Productive Practice: Getting the most out of Pilates

As many of you know, I spend my days working at a school in the Performing Arts Department. The other day I found a wonderful article for our music students, by Dr. Donovan Stokes, titled Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice (From the Lowdown with Dr. D column on No Treble: At each of Dr. Donovan’s ten recommendations I had the same thought, that I can apply this to Pilates. I think these same ten steps can help improve any skill we wish to master.

  1. Practice 6 days a week. Anything less and you lose ground; anything more you risk getting burned out. Yes, there are 7 days in a week. Not every session has to be a full hour; there are many ways to fit sessions into your day! (I keep a mat and a power circle under my desk.)

  2. Schedule practice sessions ahead of time. “When you wake up you should already know when you are going to practice that day.” Make an appointment with yourself, write it down and hold yourself accountable.

  3. Have a plan. Decide what you want to accomplish during that days session. Have an intention when you begin. On a stressful day focus on breathing during your practice.

  4. Be mindful. If you aren’t concentrating on what you are doing it is a wasted session. Concentration is one of the principles of Pilates after all.

  5. No distractions. Turn the cell phone off. Really. If you aren’t already doing this, you have cheated yourself out of so much.

  6. “Technique Matters. Address the basics every day. Be aware of your body and move efficiently”. I think Joseph Pilates would agree completely with Dr. Stokes on this point.

  7. Do each exercise more than once with focus and control. Most exercises have a range of recommended repetitions. The first few should be slow and precise and the rest should flow “Slow practice is fast practice.”

  8. Break complicated choreography into parts. When each part can be done correctly, then put the parts together into one smooth exercise. Round the corners.

  9. “When there is a technical problem, look to the basics for an answer.” Use the fundamentals! Having trouble keeping your back ribs down into the mat? Practice ribcage arms with a weighted bar.

  10. You only receive what you give. The more you put into each of your sessions the more you will get out of them.

Workout Friendly Makeup Tips

We all know it is a bad idea, but we do it anyway. Who has time to wash her face before a workout? Isn’t it enough that we squeeze a workout in?

Here are 4 tips for workout friendly make up:

  1. Don’t wear heavy foundations, concealers, or blush at the gym. Besides blocking your pores and irritating your skin, it can streak. Streaky makeup is not flattering on anyone.

  2. If you can’t take the makeup off before the workout make sure to wash your face after the workout! Getting hot and sweaty during a workout will open your pores making your face easier to clean, a bit like getting a steam facial.

  3. Waterproof eye makeup. Eyeliner and mascara will run faster than you do. Not to mention it stings when it gets in your eyes!

  4. Going outside? SPF 30 or higher is a must! A water resistant formula is a good idea too.

Pilates & Other Activities

Hooray! The temperature has cooled off!

One of the best things about the fall and winter in Arizona is that you can finally go 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.