Author Archive: Don Spence

Is Pilates Good for Weight Loss?

Well, yes and yes!

At Big Toe Studio we answer the often repeated question, “Will I lose weight doing Pilates?” with the answer, “Weight loss begins in the kitchen.” Our philosophy is, if you feel better you will make healthier choices.  Whereas Pilates primarily focuses on strength and flexibility, there can be implications for weight loss as well. The residual effects of feeling better, experiencing less pain and discomfort, and visually looking better often lead to changes in lifestyle choices. From the post-op referred clients sent to us from Physical Therapists, Chiropractors and health care providers, to the bride-to-be, mom of the bride-to-be, and the athlete who wants a stronger, leaner body, all can benefit from the positive results of Pilates. After every Pilates session at the studio, our clients are encouraged to drink more water, decrease sugar, and walk with good posture. We are confident that our clientele would answer the age old question is “Pilates good for weight loss?” with a very loud, resounding, “Yes!”

Pilates for Post Rehab

Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise that has proved its effectiveness for decades. As the popularity of Pilates exercises continue to grow so does the many opportunities to create unnecessary soft tissue problems for the average client. That is the very reason Big Toe Studio only hires Certified Pilates Teachers with a strong background in understanding the relationship of Pilates exercises with post rehab issues. Clients that come to a Pilates studio are seeking a stronger, more functional body that can perform average daily actives gracefully and with little pain or discomfort. The science of Pilates as a problem solving physical exercise program requires exceptional knowledge in creating a sequential order of choices that produce a safe, effective and fun experience that allows each client to fully embrace the Pilates experience. Pilates produces amazing results for the mind and body but the Certified Pilates Teacher needs to always be aware that each client is unique in fitness level, orthopedic issues and level of motivation. That is the key to being a really successful Certified Pilates Teacher; understanding that Pilates is a science to help clients, thoroughly understand the modification principles and expertly create exercise learning sequences for each individual’s personal needs. Study-Practice-Review indeed!

Classical is necessary for Contemporary by Dondi

As Pilates continues to grow in popularity there appears to be many variations of the strict classical method of Pilates training emerging into the mainstream interpretation of how to teach Pilates to students. While recognizing that these variations of teaching Pilates will continue to grow and either take hold or diminish into the nothingness of “tried that, didn’t work” and ending with “move on to something else.” What is quite certain is that the very roots of Pilates teaching will consistently endure and flourish and that is the Classical Method of Pilates teaching.

Here is a descriptive text of an article written by Fay Porter and posted on the Big Toe Studio website blog page, a beautiful Pilates studio in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Classical Pilates developed out of Joseph Pilates’ original students, with classes following a set format from which there is ideally no deviation or modification. Classical Pilates also supports and develops a different structure of body mechanics than Contemporary Pilates, with Classical Pilates emphasizing a flat back during movement patterns, squeezing the glutes the entire time, pulling the shoulder blades down the back, external rotation of the legs (legs turned out) through almost all movements, and dance-like emphasis on movements. In Classical Pilates both Mat and Apparatus-based classes are also designed so that all students are performing the same movement pattern in the exact same way at the same time. This can give more of a “boot camp” feel to the studio environment.

Contemporary Pilates was developed as a result of the ongoing incorporation of Physical Therapy and exercise science into Joseph Pilates’ original platforms. This style of Pilates has more options available in terms of sequencing of movements, inclusion of props, modifications or variations of exercises, progression of exercises and movement patterns, and utilization of different movement patterns and apparatuses by clients at the same time. Contemporary Pilates will also tend to emphasize a neutral pelvis during movement patterns, working within individual ability levels, and maintaining healthy spinal alignment during exercises.”

Without truly understanding the granular details of classical Pilates training, a contemporary Pilates teacher/studio can lose the expertise to design an effective Pilates exercise program for the’re students/clients. The classical method is based on the very detailed teaching of Pilates as originally designed by Joseph H Pilates and it takes a very skilled Pilates teacher to stay true to the original method of Pilates exercise planning while training students/clients in a contemporary manner resulting in a  different arrangement of exercises to accommodate different abilities.

Teaching Pilates today is a skill that needs to accommodate the various needs of a growing population of interested students/clients that can enjoy the benefits of life changing Pilates. Classical Pilates training should be the cornerstone of every Pilates teacher original training to ensure their own personal success and contribute to the continued  growth of Pilates as the very best option for a safe, effective and life changing exercise program.

Winter Chill and Hot Stones

I enjoyed posting this to Big Toe Studio’s Facebook account and thought it would be nice to put on our Blog page………Brrrrr!

 

Winter chill has finally arrived!
Our Pilates students are enjoying the Hot Stones on they’re cold fingers and abs as the class warm up begins. Big Toe Studio simply does it well, because “its all about you!”
A shout out to our wonderful massage therapist Tessa Higgins, LMT, who just reminded our Pilates Teacher staff that the hot stones, that make so many students deliriously happy when coming in from the Colorado cold, are placed in the studio as a reminder of how great hot stone massage and Big Toe Studio’s massage program is! They are,after all, her hot stones and they do make another quality difference for our students, Tessa is making Big Toe Studio even better and she is really, really a great massage therapist! Big Toe Studio, continuing to lead the way and deliver quality consistently…………Fun indeed!

Why Pilates?

Why Pilates?istock_000061838248_double

Simply put, Pilates is effective, time smart and delivers amazing results!

What separates Pilates from the many choices presented by other exercise routines is the valid movement science behind the effective organization of exercise patterns. Pilates is well designed, intentional, and has been tested for decades by dancers, physical therapists, professional athletes, and moms.

Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but maintain it…..Joseph Pilates.

With a well-trained certified professional Pilates instructor a student learns how to restore grace, strength and balance to the wonderful mind/body connection that shapes and guides our average daily activities.

Pilates is suitable for all ages, abilities and is fun to do!

Benefits of Pilates:

  • Stress Relief!selfcare
  • Promotes proper posture and alignment
  • Amazing workout
  • Increases flexibility, agility and balance
  • Creates strength without bulk
  • Lengthens, tones and defines muscles Whole Body Functional Fitness
  • Create a strong back, deep core strength and healthy joints
  • Proper breathing techniques with movement
  • Teaches balance and control of the body
  • Develops healthy core strength
  • Emphasizes deep, healthy breathing
  • Centered steady balance
  • Strengthens the body’s core through controlled breathing
  • Increased overall energy Levels
  • Pilates will Grow with You— You won’t get bored, there is always something new to learn and to master!

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body. If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young……..Joseph Pilates

 

 

A Brief History of Pilates

By Fay V. Porter, LMT

Pilates is a physical fitness system designed in the early 20th century by German-born Joseph Hubertus Pilates (December 9, 1883- October 9, 1967).  His father was a famous prize-winning gymnast, and his mother was a naturopath. Joseph was sickly as a child and struggled with a variety of health issues as well as bullying from older neighborhood children.  He believed that effective exercise was the best way to strengthen his immune system and to achieve full wellness by strengthening both the body and mind. Pilates believed that true health could only be achieved through being both mentally and physically fit. He studied both Eastern and Western exercise systems, including yoga, which he then incorporated and adapted into his personal exercise practices. He also studied anatomy and physiology extensively, and would move his body as he studied to assess which movements would activate which muscles. By the age of 14 he had overcome his initial health difficulties and had developed his body to the point that he was modeling for anatomy charts in Germany. As he aged, he became an accomplished boxer, diver, skier, and gymnast.

In 1912, Joseph went to Britain for further training in boxing and to join the boxing circuit there. As World War I broke out in 1914, Joseph along with many other Germans was sent to an internment camp in Lancaster.  There he taught wrestling and self-defense, and developed what would later become the foundation of his Mat work, which he called “Contrology,” which was developed to learn how to combine both body strength with intentional control of the body through movement patterns. Pilates was later moved to an internment camp on the Isle of Man where he volunteered in the sick bay and became something of a nurse / Physical Therapist.  He would work extensively with those in the camp who had been injured during the war and developed the foundation of many of his famous apparatuses during this time, including the Universal Reformer (now just referred to as the reformer), and the Cadillac Tower.  These apparatuses were built out of the iron beds and the bed springs in the sick bay to develop movement patterns and exercises for those who were injured to be able to regain their posture, strength, and to correct muscular imbalances and improve coordination, balance, and flexibility, as well as to increase breathing capacity and organ function.  He was so successful in helping to build the health of his “patients” that none of the people in the camp under his care grew sick with the Spanish Influenza when the epidemic hit in 1918.

After the war, Joseph returned to Germany and began teaching privately.  In 1923 the Kaiser asked him to begin teaching the German Secret Police.  Joseph disagreed with the political climate in Germany at that time and decided to immigrate to the United States.  After visiting, Joseph moved to New York in 1926, and met his lifelong partner Clara on the boat ride across from Germany.  Together they started the Contrology studio on 56th Street in Manhattan in the same building as a number of dance studios.  The dancers in the local studios were prone to frequent injuries, and became the majority of his clientele. Many dance instructors in New York began requiring their dancers to attend Pilates fitness sessions, and started incorporating his exercises into their warm ups.  Through this time period, Joseph and Clara continued to develop additional apparatuses and file patents for his inventions.  These included the Magic Circle, the Barrel, the Cadillac Tower, the Universal Reformer, and the Wunda Chair, to name a few.

Joseph stayed active and healthy, and was passionately involved with teaching until his death in 1967 at the age of 83.  Some of his early students went on to open their own studios after his passing, and partially as a result of their own interpretations two major schools of philosophy developed: Classical and Contemporary Pilates.

The Difference Between Classical and Contemporary Pilates

By Fay V. Porter, LMT

Classical Pilates developed out of Joseph Pilates’ original students, with classes following a set format from which there is ideally no deviation or modification. Classical Pilates also supports and develops a different structure of body mechanics than Contemporary Pilates, with Classical Pilates emphasizing a flat back during movement patterns, squeezing the glutes the entire time, pulling the shoulder blades down the back, external rotation of the legs (legs turned out) through almost all movements, and dance-like emphasis on movements. In Classical Pilates both Mat and Apparatus-based classes are also designed so that all students are performing the same movement pattern in the exact same way at the same time. This can give more of a “boot camp” feel to the studio environment.

Contemporary Pilates was developed as a result of the ongoing incorporation of Physical Therapy and exercise science into Joseph Pilates’ original platforms. This style of Pilates has more options available in terms of sequencing of movements, inclusion of props, modifications or variations of exercises, progression of exercises and movement patterns, and utilization of different movement patterns and apparatuses by clients at the same time. Contemporary Pilates will also tend to emphasize a neutral pelvis during movement patterns, working within individual ability levels, and maintaining healthy spinal alignment during exercises.

Self-Massage for Self Care (Part 2)

By Fay Porter, LMT

Self-Massage is a fantastic opportunity to give yourself the gift of daily self-care.  With a little intention and creativity, you will find that you have many opportunities throughout the day to help decrease your stress, decrease your pain, and to help you feel more connected to your body.

You might be nervous or curious about how to start.  We were all naturally gifted with a sense of touch, and you will know best what kind of touch feels best to you.  Don’t be afraid to turn your five-second body washing routine in the shower or your nightly moisturizing into a luxurious, connective experience.  A simple way to start becoming familiar with self- massage is to apply lotion or cream on your hands. Breathe deeply and focus on the texture of your skin, and notice which depth of pressure naturally feels best to you.  Notice any areas of tension or discomfort, and spend extra time there.  Try different types of touch and keep breathing deeply and you will start to notice that tension melt away under your fingers.

It’s a good idea to keep your touch pretty light at first, especially around any areas that are bruised or that might have cuts. As you become more familiar, you can give your entire body the gift of massage.  You can also try focusing on light sweeping strokes from the ends of your fingers or tips of your toes up your limbs and towards your heart for a more detoxifying and circulatory effect.  Notice how your body feels after you finish compared to when you started.  As you become more familiar with your body and start incorporating self massage into your regular routine, you may find that it can help you develop much more self confidence and body awareness.

Self-Massage for Self Care (Part 1)

Self-Massage for Self Care—The Benefits

Fay Porter, LMT

Massage is an important aspect of any self care routine, but it doesn’t have to be isolated to the massage studio a couple of times a month.  The benefits of Swedish massage are available to you in your own home every day, and are invaluable for stress relief, pain reduction, and increasing overall health.  Using regular skin lotion and intentional touch, you can give yourself the gift of massage whenever and wherever to keep your body up and going until that next sports massage appointment.

This can be especially important for new and competitive athletes.  When you begin new exercise programs or stretch to reach new levels of performance, you can experience lactic acid buildup in your muscles, which can lead to soreness, decreased performance, and a feeling of overall fatigue. A massage therapist specially trained in sports massage can work with you to achieve increased flexibility, range of motion, and increased performance, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a couple of extra minutes for yourself when you’re getting out of the shower or when you have a moment.  Even sitting at your desk, you can take a minute to work on your forearms, hands, and neck to reduce the tension and stress that can build up from everyday work.

The Mayo Clinic has found massage to be helpful for:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Check back in with us here at Big Toe in Part 2 of our Self-Massage series where we will discuss the mechanics of how to give yourself a helpful, health-promoting massage.

Emotionally Supportive Massage

By Fay Porter, LMT

It can be so difficult when we’re going through a traumatic time.  Whether it’s a divorce or the loss of a loved one, stress, anxiety, and depression can all take their toll on our productivity and patience levels. This is hard because these are the times when we need our emotional and physical reserves the most.  Add lack of sleep, a suffering diet, and schedule changes to the mix, and you have a recipe for a physical breakdown.

An emotionally supportive massage gives you the space you need to hit the “reset” button.  60 to 90 minutes of physical care for your body, mind, and spirit gives you a chance to relax, rejuvenate, and recollect yourself.  A well-trained therapist has the ability to hold space and to meet you where you are in that moment.  Angry, sad, happy, or introverted and quiet, your therapist can support you as she guides you to pay attention to your breath and focus on the feelings you experience in your body through the session.

With your massage therapist you can come in exactly as you are in that moment, and feel safe and supported in experiencing that, or in just fully immersing yourself in the relaxation and serenity of your massage. Give yourself the gift of letting yourself be supported– if even for only 60 minutes.  Difficulties, stress, and changes all require more self care from us as we transition ourselves into new stages.  A big piece of this is giving yourself the time and space to feel safe and supported and to just let go.

Massage also has the benefit of supporting your body by encouraging your hormonal and nervous systems to relax, reset, and neutralize.  When we are stressed, anxious, or depressed, our nervous system and hormones change dramatically in our bodies.  The supported environment of massage combined with physical massage techniques supports your body in making healthy changes and bringing you back to more normal levels.  The more often you receive massage, the greater the benefits to your body, and the longer you will feel the results. Many people find massage to be absolutely essential to them as they go through major life changes.  Let us support you as you move forward in life.