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Aero Joe Blog by owner/instructor Alison Page

Great Expectations: Create a Healthy Post Pregnancy Workout

Alison Page Aero Joe Pilates Studio Birmingham Alabama Healthy Pregnancy WorkoutI’ve heard it said that being a new parent is a mix of stress, exhaustion and magic.  That pretty much sums it up for me (with the magic part being interchangeable with love).  Yes, I’m profoundly changed by a lack of sleep, clean hair and hot food, but also by the most remarkable bond I have known.

My history in fitness shaded my experience postpartum in a way that wasn’t always ideal. Because I have always been a mover:  a fitness coach and professional dancer, I assumed that despite the aforementioned exhaustion of being a new parent, my natural tendencies would propel me to get moving very early post pregnancy.  They didn’t… Well, they couldn’t. Not yet anyway.

Eventually, I decided that celebrities that bounce back fast have either insanely rare genes or can afford an army of help. (I’m thinking midwife, fitness trainer, chef, therapist, nanny and wet nurse). I learned to be kinder and gentler to myself than my expectations would have dictated. I hid the scale and got back to moving very simply:

 

Weeks 2 – 6, Post Pregnancy (Goals: imbibing the joints with synovial fluid , pelvic stabilization, assisting the core to heal)

 

pointe and flex feet, ankle circles

 

heal slides (Position: lying on back, knees bent, feet flat, spine imprinted / Action: Flex right foot. Slide right heel to straighten right leg and pointe right  foot. Then slide leg back to starting position, while stabilizing the lower back. 5 reps per side. Variation: Try this turned out starting in a ‘butterfly’ position of the knees.)

 

pelvic tilts (Position: lying on back, knees bent, feet flat and shoe box distance apart  / Action: Flatten your lower back by tucking the tailbone  up, and then ‘arch’ your lower back by releasing the tailbone down.)

 

knee sways (Position: lying on back, knees bent, feet wider than hips, arms resting in “T” shape / Action: Sway knees left to right slowly. Allow lumbar spine to gently twist. Week 4-6 Variation: Hold knees to one side and turn head the opposite way. Hold for 3 breaths.)

 

body roll (Position: seated on bed, feet flat down, hands pressed down at sides / Action: tuck chin to chest and roll torso down with a curved spine. Roll up. Tilt gaze up slightly, and press chest forward to “arch” the back. Press hands down firmly.)

 

head tilts (Position: seated, legs together, feet flat / Action: Turn head “no,” moving side to side slowly. Begin to slowly twist spine in direction of the gaze. Variation: Tilt ear to shoulder on each side slowly.)

 

tricep stretch (Position: same as head tilts / Action: Lift right arm up, bend elbow and place right finger tips behind the neck, towards left shoulder blade. Hold right elbow with left hand. Lean head back gently into right wrist. Week 4 – 6 Variation: float rib cage side to side while holding stretch. Variation: Float ribs back to front (contract and release).

 

cat/cow (Position: on all fours / Action: Round the back and drop chin to chest. Arch back by pressing chest down and lift gaze up. Variation 1: Swing hips left and look left at hips, and repeat on other side. Week 3-6 Variation: With back flat in “table” position, lift one arm out straight above head at shoulder height. Scoop lower abdominals in. Stay 3 deep breaths. Repeat other side. Week 4-6 Variation: Extend one leg out straight to the back, with top of foot flat down to stabilize. Lift straight leg up for more challenge. Maintain abdominal scoop. Balance 3 breaths.)

 

kegels (Action: Work up to 3 sets of 10, hold for 3 seconds each.)

 

Another tip, it did not work for me to lay on a foam roller, as I am so used to doing in Pilates, so I would avoid this for the first 3 months (avoid for 6 months with a C-Section).  The pelvis and supporting abdominals are reorganizing as the uterus contracts.  The pressure the roller puts on the tailbone can be painful, and for me, I lacked the ab strength to get off the roller, once experiencing the discomfort. It was not a pretty site, me flopping off the roller, so do save yourself the trouble.

Lastly, for me, walking was the best medicine early on both mentally and physically. Go slow. Expect your hamstrings, glutes and abs to be sore, which may surprise you considering you are only walking.  We don’t traditionally talk about walking aiding in core strength, but I believe that simply walking greatly assists the reorganization of the pelvic bones and muscles postpartum.

My baby Jackson was two months old I found myself dancing in the kitchen with him.  I realized it had been forever since I had been able to move that way, and I was pain free.  I took a moment to mentally go back and tell my newly post-delivery self, ‘Don’t worry. It gets waaay better.  You’ll be dancing by month 2.’

Schedule a Pre or Post Natal Private Pilates Session: 205-202-5758

Photo: Heather Campbell

Pictured: Author Alison Page, ~ 20 weeks

Pilates FAQ: What is a Reformer?

Pilates Reformer

Pilates Reformer

Recently in discovering key words for the Pilates industry, I learned that Reformer ranks remarkably high on the list versus other apparatus… It’s no surprise really, considering how wonderfully versatile the Pilates reformer is (and is being made more so as evidenced by the applauded technical advances of our own Allegro 2 Balanced Body Reformer.) Here are some interesting tips about the Reformer:

 

TIP ABOUT SPRING SETTINGS: For control or balance exercises, the reduction of spring weight actually amounts to more challenge. Using second gear is also a way to lesson resistance.

 

STANDARD LENGTH ROPES: Measure the handles tight around the shoulder blocks.

 

ARCHIVAL ROPES: Measure the handles to the center of the shoulder blocks.

 

LONG ROPES: Measure the D loops between the shoulder blocks. (Long Spine, Leg Series)

 

SHORT ROPES: Shorten the ropes to the base of the headrest. (Roll Down, Hamstrings, Other Specialized Rowings)

 

FOOTBARS: The footbar Classically has three settings: high, low, and down. Our Allegro 2 model’s footbar is able to move to any length on the carriage frame – creating a series of new exercises for this apparatus!

 

NOTE ABOUT OUR BALANCED BODY REFORMERS: Aero Joe’s Reformers offer ropes that are very easily adjustable, making transitions easier, and thereby increasing the amount of exercises that can be accomplished in a 55 min session. (The technology of the Allegro 2 Reformer offers the easiest transition of all in terms of rope positioning.)

 

THE REPERTOIRE: A Classical series in the Pilates Method on the Reformer would be performed in a specific order. However, instructors use their best judgment as to how many exercises are taught during a 55 min session. (Even the Beginner level series can take more than an hour to complete at first!) Instructors are also encouraged to deviate from formal order by using more than one apparatus in each session. If your session doesn’t match the Classical order for your level, trust that your instructor is adapting the lesson to meet your individual needs & goals.

REFORMER PRIVATE LESSONS, REFORMER SEMI PRIVATE LESSONS: Call to schedule: 205-202-5758

REFORMER CLASSES: Click “Sign up Online” on our website to view the schedule and reserve your spot in a class!

 

Pilates FAQ: What is the Tower?

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The Tower is a space saving, sleeker version of the largest Pilates apparatus known as the “Cadillac.” The Tower utilizes a Push Through Bar (sprung from below or above), roll-down bar, leg springs and arm springs.

Individual VS. Series of Exercises

Tower exercises are often performed without a formal, prescribed series. (The Reformer Apparatus and the Mat, when Classically taught, involve a specific order or series of exercises.)

Go with the Flow!

As a former professional dancer, I enjoy the flow of a Tower class more than any other Pilates offering. Tower movements are typically performed “lyrically,” meaning slow & controlled. Transitions between exercises can make the class flow almost seamlessly, unlike the Reformer which often requires more time standing for equipment adjustments.

In general Pilates focuses on lengthening muscles while building strength, but the Tower offers, in my opinion, a special emphasis in opening the hips and lengthening the leg muscles. I feel the Tower work is the closest thing to a ballet class exercise experience for my body. (I always preferred adagio to allegro when dancing so this preference for slower, fluid movement transfers for me to Pilates as well.)

Rehab Benefits

Tower skills often focus on one body part at a time, making it easy to focus on one set of muscles in a rehabilitation situation. Also, Tower can be a great choice for beginners and those rehabbing injuries alike, as it offers exercises that are the precursors of advanced skills or “baby steps” in training to more complicated Reformer and Chair work.

Take a Tower Class at Aero Joe!:

Tuesdays: 4:30 & 5:30pm Reformer / Tower, Wednesdays: 7:00am Reformer / Tower, Thursday: 4:15pm Tower

Sign up in advance on our website to reserve your spot!

(Please note in the Reformer/Tower class the apparatus used is alternated week to week.)

 

Is Your Car Better Cared for than Your Body?

“Were man to devote as much time and energy to himself as he has devoted to that which man has produced, what astounding and unbelievable progress would be made; a progress eclipsing all he has so far successfully accomplished…” ~ Joseph Pilates

Ok, ok. My car is badly in need of an oil change, and you could probably go finger paint “wash me” through the pollen on my rear window. However many of us give our cars regular tune-ups,  meanwhile our bodies sputter without regular maintenance.

If your day is anything like mine, you experience a great deal of “mind clutter” that can get in the way of self-care. During my day a play-list of to-do’s for two organizations (Aero Joe & AROVA Ballet) sounds on repeat. I sometimes feel as though if I don’t get the list done by the end of the day that the sky will come falling down. But today I took a Mat Class (or Kelly made me take a Mat Class. Thank you, Kelly.), and my chicken little self lived to see another day. Not only that, but tonight I am writing this blog & tackling a few problems that had me stumped last week. I am doing this with ease and a smile. What gives?

FINDING CALM & CLARITY FROM SELF-CARE…

“The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors if there be any such fortunate living among us today.” ~ Joseph Pilates

The mental clarity that comes from Mr. Pilates’ method allows us to be our most creative, productive selves. Specifically the Pilates Mat imbibes all of the joints and re-sets our nervous system… We can be renewed with even a single class.

HOW TO KEEP THE PROGRESS GOING:

Many of us have little time or money to devote to a daily ritual of Pilates. However, it is possible to turn one class into something that makes a lasting difference.
Attend at least one class with a certified instructor. Then visit http://pilates.about.com/od/pilatesexercises/tp/First-10-Classic-Exercises.htm to get the 10 exercises in order that Mr. Pilates recommends every day for self-care.

Is everyday too big a goal? For most of us the answer is yes. How about 10 consecutive days? How about once a week this summer? Perhaps challenge yourself to do these on vacation this summer instead of completely skipping out on workouts?

Above all set an attainable goal, and remember even one class can make a difference.

Aerial Fitness Benefits

Aero Joe is the premiere studio in Alabama to offer Aerial Fitness! 

Benefits of Aerial Yoga or Aerial Pilates :

  1. Decompressing the spine
  2. Lubricates the vertebrae in fluid, easing joint mobility
  3. Aligns the vertebrae
  4. Hold challenging yoga postures longer with better alignment
  5. Hold inversions with ease
  6. Increase flexibility with less strain
  7. Increase joint mobility
  8. Fine tune kinesthetic awareness
  9. Relaxes the Nervous System (Relieving chronic pain, decreasing depression and alleviating anxiety)
  10. Core strengthening
  11. Builds upper body strength
  12. Creates better circulation and lymph drainage
  13. Builds self –esteem by conquering challenges
  14. Energizes the body and mind

EXPLAINING THE FAQ PILATES VS. YOGA…

Pilates:

Focus on Core Conditioning (Muscles supporting the spine)
Stretching/lengthening the spine by using the core muscles
Uniformed muscle development
Variety of equipment utilized (Reformer, Tower, Chair,Trapeze Table, etc.)
Mind-Body Concentration emphasized
Instructor cues & corrects very often
Movements are emphasized over holding positions

Both:

Union of mind, body, spirit
Physical & mental stamina
Series of movement progressively heats the body
Massage of internal organs
Flexibility
Breathing with movement emphasized
Detoxification
Balance
Joint Mobility
Lengthened Muscles
Mats are used
Unconnected to any religious denomination
Better Posture
Stress Relief
Better Sex Drive
Better Sleep
Better Mood

Yoga:

Enforces connection between the spiritual and the physical during the practice
Form that has been utilized for thousands of years
Concentration on flow of energy in the body
Holding poses often emphasized
Moderate cueing of form/alignment
Calming & centering the mind emphasized
Meditation is often a part of the practice