UP PLANK AND PERSONAL

with Kimmy Smith

(Kimmy is an instructor at Plank Pilates.)

Top five things we should know about you?

1. I was born in Florida.

But I’ve lived my whole life in New Zealand and Australia. IN the last five years I’ve spent time in London, Hong Kong, and New York (where I came chasing my love.)

2. I was a national competitive gymnast

I did it for eight years but had to retire early because of injuries. It’s kind of like being in the military: super regimented, no birthday parties, no fun foods, my whole life was about competition. I was second state champion in Queensland.

3. I backpacked through Europe for two months on my own!

It was a great lesson in learning who to trust, and how to manage on my own. The friends I made on that trip are, without a doubt, ones I will know my whole life.

4. I’m number 7 out of 8 kids!!!

I didn’t grow up with a lot of my siblings but they would come in and out of our house throughout the years. Being the second youngest made me feel like a middle child. We are all outgoing, opinionated and fun loving; so family gatherings are quite an event!!!

5. I met the love of my life at Disney Land (Hong Kong)

We were both working there and met in the cafeteria, over a bowl of rice, no less. That same day, we went on a date, held hands, kissed and then saw each other every day after that without a break! We lived in China for a project for a bit then moved back to NYC together. I’ve actually only been in NYC for one year.

How long have you been practicing and/or teaching Pilates?

Ten years. I’ve been teaching for three. I was training to be a professional dancer and Pilates was actually part of my studies.

 What brought you to Pilates?

As part of professional dance training, alignment is a key element to prevent injury. I’ve always had back and hip issues and I’ve since had hip and knee surgery (which put dancing on hold for the moment.) I have a lot to thank Pilates for: it has helped rehabilitate my body extremely efficiently, and maintain back health.

 Top 5 exercises to do between classes?

My back is always a concern so my five suggestions are going to focus on that part of the body.

1. (Superman) Lie on your stomach. Legs together. Arms along the body. Lift your shoulders up first, followed by your torso. Make sure your gaze is facing forward rather than up. Then lower. Repeat 10X.

2. Lie on your stomach, forehead rested on your hands. Push your pubic bones into the floor and straighten the backs of your legs. Lift one leg, the lower. Repeat 10X. Lift the leg and hover. Bend at the knee and straighten while hovering for 10 reps. Then switch legs.

3. (Shoulder bridges) Press your back into the floor then roll your hips up so that your knees, hips and shoulders are in one line. Hold the hips up and raise one knee, without collapsing at the hips. Then raise the other. Alternate legs 10X.

4. Put a small ball under the middle of the back, feet hip distance apart. Hands behind the head. Lean all the way back, head touching the floor. Nod chin to chest then roll through the spine all the way up into a C curve, then slowly articulate back through the spine to the floor.

5. Lie on your side, hips stacked on top of each other, knees and hips at 90 degrees. Press bottom leg into the floor and lift top leg, maintain the shape. Repeat 10X. Then switch to the other side.

What do you always have in your refrigerator?

Milk. For coffee. More importantly what’s in my freezer? Fresh coffee beans ready to be ground. You will never find me in class without having had my caffeine fix for the day.

What’s Your Guilty Pleasure?

Bubble tea. I seem to be a liquid person!!! Wait…and Portuguese tarts. And chocolate. Oh and margaritas occasionally. All these things are delicious but I really try to stay away from sugar as much as possible.

Be sure to check out Kimmy’s classes on Wednesday mornings at 7, 8 and 9 am! (As well as Fridays 7, 8, 9 and noon.) Her lighthearted attitude and huge smile are not to be misinterpreted…she will work you hard, all the while giving you a cheeky grin and a wink.) Kimmy is also available for private sessions by request.

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FALL INTO RUNNING

I’ve always had a distant fascination with running: you can do it anywhere, anytime, nothing needed but some banging tunes and a supportive pair of sneaks. Countless runners around the world have whooshed by me (seemingly effortlessly) and I’ve always thought to myself, nothing much deeper than: they look so cool!!!!

But any past attempt at taking up the activity had failed. And failed miserably.

This past summer, while traveling for a month (see earlier articles about my TOUR DE PILATES), I was once again reminded of how convenient it would be if I could, literally, throw on a pair of shoes and workout! My interest was piqued once more.

At a dinner in London, one of the women was telling the table about her experiences training for a marathon. It’s important to know: she is not some super young sporty little thing, but a healthy, normal sized lady of 37 years old who just took up running this past year. When I told her about my interest in trying it out, she recommended an app called COUCH TO 5 K. I downloaded it immediately.

I then hesitated for a few more weeks (ugh!) but finally decided to take the plunge…or should I say, step?

 Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing about my experiences both mentally (I’m sure there will be many) and physically (no doubt even more!) while training for a 5K run.

My first question is: can a run EVER be fun?

Answer: So far, so good.

My first app assisted run consisted of a 5 min walk to warm up followed by one minute running and ninety seconds walking, for the rest of the 25 minutes. Total workout time: 30 minutes.

I was expecting the worst: shameless huffing and puffing, embarrassingly profuse sweating, cramping, lower back pain (I have two herniated disks) but NONE of that happened! The minute runs did push my body in ways I wasn’t used to but I found I could get through the cycles with relative ease. I ended my first running workout feeling proud, inspired and frankly, kind of psyched! Pretty much the opposite of what I’d anticipated.

So… I guess we’re off to a running start?

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LABOR DAY WEEKEND PLAYLIST

For those of you going away this weekend….and those of us who will be in town for a little staycation, here is a PLANK playlist that will keep your spirits up and booty shaking.

Take it with you on a run or play it at cocktail hour! And have an amazing last weekend of summer (GULP!)

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Between you and me, I still think we have another month :)

 

DANCE INTO PLANK PLAYLIST

Strandbar (Disko)  Todd Terje

Something Goes RIght (feat. Sampha) SBTRKT

Sweet Calling   Quantic

It Girl     Pharrell Williams

In My Arms (Popular Computer Remix)    MYLO

Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit)     Mr. Probz

Midnight City       M83

Hideaway        Kiesza

Holiday Reverie    Hypnolove

Help Me Lose My Mind   Disclosure

A Town Called Obsolete (Mount Kimbie Remix)     Andreya Triana

Fab Freddy Said   Jay C

 

 

SUMMER ARM BUSTER

As the last in our summer buster series, we bring to you a quick, effective and easy arms workout.

(Up Up down downs)
Start in a plank position. Arms extended to start. Place your shoulders over your wrists. Go down on the right forearm followed by left and come back up. Try and keep your hips as still as possible. Squeeze everything that you’ve got!! Then reverse lowering to the left forearm first, then right. Aim for three on each side and increase to five if you’re feeling like a rock star.

SUMMER AB BUSTER

(Single leg stretch )
Alternating sides. 8 on each side.

MAKE SURE to keep your head lifted and start by holding on to the opposite leg. Then repeat with your hands at the back of your head with elbows WIDE. Stay lifted on the tips of your shoulder blades and lift from the ribs.
After you’re done: hold on to one side and lift your leg, foot flexed and pulse foot up eight times. Switch to other side and repeat.

Enjoy the burn…do it in the name of SUMMER!!!

TOUR DE PILATES (the Nice Edition)

So my European plank tour took me to Nice next. (I know…these weeks of European travel have been a trial!!!)

I had worked out with Stefanie from Stefpilates last year and had a super positive experience, but, at the time, had much less experience with Pilates technique.

From the start she noticed my changes in strength and form so adapted my workouts (3 in total) accordingly to challenge me as much as possible. I don’t think my gluts have hurt that badly since I first started Pilates!!!

Stefanie’s main philosophy (and also what is written on her logo) is to bring balance, strength and flexibility to all her clients. She does not believe in routines: her classes and private sessions change in content from session to session. Loosely translated from French, Stefanie said “I love to challenge my clients. When you come to my classes, you will never know what sauce you’ll be eating.” Well, my sauce was a veritable mix of back strengthening, endurance training and fun!

 Stefanie was drawn to Pilates because of chronic back pain. She was a swim coach for many years and extremely active and discovered Pilates by chance. She fell in love with it, immediately.

 Shortly after, she opened her own studio by the Port in Nice and has been running it (and teaching) by herself ever since. It is a labor of love and she is devoted to her business.

 Unlike the other studios I tried, Stefanie was determined to push me to my limit. Test my endurance, and strength and even, at times, my bravery. With her guidance, I tried new exercises on the reformer that, though they scared me, challenged me in new and exciting ways.

 I left Stefanie’s studio, sad to not be doing another session until my next summer trip to Nice. She bid me farewell and told me that she couldn’t wait to see how a year would change me. Truth be told…I can’t wait either!

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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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