TOUR DE PILATES (the Copenhagen Edition)

CPH Pilates, though twice the size as PLANK, has many of the same qualities: a minimalist, clean atmosphere, friendly super knowledgeable instructors, and a group of regulars who are clearly devoted to the studio and Pilates.

I decided to do a private (the language was a small barrier for group classes!) Similar to the studio in London, the instructor was extremely hands on, and even admitted to doing regular “glut” checks of all her clients. I’m not going to lie to you: the frequent checks to see if my butt muscles were working made me giggle.

 But my big take away was the attention to detail: when we were doing the ab series, she insisted on me keeping my neck and shoulders curled in the position we are always being told to do. It was, without a doubt, the hardest it’s ever been. And I made the profound realization that I have a tendency not to listen to the instructor’s physical cues during my workouts. I already knew I could adjust the difficulty of most exercises but all of sudden form (and its importance) became abundantly clear.

We also spent a good half hour rolling up and down my spine with the roll down bar and then roll ups. She split my back into 10 sections and would not let me cheat by bypassing certain parts. I found it not only super informative but very humbling. The never-ending challenge of Pilates technique was brought to my attention once again and I was re-invigorated to pay more attention to the small details (and muscles) and less to how well I was doing, or my strength.

Overall, CPH Pilates was an incredibly positive experience and a lesson in humility, patience, specificity and renewed inspiration.

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TOUR DE PALATES

So I am off on a three-week European adventure and thought I’d take you with me…well, via the blog at least!

I’ve arranged to do Pilates in each of the cities I’m visiting and have started my grand tour in London.

Today I went to Pilates Nation in East Finchley, London and did a tower class. Of course, many of the things were familiar: ab series (missing you, Kristin), side leg series (missing you, Sky) but unlike PLANK, the tower was only really used for the leg and arms springs, and barely at that. We did one exercise with the push through bar but much less than I am obviously accustomed to.

For me, the joy of tower class is to use the tower to its fullest: playing with all the bells and whistles it has to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a good workout and thanks to PLANK was able to adjust each exercise to a more advanced level if needed or desired. The teacher was attentive and very hands on (much more touchy than I think we would ever be comfortable with in the States, but I found it helpful.)

The other major difference was breath. There was very little attention placed on the use of breath when doing the exercises. Breath is the way that I connect to my core during my workout and also increase the level of difficulty with exercises on the legs springs, for example. I was proud to be able to use my PLANK knowledge to make up for the difference in teaching style.

 One thing is for sure, I can go anywhere in the world using the techniques I’ve learned at PLANK and have a fantastic workout. So pip pip and all that.

Next stop….Copenhagen.

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SUMMER BUTT BUSTER

We know you Plank devotees will be traveling over the next couple months so Kristen and I decided to put together a series of “do anywhere” exercises. Now there are no excuses…you can keep up that hard work you’ve been putting in, no matter where you are!!!

Lie down, feet on the floor, toes turned out slightly. Tuck tail bone and press hip bones up. Let your pelvis go down half way the press up, squeezing the sitz bones. Do two sets of ten.

DO NOT DROP YOUR PELVIS TO THE FLOOR BETWEEN SETS UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO!

Holding the pelvis up, do mini pulses upwards trying to touch your sitz bones together. Do two sets of eight.

KEEP HOLDING UP! ALMOST THERE!!!

Drop the right hip to the side. Lift and come back to center. Then left. Alternate side to side repeating ten times on each side. YOUR BUTT WILL THANK YOU!

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER…

Or any body of water for that matter!!!
It’s hot out there and from what I understand, it’s going to stay that way for a good long while. I remember the days not too long ago when we were in class at Plank, complaining about the cold weather. Watching what we wish for comes to mind…
When it’s this hot outside, I know that I find it hard to ever feel hydrated: our hunger levels go down, we tend to ingest more water, and yet we constantly feel parched.
I did a little digging into the “how to’s” of staying hydrated and here are some hydration tips.

1. The old myth is true: you do need about 8 cups of water to stay hydrated (more if you’re doing activities that increase your body temperature.) So try and drink a glass of water every hour so in the summer heat.

2. Make sure to drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning. By the time you actually feel dehydrated, your body is already very depleted. Get a jump-start on beating the heat, by hydrating first thing.

3. There are many fruits and vegetables that have an extremely high water content. Stock up on those foods during mealtimes as an extra hydrating boost! Some of those include: watermelon, berries, grapefruit, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach and zucchini!

4. Low fat dairy products are high in protein and hydrating properties!!! So….
that Greek yogurt or skim milk smoothie are not only filling you up and keeping you slim, but are also a good dose of hydration!

5. If you can’t bare to be downing water, spice it up with cut up fruits or veggies (a la PLANK styles!!!) Some cut up mint, orange or cucumber slices make a boring old glass of water…a delight!

Be cool. Have fun. And here’s to a happy (and hydrated) summer!!!!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

PLANK MAKES PERFECT

PLANK MAKES PERFECT

I got my notification the other day to announce it was my one-year anniversary as a member of Plank Pilates. Like any landmark, I took it as an opportunity to reflect on my experiences over the past twelve months.

My body has changed: there is muscle definition in places I didn’t know existed, I am generally much more toned and my core strength is at its strongest, ever.
I had initially started going to Pilates to help with my pain management. (I had herniated two of my disks.) After a year of consistent class attendance, not only is the pain much less, but I have also learned to hold myself in ways that help prevent not only further injury, but day-to-day ache control! I would say that the year has been a resounding success!!

There were still a couple of questions that kept nagging at me: has all my hard work and determination resulted in a plateau? Is there a benefit to continued attendance at the rate I was going (2-4 times a week!)

Here’s what I found out:
Our bodies are constantly changing. We are forced to do things in different ways, make adjustments and address these changes practically. If you keep in tune with yourself, you can work on these things specifically by adapting your workouts. Most people tend to stay disconnected from their physical selves (unless their body is screaming at them to STOP!!) In Pilates, we have an opportunity to constantly be checking in, making adjustments, healing, and strengthening. All at the same time!
Also, we tend to use our stronger muscles to help us through a workout. As we progress in Pilates, we become not only aware of the other available muscle for each exercise, but connected to our bodies in a completely new way. An example from my practice: I have always had strong legs. When first using the leg springs, I would engage my hip flexors and quads almost exclusively. My next step was to keep my tailbone heavy. After that, I figured out how to engage my abs by using breath. Suddenly what had seemed like an easy exercise became an exciting mental and physical struggle to do the exercise to its full potential.

So. Practice does indeed make perfect. And it’s a very gratifying journey along the way.
(Three classes per week are the recommended amount to keep your body in tune and in check!)

PLANK PLAYLISTS FOR ALL

PLANK PLAYLISTS FOR ALL

I know we all missed Kristin this weekend, so in honor of her return from the Great White North (a.k.a. Montreal, Canada), I am sharing the playlist I made for her earlier this year.
Enjoy rocking out to some of her fav tracks…and do a plank or two in her honor!!!

1. Toxic Yael Naïm Yael Naïm
2. Electronic Fences Computer Magic Electronic Fences
3. Afternoon Youth Lagoon The Year of Hibernation
4. Unillusion Yelle Safari Disco Club (Deluxe Edition)
5. The Yard Trolle SiebenHaar Trolle // Siebenhaar
6. Thicker Than Thieves Tilly And The Wall Heavy Mood
7. Alligator Tegan And Sara Live: Saints
8. Twenty Nothing Spector Enjoy It While It Lasts
9. Over It Over Again She & Him Volume Two
10. September Pomplamoose Covering Earth, Wind & Fire
11. Navy Light Labyrinth Ear Oak
12. Bring It On It’s A Musical For Years And Years
13. Coming On Antenna’s Up The Awkward Phase
14. Let Me Take You Out Class Actress Journal of Ardency
15. Primadonna Diet Kong Primadonna + Remixes
16. Lay Low Dragonette Bodyparts
17. Wings HAERTS Wings – Single
18. Some Nights fun. Some Nights

THE PLANK PROFILES

THE PLANK PROFILES

With Julia Mercier and Marisa DiLemme

So for a change in pace, this week’s Plank Profile focuses on two friends who work together, shop together and most importantly…Plank together! Meet best friends: Marisa and Julia.

Top five things people should know about Julia? (as told by Marisa)

1. Julia loves Schiller’s
If you want to find Julia, that’s the first place to look. She loves it!!! We try to suggest other places to go, but somehow she always ends up there. It was her favorite place before she moved to NYC: she had dreamed of living in the neighborhood…and this wish came true.

2. Julia used to be a lawyer
She now works in professional development, which means, most of the time, that she is the in house therapist at her firm. She helps everyone become better lawyers in an endlessly stressful environment. She is a super positive presence that is missed when she’s not in the office.

3. She’s Canadian
Actually, she’s a Montrealer and proud to be so. We make fun of that fact at least once a day. Nuff said, eh?

4. She loves to SHOP
The other day, we sent each other sample sale notices at the same time! We love a bargain, especially on high-end goods, of course!!! It’s a fun activity we share and can do together.

5. Julia has a rockin’ husband
He is so good to her and they are incredibly in love. He is supportive of her and all of her friend’s endeavors (he even sends us sample sale notices!!!) I admire their relationship.

Top five things people should know about Marisa? (as told by Julia)

1. Marisa has great style
She’s one of the few people I look up to in terms of style. She’s always brilliantly put together. When she first came to Pilates with me, I asked for her not to “glam up” and she showed up, looking fabulous as always. (SEE PIC OF HER TANK BELOW!!)

2. Marisa is a corporate lawyer
She went to Fordham law school where she, of course, was a force to be reckoned with…a natural trendsetter. She made t-shirts for her class that became a tweeted sensation.

3. Marisa used to work at Sony
She loves music, and still talks about the time she worked on the Beyoncé video “Single Ladies.” It some ways, it seems to have prepared her for the high stress environment of law. I mean, what could be more stressful than dealing with a Beyoncé video?!!!!

4. Marisa is a HUGE Fall Out Boy fan
She even appeared in one of their videos! She has been to over 100 concerts of theirs and wrote a personal statement about them for her entry into law school. She would do anything to represent them one day.

5. She’s a pescatarian
For those of you who don’t know, that is someone who just eats fish. She has been since fourth grade…in fact; she is very picky about all food.

What brought the two of you to Pilates?
Marisa hates exercising. She wanted to focus on toning her body and fell in love. Her mom has been doing it forever (and even sends her Pilates clips online!) It helped her with her back problems as well.
Julia had always gone to the gym but was looking to try something new. One of her colleagues had mentioned Pilates, and she looked into what was available close by. As a lower east sider, a love for PLANK PILATES WAS BORN!!

Why PLANK PILATES?
Julia introduced Marisa to Plank. Marisa loves the early morning walk from NOHO to the studio. Sky and Shawn make her laugh constantly. As someone who didn’t work out often, PLANK made her feel immediately comfortable. She was able to be weak or make mistakes and not feel judged.
Also the small classes are a huge plus in terms of personal attention.
Julia had initially been intimidated. Pilates seemed like an activity of the “fabulous.” But she was sold by the welcoming environment, Mason jar water and eucalyptus towels. It was love at first workout.
They both are excited for every class…it makes every day better. And a bonus: these two friends get to spend some extra time together.

Top Tips for staying slim
Marisa: “Talk to my mother!!! She has all the answers.” In NYC, you walk so often, it’s a great way to burn some calories and take in the scenery. Portion control is important as well.
Julia: I stay away from carbs. I work out to work off my Prosecco. Do I need to say anything else?
GO TO PLANK!!!!

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Julia: Prosecco. I have nothing else to add. I love Prosecute.
Marisa: Top 40 dance parties. And I love Prosecco too. A lot. But I don’t want to copy Julia. That’s just creepy….

Marisa and Julia have been members at Plank Pilates since March 2014