In just a year, Jaz has accomplished so much! Glad to be a part of the journey…and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

One year ago on September 13, my friend and student Jaz was in an accident.  Unfortunately due to the injuries this young man sustained, his left leg was amputated above his knee.  Recovery has not been easy for Jaz or his family- he is 13 years old and is growing like all of our little guys do at that age- like a weed of course.  As anyone that has ever lived through prosthetic fittings, it can be very challenging in the first year for an adult, let alone a growing teenager, to find a leg and a fit that may never be described as comfortable, but one that doesn’t inhibit movement, instead it enhances mobility.  Jaz will need some additional surgeries and more tweaks to his walking prosthetic leg and is very excited to receive his running prosthetic very soon- thanks Challenged Athletes Foundation!  Jaz has been very patient throughout the process, although there are days when he is down emotionally and in pain.  But, he’s a student and a brother and a friend and an athlete and he knows that he needs to keep pushing forward.  There are some days when this is very challenging.

I have been very blessed to have played a tiny little part in Jaz’s recovery.  Prior to Jaz being fitted for a prosthetic, we started doing Pilates every week, on his living room floor.  Now, if you’ve ever worked out with me, you know that it certainly isn’t a walk in the park.  We started focusing on Jaz’s core, on his posture, on his overall torso strength and once he had his prosthetic, we were able to work on leg strength, flexibility and mobility and he has done an amazing job in every single workout.  I know it wasn’t easy for him to start, nor have I gotten any easier on him.  Jaz’s mom, Jess hung out with us at every workout and learned enough to be able to work her son out on their own.  I’m hoping she keeps going down this path as she is a natural! 

Jaz can do burpees, play basketball, in fact, his team won their tournament this summer!  What an inspiration this young man is to others- young and old.   There are days when I am just “calling it in” on my run- pausing way too much to check for emails or texts.  And then I remember how darn lucky I am and how hard some of the folks I work with have worked, still work and will work to run.  And, I try a lot harder.  Jaz can dance and climb and run and jump and swim.  We chat Pokemon hunting!  He has come so far over the past year- and is still in the process of healing.  I am so thrilled to have met this amazing family and I know that today, I certainly am not focusing on the accident that led to me meeting  Jaz and Jess.  I am grateful for the past year that this family has allowed me to come into their homes and their lives and hopefully with a little bit of movement training, give them a little more hope for the future.  Jess is a personal friend that I enjoy chatting with and sharing the ups and downs of our lives.  And, I will never forget the day that Jess told me Jaz would like me to be his godmother….we’re not sure how that works, but I’m not sure I have ever been so honored in my life. 

It is so much more than just a workout.  Endurance.


Work out like a Pro while you are on your beach vacation!

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Pilates Sidebend

Want to work out like a professional athlete does while on vacation?  I was asked by one of my students, an NHL hockey player, for a workout that he could do while he was  on a beach vacation with his family!  Check out the below 20 minute ab, glute worker, hip extender workout and work out like the pros do this week at the beach.  Be sure to be careful with form and check out the videos if you need visual explanations.  Normally, I’m so careful with hair, makeup and athletic clothing when I’m doing a video, but we were at a baseball tournament in NJ for the weekend and I’m not sure I had even showered before we videoed the clips and I’m in running gear – it’s all about the content right!  You should have everything you need to do the workout, even in your hotel room! Enjoy!


Half Rollbacks
Sit with knees bent, legs slightly apart, squeezing rolled up towel- hands under thighs, Keep inner thighs engaged and feet still and grounded.  Spine is in long -curve (long flexion like flexy straw).  Roll pelvis away from fixed femurs a few inches, squeeze towel 6 inner thigh deeper engagements.  Roll back a little further, repeat inner thigh engagement.  Roll back a few inches more, repeat inner thigh engagement (ensuring that the ribcage and pelvis are moving at the same speed- if ribcage gets ahead of pelvis, could lead to arch in lower back=bad).  If abs feel strong and legs can stay grounded, roll back as far as possible with abs in control.  Return to start slowly and with control.
Repeat with arms extended in front of the shoulders, palms facing up
Repeat with arms in genie position in front of chest or hands behind the head.
On back, arms planted into ground, engaging upper back muscles, back of arms so that head doesn’t slide at all.  Rolled up towel in between the inner thighs.  Pull belly muscles in and start by moving pelvis through posterior position to lengthen the lower back toward the mat.  Engage glutes and back of legs to extend the hips.  Keep the ribs down as long as possible and press into upper back of arms in order to open the pec minor as hips lift.  Focus is on opening the hip flexors and the chest utilizing the muscles in the back of the body, moving the spine in articulation and keeping length in the torso on the way up and on the way down.  Do 3 rolling up and down, then hold at the top, trying to increase hip extension (stretching knees forward, pulling ribs back) using the glutes to open hip flexors as much as possible…towel should keep inner thighs engaged, but may need slight reminder.
One-Legged Bridges, Hip Extension
Same setup as bridge.  Legs hip bone (ASIS bone) distance apart.  Roll hips up exactly like two leg bridge with feet down.  Keeping left inner thigh engaged, extend right leg to the ceiling.  Keeping spine in alignment, lower and lift the hips (left hip extension) 5 times with control.  Keeping spine and hips still, lower and lift the right leg (right hip extension) 5 times with control, ensuring that the hips stay level.  Keeping spine and hips level, right leg reaching to ceiling draw a circle with the right leg 5 times in each direction without shifting, moving or dropping the hips.  Repeat with right leg grounding and left leg moving.
Hip Extension, Thoracic Flex Endurance
Supine position, hands behind to support the weight of the skull.  Feet flat, knees bent, abdominals engaged (if have little weight or can of something or full water bottle to rest on lower belly, great- don’t let it move) legs hip bone (ASIS bone) distance apart.  Curl head and shoulders up (thoracic flexion) to bottom ribs still down- 3 small pulses and then hold at highest possible point in endurance.  Extend the right leg (using hamstring glute to hip extend versus a pickup of the leg with the quad) to a hover position just above ground.  Keeping pelvis still, reach right leg straight out and toward the mat, extending the hips, using back of leg muscles to extend the hip and the abdominals to keep the pelvis still.  Repeat 5 hip extensions, then lift right leg toward ceiling (pelvis stays neutral) and left leg extends to the hover position.  Let left leg reach up to meet the right, then down again 5 times.  
Folded Towel, Thoracic Extension
Sit with knees bent, legs slightly apart, squeezing rolled up towel- arms reaching long.  Place a second rolled up towel to “catch” the spine as you roll back approximately mid thoracic. Keep inner thighs engaged and feet still and grounded.  Spine is in long -curve (long flexion like flexy straw).  Roll pelvis away from fixed femurs, squeeze towel between the knees and continue to roll until thoracic spine comes in contact with the towel.  Bring hands behind the head to support the weight of the skull and control thoracic extension over the towel, lower abdominals (low part of rectus abdominus, TA) stay as engaged as possible, top will open up with control.  Hold for a moment and then control back up over towel, focusing on reconnecting the ribs toward the pelvis and the whole abdominal wall engaged for control into the lengthened c curve.  Reach the arms in front of the shoulders (without letting the shoulders lead the work to lift away from the towel and back into the seated position.
1- From seated, legs extended, heels together toes apart, ground heels and hamstrings and roll pelvis away from fixed femurs as far as possible without moving the legs (as much as possible) pause, can add pulses- repeat 3 times.  Same exercise, legs parallel- focus on both is grounding the legs and using the glutes/abdominals to control the movement of the pelvis away from the femurs.  Repeat 3 times.  

2- From supine, legs extended  and grounded with hamstrings (can be done parallel or in slight turnout)  Reach arms to the ceiling, pull shoulders back into sockets and draw shoulder blades in toward each other.  Curl the head up away from the mat, flexing at the thoracic spine without allowing the shoulders to come forward.  Pulse at bottom ribcage connection 3 times, continuing to draw the shoulders back so that the movement comes from the abdominals moving the thoracic spine.  If possible, keeping legs grounded, continue to curl into long c-curve and roll all the way up (can have somebody ground the legs or put feet under couch or weight).  Roll all the way back, with control to start position and repeat 3 times.
Half Rollovers
Supine, legs extended to ceiling in a diamond shape, slight bend at the knees.  Find length from the ribcage to the hips and imagine somebody is pulling on your tailbone like a tail to start the movement by elongating the back- continue to elongate back, ground the upper back and back of the arms and allow a slight pelvic lift (lots of work for very little movement!!) that increases the distance between the back of the pelvis and the back of the ribcage.  Repeat 5 times.
Roll Like a Ball
From seated position, knees apart and bent, heels together (slight turnout at hips) roll pelvis away to balance just above tailbone.  Use lower abs to draw the knees to the elbows.  Keep the elbows on the knees and rollback and up, keeping the elbows on the knees.  Throw the first two away and go for 3 good ones, keeping the elbows on the knees and feeling the lower back lengthen into the mat each time.
Ab Series
Single-leg stretch
From last rolling like a ball, hold right knee and roll down with control onto back, keeping head and shoulders lifted.  Pull right knee into the chest and then switch legs, letting the legs pass each other while the femurs are at 45 degrees away from the pelvis…pelvis neutral.  Repeat 6-10 times.  Rock back up to sitting.
Double-leg stretch
From seated, hold onto front of shins and control roll down to ground, with knees pulled in, head and shoulders stay lifted.  Pull abs in, keep torso lifted and stretch arms and legs away from stable torso in opposition.  Keep arms at shoulder distance apart and sweep around, pulling knees all the way back in to start.  Repeat 5 times, torso stable throughout…pelvis neutral.
Single straight leg stretch
From last double leg stretch, reach both legs to ceiling, reach up with both hands to right leg, keeping shoulders squared,  allow left leg to stretch toward floor, keeping hips level, using obliques and all abs, glutes to stabilize torso and pelvis against weight of legs moving.  Draw left leg in as the right leg lowers, passing each other at 45 degrees if possible.  Repeat 6-10 times.

Long Spine Reaches
Sitting propped on something (bosu, towels, step, couple couch cushions)  Straight back, hands behind the head.  Lift to get taller, lengthening the back of the ribcage away from the hips.  Think of growing 2 extra inches by lifting the whole spine and keeping the back straight lean away from the legs an inch, lengthen a little more, keep back straight, one more inch lean, lengthen out/up one more inch and lean back one last inch.  Return to start by lifting and lengthening the crown of the head to the ceiling.  Repeat 4 times.
Hip Flexor Stretches
Standing in lunge position, right foot forward, left heel lifted, feet wide enough to be stable, pull left hip bone forward to square pelvis (hipbones like headlights) and start to stretch front of left thigh, bending both knees to dip a little more, hold leg position and stretch upper body away from legs a little more without allowing arch in lower back.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat other side.  Repeat same sequence with knee on floor, back heel can be flat or lifted for comfort.

5 Confessions of a Pilates Teacher and Personal Trainer

We are not in good shape purely just because of our jobs as trainers! 

Being a trainer is a very active occupation,  however, I schedule my workouts, have trainers that I work with, have a running coach and I plan my students around my workouts.  So, when I have to miss, I have 6 other full days!  I had a friend who mentioned after I opened my first studio, “OMG, I saw you running the other day!  How do you have time?”  I don’t-  I make time.  Every day.   My alarm goes off at 4:30AM most days.   Some nights, I don’t leave the studio until 9:30PM but I get on the treadmill at 11PM.  And, it is very difficult sometimes, but so very much worth it to me.  I am in much better shape in my 40s than I was in my 20s.  My 14 year old son is always my first priority, then my health, then everything else!

We cram too much into our days! 

I never get enough sleep.  I have a Fitbit for the sole purpose of tracking my dismal sleep patterns.  It’s 11PM, I’m getting up at 4:30 to run.  Do the math (because I am denying it- haha).  I’m not done with the post either.  There’s a lot going on in my life and I am supremely lucky to be able to function on not a lot of sleep.  Am constantly working on this one.

We don’t eat perfectly all the time, but we also know that diet is the biggest contributor to our students’ overall health! 

I am not a breakfast person at all.  I will eat toast prior to a long run, but I’d rather have a salad mid morning or a cheese sandwich if I’m really hungry versus any other typical breakfast food. I also believe that banana bread should never be made without chocolate chips and during marathon training, I eat an entire baguette- almost every day.  Wine is a food group, medicine, happy juice.  I have been a vegetarian for 25 years.  In 2010, I cut out all the chemicals and preservatives I could out of my diet and never had a “boofy” belly again.  I eat things that I love that make me happy and would never deny myself a treat if that is what I wanted, but I am a maniacal label reader and will lecture you on the ingredients in the foods you eat. And, expect me to ask for ingredients lists if we are out to dinner.  But, only because some of them do make you puffy- and mess with everything else in your system.  I only eat real sugar.  I don’t believe in shakes or bars- mentally, I feel like they mess with your body’s ability to recognize nutrition and sustenance, so you are still hungry after 500 calories of processed stuff- as good as those ingredients may be.  I try and eat well 95% of the time, so when I want to have that piece of cake my student just dropped off for me, I eat the whole thing, never feel an ounce of guilt and can smile when I well her how much I on

We are maniacally picky about who we work with- doctors, trainers, physical therapists. 

I will question decisions, go with my instinct and seek out other opinions.  All the time.  At least once a month, I will travel 3+ hours to workout with a trainer.  Because I deserve to work out with somebody that I can learn more from as a student and as a teacher.  It is worth it to me to pay for and seek out the best available when it comes to health.


I sometimes wonder if my leggings are appropriate for dinner out.  I sleep in them, teach in them, workout in them.  I get excited to put on heels and a dress- like it is the highlight of my month!  I can’t imagine life in any other sort of work clothes.  And, if you tell me that yoga pants are not appropriate as pants, I will fight you on that!