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Carolyn Ferris

Carolyn Ferris

Carolyn Ferris, Echo Community Manager for New Tech Network—an organization that supports schools like Napa’s New Technology High School—has been practicing Pilates with Archer for nearly three years. She became interested in Pilates because of its reputation as an effective, gentle, and low-impact form of exercise and began working out using Pilates exercise videos. Wanting the motivation and discipline of a class, she tried Synergy’s Pilates classes, but felt that the gym was too far away and she wasn’t getting the personalized instruction she wanted. Then, she realized that Archer’s studio was only a little over a block away from her home.

“I’m one of those people who don’t like exercise, and I probably wouldn’t do it if I didn’t go to the studio,” she says. But according to Carolyn, Pilates is a perfect fit for her, especially as she’s getting older, because it helps her to maintain flexibility and muscle tone, developing all parts of the body. “Archer is aware of which parts of your body are having trouble and works with you. A year ago, I had foot surgery, and when I came back, she worked really hard with me to direct the exercises so I could strengthen my foot and toes.”

One of the greatest benefits of her Pilates practice has been an increased awareness of her body. “I have a tendency to slouch and have rounded shoulders,” she says. “Now I have greater physical awareness whether I’m walking or sitting.”

In addition to attending Archer’s Pilates sessions twice weekly, Carolyn walks to work, one and a half miles each way, four days per week. Practicing Pilates has strengthened her core so she can carry her backpack without slouching.

When asked what she would say to someone considering Pilates for the first time, Carolyn replies:

Because it’s low impact, anyone can do it. Archer’s careful to build up your strength so you can accomplish the advanced techniques. When I do a mat class, it’s a whole-body workout. Without using any equipment, you stretch and tone every muscle in your body.

She likes the social aspects of the classes, too.

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Please leave a comment: What do you like best about your favorite exercise?

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Exercise is a critical factor to maintaining physical health, and there are common-sense guidelines to follow, no matter what kind of exercise you do. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Equally important are muscle and bone-strengthening exercises.

Pilates is a good choice because it strengthens muscles and bones using a system of controlled, resistance movement, and because it’s important to engage in activities appropriate to your fitness level and health goals. Pilates is a whole-body system of exercise that offers flexible methods, routines, and levels of intensity to meet the individual needs of each person.

If you are new to the Pilates Method, it may be helpful to keep these six, simple guidelines in mind as you begin your exercise routine.

  1. Wear comfortable, fitted clothing, such as yoga clothing, tights, leotards, or shorts.
  2. Begin every movement at your center (the Powerhouse) and build outward into the arms and legs. The Powerhouse, as mentioned in previous articles, is the area between your ribs and hips and includes your abdominals, diaphragm, gluteal (buttocks), and pelvic muscles. All Pilates exercises work the Powerhouse because it stabilizes the spine and helps you to achieve correct posture.
  3. Maintain correct breathing technique, as directed by your instructor.
  4. Maintain correct form and intensity, concentrating on the movement’s technique, rather than range or repetitions.
  5. Remain relaxed during movement. Imagine strength, coordination, and flow as generating from your energetic center, rather than tensing muscles to achieve the movement.
  6. Work within your ability. If you’re experiencing pain or too much tension while performing an exercise, stop and be sure you’re doing the exercise accurately. If the pain returns or continues, leave that exercise out of your routine or ask your instructor how to modify the exercise to accommodate your body’s needs. One of the benefits of Pilates is its adaptability for different body types and fitness levels, and virtually all Pilates exercises can be adjusted.

Do you have any questions about the Pilates method or stories to share? Please leave a comment.

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Amber Lea Starfire is an author, editor, & teacher whose passion is helping others tell their stories. Author of Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts, she enjoys writing articles on a variety of topics, spending time outdoors, and living life to the fullest. Visit www.writingthroughlife.com.

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Image Credit: Sean Dreilinger

Proper posture is about keeping the bones and joints in correct alignment so that the muscles fire properly. A postural assessment is essential as a starting point for creating a comprehensive Pilates program.

For example, Janice (not her real name) a busy, 52-year-old mother of two boys, 8 and 12 suffered a whiplash seven years ago. Up until her 50th birthday, she believed that it had been treated and corrected.

She was a regular member of the local gym and decided to try the new Pilates mat class as she had heard it could tone her abdominals. Though the Pilates mat teacher was earnest and tried her best to address all the different needs of the 13 students in her class, she could not. As a result, Janice aggravated her old injury.

After her initial visit to my studio she learned that there was a lot more to Pilates than what one session could show her. On her second visit, we went over her medical history and did a postural evaluation. I found that she had a tendency to a forward head position and rounded shoulders that aggravated the muscles in her cervical spine. I showed her some simple neck and jaw stretches/releases that she could do at home.

Over the course of the next ten weeks, we used the Reformer and the Cadillac to strengthen and connect her upper body to her core, thus releasing the muscles in her neck.

Today, Janice attends her private session once a week and supplements it with her original mat class. She is becoming more confident with the machines (Reformer and Cadillac) and is talking about moving into the open studio class on Tuesday morning.

Through the Pilates system postural evaluation Janice and I were able to first identify and then tone those muscles that had been taking a back seat, helping her to recover from her injury, while strengthening core muscles and building balance throughout her body.

Archer’s Pilates & Massage
611 Soscol Ave (Corner Soscol Ave & 8th St.)
707.337.5802

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