Tag Archives: body harmonics

Client Spotlight: Gloria Eby

Gloria comes into the Studio three times a week for reformer classes and a private session. We love her contagious spirit and curiosity of movement (and breathing!). She always puts her best foot forward, and inspires us to find ways to challenge her in movement. 

Gloria

Though I grew up very active (farm girl) I was never involved in sports (farm girl) and as an adult always felt too busy to exercise (full time work, children, volunteer work). And then in the last decade, there were four seniors who required untold hours of support. All I wanted to do when I had a moment was sit on the couch and watch TV or read.  In my early 40’s I joined a woman’s gym.   Who was I kidding.  I rarely got there and when I did I felt completely discouraged.   My peers there were 20 somethings and I had no idea what to do.   In my late 40s I took up Kung Fu.   I loved the fierceness and the discipline and I learned a lot but it was too much too late and unsustainable. I tried hiring a personal trainer to come to my home and design a weight training program for me to do myself.   You know how that went.

But in January 2017 I sent a letter to my family anticipating the year and in that moment I decided I needed to do something.   Spending so much time with seniors struggling with Parkinsons, Alzheimers and bad falls made me think hard about what I was doing to prepare myself for the years ahead.   And I wanted to be able to get off the floor fast enough to keep a lively granddaughter safe!

My husband discovered Art of Fitness three years earlier when he needed help to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro.   He loved it.   But I don’t’ respond well to people telling me what to do. By the end of 2016 he had finally stopped telling me to try classes.   I decided to interview them.   If they were pushy, or intimidating … if I did not feel comfortable … I would move on. My first encounter went very well.  

I attend two classes and a private session every week.   I find it interesting, challenging, and surprising. I know a lot about a lot of things but I did not realize how important the brain is when exercising.   I did not know that I carried as much tension in my body as I do. (PJ asked me to take my tongue out of the roof of my mouth in my first session with her. I had no idea.) I did not know it was possible to breathe into my back. I am still learning how to breathe while holding an ab curl.

I love that my only goal is going to class and improving.   (Well privately I do hope that the saggy underarm skin improves but I don’t focus on that.)   I love that I just need to get to class and that if I do I will get stronger, my balance will improve and I will learn how to do things I could not do a year ago.    Somehow these very capable, congenial instructors know exactly how to push me just hard enough to keep me getting stronger AND more confident.   I continue to be amused by what I am doing and how enthused I am about it.   Amazing.

Life by Design: Reading a Script or Being a Story

“The achiever’s shadow is addiction to winning, fuelled by the never-ending desire for more. Underneath, s/he has an even stronger fear of losing.”

P. 121, The Soul of Leadership, Deepak Chopra.

Life By Design

If we choose to never fail, we are guaranteed to fail to grow and fully own the authorship of the life we have been given. 

Remember how Stephanie referred to cueing as story?  And, remember how, in a previous blog I talked about the malaise of “MORE”? How does our story deliver as relational and not just more noise? And, what is the space you have available for the more? What if there is only so much available space for more and it is being taken up by spam – like an inbox intruder? 

A great deal of what runs our lives is constantly running in the background – endless loops of old tapes that have gathered over the years of our growing up/socializing process. These ‘tapes’ include our perceptions, beliefs, fears, expectations, judgments and so much more. Without even realizing, unless we bring them into our conscious awareness, “They are running the show. So…who or what is in the drivers’ seat of your vehicle – this thing you call your life.

Question: can we call it life and living if the lights are on and nobody is home?

What I mean by this is all those times we are running on autopilot. You know…when you arrive somewhere and don’t know how you got thereJ Granted, this can happen from time to time; but what if this is your norm? I say that if you aren’t taking a few calculated risks, and living on the edge (outside your comfort zone), you are taking up too much space. It is a choice; no judgments…but, there is the question of what do you want your life to be at the mercy of – automatic-itis or committed, conscious choices?

Would you prefer a life by default or a Life by design?

It is a little bit like fitness. If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish and WHY, are you really getting fit? And what qualifies as a fit life? Perhaps what we really need to do is simply ask more questions and dare to live the questions for a fuller presence inside the choices we make. See Rainer Maria Rilke – Click Here.

Own your body, free your mind! Dare to ask the better questions.

It is our predetermined programming that imposes judgments and ‘should(s)’ (read: absence of true choice), rather than thoughtful reflections and authentic choice. From Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl says:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”

This is where emotional agility resides. Things become increasingly complicated when we either forget we have a choice, or we don’t believe we have one – life on automatic pilot.

To ensure your version of a ‘designer life,’ why not consider a session with a “Guide to All Things Great” ©, or a review of your core fitness beliefs with a coach at the KW Art of Fitness!

Isolation is a Myth Revisited

Why it’s important that our muscles can glide their fibres long and short, instead of “clenching”

Human movement is complex.

There are many working parts that come together to help us move – our joints, muscles, nerves and fascia just to name a few.

So, if someone tells you in a movement/Pilates class that you are trying to “isolate” a certain muscle or muscle group – you should be skeptical – or at least you should be, after reading this post.

As Stephanie said in her last blog post: “Generally speaking, if all your attention is on the “one” muscle you think is being isolated the tendency is to “clench and go”. This creates many future problems. “

It’s true, if we try to use one muscle to do a job that is meant for many muscles working in concert, problems can arise:

  • we can actually block the movement we are trying to achieve by holding the muscle tightly
  • we can develop increased tension in the muscle that is difficult to release again
  • tender trigger points or taut bands can develop in the muscle that lead to pain
  • and we can ultimately confuse the brain and nerve connections to that muscle so that it’s difficult to do anything other than clench it in the future

You mean I’m not supposed to clench my muscles to really feel them working?

In short – no. But, let’s take a deeper look into how muscles really work to understand this better…

First of all, muscles don’t act alone. It’s impossible to disregard our nervous system if we are talking about movement:

Our brain sends a message to our nerves, through our spinal cord and on to many more nerves that communicate in a sequence between our brain and each muscle in our body (see picture below). The final nerve in the chain then sends a chemical signal to the muscle itself to tell it to take action. The result, is that the many overlapping muscle fibres within the muscle either contract or relax, to stabilize or move our bones and joints.

Diagram

Zoom in even further to the muscles fibres themselves and there are millions of tiny protein fibres called sarcomeres that change length as our muscles contract and relax.

As a muscle contracts – these fibres overlap more, shortening the overall length of the muscle. When a muscle relaxes after a contraction, or stretches, these fibres overlap less, expanding and lengthening the larger muscle.

So, when the brain sends a “contract” signal to a muscle, many nerves are sending many messages to many muscle fibres to make the entire muscle contract. Our nervous system is in charge of the whole shebang.

One Sarcomere:

Sarcomere

Richfield, David (2014). “Medical gallery of David Richfield”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.009. ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2264027

If you would like to learn even more information about muscles and their fibres, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcomere

Quick review:

SYNERGIST: The synergist in a movement is the muscle(s) that stabilises a joint around which movement is occurring, which in turn helps the agonist function effectively. Synergist muscles also help to create the movement.

AGONIST and ANTAGONIST muscles often occur in pairs: as the agonst contracts (and shortens), the opposing muscle or antagonist, relaxes (and lengthens). Example: during a bicep curl, the bicep is the agonist and shortens, and the triceps is the antagonist and lengthens.

However, in our day to day lives, our brain rarely sends a “contract glutes” message, instead the brain sends a “walk” or “sit” or “stand” message. When we produce movement in our joints with our muscles, there is never only ONE muscle working alone to produce that movement. Even when we are using muscles to stabilize a joint and producing virtually no movement – ie. the deep synergist muscles around the hip joint when standing on one leg, there is still not only one muscle working to create that stability and stillness. Our joints are 3-dimensional – there will always be muscles working 360 degrees around them, some shortening while the opposing muscles lengthen, or multiple muscles surrounding the joint contracting simultaneously to create stability. AND sometimes – most of the time – all three of these things are happening all at once.

Isolation is indeed a myth.

Now, you may be saying, “but my (insert rehab or movement professional) has given me exercises to isolate my glutes, core, rotator cuff… before”. While this may be true, there is a very specific purpose for exercises like this. When you have an injury or pain, the brain-muscle connection can weaken or become confused, and so a Physiotherapist may give you exercises to try to “wake up” that brain muscle connection again. However, this type of “isolation” exercise should only be done for a short period of time until the brain-muscle connection strengthens enough to get that muscle working properly again during larger functional movements, like the ones we do in Pilates and in life. Keep in mind, if you are moving your leg while doing “glut isolation exercises”, or moving your arm while doing “rotator cuff exercises”, then you are still using many different muscles working together to move.

So, what happens when you try to isolate certain muscles while doing Pilates?

Well, when you focus your attention on contracting one particular muscle, or you try to use only one muscle to perform a complex movement, it is easy to end up clenching that muscle instead of contracting it effectively. Clenching sends too many “contract” signals to the muscle, so that all of the overlapping fibres are held too tightly, or for too long, and the muscle doesn’t have its usual opportunity to relax so that the muscle fibres can move apart again. Over time if you are continuously trying to isolate or clench one particular muscle or muscle group, this can interfere with a muscle’s ability to relax in general, and tender trigger points or taut bands of muscle can develop, which can eventually lead to muscle pain and tension at rest.

When we allow all of the muscles around a joint to work together to produce leg, arm or spine movement, then each muscle gets a more balanced amount of “contract” signals. They work together to share the load, contracting together, or some contracting while others relax as our bones change position. When we allow muscles to work together – synergists, agonist and antagonists – each one doing their part of the work, then each muscle is able to glide short on contraction, and glide long on relaxation, instead of getting stuck in the shortened position during a “clench”.

So, unless you are in the very early stages of working with a Physiotherapist to rehab after an injury, don’t worry about trying to “isolate” your glutes, core, or any other muscle you might want to work on. When you perform skillful Pilates movements and listen to your instructor’s cues, the work will happen, you will still get the burn, and that post-Pilates soreness will be the “hurts so good” type, and not a confused, painful muscle still trying to relax after being clenched.

Strategies to avoid clenching:

  • LISTEN carefully to your instructors’ cues – at Art of Fitness, the instructors use their words to skillfully guide your movements and shapes, rather than specific muscle contractions, to get your muscles working properly
  • Then, focus on the MOVEMENT you are meant to perform, not just the muscles that are working to get you there – if you do the movement successfully, the work will happen, you will feel the burn, and the load will be shared between all the interested parties/muscles
  • And remember to BREATHE – breath holding often goes hand in hand with bearing down or clenching muscles instead of gliding them long and short with your breath cycles

If you find that you are still clenching after this, then speak with your Pilates/movement instructor to help you change how you are doing a certain movement; and if you have excess tension or pain developing in any of your muscles, find a trusted Physiotherapist for further consultation and treatment which would include manual muscle release, focused muscle relaxation techniques and reprogramming of the brain-muscle connection.

Sarah EbyWritten by Sarah Eby
Physiotherapist and Owner of Root Physiotherapy in Uptown Waterloo
www.rootphysio.com
Facebook: @rootphysio
Instagram: @rootphysiosarah

Clients who Inspire: Carolyn C

Carolyn comes into the Studio four times a week, taking Reformer, Spin and Yoga classes, as well as private sessions with Pj.  She is dedicated to movement and a truly integral piece of our community at KW Art of Fitness. 

Carolyn

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been a lifelong resident of K-W along with my husband Dwayne. We have 2 boys, 20 and 19, and recently became empty nesters…for now! I’ve worked with the City of Kitchener for 24 years and get to spend my work days with the amazing older adults who come to Rockway Community Centre. They’re so inspiring and are incredible role models for positive aging! They make coming to work something I look forward to each day. 

 How long have you been coming to the Studio?

Good question! I started when the studio was at RIM park but can’t remember how many years. 10+ for sure. Time flies when you’re having fun! 

Why did you start coming to the Studio?

I’ve always struggled with commitment to exercise. I’m that person who’s had fitness club memberships and never went. What I noticed about the studio right away was how comfortable it felt to be in smaller, more personal classes with really knowledgeable (and fun!) instructors, who build programs which take into account everyone’s goals and challenges. I come to the studio 4 times a week and am sad when I have to miss a day. All the people I’ve met through classes are what makes the studio extra great! 

Carolyn

What other fitness, sport or outdoor activities do you participate in?

I used to play hockey and just started learning how to golf. Apparently my swing looks like a slap shot but hopefully a few more lessons will help. 

Carolyn

Mind Your Words: Isolation is a Myth

Myth: a widely held but false belief or idea.

Isolation is exactly that, a myth.

"The whole body participates in every movement" Irmgard Bartenieff

I made the statement in my last Mind Your Words blog that every energetic expression of movement has to sort through outside force, internal deviations or habits and the complexity of the action.

Part of the complexity of the action is when the brain/body sorts through which muscle(s) will pull(agonist). Which muscle(s) will simultaneously lengthen (antagonist). AND the Movement Instructors favorite place to play; which muscles will act to stabilize the joint around which the movement is happening (synergist).

The complexity the brain/body sorts through also includes what order these actions occur in during movement.

Your brain and body systems know this already. Spend time practicing bringing your ATTENTION to the entire body participation. As opposed to, bringing your attention to the one muscle that happens to be just ONE of the MANY muscle participants.

The body and it’s actions are a highly sophisticated and complex living network.

Every action imposed on the body has three components.

An antagonist muscle, the agonist and the synergist.

For example, during a biceps curl, the triceps is the antagonist muscle. This muscle lengthens as the biceps contracts (agonist).

The synergists stabilize a joint around which movement is occurring and helps to create movement. The nervous system is the conductor of this awesome orchestra.

As a Movement Instructor, we first look for a persons ability to bring their attention to the SYNERGISTS. We then will ask you to challenge the synergists. This challenge occurs via a larger range of motion, more force/tension, or by increasing time within the exercise (endurance of the synergists efforts).

The above request from your instructor results in you feeling the burn or work sensations in a specific area —- for example the ‘glutes.’

Generally speaking, if all your attention is on the “one” muscle you think is being isolated the tendency is to “clench and go”. This creates many future problems.

Sarah Eby, of Roots Physiotherapy, will in a later blog help us understand the importance of muscles that SLIDE their fibers long and short instead of CLENCHING and how our nervous system is an essential piece of the puzzle!

Ever wonder why your Pilates/Movement Instructor sometimes **sighs** or rolls their eyes when you ask in the middle of the action(s) what muscle am I using?

A picture is worth a thousand words: under the surface “glutes”

Anatomy of the gluteal muscles in the human buttocks Canvas Art - Stocktrek Images (16 x 14)

So, NO, you will never spend time at our studio “working your glutes.” You WILL spend time challenging yourself through movements that DO incorporate the ‘glutes’ and all the layers beneath. These challenges will allow the brain/body to orchestrate their action at the correct moment in time. We will help you discover the MAGIC of movement; how to get out of your own way.

We will teach you how to use the power of ATTENTION to get what you need from an exercise INSTEAD of encouraging the myth of isolation to carry on in your mind.

Did you notice that we’re ONLY talking about muscles?

When speaking of exercising our complex living network, we also need to consider and respect many other participators.

To name a few of the other factors that come into every movement:

Nerve pathways

Blood flow

Fascia

Neurological system

Bones, joints, ligaments

Spinal cord fluid

Lymphatic system

Immune system

Sensory proprioceptors, etc.

This above list is why our studio instructors collaborate with Physiotherapists so often.

In lieu of going on, let me pause and instead ask:

Are you seeing how ISOLATION becomes a MYTH?

Definitions:

SYNERGIST: a body organ, medicine, etc., that cooperates with another or others to produce or enhance an effect

ISOLATION: an instance of isolating something, especially a compound or microorganism

ATTENTION: the mental faculty of considering or taking notice of someone or something

CLENCH: (of a muscular part of the body) tighten or contract sharply, especially with strong emotion

 

 

Get to know Stephanie Moore Part II

We are back with some more fun facts about our favourite Studio owner, Steph! 

For those of you that are new here… 

Stephanie understands that no two clients are the same and believes that taking a fresh, fun customizable approach to fitness is vital to success. She draws on her vast knowledge, years of experience, spirit and tools to develop effective alignment patterns which bring understanding to her clients’ kinesthetic sense.

Stephanie also believes that the classes offered at Art of Fitness care for her clients not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s her goal that through specific mechanics, fitness is able to bring clarity, increase perception and stimulate the mind.

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”- Joseph Pilates

Pool or Ocean? Infinity Pool on a mountain with an oceanview 
What are your pet peeves? loud chewing, comments on my food, cigarette butt litterbugs, opinions when not asked for, the sentence “that’s not how you’re supposed to do that” 
What is your go-to splurge? art supplies 
What is the must have item in your closet? moccasins, scarves 
Last concert you went to? Neil Young 
How do you take your coffee? every which way 
What is your theme song? Break My Stride 
What is your sign? Aquarius 
Which sound instantly puts you in a good mood? Great music, someone tripping, 
What’s your favourite thing to eat after class? Water – Apple – Cheese 
If you have a free hour you… Nap 
Book you can read over and over? I never have done that
What’s your guilty pleasure? Summer Sausage
Where have you always wanted to travel? Scandinavia 
Your current healthy obsession is… keeping it simple 
Your spirit animal… Hansy 
What is your favourite part about being an Instructor? the people and creativity 

If you missed Steph’s first feature you can find it here.

How do I keep my joints healthy for years to come?

Joint health, An article by Sarah Eby, Physiotherapist. 

As a Physiotherapist, this is a question I get frequently. It’s a common story: joints start to get stiff and achy as we get older, joints don’t recover as fast from injuries as they used to, or we start to develop joint pain during sports or our basic day to day activities.

Can you relate? If so, I am here to shed some light and instil some hope.

You can promote healthy joints throughout your body in two primary ways:

Through movement and strength.

Joint health

Our joints, all of our joints, are meant to move. They are built so that movement brings fresh blood flow and lubrication to the cartilage and joint surfaces to keep them smooth and healthy. The muscles and ligaments around our joints stay strong and malleable by stretching and contracting as our joints move through their full range of motion.

Joints are built to move, withstand load and compression, and adapt to the stresses that we apply to them throughout our daily movements.

What if my joints start to get stiff and achy? Shouldn’t I rest them so they don’t become more painful?

If you have had an acute injury or trauma, or are experiencing sharp pain with specific movements, then there may be a need for rest and recovery.

However, if there has been no trauma, it is likely that your joints just need to move more. It’s the old adage “move it or lose it” – our bodies adapt to the stresses that are placed upon them, so if you spend your days sitting at a desk or hunched over looking at your phone, your body with start to adapt to the limited range of motion or movement that you are regularly exposing it to and start to stiffen up. The cure is simple – move more. Figure out which movements feel the most stiff, limited or difficult, and slowly start to do more of that particular movement.

For example, one of the most common complaints I hear is about stiff hips. If this is the case for you, you could start each day by pulling your knees into your chest and then rotating your hips in a circular motion each morning before you even get out of bed. You’ll be surprised at how fast your hips start to feel less stiff and achy throughout the day.

The reason this works is that when you move your hips this way each morning, you are sending a message to the body that you require your hips to have a full knees to chest bend, and full rotation, and the joints will start to adapt. The cartilage will get compression and lubrication on all of its surfaces and stay healthy and supple for any movement you throw at it.

When joints get stiff or start to be painful our instincts are to stop moving them, which is often the opposite of what we need. Movement is medicine for our joints.

It’s hard on my joints to do a deep squat, run a marathon or lift heavy weights, right?

Wrong.

I have heard this time and again – and here is my answer: there are no “bad” movements or activities, just poor preparation.

Many of my patients have reported someone telling them they should stop doing x, y or z activity (often that they love doing) because it is harmful or because it is causing them pain.

Again, if you’ve had a trauma, surgery or illness that is affecting your joints then heed these warnings, but if you are clear of all these things, then let me give you some examples to demonstrate my point.

Yes, if you have never run a day in your life and you suddenly decide to start training for a marathon, without any knowledge about proper footwear, how to safely progress your distance or cross training (ie. separate strength training of the muscles that you use for running), then you are setting yourself up for injury. But, if you do your research, join a running group, strength train and invest in good footwear, then you will properly prepare your body and your joints for the stresses that running places upon them (and could crush that marathon goal of yours)! Running in and of itself is not harmful, but jumping into long distance running without the proper preparation could be hard on your joints.

In the same way as running – taking up yoga and suddenly doing repetitive deep squats, when you haven’t done more than squat down to a chair in years, could cause pain and inflammation in your knee joints.

And suddenly deciding to become a power lifter and dead lifting 100-200 lbs without first practicing how to do a proper deadlift without any weight, and then slowly increasing your weight incrementally, will put undue stress and strain through your lumbar spine, hips and shoulders.

Our joints will adapt to the load and movements they are given – but the process is not instantaneous. Problems arise, injuries occur or “harm” can be done to our joints when we try to do things that we have not properly prepared for.

Muscular strength is another big component of joint health. The deep muscles around our joints ie. the core muscles in our spine, the rotator cuff in the shoulder, and the glutes in the hip, are there to increase joint stability, maintain good alignment and promote functional joint movement. These deep muscles also protect the joints (the bones and cartilage) from compressive or shearing forces that could cause injury. You want to keep them strong!

Our larger muscle groups, such as our biceps/triceps and quadriceps/hamstrings, are meant to create large joint movements in our body – bending the elbow and bending the knee joints respectively, while our deep muscles fine tune these movements and protect the joints as they move. Both types of muscles are important for joint health, working in unison to create joint mobility and stability.

This is why Pilates is such a fantastic form of exercise.

It takes you through movements that involve your entire body, moving your joints through healthy ranges of motion, and works your core and the deep stability muscles surrounding your joints.

It is one of the best things you can do to keep your joints healthy for years to come.

Joint health is complex, and joint pain is not always clear cut. If you think you may have an injury or pain that needs attention or diagnosing, feel free to contact me at sarah@rootphysio.com or 519-757-7668 for a complimentary 10-minute consultation.

Written by Sarah Eby, Physiotherapist and KW Art of Fitness Client 

More about Sarah

Sarah Eby

Sarah is a Physiotherapist, Yoga Instructor, movement enthusiast and is in love with all of the classes she has been taking at KW Art of Fitness since moving back to Waterloo a few months ago. After years of studying and working in Toronto, treating a wide variety of patients in busy downtown clinics, Sarah decided it was time for a change – time to move “back home” and time to set up her own practice, Root Physiotherapy, in Uptown Waterloo.

Her vision was to create a physiotherapy practice where people receive quality, one-on-one care from a skilled Physiotherapist who has their best interests at heart; and to get to the root cause of your issues, so you can move well and be well for years to come.

When Sarah isn’t working, you can find her taking a Pilates or yoga class, hiking somewhere, cooking at home or spending time with her family and friends.

Learn more about Root Physiotherapy, click here. 

Why we shut down: Part II

It’s approaching that time at the studio … season transition, also known as: studio shutdown.
 

This seasonal transition is going to be for two weeks **gasp**shock**

Could it be true? Do we dare, you ask?

Art of Fitness

On, June 22, 2018, we posted a blog on the benefits clients could experience via our scheduled studio shutdowns simply by creating their own change in routine for rest & recovery. Why we shut down: Part II, will give you more insight into why a small business would dare take time away.
 

Inspiration was found a couple of years ago after reading an article, ‘Time Off Helps You Thrive in Life and Career.(2016,Huffington Post,By Caroline Dowd-Higgins).

What stuck in my mind is the statement “Be the Boss Who Sets a Good Example.” The article explains how our behaviour sets an example for others around you. That in fact, you should “honour your vacation time, that others will follow suit and enjoy their vacation time without guilt or concern.”
 
This article sparked in me a slightly unique business plan that I felt compelled to implement. Scheduled studio shutdown represents a plan that clearly provides for clients access to instructors that ‘walk the talk’ of the commonly used phrase: work/life balance.
 
So, great your instructors ‘get to’ take time to refresh, revitalize and reset mentally, but what’s in it for you?
 

Here’s what’s in it for you:

  • The studio goes through a deep clean thanks to Terry’s (featured in the video!) energy & elbow grease, her amazing attention to cleanliness detail never fails to impress.
    • Everything is taken off shelves to be cleaned, ceiling fans are wiped down, and of course all the regular twice a week vacuuming and floor mopping.
  • Equipment maintenance: springs, attachments, hinges, bearings, general upkeep.
    • Scheduled studio shutdown is when it happens.
    • Every time you use the equipment in our studio you can feel safe that all parts are in working order, seriously those springs could be dangerous!
    • Watch a video of exactly what Steph does on our Instagram or Facebook account!  
  • On the surface work life balance for your instructor certainly feels like it’s all about us. However, it’s a real WIN WIN situation — ever wonder why it seems that your instructors love what they do?
    • It’s because they do.
    • AND
    • Because we work hard to run a business in a way that respects human natures need for change, rest, reflection.
    • This allows for time to rejuvenate our ability to be teach, inspire and make movement relevant to each individual that walks in our door.

 

The Inspiration behind KW Art of Fitness

We sat down with Steph, the inspiration and heart behind KW Art of Fitness and asked her some questions on how she brought her dream of sharing the benefits of Pilates with clients in Kitchener/Waterloo to life. 

Stephanie

What was your first experience with Pilates?

At the turn of the century (I’ve always wanted a reason to say that …) I took my first Continuing Education Course, Gait Analysis, for my Personal Training Certification (Can-Fit-Pro) continuing education credits (CEC) at Body Harmonics. At this point I had already been a personal trainer for a year or so and my curiosity had drawn me towards the “new” or perhaps the rebranded concepts of Functional Training (my interest lay in Paul Chek of the Chek Institute).

 

When did you know you wanted to become an Instructor?
Where did you become Certified? 

After taking that first Pilates based workshop I started to do research on this thing called “Pilates.” Through heavy squats, boxing and a wet rainy summer of working in the landscaping industry,  I had an SI Injury and tendinitis in both my hands, wrists and shoulders, resulting in major restrictions within my own functional and traditional weight training options. While doing my research on where I could become certified in Pilates, I came across Second Wind Pilates Plus that offered an in-depth Mat Pilates Certification Course in tandem with Integrated Movement Therapies. I signed up for that course with the intention of taking Pilates into my personal workout regimes as well as into my training with clients.
 
Between experiencing some brilliant options which helped to piece my body back together and realizing how complimentary Pilates is to my original training journey into ‘functional fitness’, I was hooked. I jumped into becoming a Pilates Instructor out of excitement for my own body and healing as well as what this may do for others who love fitness but may have some beaten up movement patterns, joints and muscles. It was a fantastic blend for me and in turn my clients. From there I went to an event called Pilates on Tour and had my first experience on the Reformer with this crazy little ball then called the “coach ball”… hook – line and sinker, at that moment I knew I would be figuring out how, where and when I would find or make a space that allowed for me to have a reformer.
 

What courses have you taken since?

  • Can-Fit-Pro Personal Training
  • Second Wind Pilates Plus:Mat Pilates, Integrated Movement Therapies
  • Body Harmonics: Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Barrels
  • Pilates for Neurological Conditions
  • Check Institute: Primal Movement Patterns, Scientific Balance Training
  • CPTN: Post Rehabiliation Functional Training: Upper Body
  • Schwinn Cycling: World Class Conditioning
  • Anatomy Trains in Motion

How did you get started after you became certified?

I was already a Personal Trainer at a large gym and had made a recent move to a small private training facility. That location did not have the space to allow for me to offer classes, so I went on to search out an option this being the Kitchener Waterloo Skating Club (KWSC). KWSC was home for my launching as a Pilates Instructor and I enjoyed my time working with both figure skaters and the general public. After a few years my business out grew the space availability within the KWSC and that is what started my search for the space we currently reside in. 

Did you ever work in someone else’s Studio?

I have worked in large corporate gyms, small private training studio’s and at the Kitchener Waterloo Skating Club however this is the only Pilates Studio that I have worked at.

 

When did you dream up KW Art of Fitness?
Where did the name “KW Art of Fitness” come from?

My original education was in Fine Arts — I have been and continue to be an artist and interestingly enough that Bachelor of Art Degree has helped me more then I would have ever thought. The most direct help was the study of the body for Life Drawing — learning to see movement, moving parts, the action of energy and force (gravity, objects, action) through a body, and then trying to capture the essence of that on paper set me up for what it would take to learn, understand and then communicate movement and action to people. So, the name — ART of fitness is because I am an artist, my whole life has been about giving myself the opportunity to be an artist. 
 
Growing up on a hobby farm I have been a mover and shaker since I was young, piling wood, ‘helping’ my grandpa, dad and older brother bring the hay in, carrying pails, riding horses, rock picking fields, weeding … leading into track and field (sprinting of all things … short but fast), badminton, kickboxing, boxing and among all those sports always was a great coach teaching the benefits of strength training. This lifestyle was coupled with my Mom who baked from scratch and created healthy wholesome meals, building in me the perception that FITNESS is about how we define it, and in fact, being “fit”, and teaching other “how to be fit” is indeed a form of art, the science, very important, the art in how to help others stay tuned in and interested in learning instead of following orders, that is an art, a very magical art.
 
And there you have it “KW Art of Fitness Inc”

 

Where did your studio layout inspiration come from?

My inspiration for the studio came from a few sources, most notably Body Harmonics and my impression of how Margot McKinnon had gone about setting herself, instructors and clients up. As well, it came from my work with my clients, what they need, how we could best offer this while including more people. I used my art background and my Mom’s design experience to utilize colour and layout to create an atmosphere of unique, energizing and personalized space for each person walking in.

 

Where does your inspiration continue to come from?

My biggest source of inspiration comes from when I am teaching, seeing how people move, what are people understanding, doing well, wanting more of … how can I keep myself and others motivated to really understand and learn about themselves instead of this thing we call ‘fitness’. Other times it is a small seed that is planted when at a workshop, watching another instructor teach someone, taking classes and private sessions myself or sometimes out walking the dog(s) reflecting on what stands out in my mind from the day before, what’s up for this day — whose on deck, how can I show up and be excellent for each client and in turn myself?

 

Why Pilates?

Because it is magical.

Mind Your Words: The Art of Cueing

In Movement and in Life
  Steph - Arc

Storytelling, this is the daily practice of any movement instructor, most commonly referred to as ‘cueing’. 

Judith and I (Stephanie) are going to be offering and exploring ideas that are meant to tantalize your mind, create questions and perhaps offer those reading this blog an opportunity for a deeper understanding of yourself, or at the very least of your Movement Instructor. I will be discussing concepts from the perspective of a teacher in movement and how individuals participating in movement may get more from their personal fitness regimes.

At our studio we have groomed within ourselves a style that brings the opportunity to work with people Stephaniewhose desire it is to explore, define, improve and align their bodies with grace, strength and efficiency. This desire to learn will take them into aging with a quality of life that only mobility offers. 

The art of Pilates is to look at the body in front of us and to discover the most direct route to address its movement patterns. The challenge in this art lies in the practice of our storytelling skill (cueing). We are always working to improve this storytelling skill in order to best use the power behind our words to teach a deep understanding of movement unique for each person.

Mind Your Words blog series has the grand intention of exploring what is behind the words we choose to use, at times over use, as we look for ways to teach people the powerful connection between their minds, their bodies and their own personal responsibility in the pursuit of creating an exquisite quality of life.

In today’s temperament with concern to our use of words and how they impact others, we find ourselves on a swords edge between being mindful of the words we use and being fearful of how our words may be misunderstood. This fear has the potential to destroy communication and to create even more loneliness in the human race. A couple of weeks ago, a beautiful mind walked into my Pilates class and shared a snippet of learning that has stuck with me, “everyone communicates, not everyone one connects.”

Our challenge is to connect through communication.

Our wish is to be clear with what we mean.

We ask our clients and anyone who ends up reading this blog to explore personal responsibility in defining, exploring, perhaps redefining our understanding of the words we use and how these words hit us on a daily basis.

Aristotle once stated, “it is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” 

When you read Aristotle’s quote, how do you interpret it?

The message I “hear” when reading this quote or better yet saying it out loud is: “it is sign of an open and balanced mind when able to contemplate an other’s collection of experiences, life concepts or definitions behind words, without taking it as a personal attack on belief systems, self expression and experiences.”

Exploring what’s behind a word through the thesaurus:

Cueing: signal, sign, indicate, prompt, reminder, word, gesture
Fitness: good health, strength, robustness, vigour, well-being
Tantalize: tempt, entice, lure, allure, beguile, excite, fascinate
Intention: design, purpose, goal, wish, desire, ambition, idea
Temperament: nature, frame of mind, mood, attitude
Responsibility: duty, task, function, role, common sense, power