What is the biggest obstacle that is keeping you from taking Pilates?
- you don’t have a Pilates studio in the area;
- Pilates classes are expensive;
- You took the first Pilates class in the wrong setting and never came back (they try a DVD, take a class at the gym with 40 other members or simply get to work with an instructor who hasn’t gone through proper training.)
- You don’t have time for Pilates.
Today I’m talking to Robin Long, a Pilates instructor and a blogger at TheBalancedLifeOnline, a new mommy and an inspiring Pilates success story. Just like many other women in modern world she was battling stress and anxiety because of her busy lifestyle. Pilates helped her take control of her life.
Today she helps other women find strength and confidence through Pilates. Her passion for the Method motivated her to create 2 online courses to help those students who want to experience the benefits of Pilates but can’t commit to taking in-person classes at the studio.
I’ll let Robin tell her story and share
- 5 favorite Pilates exercises;
- 5 tips to achieving a balanced Pilates body;
- The biggest benefit of Pilates.
1. Robin, when and how did you get involved with Pilates?
My first exposure to Pilates was in high school. I was a competitive dancer and one of my instructors brought some basic mat exercises into the studio to help us stay in shape for our performances and demanding training schedule. I liked it right away so purchased my own videos that I could do at home but it wasn’t until years later that I began my own practice of Pilates in a studio and really fell in love.
2. What was the biggest benefit that Pilates practice brought into your life?
I got serious about Pilates during a time of high stress in my life. I was dealing with a demanding work schedule and was also engaged and planning a wedding. My stress bubbled over into anxiety and my body was really affected. It’s amazing how stress can manifest in the body. I was experiencing real physical pain and discomfort that was directly related to my level of stress. Pilates helped me to connect with my body and address areas that were causing me discomfort. The mind/body component and concentration principle helped me to relieve stress and manage my anxiety in a completely new way. My life has never been the same.
3. Can you share with us the most inspiring/exciting part of your Pilates journey?
The most inspiring part of my Pilates journey has simply been watching my clients have their own transformations through Pilates. And the transformations are physical yes, but more importantly their mental. Everyone experiences the benefits of Pilates in their own way but when I see a client transform their relationship with their body, their stress, their pain, you name it, I am inspired and reminded how lucky I am to share this gift with them.
4. What do you enjoy the most about teaching Pilates?
Similar to my last answer, I enjoy the relationships with my clients more than anything. I enjoy helping them experience a new way of moving, feeling and thinking. Pilates is so holistic and I love watching clients benefit from that approach. I love watching a client who walked in with stress and pain walk out with a smile and new life in their step.
5. What is your personal definition of Pilates?
Well, given that my website is based on a Pilates-inspired lifestyle. I would really say that Pilates has become a way of life for me. It is important to recognize and honor the exercise/movement system as it is defined by Joseph Pilates but Joseph also encouraged that his exercises spill over into modern, everyday life. I base my definition of Pilates and a Pilates lifestyle on the principles: balance, control, concentration, flow, precision, awareness, breath, center, efficiency and harmony.
6. Robin, I know that you run virtual Pilates courses and use mostly Pilates mat exercises. Could you please share with us 5 of your favorite Pilates mat exercises and your favorite way to teach them? (cues that you use the most, points of focus etc.)
I have a passion for working with pregnant women or women who are coming back from pregnancy. I find that Pilates can be such a great way to stay connected with your body and mind during at time of such change. This video shows a few exercises that I like to use with new mothers as they transition back into their Pilates routine.
Click here to view Pilates exercises
7. What are your virtual Pilates programs about?
I have 2 virtual programs. They are both in line with the motto of my website which is “anti-guilt, pro-balance.” I’m passionate about the way the fitness industry influences women and their relationship with their bodies and “working out.” I really hate to see women beating themselves up and guilting themselves into exercise. It can be so much better than that! So both of my programs take a holistic, big-picture, guilt-free approach to Pilates and healthy living.
The first program is called The Pilates Body Program. This is a guided program that includes 6 weeks of online Pilates workouts, a nutritional meal plan and unlimited email coaching to help you meet your goals along the way. I interact a lot with the women who participate in this program so that we can make sure they tailor the program to their lives and their needs.
The second program “Balanced Beginnings: embracing pregnancy through prenatal Pilates” launched on April 1st. The program includes 5+ Pilates videos that are safe for all 3 trimesters, along with additional resources to help you embrace your changing body during pregnancy (a guided meditation, nutrition recommendations, prenatal exercise safety and stretches to help relief common pregnancy discomforts such as sciatic nerve pain). This program is not guided so women can purchase the package and use it as they please during their 9 months.
8. Robin, what are your top 5 tips to achieving a balanced Pilates body?
- Understand how your body works. Become familiar with the muscles and bones that you are working with and how they work in your body. Gaining this understanding will help you get the most out of each exercise.
- Master the fundamentals. Unlike many forms of exercise, harder and faster isn’t always better. Take time to master the fundamentals before you go on to the more challenging exercises and you’ll experience better changes in a shorter time period.
- Do your mat work. The Pilates equipment is fun, beneficial and effective but mat work is just as important. Never stop doing your mat work.
- Be picky about the instructor you are working with. Make sure that he/she is trained through a nationally recognized school and don’t be afraid to ask his/her about her training. Working with someone who has a deep understanding of the body and Pilates repertoire will ensure that you have a worthwhile experience and see the best results.
- Focus on the details. Pilates is not the place to slop through your workouts. I tell my clients they can go back to the weight room floor if they want to “muscle through” the exercises without thinking about it. Pilates takes concentration, control and precision but it pays off and will help you build a more beautiful, balanced “Pilates body”.
P.S. For Pilates instructors: Robin shares her experience of running a virtual Pilates studio as well as the most important tips on how to succeed with Pilates online in her interview Increase Your Pilates Profits through Online Teaching (members-only content)