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Pilates and Breathing …

I’ve received a lot of questions this week about the importance of breathing during pilates. People always wonder if they are breathing correctly or at the right time. There are many opinions about proper pilates breathing. For me — since I see mostly beginners, I am more focused on whether my clients are actually breathing or not. If you do too much belly breathing, yes I’ll stop and encourage you to breathe more into your ribs, but most of the time, if you are breathing to enhance your movements, I’ll be happy. Some people hold their breath which as even bigger issue I think. So, just breathe!

Why do we focus on Breathing?

As many of you notice, I always give a breathing direction before I instruct you to move your body. Why? Breathing is the foundation of your proper movement. It helps center you, relax you, and stabilize your body for movement.  Focused, conscious breathing also does many more things for your body and mind…read on!

What specific benefits does breathing consciously do for you and your body?

Check out this excerpt from a long list of ways breathing supports every system of the body:
(reprinted from breathing.com)

THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM

Gives you more energy.
Reduces mental and physical fatigue.
Reduces chest pains due to tight muscles, thus the tension causing anxiety of “heart attack potential” is reduced.

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

Improves blood circulation and relieves congestion.
Increases supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body. Major organs such as brain, and eyes need copious oxygen.
Eases the strain on the heart by increasing oxygen to the heart.
Helps increase the supply of blood and nutrients to muscle blood and bones.

THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

Better breathing can calm or stimulate the nervous system, balance or unbalance brain hemispheres, depending on the technique.

THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

Diaphragmatic action acts as a pump to massage the internal organs, aiding their *function.  “Rest, digest, and heal.”

THE SKIN

Given a complex carbohydrate diet, toxic CO2 waste is eliminated more directly through breath.
Wrinkles can be lessened due to improved circulation and blood oxygen flow.
Radiant skin is observable and more pleasing to look at.

BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT

Relax deeper.
Look more rested.

MOVEMENT

Relaxes muscle spasm and relieves tension.
Helps increase flexibility and strength of joints; when you breathe easier you move easier.
Sounds amazing, right? The list goes on too! I’ll put the link to this specific page at the end of the article.

Here’s a simple breathing exercise you can do right now:

1. Sit in a dining room chair – not the couch. Find a stable chair.
2. Close your eyes. Place 1 hand on chest and 1 hand on belly. Begin to breathe naturally. But notice how your chest rises a little as you inhale and your belly hollows in a bit as you exhale. Try to breathe like this for a few few minutes.
3. Now put your hands even with your chest but around your ribcage. Index fingers are around the front and the thumbs around around the back of the ribcage. Now imagine breathing to open up the sides and to the back of ribcage. Do this several times.
4. Now sit on the floor with you knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you. Round forward with arms curled around your shins. Head and neck are also rounded forward.
5. Inhale and Exhale naturally. On the exhale tighten your abs and try to keep them engaged. On the next Inhale try to keep your abs engaged and inhale as if you are breathing into the back of your ribcage. Each exhale, slightly tighten and contract your abs a bit more. Do this a few times.

Make sure you breathe deeply – if your breathing is too shallow you might hyperventilate or get light headed.

Now that you know some reasons why we breathe, tomorrow I’ll talk more about WHEN we breathe in pilates.

Ready to start breathing more deeply? Come to a pilates group class or get a customized online workout.

Excuses Be Gone!

In honor of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s most recent book and lecture series, I’m calling this section Excuses Be Gone! You get the idea.  No more excuses.  Take responsibility for your health now.  You can get in shape and lead a more active life today — even with no extra money or extra time to do it.

So, let me share the freebies first:

Free Newsletter From Anne – 🙂 Every Month, I will provide you with at least one short exercise video that you can do every day, several times a day, several times in a row like a circuit or whenever you can’t make it to a class.

YouTube – Look up any body part, any type of exercise, and you will probably find a few videos that you can do at home…FOR FREE.   If you’d like some pilates video suggestions, let me know, and I’ll point you in the direction of ones that I actually love and do at home.

ON DEMAND – If you have an On Demand feature with your Digital Cable service, dive in and look for the Sports & Fitness Section.  Then, find Exercise TV section.  They have videos for pilates, yoga, circuit training, cardio…and you’ll even find well known instructors like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper.

Ok, now the inexpensive and free online ones that I really like:

1. Spark People – Free Membership to an exercise/diet website.  They have forums too, so you get a built in support system of people who are working toward their goals too!

2. Jillian Michaels Online – Jillian has many free resources on her site.  The free newsletter alone is a great reminder to workout and she always gives nutrition tips too.

3. Bob Harper – If you don’t know Bob from The Biggest Loser, check out his site’s free tools and resources.

4. Yoga Glo – This yoga studio in Santa Monica, CA offers an online membership to get yoga classes that just happened LIVE in their studio!

5. Ultimate Pilates Workouts – There are several different memberships to get full pilates routines – the mat workouts are offered in the FREE membership.

6. Valerie Waters –  I started off by doing her Red Carpet Ready program with AMAZING RESULTS.  Valerie is my guru right now on getting in shape at home.  She has a great program set up where there is a community of people who are always there to support you.  She updates exercise circuits all the time.  You never feel alone.  I love it.

*This is an excerpt from an issue of my newsletter a few months ago in my bi-monthly health & fitness newsletter.   People are always looking for places online they can go for health & fitness motivation.  This small list should get you started.  If you’d like to know how to receive my newsletter, please submit your name/email in the box on this page.

Also, check back soon for my complete health & fitness tools I use page!

My Pilates Fitness Formula

Ok this pic was taken about a month ago with my daughter on the beach – my body is toned all over, my normal pale seems a little more ivory-ish. I am not a tanning type girl (maybe someday), but I think you can see I’m out of the bathrobe and out in public again.  It was a beautiful day and I love looking at this picture to remember that feeling!

Pilates Fitness Formula

Pilates Fitness Formula

As I mentioned, I started doing Valerie Waters’ Red Carpet Ready program, joined her RCR club, and did mat pilates exercises — I do teach pilates, so this was a must for me!

My first 6 weeks on the RCR / Pilates  program, my workouts looked like this:
3 Days of Strength Training Circuits – Full Body Circuits on Alternating days.
2 Days of High Intensity Interval Training Cardio – on treadmill mostly
2 Days of Full Mat Pilates Routine

Now, my workouts look more like this – but it’s mostly because I’m very busy teaching pilates.

2 days of Strength Training Circuits – These are full body circuits I do at home.  They require stability ball, stretchy bands, and dumbbells, and my trusty Valslides.
2 days of High Intensity Interval Training Cardio – I have a few different treadmill workouts I do as well as plyometric training I just starting doing at home.  I also walk with my daughter a few times during the week.

I try to do pilates 3x a week – on the mat and the reformer.  Some weeks I only do mat pilates if I can’t make it to the studio! I often do the pilates mat exercises and valslide moves with my clients to get in a little extra if I know I can’t do stuff during the week.

If you want to know the specific pilates exercises I do and more information on Valerie Waters’ Training Systems, please feel free to email me.  I can give you information on both.  Also, I’ve finally been able to integrate this same type of combo training with my pilates classes.  I use the same techniques I used to get back into shape with my clients.

….this is a process…so for now this is what I do and I’m really happy with the results.  Stay tuned for updates to my progress.  I like to add new things to my home workout program to shake things up and keep me motivated.  One huge piece of the puzzle for me is sharing my results and process with others.  I’d love to know what you are doing to stay in shape and live a healthy life.

See you tomorrow to share the exact workout I did and how I combined 2 really effective programs to finally look/feel healthy again!

Clean Eating and Pilates


Pilates and Clean Eating

Pilates and Clean Eating


Hi again! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s article on the steps I took to get myself healthy after a year of poor eating and stress from having a new baby.  Today, I’m going to continue telling you about the steps I took to get healthy.  I used a combination of a strength training, cardio, pilates reformer exercise and healthy eating.

While the exercise regimen I followed was quite challenging, especially when I look at it now, the eating was much more difficult for me.

The hardest part was and is (still) changing the way I eat…on a permanent level.  Here are some of the things I do specifically with my eating…

1. I eat almonds when I get a craving.
2. I have almond butter on hand all the time, to melt in the microwave and eat with banana or apple or shredded unsweetened coconut.
3. I eat protein at every meal and snack
4. I don’t eat white sugar – for the most part.
5. I still have the bad creamer in my coffee in the morning – ok fine, that’s the bad sugar.
6. I don’t eat white flour pasta…if I have pasta, I do whole wheat or buckwheat or quinoa. I tend to have quinoa or buckwheat the most.
7.  I am eating a lot of veggies and fruit…not so much fruit later in the day.
8. I am drinking 80-100 oz of water per day
9. I don’t drink soda or any other random liquids…It’s pretty much water or tea.
10. I’m only now coming out of the boring same thing every single day eating routine, but keeping it boring for the first 6 weeks helped me get to my first milestone!
11. I have protein powder/water drinks a few times per week – sometimes every day if I am not getting enough for some reason.  I use Designer Whey Protein and E3 Live Hemp Protein Powder.  The hemp protein powders tend to be a bit grainy and the one I use requires a bit of doctoring for me to get it down, but it gives me a ton of energy!

Out of all of the above, the 3 things that helped me get results fast were pretty simple–simple as in not complex steps to take, but it wasn’t easy to cut them out:

1. No more fast food – at all. I haven’t been through drive through for many (more than 6) months now.  Previously, I was going several times a week…
2. No more white flour – no pasta unless it’s whole wheat or quinoa or gluten free. I stopped eating breakfast cereal cold turkey.
3. No more excessive white sugar – meaning, no cake, no candy, nada.  I stopped buying single cake slices at Ralphs….cold turkey. This was hard!

Ok – so now you know…my eating habits changed drastically and really set me up for visible success, but I also added the workouts to this…  I have to stress the fact that until my diet changed — really changed — my pilates work didn’t even show!  So, this is a must to get this part of the formula right.

Here are some resources to check out which really helped me understand food a bit better and find ways of making yummy food:

Eat Clean Diet
Live Well 360 : {update: also now creators of the amazing “Core” fitness bag.}
The Healthy Irishman
The Abs Diet
The Eat Clean Blog