Are You Engaging Your Abs or Your Butt?

In almost every exercise it is easy for another part of the body to take over and do the work of the muscles we are targeting.  This is particularly true when we do a pelvic tilt or rock from imprint (basically a flat lower back) to neutral (the natural curve in your low back).  Often instead of initiating imprint using the abdominals, people will squeeze the butt.  It gets the job done, but you then you miss all that wonderful ab work.  The glutes are a major mover and a big muscle.  They can create an imprinted position when called upon to engage that way.  But if you want to strengthen and improve control of your abdominals, particularly to counteract back pain and help protect the back when moving, you need to make the glutes quiet down and learn to fire the abs.  So how can you tell if you are engaging your abs or your butt?

What Do You Feel?

Start by just stopping to notice what you feel.  Is your butt squeezing when you imprint?  Do you feel like your legs are involved by sort of pushing into the floor?  Do you even feel the abs doing the work?  If […]

Are You Engaging Your Abs or Your Butt? 2018-03-07T16:19:39+00:00

Menstrual cramps or gas

This is my mom. The woman who created the chicken walk.

If you ever asked me if I knew the difference between menstrual cramps or gas, I would have definitively said, “Yes.”  With that opening line, you probably realize that this blog may come with a little TMI.  I’m going to talk about my bowels more than you may care to know about.  I’ll try to make the process at least mildly entertaining.  But if you don’t have any menstrual or bowel trouble you’ve been trying to sort out, you can feel free to skip this one.

I’m familiar with gas pain.  As a kid if you had gas pain in our house my mom would make you get up and move.  She called it the chicken walk.  You would make big, exaggerated movements and get your knees up really high, practically pulling one knee up toward one shoulder and then repeating on the other side as you strutted around the room. If you weren’t doubled over in pain from gas cramps it would have been hilarious.  And it was always hilarious to the observer.  It was also almost always effective.  (Movement […]

Menstrual cramps or gas 2018-02-14T16:15:15+00:00

How to “Knit the Ribs”

One of the hardest basic principles in Pilates is referred to as knitting the ribs.  The goal is to ensure that your ribs stay connected during movement and that they don’t pop.  Most people when they move their arms, particularly over head allow their ribs to pop up—losing the connection with the abdominal muscles.

Knitting the ribs does not only provide you better ab-work, but it also created a healthier spine.  This video can help you start to understand and visually see what it means to knit the ribs.  Lying on the floor will make it easier to feel if are connecting because you can use the floor beneath you as a contact point.  Once that starts to become easier you can play with the concept in a seated or standing position.  Any overhead exercises are the time to check in on your ribs and make sure you are not arching your back in order to move the arms more.

As you experiment remember not to be forceful.  You shouldn’t feel like you are jamming your ribs into the floor.  Just like you don’t want to jam the back into the mat when you rock to imprint on pelvic tilts.  […]

How to “Knit the Ribs” 2018-02-14T15:32:24+00:00

Why We Do the 100

Last Saturday was day 50 of 100 days of the 100. That means that we’ve come up with over 50 ways to do the 100….and we now have just under 50 more to go (so don’t forget to share your photos and videos!) Maggie doing the 100 at an historic site in Wethersfield. Maggie doing the 100 at an historic site in Wethersfield.

The 100 is an exercise that you will find in almost any Pilates class. It involves lying with your back on the mat, body curled up, holding the position and completing 100 arm beats. It typically comes early in class and gets the entire body warmed up by getting your breath going and your blood moving. The exercise engages all of your major abdominal muscles, helping you to build strength that will not only assist you in class, but that you will be able to take into everyday life.

In order to hold your body up for an extended period of time, as you do in the 100, you must have endurance, specifically abdominal endurance. The only way to get endurance is to build it, which the […]

Why We Do the 100 2017-12-29T21:21:21+00:00