Blog - Page 3 of 8 - The Pilates Studio

Learn to Run: Week 1

What a great first week!  We are so excited to Learn to Run with you.  You may be thinking, “What a great first class, now what!”  And that my friends is why I am sending you this blog post.  Each week after class we will send you a link to a blog post with three or four exercises that we hope you can do between now and next Sunday.  We also want you to find time to get outside and move.  If you’re not sure how and when to run, that is no problem check out the following ideas.  And of course if you have questions feel free to contact us at The Pilates Studio with any questions.

Brand New Runner If you are brand new to running, you want to get outside and walk/run for at least thirty minutes a few days  (4-5) next week.  Feel free to do the exercises below before you run.

Already Running If you are already running, then keep training and simply add these exercises in.

Recovering from an injury If you are a runner that is recovering from an injury try the following protocol.

  1. Go run and stop when you feel pain (this is establishing your baseline)
  2. Once the baseline is established, take two runs at 60% of the baseline
  3. On the third run try 80% of your baseline.
  4. Rinse and repeat 60-60-80

Now on to the exercises…Don’t worry it’s just three exercises that will get us all to Learn to Run!

First for hip extension – we have the single leg bridge

Next for thoracic extension and ankle dorsi flexion – We have the quadruped cat and cow

Finally for control of the Hip Socket: Quadruped to Star

I also want to be sure that you know about RUNITY.  This is the coaches training that Nate and I took to Learn all of this stuff.  RUNITY is what brought me from a perpetual beginner to someone who actually could run.  If you find that you love this stuff as much as I do, there are some great online courses and resources, that can provide some of the science behind the conditioning exercises that we do.  I hope to bring Juan or Blas to the valley again sometime in 2019!


Polestar Pilates Teacher Training: The Principles Part 4 of 6

Pilates Teacher TrainingOver the past few weeks this blog has been has been explaining the basics of The Polestar Pilates principles that underscore all of the Polestar Pilates Teacher Training.  We have talked  about the importance of  Breath, axial length and control, and spine articulation. Now we  shall move on to the fourth principle, which is organization  of  the Head Neck and Shoulders.

Imagine all of the electronic devices in your life.  When you use them what is the alignment of your head neck and shoulders  like?   Are your shoulders wide on your back? Is your head floating  above your  rib  cage?   Is  your neck as long as possible?  NO??  Really, you don’t  say.   The technological revolution has put information at our  fingertips, empowered  the populace, and made  our   lives easier in so  many  ways,  but it has also made Pilates  all the more necessary for every human  being.  We all  need to  understand the organization  of  our  Head,   Neck, and Shoulders so that  we only experience  the  benefits of technology  and  not the downsides.

The good news: Becoming  a Pilates  Instructor  is all the  more  important, because  in  the  Polestar  Pilates Teacher Training, the understanding of efficient organization of  the  head neck and shoulders is discussed.  Future Pilates Instructors  learn how to  cue  ease and  grace through  the upper body so  that shoulder blades are talking with the ribcage and the head of the humerus is deep inside the shoulder socket. This allows the most expressive and communicative parts of our body to move freely without discomfort.

Try this: sit tall in your chair and take a breath filling your ribcage. The full rib cage will allow the shoulder blades to glide along the  width of  your  ribcage  as  you allow your arms to rise over your head. Now  move your arms out to the side.  How do  your  shoulder blades  move?   Are  they  staying   wide on  your  back,  or do they  squeeze together.   The first step in changing Head Neck and Shoulder organization  is understanding how things  are organizing  themselves in  the first place.  Once you are aware of  what you are doing,  then you can change anything.

Ease and freedom of the upper body is something we take for granted until we don’t  have it. When I am teaching  the Polestar Pilates Teacher Training,  I love how bright  their eyes  are when they  tell  me stories of clients who back out of their driveways  pain free or get their suitcase in the overhead compartment  without help,  or start playing tennis again. All of these folks who are working hard to become Pilates instructors are getting their  first  taste  of  what it is  to change someone’s life and it’s all  thanks to  the  Polestar  Pilates  Principles.

Polestar Pilates Teacher Training: The Principles part 3 of 6

Pilates Teacher TrainingOn this blog, We’ve talked about breath and we’ve talked about axial elongation and control as the first to principles of Polestar Pilates Teacher Training. If you remember breath is a tool to facilitate movement and axial elongation and control uses alignment and length to create the most efficient pathway to movement. Now we move on to the third principle and this is Spine Articulation.

First, let’s do a quick anatomy review.  The spine has consists of 24 vertebra,  a sacrum and a coccyx, and each vertebra has articulating joints that can move.  So, the principle of spine articulation in the Polestar Pilates Teacher Training asserts that when moving the spine,  we want distribute the force of the movement over several joints of several vertebra,  which will reduce the wear and tear on each individual vertebra.

If you’re like me, of a certain age, you had P.E. class when you were in school.  In this class, there was probably some sort of  fitness test that tested flexible you had,  I remember a ruler between my legs measuring how  far  I could reach past my toes.   There was also a sit up  test.  I remember someone holding my feet while I  did  as many sit ups as I could in minute. These tests are great examples  of  why the world  needs the Spine  Articulation principle.

Imagine first, the flexibility test.   Way back when, the intention of this test was to measure the flexibility of the hamstrings, but in actuality based on what we know now, that test actually  was a measure of how much movement was available at the lower lumbar spine.   Now, imagine if you will taking a breath in, and reaching your head to the ceiling.   Once you find the longest possible spine, then nod your head and then allow each vertebra of your spine  to move in sequence towards your legs.  You might feel a stretch all the way along the back of your spine.  Using the Spine  Articulation principle  we have turned  an  old fitness screening  into   an  exercise  that actually changes  the way  that the spine  relates to the  back  of the  legs.  

Now  let’s take our mind’s  eye that ridiculous sit up. What  if we  slowed it down?  What if  we nodded  our heads before even starting  and then focused on peeling each vertebra away from  the  floor  individually until we  reached the sitting position. In this movement using the spine  articulation  principle we  have created a movement that  distributes the  load of  gravity  across the  entire spine, instead of at only a few vertebra.  This makes the exercises much safer and more relevant to what the body needs.

In the Polestar Pilates Teacher Training we use  the Spine articulation principle to protect the spine and keep the body as fluid as  possible.    Pilates becomes more than a  fitness class it becomes a  method to keep the body moving.


Polestar Pilates Teacher Training: The Principles, 2 of 6

Pilates TrainingIn the last blogpost I spoke about how the Polestar Pilates Training, allowed me to be a creative teacher because of the system of principles that it teaches.  We spoke about breath and using the breath as a tool for movement facilitation, and that led me to tell you, “Why Polestar?”  Because with a system of principles I am given the freedom to meet people where they are and am given the tools necessary to create a program geared towards their goals.

Well Breath is just the first principle of Polestar.  Axial Elongation and Control is the second.

Now first let me tell you about a little history.  This principle used to be called Axial Elongation and Core control.  You know “the core” the buzzword of the first part of the century. Everybody was talking about the core and telling people to pull their belly button to their spine.    The planking internet craze came out of this movement, and because of this “core revolution” whenever anybody heads into the doctor speaking of some form of musculoskeletal pain the doctor says, “you need core strength.”

This person then heads to the Internet and when you type in core strength up comes an image of a man with his shirt off doing a plank.  Because of course the Internet thinks the Plank is the best exercise for core strength and if the Internet says it’s true, then well…

Okay yes I am on a soapbox.  One I can get on quite often.  The core is not magic and having a strong one is not going to fix all of the world’s musculoskeletal pain.  The core is part of a system and if this system is placed in the most advantageous position the core will be strong.

Thus in the Polestar Pilates Training, we teach that the Axial Elongation and Control principle is about finding the longest axis of the body so that the core can work without conscious thought.  The best way to feel this is to try it.

Sit in a chair.  Without changing anything notice what your belly feels like.  Touch it, and notice how the muscles feel.  Now begin reaching your head towards the ceiling, and then become aware that your ears and your ribs are centered over the bowl that is your pelvis.  Now without moving notice what you feel in the abdomen.  You may feel some additional tone and guess what by simply finding your longest axis you are increasing your core strength and endurance.

All this and I didn’t have to say bellybutton to the spine once.  Thus within the system of the Polestar Pilates Training, we have the first two of six principles which guide a practitioner’s creative and critical thinking to design the very best program from any person to find. In the next blogpost learn about the third principle spine articulation.

What’s learned in a Polestar Pilates Teacher Training?

polestar pilates teacher trainingI was once at a Polestar Pilates Educator meeting in which we were working hard to create content for the Internet to communicate to the world, “Why Pilates?” And “Why Polestar?”  The answers I found to these questions were easy.  Why Pilates? Because Pilates keeps every person doing what they want to do!  Whether that is hiking mountains or pulling weeds, running marathons or playing on the floor with grandchildren.  Why Pilates? Because Pilates keeps people moving, and The Polestar Pilates Teacher Training teaches practitioners how to facilitate this transformation.

Now Why Polestar?  Why did I choose the Polestar Pilates Teacher Training?  That’s an easy one.  Polestar Pilates allows me to be creative within a system of principles.  Rather than teaching me a series of exercises that become a rote script of a beginner, intermediate and advanced Pilates class, Polestar gave me a structure within which I could be creative. This meant that I could use the tools I was given to teach an 85 year old grandfather as well as a ten year old boy.  I wasn’t taught a recipe of exercises I was taught a systematic approach.  The amateur chaos theory mathematician in me was stoked!

The Polestar Pilates Teacher Training is based on six principles, that are designed to guide the critical thinking of a Polestar Pilates Practitioner. In this post I want to describe the first one.

The Breath Principle

Now, we don’t choreograph when one should inhale and exhale.  We learn the anatomy and physiology of the breath and we also learn the biokinematics and the arthrokinematics of breath, and all of this information within this principle allows us to decide how to best use breath as a tool for movement facilitation. When we study the breath principle we choose to ask the question how can I use the breath to create the best movement.  Will an inhale facilitate what I want, or is an exhale better?  Or we might ask, how can I use this breath to challenge the mover in front of me to create greater integration of movement.

Our understanding of the breath might answer other questions?  How might I use breath to improve posture?  How might I use breath to create more flexibility or space in a joint?  How might I use the exhale to create axial length, and how might I use the inhale to facilitate thoracic mobility?

Why do I love the Polestar Pilates Teacher Training?  Because Polestar Pilates gave me a plethora of information and then said, “okay kid, take this and run with it!  Have a ball, and most importantly help people move”

Best candidates for a Pilates Teacher Training program love to move!

Pilates TrainingAbout four years ago I posted the following Facebook status, “What do a PT, a chiropractor, two dancers, a therapist, a painter, an international developer, and a teacher have in common? They are the fabulous students of the Polestar Pilates training that are joining Valerie Lyons Hodgson and I for R1/S1. What a great start to the day!”

So the answer to the question, “Who are the best candidates for a Pilates Training program?” is anybody that loves to move.  Understanding the power of movement towards wellness has been documented in so many studies, that I can’t believe that the world doesn’t know all of it yet.  The Pilates Industry (which wow it feels weird to talk about my life’s work as an industry) is growing and there is room for so many people to be Pilates Instructors.

I always tell the story of one of our teachers Jenni, who assists me in the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Series. She was the painter in the above quote.  Her eye is so refined in a way that is different than other Pilates Teachers.  She is able to see bodies with the eyes of an artist and this informs her pilates program design in such a beautiful way.

Another student in the Comprehensive series was an undergraduate who was pre-med.  He had come to me first as a client working through shoulder issues, and I looked at him and said, “I think I’ve figured out how you are going to pay for med school.”  He is about to take the exam, and the communication skills that he has learned in this Pilates training program will make him a better Doctor.

What about the therapist?  It is well documented at this point that the body houses our emotional life.  Imagine the healing power of a social worker that can also work with the body.  Understanding communication and the way the body can hold onto the past adds to the depth of a Pilates Teacher.

And finally the international developer, who speaks with leaders of other countries on a daily basis brings an even more global idea to the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Teacher Training.  Brent Anderson, who founded Polestar, often says not many people want to start a fight after a Pilates class.  What if we could bring the peace that a body feels to the world…I do believe it might change.

Who should take a Pilates Teacher Training? Anyone who wants to explore movement and meaning with the goal of change and growth, not to mention making friends and remembering what it is like to play.  We could all use a little of that.

What is the best Pilates Instructor Training?

Pilates Instructor TrainingI am so often asked, “Why Polestar Pilates?”  What is so good about this training?  Now it’s funny you would think that I get tired of this question.  That maybe I feel challenged by this question. Well, that’s not exactly true.  I absolutely love this question, “Why Polestar Pilates?”  I love the dialog, the opportunity to talk about why, I love teaching the Polestar Pilates Curriculum.

Reason #1 There is no dogma?

A definition of dogma as I found on the Internet, “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.”  Now the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive series certainly has a set of principles, but we are constantly questioning what we know to be true! Nothing absolutely nothing is set in stone.  As a Pilates Instructor I used to say things years ago that have been proven ineffective or inaccurate.  I am the first to admit it, and I am happy to sit down with and explain the evolution of my thinking.

Here’s a for instance…I haven’t asked anyone to rollout their ITBands in about 10 years.  It doesn’t work and once I figured that out through evidence and research, I stopped asking people to do it!  In Polestar Pilates there is no dogma…Nothing is set in stone, we are always questioning and improving the work that we do! If you want a Pilates Instructor Training that is on the cutting edge you should trust Polestar Pilates.

Reason #2 Creativity

We just started a cohort of Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Students at The Pilates Studio in Hadley.  At the end of the weekend we split the group into three groups and each of us worked on a case study or program design together.  At the end of a half an hour, we compared the three program designs, and I got on my soap box…I was even standing on a long box…What I love about program design in Polestar Pilates is our ability to create different programs based on our own backgrounds.  We get to use our own creativity within the program to help people!  This Pilates Instructor Training doesn’t mandate what exercise begins your program. What’s better than that?

Reason #3 Growth and change

I have led people through this curriculum enough times to realize how amazing the changes in people’s bodies are.  The small victories of finding true hip extension or spine articulation are celebrated. What could be more exciting? The camaraderie within the cohort, and the friendships that are made along with the community that is created make for an environment of play where learning is easy.  This Pilates Instructor Training adds lifelong friendships and community to the world!

When people ask me, “Why Polestar?”  I simply smile because it is the easiest question in the world!

RUNITY: How a conditioning program helped me finally Learn to Run


Every spring there was this voice in my head that said, “I need to get in shape, maybe I should start running.”  Yes, I was really good at Pilates, but I had enough knowledge to know that there is more to fitness than just Pilates.  Countless times I googled a couch to 5k training program, printed out a schedule and then I went “running.” After which came the disheartening bright red face, loss of oxygen and the feeling that my heart was going to explode.  This of course would be the end of my running career for that particular season. In other springs, I was able to push through the heart exploding phase of cardiovascular training and would feel like maybe I was in a little bit better shape, and then inevitably my knee would start hurting, or my hip would ache naggingly, and thus another season would go by the way side because running “hurt” me.  To explain it all I sometimes told myself, “I hate to run.” “I’m not built like a runner.” “I like hiking better anyway.” When in reality I wanted to run and I just couldn’t figure out how…I was the perpetual red faced, heart exploding, novice.  I didn’t realize that I needed to learn to run.

Then comes RUNITY a program that helped me learn to run

At a Polestar Pilates educator meeting I met Juan Nieto and Blas Chamorro.  They are the Polestar Educators from Spain and they have developed RUNITY, a conditioning program that prepares the body to accept added load from the pavement in a safe and dare I say it, “fun” way.  They emphasized the joy in running along with the conditioning of the body that is necessary to remain safe.  RUNITY’s movement assessment succinctly explained the knee pain that I experienced every time I started to run and helped me create a very targeted conditioning program that taught my body how to control the mobility in my hip so that my knee didn’t have to deal with quite so much.  You may wonder, “umm Katrina aren’t you a Pilates Instructor? Don’t you help people with knee pain all of the time???” This is what my own inner judgey voice was saying.  My favorite improv teacher Pam Victor named that voice Calvin. You should check out her website too!  The RUNITY conditioning exercises added a certain depth to my Pilates practice.  Yes as a Pilates Instructor I understood hip mobility and control, and in a very careful and controlled environment I was quite adept at working with this concept, but RUNITY went a step further.  It gave more opportunity for the body to develop adapted strategies specific to easeful running.

I was throwing kettlebells around, I was training my brain as much as I was strengthening and increasing the flexibility of my body.  I was progressing onto new and more challenging movements.  I found that to learn to run was just the beginning. This program led to hope, maybe just maybe I didn’t have to “hate” running.  Maybe I could even be one of those folks that went running for the sheer joy of it instead of the sheer should of it.  Maybe I might be that person that runs through the winter because I even like it when it’s cold. I found that with RUNITY you don’t run to get in shape, you get in shape to run.

So What does “get in shape to run” mean?

When we think about running, we don’t think about the load that moves through the body with each step.    We don’t think of the power of the ground force multiplied by our body weight as a force that is moving through all of our joints, and we often don’t realize that if we are not running efficiently the sheer forces may move through the tissues in a way that causes inflammation…(I like to think of this as grumpy tissues) If however we create ease through our posture and strength through our joints with conditioning exercises that also focus on motor control, the body will be able to accept the additional load efficiently.  For me personally, this turned running into the endorphin creating good time instead of the limp inducing nagging knee, and that made all of the difference.

Learn to Run with us!

If this story resonated with you at all, check out the Learn to Run program at the Pilates Studio.  Nate and I will begin our first series on April 29…Just at the moment when the spring inspires the voices in our head.

Becoming a Pilates Teacher: Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Series

Becoming Pilates TeachersA couple of weeks ago at The Pilates Studio in Hadley, we started our third Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training, and once again I am so excited to work with a group of diverse individuals who understand the power of movement and the relationship of movement to wellness.  Over the next six months we will meet as a group for one weekend a month to learn new exercises in The Pilates Repertoire, but we will also be learning so much more.  The process of becoming Pilates Teachers  is a journey towards new freedom in one’s body.

In this course we cover program design.  Students in the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive series learn how to design a specific program that meets the needs of the client in front of them.  For instance, what kind of program might you give to someone who has been sedentary due to an intense and focused work life, and how might that program differ from someone who’s life keeps them bouncing in all directions.

And once we’ve learned about program design, then we begin to talk about ways in which to communicate with the client to get the best possible outcome.  Students learn how to work with different learning styles and learn the best strategies for communication so that their future clients feel safe and free to be themselves.

And what about folks with injuries?  Students in the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive series learn how to modify anything and everything for any person with which they might come in contact.  When becoming Pilates Teachers, students learn that everybody can do Pilates no matter what their past injuries or past accomplishments. The most acute injury can begin the process of healing and the most accomplished athlete can be challenged and improve performance.  Pilates is for anybody and everybody and every student that goes through the process of becoming Pilates Teachers with Polestar knows how to help their clients succeed.

So for the next six months, on this blog, you will hear about the progress of the amazing students who have found Polestar Pilates and its unique way to work with every individual.  You will hear stories of accomplishments, challenges and growth. Bodies will change before our very eyes as everyone begins the process of moving in every plane of motion with the most balanced and efficient movement!  What a journey we are on! I can’t wait for it to continue!

Learn about our next series here

Does any Teacher Training give a Pilates Teacher Certification

Pilates Teacher CertificationWhen I started thinking about the importance of a Pilates Teacher Certification, I was drawn to this quote.

“Certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation is often, but not always, provided by some form of external review, education, assessment, or audit. Accreditation is a specific organization’s process of certification” – Wikipedia

That is a long definition above, and I quote it here to make a point. By definition, there is no such thing as a training that is also a Pilates Teacher Certification.  To become certified first you must graduate from a Pilates Teacher Training and then you take the certifying exam from an accredited third party.  In the United States the accredited third party is The Pilates Method Alliance.

For Instance, I encourage students to take the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Series to become a Pilates Teacher, however at the end of that process it is important to then register for the Pilates Method Alliance Certification Exam.  This exam is created by a group of experts in the Pilates field and the third party system of it all helps keep the qualities of Pilates instruction high.

So now the question becomes what does one look for in a Pilates Teacher Training?  To qualify for the Pilates Method Alliance Certifying exam you must complete a comprehensive Pilates Training.  Thus there are’t Pilates Mat Certifications or Pilates Reformer certification.  You can certainly take a Pilates Mat Training or a Pilates Reformer training, but to sit for the certifying exam, you must understand all of the Pilates apparatus.  It is also important that any training you consider also covers adaptations for injury, scope of practice, and history of the Pilates Method.

My bias is of course the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive series, but I also want to make sure that any student that is looking to be certified as a Pilates teacher researches the possibility and finds the best program for them.  Does the Pilates teacher training that you’re thinking about support the Pilates Method Alliance?  Does it have a curriculum that covers program design and meeting every client exactly where they are in their movement journey.  Does the Pilates teacher training cover all of the apparatus?  These are all questions that need to be asked when looking for a Pilates Teacher training.  And if you’re looking for the best, be sure to check out the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive series for the latest developments in Pilates research and movement efficiency.

At The Pilates Studio in Hadley, we are happy to host the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive series every year.  Our next series starts in September!  Check here for the dates and times! Once you finish you’ll be eligible to sit for the Pilates Method Exam and complete the Pilates Teacher Certification process.