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.
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.
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.
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.
Inhale for 5 counts (pumps) and exhale for 5 counts (pumps).
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).
To finish, lower your head and bring your knees into the chest.
Shoulders are down and back while pumping the arms.
Make sure you are sinking your belly into your spine throughout.
Don’t bend the wrists while pumping; keep stretching through the fingertips.
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.
It’s ski season! The pure joy of skiing down a mountainside of sparkling powder, surrounded by tall evergreens and a brilliant blue sky!
Then, after that first day of tackling moguls, dodging trees and other skiers ~ the fatigue and soreness of the legs and hips kick in. This is partly because of muscle overuse and lack of core strength. If the core is not working enough, your legs and hips have to work harder to stabilize you.
Pilates will stretch tight, overused leg muscles, such as the quads and hip flexors and strengthen underused muscles such as the hamstrings and inner thighs.
Skiers rely on side to side hip movement to recruit the inside and outside edge of the ski. Boarders tilt their hips forward and back to access the front and back edge of the board and use a more rotational movement to change directions. A strong core gives you better edge control. Edge control improves balance, as you navigate the twists and turns of the slope at high speeds, the ever-changing snow conditions and ability to get up unscathed when you take a tumble.
By practicing Pilates, core strength and alignment improves and you become more in tune with your body. Movements are fluid, there is less wear and tear on joints and your sport becomes more enjoyable. You’ll find yourself adapting better to changing snow conditions, challenging terrain, and falling less.
Here are some mat exercises you could start today:
1) The Hundred: core, arms, hip stabilizer
2) The Abdominal Series
Single leg stretch
Double leg stretch
Single straight leg stretch
Double straight leg stretch
3) The Side Lying Leg Kick Series
Inner Thigh lifts
Inner Thigh lifts
Nothing will improve your skiing faster than a strong core. Cross-train by adding a Pilates mat class to your fitness regime or perhaps a private session with your Pilates Instructor.
Purpose: To massage the spinal muscles, work the powerhouse, test balance and coordination. It is often done at or near the end of a mat routine.
1. Sit at the front of your mat with knees bent to your chest and heels together. Open your knees to shoulder width. Hands reaching through the legs to hold outside of ankles.
2. Tip back and balance on your tailbone. Bring your feet just above the mat. Keep the knees within your frame; scoop the navel deeper.
3. Inhale, roll back, pulling your feet with you. Balance on the base of the shoulder blades. Allow your legs to extend slightly until your feet are over your head (head stays on mat). Clap the heels 3 times (like a seal clapping its’ flippers).
4. Exhale as you roll forward to the starting position, tucking your chin into your chest. Balance and clap the heels together 3 times. Your heels should not touch the mat.
5. Repeat 5-8 times; feeling the massage up and down the muscles of your back.
Maintain a constant C curve of the spine.
Never roll onto your head, neck or shoulders – only the base of the shoulder blade.
Initiate rolling back from the powerhouse not from the head.
Don’t use momentum when rolling up. Roll up slightly slower than you rolled back to challenge the abs.
Note: Omit this exercise if you have an acute back injury.
Modification: You can begin without the claps and add 1, 2, then 3 claps as balance improves.
Visualization: Imagine you are on a rocker, balancing on the edges of both the front and back; trying not to tip over in either direction.
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.
Lie on the mat with arms long by your sides; palms down. Lift both legs to a 60-degree angle from the mat.
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.
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.
Begin rolling back toward the mat, feel your spine stretching longer and longer as you articulate down until the tailbone touches the mat.
When the tailbone reaches the mat, take the legs to just below 90 degrees and squeeze your legs together again. Repeat the sequence.
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.
Have you ever wondered about life coaching? Famous athletes and performers have coaches. CEOs of major companies like Microsoft and Google have coaches. But what on earth is a life coach and how will they help you master your health and lifestyle goals?
Join our Life Coach, Lindsey T. H. Jackson, every Monday in November at 5:30 pm to learn how life coaching will help you breakthrough to success.
What every successful athlete and CEO knows is that the mastery of self is the most important aspect of personal success and prosperity. To move forward, we must first learn all the limitations, real or imagined, that have been holding us back. A Life Coach works with you to help bring these often sub-conscious patterns or thoughts to the forefront of your mind and create an effective plan for moving forward.
Different than a psychotherapist or health trainer, Life Coaches draw from various disciplines and tools, such as personality typing practices, career coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), health coaching, spiritual development, mind-body integrative work and more. They use these tools to shape a plan that will add deeper meaning and fulfillment in your day-to-day living.
If you have been trying to create change in your life – lose weight, excel at your career, improve relationships, change bad habits – and keep producing the same results or hitting the same roadblocks, then life coaching is right for you.
The Seattle Athletic Club is thrilled to announce that our Inspirational Member of the Month is Jamie Osbourne! I’m certain you have seen Jamie working out in the club; he is here nearly every morning and utilizes every square inch of the club including the weight room, cardio room, the Pilates Studio, Cybex room, and the stretching area. He loves to share his amazing journey of struggle and triumph, and here is a peek into his recovery process from a devastating cycling accident in 2007 and his incredible climb to where he is today.
1) Jamie, we see you here each and every day! What inspires you to workout every day?
a) To rebuild strength, balance and posture which have all been compromised by paralysis and other residual deficits due to a bad road cycling accident in 2007 rendering me quadriplegic b) Working out produces endorphins which by far are the best pain killer of anything I take c) Community – it’s great for my mental health to see friends, familiar faces, and other like-minded folks committed to exercise and fitness d) Energy – it’s a great way to start the day e) Most importantly, although progress comes very slowly, I always have goals, and over the last 6+ years since rejoining the club have made significant improvements in many areas that have allowed me to go places physically I never thought possible in 2007 when I was injured. Btw, my doctors are very intrigued by my continued progress, which for spinal cord injury was generally understood to flat-line after 1-2 years. I’ve had more recovery in the last 6 years since rejoining the SAC than I did in the first 3 years by many fold!
2) We know you are facing some incredible physical challenges. What advice would you offer to those facing any physical obstacle?
a) Have goals of some kind, achievable goals that you can build on, produce small victories that will accumulate over time and become bigger victories. Perhaps a goal is just getting yourself to the club, and do some stretches. Check off a goal and move on to the next, and reward yourself in some meaningful way. b) Consistency – it doesn’t have to be 5-6 days/wk but do it on some consistent frequency and the gains will come. c) Work to overcome fear, which our bodies often do to protect ourselves when injured. At some point that fear becomes an impediment. One of the best pieces of advice I received at the club was “Jamie, you need to learn to trust yourself.” It changed everything in my recovery. c) Visualize. I picture in my head in great detail the next goal I want to accomplish. I sometimes think of myself as a movie maker – actor, writer, producer, director. Every time I do this for some big goal I want to accomplish it has come true. d) Make the best of it. Focus on the things you can do, not what you can’t or used to do. I spent way too much time in the first couple of years stuck in the past, and having difficulty coming to grips with a new reality. As a famous football coach once said, “play the hand you are dealt.” e) Be willing to try new things, and don’t get discouraged or stop doing something because everyone else can and you can’t. I’ve tried many different things where I struggled mightily. Instead of giving up and saying I can’t do this, I viewed it as a challenge. What I do when I first start something new with difficulty is to view my starting point as a baseline “I’ve found my baseline” I’ll often say and build from there. Weights, Machines, Bands, Pilates, Barre,Yoga and pushing the sled are all exercises I’ve struggled with initially but gained much from.
3) What have been your greatest recent accomplishments? (I heard there was a recent ride around Mercer Island?!)
a) Being able to live independently with little/no accommodation with exception of using trekking poles for walking longer distances. b) Most recently, I’ve cycled around MI 3X in the last 2 months, each time without stopping and each time after I’ve worked out Sunday mornings after 2.5hrs in the gym, including Shari’s spin class. It helps loosen me up. c) In 2015 I rowed in an 8man crew shell at my alma matter in Ithaca NY. d) I was able to hit golf balls on the driving range, even make reasonable contact without falling down d) I hit my best results in average wattage on the spin bike for 60 minutes e) I took several ski runs at the base of Backcomb last Christmas (on the green run!).
Of course all of these efforts are very painful which is why I don’t do them on a regular basis. There is always a price to pay in anything I do. When I do though I feel so alive!
Please help us in congratulating Jamie on his nomination for Seattle Athletic Clubs’ Inspirational Member of the Month!
Purpose: To work the muscles of your waistline (oblique abdominals) and wring the stale air from your lungs as you stretch the muscles of your back.
Sit very tall with your arms stretched to either side of the room; palms down, fingers long. Legs are straight and held tightly together; toes point up to the ceiling.
Inhale deeply, pull your navel into your spine; as if you were being cinched at the waist.
Exhale, for 3 counts, twist your torso to the right. Lengthen and increase the rotation with the next 2 breaths. Release slightly between breaths. You can sustain one long exhalation or a gradual exhales on each count.
Look toward your back arm as you turn. Stay perched on top of your hips, lifting taller and straighter; squeezing your buttocks and legs.
Inhale deeply, return to center with your chest high. Keep your arms in your peripheral vision, shoulders down.
Repeat to the left side, lifting even taller and longer through the waist; returning to center.
Repeat 3-5 sets on each side.
Visualization: Imagine you are wringing the air out of your body as you would wring water from a wet towel.
Modifications: Sit on a foam cushion, the edge of the mat or cross-legged if you have tightness in your lower back, hamstrings or hip flexors.
Head to Toe Checklist:
Don’t let the back shoulder hunch up when turning.
Legs should stay aligned when twisting.
Use your breath to increase the stretch.
Don’t sink into your back as you twist. Lift tall out of your waist.
Squeeze buttocks and upper thighs tightly together during the exercise.
Note: Omit the exercise if you have a recent back injury. If you have a bad shoulder, reach back only within a pain-free range.
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.
Please congratulate Christin Call for being nominated Employee of the Month.
Christin consistently goes above and beyond when it comes to teaching Pilates. Her positive energy and enthusiasm for teaching are reflected in the outstanding classes she teaches and her passion shines through every time.
As a strong leader in the Pilates Department, Christin is a true professional in every aspect of the word. She is dedicated to teaching, having fun, and most importantly, listening to the members every time they step into the room.
Christin’s clients couldn’t wait to share with me some of their thoughts about her:
“I continue to be amazed at how effortlessly she is able to conduct my duet studio session to focus on the separate needs and interest of both myself and my Pilates-mate.” (TI)
“The instruction received from Christin will affect me positively throughout my lifetime.” (MN)
“..by her presence I’m reminded to make a deeper effort, stretch a little further, and feel stimulated to work better to stay in good health, mentally and physically.” (AL)
“Christin works at her client’s level but adds in nuances to make the workout challenging. We are lucky to have her as part of the SAC team!” (PB)
We couldn’t agree more! Thank you Christin for all you do!