Pilates on Vacation

Now that it has hit 100 degrees here in Scottsdale, it is time to start thinking about Summer Vacations. Whether relaxing on beautiful sandy beaches or exploring big cities in exotic locations is your thing here are a few tips to take your Pilates practice with you.

  1. A Pilates Mat will fit into your suitcase and so will your Power Circle! A standard large suitcase is 78 centimeters in length and the average length of a mat is 68 centimeters. This leaves plenty of room for all of those super cute bikinis! Another benefit of all of the Mat classes you have taken, you have the exercises memorized and can now do them anywhere: in your hotel room, in Central Park, or on the beach.
  2. Try Stand-Up Paddle boarding (SUP). Challenge your core strength and balance while exploring beautiful sites on beach vacation. Paddle boarding has much in common with Pilates. Continuous engagement of the stabilizing muscles of the powerhouse, working the whole body, and engages the mind. It can also be your daily dose of cardio without your even realizing it.
  3. Take the mat out of your suitcase and head to the beach! The sand will lessen the impact on your joints while challenging your balance. Use your kids’ beach ball as a stability ball to add another degree of challenge to your workout.
  4. Still not sure how to take your Pilates on Vacation? Ask Alexis during your next session for some tips on the best way to maintain your practice while away!

More Reasons To Do Pilates

It’s Ah-Mazing For Your Abs. Pilates hits your core (or, in Pilates speak, your “powerhouse”) unlike any other workout. In fact, after completing 36 weeks of Pilates training, women strengthened their rectus abdominis (the muscle responsible for six-packs) by an average of 21 percent, while eliminating muscle imbalances between the right and left sides of their cores, according to a Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study.

It Can Ease Back Pain. A stronger core equals a better back, says Tracy Zindell, Flex Pilates Chicago founder and master instructor. That’s why those with chronic lower back pain who practiced Pilates for just four weeks experienced more relief than those who visited a physician and other specialists, says a Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy study. What’s more, their pain stayed away for a full year post-Pilates. Researchers believe that by stabilizing the core’s lumbar-pelvic (lower-back) region, Pilates alleviates stress on the area and ups mobility.

It’s Easy On Your Joints. Pilates’ slow and controlled movements puts minimal impact on your joints. Bonus if you’re using the Pilates reformer: “The padding on a Pilates reformer is as thick as 10 yoga mats,” says Zindell. “It takes the pressure off of your back and knees.”

It Hones Your Focus. Pilates urges you to focus on 1) your breath, 2) your body, and 3) how they move together. It takes a lot of concentration, says Zindell. “You can’t zone out.” That means you’re forced to forget about work, bills, boyfriends, and other drama for a full hour.Ahh.

It Improves Your Sports Performance. “When you start focusing on your core, you realize that all of your muscles are connected through your core. Try doing lunges without your abdominals. You’ll crumble over,” says Zindel, who has trained everyday athletes and professional ones including Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah. “With a stronger core, you can run faster, your yoga is on point, and overall, the rest of your workouts improve,” she says. Plus, by working in small groups or one-on-one with a Pilates instructor, you can learn moves that mimic and improve performance in your sport of choice.

It Makes Your More Flexible. “I always hear people saying, ‘I’ve never been flexible, I can’t do Pilates.’ But that’s why they should be doing it,” Zindell says. In one Brazilian study, when young women (without any prior Pilates experience) performed 20 Pilates sessions, they became 19.1 percent more flexible. When you’re tight, you shorten your muscle and limit your body’s range of motion, she says. At best, that can hurt your exercise performance. At worst, it can cause injury.

It Boosts Your Brainpower. Joseph Pilates called his workout method “the thinking man’s exercise.” It could very well be. When Chinese researchers measured changes in women’s brain activity after 10 weeks of Pilates training, they found an increase in the brain’s alpha peak power, which is related to neural network activity, memory performance, and other cognitive functions. Researchers believe Pilates may even hold potential as a treatment option for people with brain-degenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunctions.

The 6 Biggest Mistakes You're Making in Pilates Classes

Are you a Pilates addict? Make sure you're not making these mistakes in class — they're more common than you'd think! We got the scoop from Brianna Hamilton at Evolve Integrated Wellness and Pilates, who notices clients (from newbies to regulars) doing these six things. Fortunately, there are easy solutions to each mistake.

  1. Wearing Jewelry and Accessories

Believe it or not, it's not uncommon to see both clients and instructors alike wearing dangly jewelry. "They like to look cute and trendy, so they'll throw on a long necklace, hoop earrings, or a scarf, but all of these can cause some serious issues," said Hamilton. This can actually be very dangerous! "For clients, all of the above can catch onto the equipment!" she said. "No one wants to break their new long necklace or get caught to the equipment and injure themselves."

If you're a Pilates instructor, while you want to look nice for your class, consider those moments when you're "bending down to change the client's springs or helping adjust [the client's] position," because "your jewelry or accessories can also get caught to the equipment or tickle your clients." Awkward!

Solution: Go jewelry-free.

  1. Not Dressing Appropriately

While baggy clothes might be comfy when you're sweating, they can actually work against you in Pilates. "Your instructor needs to be able to see your position and posture in order to ensure that you are preforming all of the positions correctly," said Hamilton. Your baggy clothes also have more of a chance of getting caught on the reformer. That said, "you also do not want booty shorts and crop tops since there is a lot of movement during your Pilates class," she said.

Solution: Wear a formfitting tank with cropped or long leggings.

  1. Not Wearing Grip Socks

Not all studios require grip socks, but Hamilton urges you to wear them anyway. "Always wear toe socks!" she said. "I see a lot of clients without toe socks, but everyone should be wearing them; they help you stay in control if you lose your grip, plus they complete your outfit!" If you've ever had an instance of sweaty feet on a slick reformer, you know how true this is!

Solution: Always pack a pair of grippy socks.

  1. Wearing Perfume (or Scented Body Lotion)

"While everyone likes to smell good, less is more when you sweat," said Hamilton. "When you work out and sweat, your scent spreads throughout the entire room — and not everyone enjoys the new Chloe perfume . . ."

Solution: Wear deodorant, and skip the body spray.

  1. Eating a Huge Meal Beforehand

Considering Chipotle before hitting the reformer? Maybe don't. "Think about what you're eating before a Pilates class! Carb loading is not recommended," she said. "No one feels great going into an inversion position if they just ate a burrito."

Solution: Eat a light meal and finish eating 30 to 60 minutes before class.

  1. Gripping the Handles and Straps Too Hard

When your muscles are on fire and you feel like you can't possibly get one more rep in, you might find yourself "death-gripping your hand straps," as Hamilton puts it. "This will give you carpal tunnel," she said. "A light grip is all you need." So don't cling for dear life, and focus that energy on your muscles, not your hands.

Solution: Relax, take a deep breath, and be mindful of your grip.

The 6 Biggest Mistakes You're Making in Pilates Classes February 16, 2017 by DOMINIQUE ASTORINO ( We thought it was really good!

6 Tips to Take Your Pilates Practice from Good to Great!

You’ve made the commitment and you are seeing results. Be proud of your accomplishments! You work hard and your practice is improving, but this is no time to rest on those laurels. Most of these tips will work together to help you take the leap from good to great, in any practice not just fitness. These 6 tips will help you take your Pilates Practice to the next level.

Goals: In any endeavor, it is important to assess your goals every so often. If you have achieved your goal, set a new one. If you have not achieved your goal, reassess. Are your goals reasonable? If not, maybe break the large goal into parts. Not only will this allow you to reach your original goal, but it will help you build confidence on the way.

Be Detail Oriented: Pay attention to your regime and to factors that affect your body, and mental states and make changes to get the most out of your practice. Pay attention to your diet. Are you eating enough? Are you eating the right foods? It is easy to justify eating more when you are burning more calories. If you want to shed those last five pounds keep track of your calorie intake.

Keep Track: How will you know if you reach your goal if you aren’t paying attention? We aren’t just talking about counting calories either. Keeping track of your workouts will help you be accountable. Accountability can be a great motivator! If you tend to hit the snooze button instead of making it to that 6am Mat Class, tell your friends. If you know someone is going to ask you how that class was it will be easier to get up and go.

Switch it up: If your workouts are not as challenging as they once were your enthusiasm levels will drop and you might decide to pass. Switch up your routine to keep it fresh and stimulating, making it something to look forward too. Go outside of your comfort zone! Try a new type of class, even if you don't love it you will have grown.

Visualization: Visualize success; picture yourself achieving your goal. This works as well on the small scale as it does on the big picture. Talk to yourself; Out loud! If the last few reps or minutes on the treadmill are too hard say, “I will do this. I am strong.” The power of positive thinking and self talk are real!

Homework: Take your Pilates sessions home with you! Ask your trainer for stretches or exercises that you can do at home in between your sessions. You might have a demanding job where you spend a long time sitting in front of a computer, use Pilates to stretch out and destress at the end of the day. Or maybe you tend to stiffen up between your Pilates sessions, homework can help you maintain your flexibility. You will also see and feel yourself progressing faster.

At Home Posture Workout

We are rounding the corner into the holiday season and that means photos! Your posture communicates so much, tell the world how happy, healthy, and confident you are!

Exercise 1: Roll-Ups

  • Why? The Roll-Up is a quintessential Mat Pilates exercise. It takes you from the mat to a seated position while stretching and lengthening your spine.
  • How? Start lying down on your mat with your arms overhead. Take a deep breath in, drawing your shoulders off the mat and exhale as you continue to roll up into a seated position, stretching forward towards your toes. Finish the exercise by rolling your spine back down sequentially onto the mat.
  • What else do I need to know? If you are new to Pilates Mat work, start by sitting upright on your bottom, hands behind thighs while you hollow out your spine looking inwards, then inhale to sit up tall. As you progress, you may need to use your hands behind your thighs to assist. Remember to breath! For more advanced clients, focus on stretching perhaps past your toes while maintaining your shoulders out of your ears.

Exercise 2: Spine Stretch Forward

  • Why? This exercise combines the stability of a seated position with a spine lengthening stretch forward (see, not just a clever name for the exercise!).
  • How? Start seated with your sits bones firmly planted into the mat and draw your spine even further up to the ceiling trying to get taller off of your sits bones. Take an inhale to grow taller and as you exhale, hollow out your navel and stretch your fingers towards your toes. Sit tall and repeat.
  • What else do I need to know? The most common error is trying to touch the shins or toes – instead think of keeping the arms parallel to the floor with your biceps and ears connected.

Exercise 3: Spine Twist

  • Why? The Spine Twist adds a gentle spine rotation that is needed for optimal spinal health!
  • How? Start sitting tall off of your sits bones with both hands stacked one over the other on the back of your neck. The inner thighs are strongly connected together. As you continue to sit tall, take a deep exhale and twist to the right, inhale to sit tall and centered, exhale to twist to the left. Continue this process about 3-5 times.
  • What else do I need to know? To perform this exercise correctly, make sure your hips do not wiggle – as you twist right, your left hip is your anchor and vice versa.

The Complementary Benefits of Pilates

Hooray! The temperature is cooling off!

One of the best things about the fall and winter in Arizona is that you can finally go outside and enjoy the outdoors. The weather and temperatures this time of year is inviting to be able to take your workouts outside in the fresh air.

There are so many out door activities to do in Phoenix that sometimes it is hard to pick a favorite. The best part? No matter your preference or what your sport is, Pilates can help!

A few of the benefits of cross training with Pilates:

  • Muscles will develop more evenly and efficiently
  • Improved focus and body-awareness
  • Increased range of motion
  • Increased breath control
  • Faster Recovery time

Why should runners do Pilates?

One of the greatest benefits for runners is improved breathing. Many runners breathe from the chest, while Pilates will teach you to breathe from the diaphragm; taking advantage of both will enable you to use more of your lung capacity.

Pilates will also strengthen the quadriceps and hip abductors. These muscles support the knees while running, and strengthening them can help prevent injury. has a comprehensive list of running events:

Golf and Pilates

Working on your swing? Try Pilates! Pilates strengthens the core and increases spinal mobility, both of which will help you increase distance and accuracy in your swing.

If you are looking for a course in AZ, check out’s list of the Best Public Courses in Arizona.

Walking and hiking both use many of the same muscle groups as running and golfing, especially if you walk the course. Sports enthusiast or not, everyone can benefit from a stronger core.

Most everyone has experienced neck or back pain at some point and has wondered what to do about it. Strengthen your powerhouse! Your powerhouse helps to balance and stabilize your body.