilates all at once. I try to tell them to dip into the practice slowly or at least with a little bit of patience. I encourage people to understand that it seems easy at the beginning…and then when they understand more, they will naturally challenge themselves. Don’t add weight to the reformer too quickly. Try to wait before you add props to your mat workouts. Try to stay in the moment, breathing evenly, listening to the instruction…and ask questions if you have no idea what you are doing.

Beginners – the best thing you can do for yourself to really give pilates a good shake is to take a few private mat or reformer sessions, so you can start the journey the right way. Once you “get it”, you’ll be able to take your own workouts further and get more out of them.

Now, it’s your turn…. Please leave a comment below answering these 3 questions:

1. Do you prefer the class to move quickly or slowly…or it doesn’t matter?

2. What’s your favorite exercise to do in group reformer class?

3. Do you like a class that is all business, all chat, or a nice combo of both?

I look forward to hearing your responses!

25 Days of Pilates For Me!

It’s my turn to take a little more time for myself.  Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been on some wierd auto pilot where I wasn’t doing some of the crucial steps to achieving your goals (fitness or otherwise).  One of those things was spending time working on pilates.  I realized that I needed to get my Pilates Mojo back…so here’s what I started doing this week.

Each day, I chose a specific trouble zone or type of exercise or challenge for me personally within my own pilates practice.  I wrote down the problem, the potential reasons for the issue, and ways to overcome the issue.  Some are really simplistic things that I’ve already started adding into my daily life & other workouts.

Day 1 |Mid-Back / Thoracic Tightness – I focused on my tight mid-back area. Actually, to be honest, I think it’s tight in some respects but also over stretched in others.  My posture suffered quite a bit during the first year of motherhood and really I did nothing to counter act the natural rounding of my back.  So, on Day 1, I focused on stretches to release the tightness and also exercises to strengthen my upper and mid back.  Good thing I’m already doing some of the work in my Action Hero Babe workouts.

Day 2 | Torso Flexibility – This might seem really focused, but there are a few “simple” Pilates exercises that have always given me trouble.  So, I worked on torso rotation mat pilates exercises like Saw and Criss-Cross. Moving through exercises slowly and putting a lot of attention on breathing really helped me feel where I was the tightest.  I also did Mermaid and some variations which stretch the torso and increase side-bending movements.

Day 3 | Get It Done – Another simple day. Get the Basic Mat Pilates Program Done.  I went slowly through the basic pilates mat routine, trying to remember the flow of the exercises without looking at a manual first!

Day 4 | Hip Tightness – I am not talking about hip flexors, but more the hip rotators and that area at the sides of my bum.  Instead of trying to blast through a challenging Butt Blaster routine.  I did several stretches for the piriformis area – all variations of crossing my foot over the other knee and pulling the knee into my chest.  I also stretched hamstrings out with a simple forward/flat back stretch (the same one I do at the beginning of all my Valerie Waters workouts.  Then, I went onto the foam roller and did some rolling back and forth on the area.  I already felt better – and decided to NOT do the butt blasters after all, but allow my hips to be loose and relaxed for once.

Day 5 | Kyphosis Symptoms – My chest muscles tend to be tight and the mid-back tends to be overstretched due to my daily computer use, carrying my daughter Mila and just forgetting to stand up straight (and then proceeding to lift things). So, I did a simple stretch which you might have done in yoga.  Bridge with hands clasped behind back, slowly pressing the shoulders back, as if underneath me.  This always leaves me feeling energized!  Other exercises I do include back extension work, laying on my stomach and putting forearms on the ground.

Day 6 – Coming soon!