Category: Pilates

Come join us for International Pilates Day!

**UPDATE** Pilates Day is postponed.  Stay tuned for the rescheduling of this event!

May 6th 9am to 12 noon


  • Pilates Demonstrations on the equipment
  • Pilates Mat Class for every level
  • Pilates Swag and giveaways


International Pilates Day is an annual, community event celebrated on the first Saturday of May.  Its mission is to foster our appreciation and awareness of the Method through education, networking, sharing information and promotion of the Pilates Method.  
Have you been curious about Pilates but haven’t gotten around to taking a class?  Now is your chance!  Come experience the vitality and well-being that comes from practicing Pilates.  Drop in on the events like a large group mat class on the basketball court led by our whole staff, demonstrations of what a really sweaty Pilates workout looks like, and most importantly, have fun with Pilates, in health, community and quality of life.  

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Side Kick Series: Small Circles

PURPOSE:  Small Circles (or Top Leg Circles) work the buttocks and thighs. This the 3rd exercise of the Side KIck series.

SET UP:  Lie on your side and align your body against the back edge of the mat.  Prop your head up on one hand and place the palm of the other hand on the mat in front of you.  Position your legs in a 45 degree angle in front of your body.  Feet are slightly turned out in a Pilates V.

1.  Lift your top leg so it is in line with the hip.  Begin circling the top leg in a small and swift motion, brushing the top heel past the bottom heel each time around.

2. Complete 5-8 circles, then repeat in the opposite direction.  End by resting the heels together, toes turned out in Pilates V.


If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, wrist or neck, lay your head down on your arm.  You can also use a rolled up towel under your neck for added support.

Head to Toe Checklist:

Upper body is flush against the mat.

Use your abdominals to maintain stability in your upper body so you don’t rock back and forth.

Top leg is straight as you circle; keep your heel down; toes and knee face up.

Don’t let leg rotate inward (toe to floor).

Think of controlled movements; working the circles from the hip joint.


Imagine you are circling your leg inside a small hula hoop.

Small Circles


Pilates Exercise of the Month: SIDE KICK SERIES: UP/DOWN

PURPOSE: The 2nd exercise of the Side Kick series: this exercise works the hips, buttocks, outer thigh, and stretches your inner thigh muscles.

Set-up : Lie on your side and align your body against the back edge of the mat. Prop your head up on one hand and place the palm of the other hand on the mat in front of you. Position your legs in a 45-degree angle in front of your body. Feet are slightly turned out in a Pilates V.

1. Inhale, lift your top leg straight up to the ceiling and point your toe. Lift your leg only as high as you can manage with it remaining straight.

  1. Exhale, resist gravity, flex your foot, and bring it back down to starting position. Think of reaching and stretching your leg out of your hip.

3. Repeat 5-8 times on each side. Bring your legs back together to prepare for the next exercise in the series, Small Circles.



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If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, wrist or neck, lay your head down on your arm. You can also use a rolled up towel under your neck for added support.

Head to Toe Checklist:

Remain long and lifted in the upper body as you kick your leg up and lengthen it down. Don’t roll your leg inward. Keep a slight turnout in the hip and thigh throughout the exercise. Stabilize your body with the powerhouse. Nothing moves but the kicking leg.Shoulder and hips remain stacked. Think of controlled movements.


Visualization: By the end of the exercise, the kicking leg should feel longer.


Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates Instructor

Group Exercise Class Etiquette

The Seattle Athletic Clubs boasts over 50 group exercise classes a week! Have you tried one yet? As an instructor, I have a short list of suggestions that will make your and the instructor’s experience richer and safer.

  1. Introduce yourself to the instructor before class begins.
  2. Instructors will notice your presence in class, even if you sneak in and go straight to the back row! So, introduce yourself and inform him/her of any injuries you’re dealing with so he/she can be aware of your condition.
  3. Show up on time (means 5 minutes early to set up your equipment). Instructors build their class around a warm-up and a cool-down, and if you miss the warm up you may hurt yourself.
  4. Ask questions!       After class, approach the instructor to ask any questions about an exercise or concept you didn’t understand.       Instructors love to talk shop.
  5. And finally, give feedback! Whether a compliment or a suggestion, an instructor will want to know what you thought. Let his/her manager know what you thought as well because feedback (positive or negative) can only sharpen our awareness and hone our skills to make us better instructors.

We hope to see you in class!

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Straight Leg Stretch




Purpose: The fourth exercise in the Stomach Series targets the powerhouse to the extreme.

1. Lie on your back with hands behind your lifted head; one on top of the other, (not interlaced). Elbows wide.

2. Extend your legs straight to the ceiling, heels together and toes turned out slightly, squeeze inner thighs, sink navel toward spine.

3. Inhale and lower your straight legs down toward the mat for 3 counts. Stop if you feel your lower back begin to arch.

4. Exhale as you raise your straight legs toward the ceiling. Don’t allow the legs to pass 90 degrees; the tailbone does not leave the mat.

Complete 8-10 times. To end bring both knees into chest.

Remain perfectly still in your torso.
Engage the glutes and inner thighs to support and protect your back.
If your back arches off the mat as you lower your legs, you are taking them too low. Bring shoulders away from ears.

Note: If you have a delicate back, place your hands in a V position just below your tailbone (palms down) and leave your head down.

Visualization: Imagine your legs are attached to springs above your head. You must stretch the springs on the way down and resist their pull on the way up.

Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates Instructor

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Single Leg Kick

Purpose: Single Leg Kick works your hamstrings, biceps & triceps while stretching your thighs, knees, and abdominal muscles. Great exercise for cyclists.

1. Lie on your stomach, propped up on your elbows. Pull your navel up into your spine. Your pubic bone should be pressed firmly down into the mat. Squeeze your inner thighs together to support your lower back.

2. Make sure your elbows are directly beneath your shoulders, chest is lifted, shoulders blades down and neck long.. Your hands can be made into fists, in line with elbows. (If fists are uncomfortable, place your palms facedown on mat.)

3. Inhale to prepare. While keeping your upper torso stable, exhale and kick your right heel toward your right buttock with a double beat (or a pulse, pulse.) The left leg should be straight and slightly lifted off the mat.

4. Switch and kick the left heel to the left buttock with a double beat. Continue alternating legs, completing 5 sets. End by sitting back on your heels to release your lower back.

Remain lifted and perfectly still in your torso as you kick your heels into your bottom.
Keep your upper thighs and knees glued together as you kick to engage the hamstring muscles.
Try not to let the legs touch the mat in between kicks.

Note: If you have knee or lower back discomfort, upper torso may be lowered to the floor. Reduce the range of motion and work more slowly. If you experience pain, stop.

Visualization: Imagine there is a candle flame under your belly button. You must stay lifted so you don’t get burned. Swish your legs past each other, kicking in time to your heartbeat.
Single Leg Kick

Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates Instructor

Debunking Pilates myths

It’s expensive
A one-on-one session is a great way to start your Pilates training, but when you learn your routine, you can work out with a partner or small group to cut costs.

It’s only for women
Joseph Pilates was a man! He studied wrestling, body-building, and yoga. He created a system of exercise meant for every body, male and female. Pilates simply requires concentration, focus, coordination and agility, which anyone can do!

It’s repetitive
Pilates builds a foundation of core strength, and that requires some deep, precise, consistent work. Only after your core is established and muscles correctly firing can you move on to the more complicated, advanced Pilates exercises.   So yes, Pilates can seem repetitive in the beginning. But be patient! Your repertoire will expand as you become stronger and are able to demonstrate control in your body.

It’s only for dancers
Joseph Pilates was not a dancer; he was a boxer and wrestler, studied yoga and gymnastics. When Joseph and his wife Clara set up shop in New York City, George Balanchine sent many dancers to Pilates to rehabilitate their ballet injuries. The news of a workout that promoted strength with stretch spread quickly through the dance community, and has been popular ever since. However, Pilates is beneficial for all populations.

It’s easy
Pilates can be modified to accommodate nearly any injury, but true Pilates, once the basic concepts are understood, is challenging to the most fit person. In other words, pilates is hard!

Pilates Exercise of the Month: The Hundred

One of the signature abdominal exercises of Pilates.

 Purpose: To strengthen the abdominal muscles, develop upper body stabilization and stimulate circulation to warm up the body in preparation for the mat workout.

1. Lie on your back; pull your knees into the chest and feel the entire length of your spine on the mat. Lengthen the back of the neck; slide your shoulders down and back.

2. Lift your head and shoulders off the mat bringing chin toward chest. Reach your arms long, past your hips and straighten both legs up toward the ceiling. Squeeze your buttocks and inner thighs together.

3. Begin pumping your arms straight up and down as if you were tapping water. Keep the movement slightly above the mat and your arms straight.

4. Inhale for 5 counts (pumps) and exhale for 5 counts (pumps).

5. Lower your legs to a 45 degree angle, or to the point just before your spine arches off the mat. Maintain this position, pumping your arms and breathing for 100 counts (10 full breath cycles).

6. To finish, lower your head and bring your knees into the chest.


  1. Shoulders are down and back while pumping the arms.
  2. Make sure you are sinking your belly into your spine throughout.
  3. Don’t bend the wrists while pumping; keep stretching through the fingertips.
  4. Keep arms synchronized while pumping.


  • If your lower back begins to hurt, bend your knees in toward your chest.
  • If you develop neck pain, lower your head.
  • A shoulder injury may prevent you from pumping your arms. Simply reach long or pump softly.


Visualization:    Imagine your arms beating out the tempo to a piece of music.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: HIP CIRCLES




Purpose: Hip Circles focus on the abdominal muscles; stretches the front of the shoulders, across the chest, and down the arms.

 Starting Position: Sit in a V position with the arms extended behind the body, hands resting on floor; fingers face away from body. The legs are together, about an 60 degree angle from the floor.

  1. Inhale; move your legs down and around to the right.
  1. Exhale, complete the circle, bringing the legs to the left and back up to the starting V position.
  1. Complete 3-5 sets.

Visualization: Imagine your hands are stuck in cement and you are unable to move your torso except to keep it lifting to the ceiling.

 Head to Toe Checklist:

*  Begin small, increasing circles as you gain strength.

*  Circling the legs too low will compromise your abdominals.

*  Don’t let the upper body collapse.

*  Press the shoulders down and away from your ears.


Prop yourself up on your elbows if maintaining straight arms is too difficult

Mythbuster 4: Pilates is too easy. Pilates is too hard.

Are you an athlete?  Physically active and fit?  Pilates, with its fluid, effortless-looking motions and low-resistance spring-loading, may seem like it won’t challenge you enough.  In actuality Pilates can require as much exertion and stamina as your regular workout routine, but will never leave you exhausted.

The difference is to use mindfulness to work smaller muscle groups that often get passed over for the big movers.  You will also need precision to work only the necessary muscles required to do the movement.  Pilates will fine tune the way you work your body, change bad habits from overworking/underworking muscles, and increase mobility and functionality of your joints so that you can continue in your other physical activities.  In addition, you’ll work your mental acuity by challenging the coordination of the movements of your body.  The holistic development of this coordination with fluidity and control is excellent cross-training that will influence how you approach your other activities as well as reduce your recovery time from them.

Are you just starting a workout routine?  Do you have injuries or other limitations that impede your movement and wellness?  Pilates is a low-impact system of exercise that is gentle enough to allow you to focus on exactly what you need without ever endangering your health or safety.  The use of only gravity or spring resistance allows you to challenge and work your body while in a state of support.  There are hundreds of ways to cater each exercise to your specific needs, as well as to continue to challenge as you get stronger.  A very important element of Pilates is that you will work your body without experiencing pain.  This is radically different from the “no pain, no gain” mentality you may be more familiar with.  In Pilates, pain is the body’s alarm-system that means “stop”!  But, it won’t stop you from still working hard under the guidance of your instructor, who will challenge you and make you feel at ease as you work!