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with Mariusz Kujawski
Mariusz is an instructor at Plank Pilates

Top five things we should know about you?

1. I was born in Poland
I then moved to Iceland at 14 with parents to pursue Ballroom dancing. After that, I moved to the US for college at UWSP for dance and international studies.

2. Italy is my favorite place on earth
It was also my most memorable vacation. The weather was amazing, I was with my closest friends, and loved swimming in the sea every day. It was a perfect holiday.

3. I love cooking
Especially for my girlfriend. She loves the way I cook and it’s lucky that she is especially fond of my best and favorite dish…crepes.

4. I’m a member of the French Academy of Ballet
Where I will be performing in the Nutcracker this December. It’s my first time being a part of that particular ballet. We haven’t been cast yet but I’m really excited to be part of the production.

5. My favorite band is Sigur Ros
They make up their own musical language and I find them incredibly creative in the way they choose to communicate their craft artistically. I also find unique ways of expressing myself creatively and relate to their process profoundly,

How long have you been practicing/teaching Pilates?

I have been practicing Pilates for the past six years and have been teaching for two. I did it in conjunction with my ballet training at school.

What brought you to Pilates?

The idea that it is more than just a set of exercises, it’s actually a way of living. Pilates brought a greater understanding of my body, especially outside of the studio. I find myself constantly striving for perfect alignment, even while executing simple at home tasks. I started Pilates in college, as a class I took before ballet each day and not much more than that. Soon I fell in love with the process and technique and wanted to explore how dance and Pilates could not only improve my personal technique but also how I could help others in the process.

What do you always have in your refrigerator?

I always have capers!!! I am a big experimenter when it comes to food. Also spinach. It’s a great source of protein and greens and it is delicious cooked or raw (especially with capers!!!)

Guilty pleasure

I know it’s better to cook at home, (and I happen to be a great one) but…NYC is filled with amazing restaurants and I can’t help but indulge in trying many of them. Brooklyn seems to be a place that’s filled with unique and interesting places to try. One of my favorite’s is Roberta’s (if you want to have a little carb indulgence!)

Be sure to check out Mariusz’s classes on Tuesday at 9, 12, and 1 pm. His disciplined coaching coupled with cheeky sense of humor makes the class a delightful blend of Eastern European flare and tough workout!!!! Mariusz is also available for private sessions upon request.)


Alright…I have a little something to admit: despite the best of intentions to start the fall by hitting the ground running (literally), life seemed to have got in my way.

Just after my running article was posted (SEE previous article FALL INTO RUNNING,) I went into intense rehearsals and then performances for a play, managed to get a bladder infection, started dating someone and basically lost any semblance of discipline or routine. Needless to say, my 5k training fell by the side of the road (literally, again.)

Inspired by a visit home to Toronto, I woke up this morning and decided to get back on the path to training for a 5K. As my workout approached, even putting my running shoes on was a challenge (at least mentally!!!) I realized that there is a lot of shame and discouragement in not reaching ones goals and, this morning, I was feeling it, big time. But, with the deadline to this article pending, and the encouragement of my friends (thank you, Kristen) I laced up and off I went.

For the first few minutes I felt unsteady: I’m not used to interval training and the running spurts shocked my system in a way I wasn’t sure I liked. (The workout was 1.30 mins walking followed by 1 min walking alternating for 20 mins total with a five minute walking warm up and cool down.) But after the second sprint, I was in! Each time I started my next minute run, I was shocked at how light and energized I felt. I actually looked forward to it each time it came around!

After the run, I was feeling relaxed, warm and proud of myself. I had taken many steps forward.

So here’s the lesson: even if you’ve gone off course, hop back on and give it all you’ve got. I am newly inspired, energized and ready to treat myself to a cute new running outfit after I complete week 2 of my training. (7 more sessions to go.)

I am running…full speed ahead. Just try and stop me!

The pic is of my running route this weekend in Toronto.

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With a few days off this week, I decided to head upstate to the Catskills. I had just finished an exhausting project and my body was begging for some much needed rest. On our first day, I challenged myself to eat purely from things we had picked at the farm (or had been made that day i.e. the most delicious mozzarella I’ve ever tasted.) We picked: cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, raspberries and eggplant (seasonal offerings from the field.)

By the end of the day, I felt the lightest I had felt in a long time.

All this got me thinking not only about the changing of the season but whether there is something to be said for adjusting our eating habits accordingly.

After speaking with a nutritionist and consulting several health journals, there seemed to be only one consistent consensus: cold weather tends to bring on carbo loading and the decrease of water consumption.

It’s not surprising that with our days getting shorter and colder, we would need a little pick me up. Carbohydrates tend to not only boost our energy (with a sudden spike in sugar) but also boost our mood (with a good shot of tryptophan) but…beware. We also tend to decrease our amount of physical activity so that extra amounts of carbs end up sitting in our system, and potentially, becoming fat deposits

(cue not being able to fit in your favorite holiday party outfit.)

Also, as the temperatures drop, we tend to feel thirsty less but our need for hydration remains the same. To avoid nasty headaches and fatigue, be sure to keep on top of drinking at least eight glasses of water per day.

The last helpful hint was to monitor your intake of vitamin D. With less sunlight, our systems can feel sluggish and some even experience mild doses of depression. Eating foods rich in Vitamin D (such as salmon, cheese, eggs, almonds, check out: http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-vitamin-D-foods.php) can seriously decrease your risk of falling into the changing blues.

So, for falling into fall, find new activities to keep you inspired, happy, healthy and trim (and keep that water bottle with you.)

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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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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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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 :)



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




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.