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

PLANK PLAYLISTS FOR ALL

PLANK PLAYLISTS FOR ALL

All too often during class I overhear Plank members asking “Who wrote this track?” or “This playlist rocks…is it available anywhere?” So, due to popular request, I will be sharing a Plank playlist once a month.
These playlists are carefully crafted to either mirror a general mood or suit the tastes of an individual Plank instructor.
For the “Spring Into Plank” playlist, I wanted to create a positive, upbeat mix of popy jams ending on a random but celebratory note with “Stand on the Word.” Note

Fun fact: it’s always good to throw in a track or two that seems slightly offbeat yet brings the whole concept together with a little musical bow!
So pick your favs, dowload from ITunes and enjoy!

1. The Magnificent Romeo (soulwax remix) -Basement Jaxx vs. The Clash
2. Hey Mr. D- Zhané
3. Best Friend- Foster the People
4. No Diggity- Chet Faker
5. Drops- Jungle
6. If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor) -Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
7. She Just Likes To Flight- Four Tet
8. Better Times- Beach House
9. Courage- The Whitest Boy Alive
10. Runnin’- The Pharcyde
11. Black & White-Vanessa Daou
12. Wake Up Alone (Original Recording)- Amy Winehouse
13. Quequ’un M’a Dit- Carla Bruni
14. Stand on the Word- Celestial Choir BTM – Pet Shop Boys (CD1 Chris Lowe)

THE PLANK PROFILES

THE PLANK PROFILES

With Kim Bishop

Top five things people should know about you?

1. I am an executive recruiter and company owner
I recruit for board directors and senior level positions. I started my company five years ago: Kimberly Bishop Executive Recruiting. I went from being a corporate executive to an entrepreneur.

2. I moved from Nebraska to NYC nine years ago
I decided to change my life…and moved into the recruiting industry then. I love the work I do, and my clients and candidates, so it’s been great.

3. I really love dark chocolate
I will always have a bar in my fridge at home. If there’s ever a chocolate dessert on the menu you can be assured I will pick that one. ANYTHING that’s over 70 percent cocoa is good.

4. I met my guy at PJ Clarkes in midtown
We met four years ago and it was totally random. I was walking through the crowd and said hi to him (with the encouragement and prodding of one of my friends!) We went out on a date the next day and have been together ever since.

5. I am a couponer
I love saving bits here and there. Seeing the receipt with the savings at the end is a thrill!!! It’s possible I even watch Extreme Couponing… But who doesn’t want to save a dollar?

What brought you to Pilates?
I first tried Pilates two years ago and started going to some classes at a studio. I liked it but didn’t understand the mechanics. Eventually I stopped going. I had even considered privates but at the time, decided against it. Even though I was doing different kinds of workouts (spin, etc) I wasn’t getting the core workout I wanted or the strength.

Why Plank Pilates?
In December 2013, I was out for dinner with my friend Karen, and was telling her that I needed to get my core back, and wanted to take privates. Karen suggested Kristen. While PLANK isn’t totally convenient, I love working out with Kristen and my sessions there. It feels like she customizes the sessions to my needs on a session-to-session basis. I really like PLANK: that it’s small groups and the community there is great.
Fun fact: the first time I did a plank with Kristen both of us almost started to cry. It was a total breakthrough for my body!

Top Tips for staying slim
Pre planning and sticking to my appointments is key. I have an exercise journal that I am fastidious about…it keeps me in check. I’ve also started doing aqua cycle, and it’s fantastic. The goal is: five days a week, I need to be moving my body. I had to make a commitment to myself, and find what worked for me in terms of balance. As we get older, it’s more difficult to stay in shape. I have chosen things that I can sustain to stay in great shape and looking and feeling healthy.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’m obsessed with the new 24. Yes, the TV show. Jack is back. And it’s amazing, so lately that’s been my thing. My husband and I also love watching cycling on TV. Oh, and also mani/pedis!!!! It’s cheap, you can get it at any time of the day and it makes you feel pampered. What’s not to love?

Kim has been a member at Plank Pilates since February 2014 (and she’s already lost four inches and four pounds!!!)

THE BEST TRESSED…

THE BEST TRESSED...

(for summer.)

It’s finally getting warm. We’re wearing less. We’re staying home less and we are most definitely thinking of looking our best much much more. The warm months are a time to show off all our hard work and strut our Pilates bods with pride! And what is the best accessory…Shoes? No! Great hair.

I am someone who battles with my hair constantly: it’s long. Takes forever to grow. Breaks easily and is curly yet super fine (thanks genetics!) I turned to one of best gal pals, Lucie Ducrot, for tips on how to manage our luscious locks this season.

Hair is like skin: in order to keep it looking healthy you need to maintain a balance of sleeping well, staying hydrated and a healthy diet. (I had no idea how much our hair can be affected by health until mine started thinning and drying severely after a double round of antibiotics!)

In the sun, it’s important to wear a hat: not surprisingly, it bleaches out the hair. The sun creates a simple but lethal combination of air, salt and heat rays that can give you that fun beach look but is simultaneously doing serious damage. So you need to be careful about your hair’s sun exposure.

Other than a hat, oil such as Moroccan, applied from the middle of the hair shaft to the end, creates a protective shield. It’s a great way to both hydrate and protect your hair.

With all the summer heat, blowing out your hair is extra heat stress you really don’t need, so try and keep it to special events or less frequently than you would in the colder seasons.

When you come home from a holiday, make sure to trim your hair immediately. There’s more than a good chance you’ve done damage and you don’t want those split ends to destroy the entire hair shaft. In fact, regular hair cuts (about every two months) are a fantastic may to keep hair in great shape.

So get out there in your straw fedora and summer frock and enjoy the much earned weather!

Lucie Ducrot is a senior stylist at the Julien Farel Salon and a Plank member. You can follow her on Instagram at lucieducrot.

UP PLANK AND PERSONAL

UP PLANK AND PERSONAL

With Kelly Keesler.
(Kelly is an instructor at Plank Pilates)

Top 5 things we should know about you?

1. I am a graphic designer.
In college I got my degree in graphic design (North Eastern) and I never thought I would use it. Now, I spend half of my time doing free lance work for various clients. I sometimes pull out my laptop and work between classes. It’s actually kind of exhausting!!!

2. I love travel.
I LOVE COSTA RICA. I fell in love when I went there a couple of years ago. One of my dreams would be to open a Pilates Studio in a place like that: near the water, in the sun, palm trees…you get the picture.

3. I surf.
I went to Costa Rica to learn to surf and spent two months there. I recently went back and I got right back on the board…catching waves left and right. I was even stronger in the water than I had been. Thanks Pilates!

4. My older sister used to dress me up as a model
When I was three years old, my sister would dress me up in full make up and “big girl” clothes and then make me do a photo shoot. At the time I found it annoying but now we have an entire Kelly album. It’s a super happy book of memories.

5. I was a gymnast in high school
I taught myself how to do gymnastics. I would copy my older sister when she was doing cartwheels and such. I can actually still do flips. It’s a handy skill to pull out of my pocket!

How long have you been practicing and/or teaching Pilates?
I have practicing Pilates for four years, teaching for the last two.

What brought you to Pilates?
My best friend took a class in college as part of her curriculum. She showed me some of the exercises and I got hooked. Now I’m the one introducing her to all the studios in the city. It was the only exercise I had ever tried that actually changed my body. I had no idea it was possible to tone my muscles like you do in Pilates. I became sculpted in a way that I never knew was possible.

Top 5 exercises to do between classes?
Super Nutso Fetal Five thigh/glut series. Start lying on your side with your legs in a ‘table top’ position in front of you. Knees in line with hips, ankles in line with knees. Shoulders and hips stacked. Abdominals drawing in and up for entire sequence.

1…Lift top leg up, feeling the work in your top booty cheek, and lower it down. Repeat 10 times. Be sure to keep the ankle in line with the knee the whole time.

2…Lift top leg up, keeping the leg bent, circle your leg around 10 times, being sure to circle your thigh bone in it’s socket (keeping your leg bent). Get into the booty more by making sure you have a full circular movement going on, really engaging the glut to circle the leg. Reverse circles for 10 more reps.

3….Keeping the leg lifted after your circles, extend the leg up to the ceiling (almost like a karate kick) and bend it back in. 10 reps, reaching long through the heel with every kick. Try to keep hips stacked.

4…Extend the leg out in front of you, heel reaching forward and hip reaching out. Your leg should be parallel to the ground to start. Lift the leg up and lower back to the starting position. 10 reps. Then hold the leg for 10 seconds in that spot, finish with 10 small pulses up to the ceiling.

WHEWWWWWWW. Pound the booty out for a quick muscle massage.

And 5…Stay lying on the same side, just extend your legs out in line with your body, so you are one straight line. Flex the heels. Engage the core to lift both legs off the ground. Hold the legs off the ground and simply bend your knees into your chest, using your low abdominals to pull the knees in. Then extend the legs back out, keeping them lifted off the ground. Repeat 10 times.

And Voila! Killer booty and core. Turn over and repeat on the other leg.

What do you always have in your refrigerator?
To be honest, I don’t really keep much in my fridge. I always have fruit, like strawberries, and also avocados. I love avocados. I am obsessed with chunky peanut butter so you’ll always find some in my cupboard. Usually a bar of chocolate too (the organic good for you kind, of course.)

What’s Your Guilty Pleasure?
I have a serious addiction to ice cream. It’s a problem…I can’t go bed without eating a pint (GULP.) For realsies. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get over this, please let me know!

Be sure to check out Kelly’s classes on Monday nights at 5, 6 and 7 pm and Friday mornings at 7, 8, 9, and Plank 360 at noon. Her classes are focused and fun, with a fantastic vibe of positivity. She is also available for private sessions by request.