Quickie Posture Workout

Spend too much time sitting? Try this quick workout to strengthen and improve your posture!

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.

Pilates Etiquette

So you just joined the Pilates studio, and you’re really excited to begin your fun and challenging workouts. You’re happy to finally be getting back into shape, since it has been a little while (ahem, months) since you have had a good exercise routine going. Your scheduled class appointment is coming up, and you realize that you don’t know what to expect. Here is where we can help you out for the first timers, or even those of you who may need a refresher.

What to wear:

You look into your exercise clothes drawer, and notice that all you have are your old baggy t-shirts and a pair of ill-fitting sweatpants. However, it is important to know that the best attire for a Pilates is form fitting tops and bottoms. This is important because your instructor needs to see your shape and alignment in order to make sure you are executing the movement correctly. Clothing that is too baggy can actually be counter productive, as they will be revealing (yes, revealing) and even making it a little more difficult to use the equipment. Your new lulu pants with the super trendy zippers may look fabulous, they will end up jabbing into you and causing pain and discomfort! The key is to try to and be as comfortable as possible, so find something that is form fitting, but not too tight, as, you know, breathing is important. Also, no shoes are worn during class but toe socks are acceptable. Examples from Nordstrom Zella:


So you’re really excited because your boyfriend finally proposed, and he gave you a jaw-dropping rock to show off on your finger (which we totally understand). However, wearing accessories during your Pilates session is discouraged. Too much jewelry can be distracting when you workout, and some of it can get caught in the equipment. Keep it simple: you’ll be able to show off your bling in no time.


It is encouraged to refrain from strong scents, since others in the studio may have allergies to them. Also avoid excessive amounts of lotion because it rubs off onto the equipment. (Don’t forget your deodorant, though).


Sure, you have long, beautiful locks, but getting that caught in the springs is going to be one painful experience. So, hair should be pulled back in a ponytail or a bun for your session!


The ambiance of a Pilates studio is serene and peaceful. It is common courtesy that while you wait, be mindful of those working out and don’t be loud. Also, it is recommended to have your phones be silenced for the duration of your session as well.


We try to keep our studio area in pristine condition, and we ask that you don’t bring food into the studio. Besides, Pilates focuses on your core, so being stuffed before coming in isn’t recommended!

The Reformer

This class will reform your body by using one of the most widely known pieces of Pilates equipment – the Universal Reformer. Following a Classical workout formula, students will work their total body in order to develop and maintain a balanced physique.

So what exactly does that mean and just what is a reformer anyway?

In the photo above Alexis and Mara are performing a Thigh Stretch on the reformer.

The ladies are kneeling on the carriage, which slides within the wooden frame. The movement is controlled using the pull straps as seen above or using the adjustable foot bar. The foot bars above are pictured in the down position.

The springs below Alexis’ hair (Hair up next time, please Alexis! Safety first!) provide resistance in tandem with your body weight. The 5 springs are color coded by amount of resistance and are adjusted throughout the class.

This photo shows Alexis leading a class in the Side Split Series. The foot bar is down and a Side Split Platform has been added. Safety first!

On the opposite end of the carriage from the springs are the shoulder blocks and headrest. The headrest is adjusted depending on the exercise being performed. The shoulder blocks help to stabilize the body as you push or pull the carriage.

The Reformer is probably the most well known of all the apparatus invented by Joseph Pilates. All of the Reformer exercises promote balance, coordination, flexibility, fun, and strength.

The reformer is a versatile piece of equipment. Exercises are performed lying down, kneeling, sitting, standing on the carriage, on the long or short box, using additions such as the Side Split Platform, or standing next to the Reformer and a myriad of other ways.

Is your curiosity piqued? Click here to see our class schedule!

See you soon!

5 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 5 tips will help you take your Pilates Practice to the next level.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Summer Vacation 2015

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 Paddleboarding (SUP). Challenge your core strength and balance while exploring beautiful sites on beach vacation. Paddleboarding 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!

Pilates For Men

When most people think about Pilates, they think about a woman’s exercise that is mostly beneficial and tailored towards dancers. However, this is a misconception that people don’t realize, in every way. Pilates is an exercise for everyone, and that even includes men. Yes, men. A little surprised? Well, let’s go back a little on the history of the exercise…

The founder of Pilates is actually Joseph Pilates. Yep, a man. Joseph was a German national living in England. He was a boxer who was summoned to be at an internment camp once World War 2 broke out. While there, he was inspired to help rehabilitate those with injuries, and thus created the apparatus you see today out of furniture and other items they had around the camp. His original clients were men, and therefore the exercise was created for men (although open to anyone), interestingly enough. He originally called the exercise “Contrology”, and his main idea was to work on both mind and body, with a specific focus on the core. The idea was to strengthen the core, and then full body benefits would follow.

The stereotype that women and dancers just do Pilates can be traced back to when a group of dancers discovered Pilates and it’s amazing benefits. They ended up working closely with Joseph himself, and therefore created that image. However, as Pilates is becoming more popular today, we see that more men are embracing the exercise, and even becoming advocates for it. This is especially seen in professional athletes, who say that the exercise has helped prevent potential injuries, increased flexibility, increased focus, as well as a multitude of other benefits.

What most men need to realize is that there are so many more benefits to doing Pilates than just the typical, vigorous exercises that usually only focus on peripheral muscles. They will see better coordination and increased flexibility which will lead to greater strength and well-being.