Tag: mat

Pilates Exercise Of Month: Roll – Over

 Purpose: To stretch the lower back and hamstrings; develop spinal articulation and improve control of the abdominal muscles.

Note: if you have a bad neck or lower back, leave this exercise out.

  1. Lie on the mat with arms long by your sides; palms down. Lift both legs to a 60-degree angle from the mat.
  2. Inhale, lift the legs to a 90-degree angle. Initiate from the abdominals; bring your legs over your head peeling your spine off the mat. Keep reaching the arms long, shoulders pinned down. Don’t press onto your neck.
  3.  Exhale, open your legs just past shoulder width and flex your feet. Keep the back of your neck long to avoid any tensing. The arms continue to press into the mat. Your body weight should rest squarely in between your shoulder blades.
  4.  Begin rolling back toward the mat, feel your spine stretching longer and longer as you articulate down until the tailbone touches the mat.
  5.  When the tailbone reaches the mat, take the legs to just below 90 degrees and squeeze your legs together again. Repeat the sequence.
  6.  Complete 3 repetitions with legs together when lifting and 3 times with legs apart.

Head to Toe Checklist:

  • Keep your upper body glued to the mat- avoid rolling onto the neck
  • Don’t use momentum to roll over; use abdominals
  • Palms press into mat, arms long throughout.
  • Shoulders are stable on the roll down.

Visualization: Imagine your arms are lead bars pinning you to the mat.

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Top 10 Pilates Questions

I’m new to Pilates. How do I start?
The best way to start if you have never tried Pilates is to begin with an orientation. In an orientation, a certified Pilates instructor will teach you a beginner lesson on the Pilates equipment, and then direct you to the class you would like to take.

How do I make an appointment for my orientation?
Contact Danielle Zack, Pilates Director at dzack@sacdt.com or (206) 443.1111 x246.

What is the difference between mat classes and private instruction sessions?
Pilates is intended to be done one-on-one under an instructor’s supervision and guidance, and mat classes are meant to supplement the work you do with your instructor. Both are valuable, though, and will strengthen your body. Private sessions are tailored to your individual needs so if you have injuries or specific physical concerns this is your best choice. Mat classes are designed for the general population and there is less individual attention.

What are the prices?
The average cost for a single Pilates session in the city of Seattle is $71.70 per hour. The SAC offers the highest quality instruction for nearly 40% less!

  • Private Session – $50
  • Duet Session – $31/client
  • Group Session – $25/client

How long are the lessons?
All sessions are 55-minutes in length.

What should I wear?
Please wear comfortable, fitted workout clothes and clean socks (no shoes needed).

Where do I go for my first Pilates session?
Come downstairs to the Pilates Studio, which is located across the Café next to the cycling room. Please feel free to enter and sit down next to the desk. If this is your first appointment, some paperwork will be on a clipboard with your name on it for you to start filling out. The instructor will be finishing up teaching a client, so feel free to watch. You’ll be next!

What if I make an appointment and I have to cancel?
All cancellations require 24 hours notice. All cancellations must be directly given to your instructor via email or phone messages. All appointments cancelled with less than 24 hours notice will be charged the full session amount.

Where do I go for mat class?
All Pilates mat classes are located in the Mind/Body Studio, which is across the basketball court.

Which Pilates mat class is right for me?
If you are a brand-new beginner, please come to the Introduction to Pilates Mat class on Saturday at 8 a.m. If you have very little experience with Pilates, please come to any Fundamentals Pilates Mat class. If you have some/moderate experience with Pilates, please come to any Fundamentals or Intermediate Pilates Mat class. If you have extensive experience, please feel free to come to any class, including the classes marked Cardio-based mat, magic circle mat, and Saturday’s advanced mat class.

If you have severe injuries or just concerns, please feel free to contact Danielle Zack for a recommendation.

Pilates for Golfers

Have you experienced the elusive “perfect shot” moment? Your intention is clear, your swing is fluid, and your body and mind are synchronized. Your swing tempo, your movements, and firing of the muscles are working together. As a golfer, I love it when everything comes together. Would you like to have those moments consistently?

Both Golf and Pilates are mind-body activities and share some of the same basic principles. Golf and Pilates principles include precision, centering, power, control, and concentration.

Pilates is a great tool for conditioning both sides of your body and preventing injuries that plague golfers. Golfers are repeatedly bending over the ball, twisting their body in one direction and exerting the same muscles over and over. Pilates restores balance and realigns the body to bring back the natural, normal movement pattern.

Specific Pilates exercises build balance, strength and flexibility, while teaching the body to move in an efficient way. This program is designed to help golfers’ finesse their game, improve their swing and drive the ball further.

For more information contact Jocelyn or 206-441-1111, ext. 216.

What do I need to bring to my Pilates lesson?

  • Clean socks. Pilates exercises utilize the feet, so we don’t work out wearing shoes. If you are concerned about slipping, you can bring your socks with little sticky grips on the bottom. Or, we can provide a sticky pad to help adhere the feet to the Pilates equipment.
  • Fitted workout clothes. Pilates works on alignment; therefore, we need to see your body! We look for specific landmarks in the hips, shoulders, knees, ankles, and metatarsals.
  • Health history. It helps us to know what your health has been like your whole life, not just recent injuries. Chronic means long-lasting and acute means short and severe. We want to know both!
  • Energy. By now, everyone realizes that Pilates works your core, so some people like to workout on an empty stomach. I can’t emphasize this enough: don’t skip breakfast! A Pilates lesson is an hour long and requires energy (calories) to get through it! Eat something before you come, even if it’s just a handful of almonds. Your body and brain need the fuel.
  • No equipment. We supply mats, towels, equipment, etc. If you want to bring gloves, like weight training gloves, feel free. You probably won’t need them for your first lesson, but eventually we work up to pull-ups, and you may like them for cushion, comfort and grip.

Pilates Mat Class Q&A

Have you ever taken a mat class, and wondered why we teach them the way we do? I’ve been teaching mat classes since 1999, and I hear these same questions over and over. Let’s address them!

Why doesn’t the Pilates Instructor workout with us?
— A Pilates Instructor teaches her class based on what she sees, and she responds to your abilities. Observe the mat class closely and you will notice that a good Pilates mat class is interactive. Are you having trouble with an exercise? She may come over to help you. Is the class moving too slowly? She will give you energy with her voice. If she did her whole workout in front of you, why would you come to class? You could just stay at home and pop in a DVD if you would rather just go through the motions and not be pushed. You are not the “audience”; you are the active participants and are helping to design the class!

Why does the instructor walk around? What is she looking at?
–She is looking at you! She is watching your form and judging your abilities so that she can form the exercises around the needs of the class. When I’m teaching, I notice right away as people walk in whether they are dragging their heels with a lack of energy, or come bouncing in with a lot of energy. If they have a lot of energy, I’ll make the 100 more challenging by adding the criss-cross legs. During the roll-up, I notice if the class is generally flexible or stiff. If no one can touch their toes, I’ll spend more time stretching during single-leg circles.

I like having the dim lights. Why are the brighter lights on?
–The instructor needs to see you! Dim lights are great for a meditative, stretching, breathy class. But Pilates is meant to invigorate, not put you to sleep.

Why is there no music?
–Pilates is very rhythmic. Can you picture the instructor counting the 100 right now? What about open leg rocker? Have you ever done the criss-cross quickly, then slowly? Each exercise has its own rhythm that is unique to that particular exercise. We manipulate the rhythm to make the exercise harder or, occasionally, easier for you. Music would interfere with this technique.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Side Kick Kneeling

Pilates Exercise of the Month: October 2012Purpose: This advanced exercise concentrates on the waistline and hips. Emphasis is also on balance and coordination.

Begin in a kneeling position. You should be centered on the mat, facing the long edge of mat.

  1. Place one palm down on mat directly under your shoulder and in align with your hips. Fingers pointing away from you.
  2. Place the back of the other hand in front of your forehead with your elbow up to the ceiling.
  3. Straighten your top leg out (parallel to floor) along the mat in line with your body, making sure your center is firm.
  4. Lift your outstretched (top leg) leg up off the mat, hip height & balance.
  5. Inhale; for 2 counts; flex your foot and kick your leg forward reaching leg further on second count. Make sure you are not breaking at the waist. Imagine kicking a ball suspended in front of you.
  6. Exhale; swing your leg behind you stretching as far behind you as you can without rocking back and forth; gently pointing the toe.
  7. Complete 4-6 sets of kicks on one side; repeat the sequence on other side.

Visualization:

  • Imagine you are suspended from the ceiling by a sling around your waist.

Checklist:

  • Remain perfectly still in your upper body as you perform the kicks.
  • Keep your elbow to the ceiling so that shoulder & chest remain open during exercise.
  • Navel is firmly pulled into the spine.
  • Keep head lifted and aligned with your spine.
  • Don’t sink into your neck or shoulders.

Modification:

  • Start with small kicks front & back. Concentrate on your balance & control before engaging in larger movements. If you have a bad knee, or wrist injury, skip this exercise.

Which Pilates Mat Class is right for me?

Here at the Seattle Athletic Club one of the great benefits as a member is being able to take an unlimited number of group exercise, yoga, and Pilates mat classes! If you are looking to take a Pilates mat class, here are some things you should know.

First, the mat class focuses on the development of the “powerhouse”—the abdominals, the lower back, and the buttocks. Each class consists of a specific series of controlled movements, engaging the body and mind, performed on a mat. The mat class trains the entire body while emphasizing proper alignment and posture, effective body mechanics, correct breathing and improved circulation. There are three different levels: Intro, Fundamentals, and Intermediate, as well as some hybrid classes, like Magic Circle Mat, and Cardio Pilates Mat.

Beginning Pilates Mat
(No previous Pilates experience necessary.) Designed for the beginner, this class slowly takes you through the basic principles, vocabulary and exercises of Pilates. Modifications will be demonstrated and the goals of each exercise will be explained. This is a hard class because it is taught slowly; so don’t skip it if you feel that you are ready to jump into a higher-level class. It’s educational.

Fundamentals of Pilates
This class is designed for both the beginner and intermediate student who want to deepen their understanding of Pilates. Attentions to precise movement, breathing, and core control are the key elements in this class to further strengthen the “powerhouse”. Some members use this class as a stepping-stone to practice what they learned in the intro class, and to get stronger so they can join the intermediate class.

Intermediate Pilates Mat
This accelerated class is an enjoyable challenge to the intermediate student. The instructor will often only demonstrate the most advanced exercises, so previous SAC Pilates experience is highly recommended. That is, the instructor will call out the name of an exercise, and she will expect that you know what it is, how to perform it correctly, and rely on you to decide if it should be omitted based on how you feel (i.e. if you have a bad back that day, you know to leave out the “criss-cross” and the “jackknife”).

Intermediate Mat with Magic Circle
No “magic” here, just deep resistance training with the traditional Pilates ring. It’s a great tool for toning chest, arms, thighs, and buns.

Advanced Intermediate Pilates Mat
Short on time and trying to pack it all in? This is the perfect combo for a lunch workout! A forty-five minute class combining the great core workout of traditional Pilates and taking it to the next level by incorporating cardiovascular exercise. Be ready to spring into action with explosive jumps to and from the floor. This fast-paced class requires some previous Pilates experience.

If you have any questions on which class is for you, don’t hesitate to ask any of the Pilates instructors or Pilates Director Danielle Zack.

Please check our website for a Mind/Body Schedule. See you in class!

Introducing Muscle Activation Technique (MAT)

I am glad to be joining Seattle Athletic Club Downtown and looking forward to working with clients in the pool teaching swimming or water fitness, and on the floor working on issues of balance, coordination, strength, stability, and overall functional fitness. I am also looking forward to working with clients and members on the table using Muscle Activation Technique to help assure that the distribution of work between muscles is in proper alignment to the bodies needs.

So what is MAT? Gregg Roskopf, the founder of MAT describes it in part like this:
“MAT looks at muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten up in order to help stabilize the joints. MAT gets to the root of pain or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness. This helps to restore normal body alignment, thereby, decreasing pain and reducing the risk of injury.”

A good analogy is one of a tent. The tent is made stable by a series of tent stakes that strap it down. If one of those stakes gets pulled up then the even tension between the ropes becomes distorted. Some ropes will tighten to compensate the missing rope. But that will cause other ropes to loosen because they do not have to work as hard. The end result is that the tent is no longer reliable in its strength and stability. That’s what happens when a muscle looses its ability to do its job, when it is inactive. Other muscles will compensate and become tight while other muscles weaken. Then the risk of injury increases dramatically. Muscle Activation Technique is a non-invasive and testable protocol that tests muscles throughout the body for specific weaknesses. And it as a process to go about re-activating those muscles so they can begin pulling their own weight, as it were.

If this sounds like it is something that you need to experience or if you are having issues with muscle imbalances or just don’t feel like you are moving at quite the same capacity as you used to please feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer Nathan Palmer.

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.

Checklist:

  • 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.

What’s the Difference? Mat vs. Equipment

Pilates, a system of exercise created by Joseph Pilates, was originally designed to be a one-on-one personalized workout with an instructor. Nowadays, thanks to late night infomercials and books galore, Pilates seems to be thought of as just a generic “mat class”, but the true intention is to use any and all of the spring-loaded equipment created by Joe, including mat, to find and strengthen weakness in the body. Not every body needs every exercise. The work is most effective when tailored to you.

It may help to understand where Joseph Pilates came from. Joseph Pilates was a sick child, suffering from asthma and rickets, and was determined to create a healthy body for himself. So, he studied yoga, wrestling, gymnastics and acrobatics, and throughout his life put together a series of exercises using a mat. He started teaching mat conditioning, and quickly noticed how nearly impossible it was for most people, so he knew they needed something else to support their mat work.

At the same time, he was German national in an internment camp and many of the people around him were injured soldiers. For the injured soldiers he attached heavy springs to their hospital beds, so they could strengthen their bodies from bed. This design evolved into the “Cadillac” or “Trapeze Table” that current Pilates instructors use to strengthen legs, arms, chest, back and of course abdomen.

The Universal Reformer, or another “bed on springs,” offers additional resistance in order to provide more stability or to provide an added challenge to those who need it. When Pilates is taught one-on-one (the ideal way), the instructor typically incorporates work on the reformer and mat, as well as other Pilates apparatus, based on your needs. The individual session caters to the specific needs of the client, where each exercise is systematically performed and specifically chosen for you.

The focal points of his work are to increase lung capacity, to improve core strength and to use one’s mind to control body movements.

Hence, the six Pilates principles evolved:

  1. control
  2. Centering
  3. Concentration
  4. Precision
  5. Breath
  6. Flow

The work on the mat, where your muscles create the resistance, and the apparatus, where springs create the resistance, complement each other. As you become stronger by working on the apparatus, consequently, the mat work often becomes more challenging and fulfilling. Including private Pilates sessions in your fitness regime will better allow an instructor to focus on your individual needs, and will help you to develop the strength and flexibility necessary to correctly perform and benefit fully from the mat work.

Your workout should never feel easy, but should always present new and different challenges as you work your powerhouse deeper. So, enjoy the “journey” that is Pilates. It’s well worth the hard work!

To introduce Pilates in to your workout regime, or inquire about private Pilates instruction, please contact Pilates Director Danielle Zack.