Tag Archives: posture

Get to know PJ Wight

PJ is a personal trainer here at Art of Fitness, bringing with her over 25 years of experience in the fitness/coaching industry. She is certified with the Canadian Personal Trainers Network and the International Youth Conditioning Association. Her primary goal as a personal trainer and coach is to develop a goal-oriented plan and provide guidance, encouragement and creativity in assisting each of her clients to attain his/her personal fitness goals and improve their quality of life.

Prior to joining the Art of Fitness team, she was a figure skating coaching and attained a Level II coaching certification. She states that two things led her to pursue a career as a personal trainer. First, is her personal love of fitness. Second, she loved coaching and guiding both young people and the young at heart to achieve their personal fitness goals.

Below is part 1 of an interview we did to get to know PJ even better! 

PJ Wight

1. What is on your bucket list? Trip to Australia to see my cousins; travel to Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy, Alaskan cruise
2. Where did you grow up? Kitchener, Ontario
3. What food can you not live without? eggs
4. Who is the funniest person you know? Gary 
5. What is the best gift you have ever received? Finding my birth family
6. First thing you do in the morning? turn the alarm off
7. What is the one thing people would never guess about you? my age 🙂
8. What’s on your bedside table? Tiffany lamp; clock radio and decorative turtles
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? follow your gut instincts
10. What’s the background on your computer? The beach and the ocean

 “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or otherwise it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them”- Bruce Lee

Pilates Can Take Your Yoga Practice to the Next Level

Many yoga practitioners lay down on their yoga mat with a specific goal in mind. I want to deepen pigeon pose, I want to hold my handstand effortlessly, I want to float into crow without bruising my triceps. No matter what your goal is during your Yoga class, we have the secret.

Pilates is often compared to Yoga, but there is a defined difference. Pilates requires strength and precision, teaching you to move from a solid foundation, and connect to postural muscles that are universally underused. Learning to connect to these postural muscles can lead you into a lengthened chest position during triangle pose, control your centre of gravity during half moon, and flow through chaturanga lightly in neutral alignment.

PJ Yoga

Here are a few key reasons why Pilates will take your Yoga poses to the next level.

Proper Alignment

Pilates is all about positioning your spine in proper alignment, so you can walk out of your session and take this posture into everyday life. Focusing on balancing the musculature helps create symmetry between the left and the right sides of your body. Working both sides simultaneously, you’re able to compare the strength of both sides and work them equally. You can take this knowledge to your Yoga mat, and connect to your muscles equally during balance poses to help your stability and use your core properly to protect your back during back bends.


Pilates exercises incorporate dynamic stretching, so not only are you strengthening one muscle, you are getting a stretch through another. Although Pilates does not solely focus on flexibility, it is known to create more flexibility and length through the muscles, lengthening your body from head to toes. Learning how to dynamically stretch and stay neutral also protects your muscles from hyperextension during Yoga classes, this allows you to engage proper muscles before you lengthen into a stretch to avoid injury and create lasting results. 

Stronger Core  

A stronger core equals less back pain. Ask anyone who came to Pilates to relive back tension, they will tell you that they experienced some sort of relief. Our bodies were made to move, it only takes a few classes or private sessions to remind our body how to align and work properly to avoid tension. Having a strong core leaves more room for mobility through the body while doing Yoga, instead of suffering through back pain during poses. As a beginner going into a Yoga class, you may not realize when and where to connect to your centre, by incorporating the Pilates principles you can trust that your body is properly flowing from pose to pose. 

Allows you to Work Deeper

Once you start focusing on your abdominals, you realize that your bodies movements are powered through your core. Try doing downward dog without your core engaged; you’ll most likely leave with back pain. During exercise our larger muscles like to take over, Pilates helps us zone into our small, more intrinsic muscles. During Yoga classes, you will notice more strength during movements. With stronger abdominals, you can improve every single one of your poses on the yoga mat. If you decide to work one on one with an Instructor you can even mimic and improve your entire Yoga routine by dissecting each exercise.

Overall, Pilates can help Yogis advance into poses that they hadn’t felt possible before and avoid injury. Have you always wondered how that girl at the front of class effortlessly holds her position in handstand? Well now you’re in on the secret!





Get to Know Erin Mahony

Welcome to our new series “Get To know Our Instructors”. We grilled Erin with 30 random questions, that we will post for you over the Spring Session! Have a question for Erin? Email us and stay tuned to see it answered! 

Lower back weakness and muscular imbalance initially brought Erin to the practice of Pilates more than 15 years ago. What initially began as a prescription for rehabilitative and strengthening exercise has since developed into a tremendous passion of hers! As an ambitious woman going after a variety of athletic pursuits, Pilates compliments her lifestyle as both student and instructor. Training clients to be conscious of posture, breathing and alignment in various exercises, offers increased core strength and greater body awareness. As a Pilates instructor, Erin looks forward to educating her clients, challenging them and having fun!

Learn more about your Tuesday evening Instructor, Erin, below: 

1. What is on your bucket list? Open a market stall at the Paris Wincey Mills, run a hobby farm with my family, rent a houseboat for a holiday, knit a sweater, travel to Australia, play a gig at a coffee house
2. Where did you grow up? I’m a home-grown honey, born and raised here in Kitchener-Waterloo
3. What food can you not live without? Grandma Elsie’s homemade perogies
4. Who is the funniest person you know? Uncle Doug
5. What is the best gift you have ever received? My husband and two step-children
6. First thing you do in the morning? Meditate
7. What is the one thing people would never guess about you? I love to crochet
8. What’s on your bedside table? A lamp, my happiness journal and a few random pieces of jewellery
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Always remember, everyone is doing their best with what they know”
10. What’s the background on your computer? Boring old black default screen…it’s a work laptop so I haven’t personalized it

Want to take a class with Erin? Click here to register.   

Certifications Include:

  • Certified PhysicalMind Institute Vertical and Matwork Intensive
  • Body Harmonics Pilates Reformer Intensive – Apprentice
  • Half Marathon Runner, Participant in Sprint level triathlons
  • Member of ROW Masters Swim Program

When Instructors become Students

As Instructors we are always looking to keep things interesting for our clients. Taking courses and workshops to learn more about movement is key to staying up to date with current information and to keep things creative for our clients and so we don’t get bored stuck in the same movement patterns. We are constantly searching for different ways to challenge your bodies creatively so you see the benefits!

That is why in April, our favourite Studio owner, Steph, is heading to Merrickville, Ontario in the Ottawa area to explore three separate workshops, ‘Angamardhana A Classical Hatha Yoga‘, ‘Bhuta Shuddi‘ and ‘Surya Kriya‘.

See below for some information on what Steph will be bringing back to the Studio at the end of April! 


Anagamardhana means gaining complete mastery over the limbs, organs and other parts of the body. This is a physical practice that roots from the belief that being fit is not about showing off your muscles but about moving through life without having your body as an obstacle. Anagamardhana is partially an aerobic exercise but it also tones muscles without bringing any rigidity to your body. This is an ancient system, which brings stability to the mind and body. Staying true to its name, Anagamardhana revitalizes the body on all levels, muscles, circulatory system, skeletal structure, nervous system and energy system.

Benefits of Angamardana:

  • Strengthening the spine, skeletal system, and muscular system
  • Builds physical strength, fitness and tenacity
  • Takes years off the body, bringing a sense of lightness and freedom
  • Prepares the body for Hatha Yoga


Bhuta Shuddhi is the most fundamental practice in the yogic system. “Bhuta” refers to the five elements and “Shuddhi” means “to cleanse.”

The basis for all creation, including the physical body, is a group of five elements: earth, water, wind, fire, and space. The wellbeing of your mind and body can be established by purifying the five elements within the human system. This is a stepping stone towards ultimate wellbeing.

This purificatory process helps one to achieve a state of harmony and balance which prepares the body for higher levels of sadhana, or spiritual practices..

Keeps the body and mind in harmony and balance. Prepares the system to handle powerful states of energy.

Benefits of Bhuta Shuddhi:

  • Keeps the system in harmony and balance
  • Prepares the system to handle powerful states of energy
  • Enhances the capabilities of the physical body, mind and energy system
  • Creates the basis to gain complete mastery over the human system


Surya Kriya, also referred to as the forefathers of Sun Salutation, is a 21-step, potent yogic practice with tremendous antiquity. Traditionally only practiced by reserved Yogis, Surya Kriya becomes a strong foundation to explore higher dimensions of life.

Surya” means “Sun,” and “kriya” means “inner energy process.” Surya Kriya activates the solar plexus within the system and balances a person’s energies, leading to stability of the body and stillness of the mind.

Benefits of Surya Kriya:

  • Develops mental clarity and focus
  • Remedies weak constitutions
  • Boosts vigor and vitality
  • Balances hormonal levels in the body
  • Prepares one for deeper states of meditation
  • Enhances the elements and benefits of Surya Namaskar

To learn more about these courses, click here.

Spring Registration!

Spring Landscape HeaderIt’s that time of year again!

Spring classes will begin on Monday April 2. 

Spring Classes: Monday April 2 – Friday June 22, 2018
Monday classes (11 weeks), Tuesday – Friday classes (12 weeks)Classes cancelled Victoria Day Monday, May 21, 2018

If you’re a returning client and have already let your instructor know you’re coming back you’re already enrolled.  Otherwise you can enroll here.

Transitional Season Break: Monday June 25 – Friday June 29, 2018

Downloadable Printable Schedule
Online Schedule

Class Cancellation Policy: Gentle reminder of our 8 hour cancel policy in order to receive class credit, otherwise the class cost will be processed

E-Transfer Payments: Please note that we do accept e-transfer payments to ‘steffipilates@me.com’

Meet Our New Instructor: Katie Cameron Sullivan

Hi! My name is Katie and I am so excited to be the newest Instructor at KW Art of Fitness. I have been living in Toronto for the last nine years, originally moving to pursue a career in Public Relations, but life had other plans. I walked into my very first Pilates class with a friend during my first year of school and after the 55-minute class I realized I had never been more inspired by anything. My curiosity of the way the human body moves and this exercise that has so much depth and purpose took over and I was signed up for my first teacher training a few months later.

Katie Cameron Sullivan

I started teaching Matwork in local studios and worked as a Physiotherapist Assistant. I worked closely with client injuries putting them through safe and effective exercise programs. After gaining this invaluable experience I landed a job at the STOTT PILATES® headquarters bridging my Public Relations experience and my passion for Pilates. I spent the next two years working in the Toronto headquarters marketing the STOTT PILATES® Studio and learning from some of the top Instructors. While I was there I furthered my training and completed the Matwork and Reformer programs.
I can’t wait to bring my experience and love for this form-focused exercise to KW Art of Fitness and in time learn more from all the Instructors and you! My inspiration comes from the clients through the changes you see in daily life from committing to Pilates. Whether you are looking to hold your grandchild without a sore back, recover from having a baby of your own, help your golf drive or to just walk with a taller spine, I want to help you get there.
On my spare time you can find me taking my puppy Addy to the dog park, taking a Pilates class of my own, snowboarding in the winter or driving my husband crazy by planning our next travel adventure while on a current vacation. I love getting to know new people and hearing what brought them into the Studio. As much as my clients inspire me, I want to also inspire you!
If you want to learn a little more about me, you can visit my website here, or visit my Instagram page 

Certified in:

Pilates Rocks Pt. 3

There are SO many benefits to practicing Pilates (both mat and reformer). Over the next few days, we’ll be running series entitled ‘Pilates Rocks!’ to outline and summarize them for you.

Today’s benefit is Improved Posture

Some muscles are designed for motion; others (ex: the core muscles of the pelvic floor and the transversus abdominus) are designed for static postural support of your organs and of your spine. The stronger the muscles are, the better your posture will be.

Pilates will give you a flatter tummy along with taller posture. Pilates targets the transversus abdominus, and resistance strengthens it. Sit-ups are not aimed at the deep transversus abdominus. Sit-ups selectively strengthen the superficial “six pack” (rectus abdominus) muscle that has very little to do with posture or flat abs.



This excerpt is from The Bathroom Key by Kathryn Kassai and Kim Perelli.

Top 10 Reasons Pilates is Great for Posture

The following post is an excerpt from a blog entry by Margot McKinnon at BODY HARMONICS. To read the full article, click here.


1. Good posture looks and feels great.

People think they will look and feel better when they lose weight but in our experience, we have seen just as many people gain a sense of “body confidence” as they start to stand taller on their legs, gain tone in the midriff and open up through their neck and shoulders.

2.Good posture feels light and tension-free.

This takes a bit of time because it takes most of us many years to build up the tension and stiffness we tend to put up with day to day. Once some of the tension drains away by working on exercises for your posture, the penny starts to drop and people want more of that lightness and ease that comes with an aligned and toned structure.

3. Good posture helps you feel younger and get better with age

This is one of our favourites and when we have had the privilege of working with people for a number of years the changes are dramatic. And, once people understand that ageing doesn’t have to mean feeling worse, the motivation level of working on postural support goes up dramatically. All of a sudden, there is a shift in thinking and people start to notice how the little exercises they do  actually pack a huge punch toward good posture.

4. Good posture puts less pressure on your joints

In the functional realm it just makes sense to work on postural control and support because it helps our joints stay mobile and hydrated…working well in other words. When we are thoughtful about the exercises we do and how these affect our joints we set ourselves up to feel good when we move and when we are still.

 5. Good posture automatically pulls your tummy in without you having to think about it

This is always surprising to people because they think they have do thousands of abdominal exercises to create tone in the midriff. There is no question that strong abdominal muscles are important; what people don’t realize though, is that the position of the pelvis is a huge factor in the potential for tone in the midriff muscles. So, something as mundane as pelvic tilting that frees your hips and realigns your pelvis on your legs is just as important (and sometimes more so) than an exercise that creates that burning sensation in your abdominal wall.

6. Good posture saves your knees and hips

Let’s face it, hip and knee replacements are two of the top orthopedic surgeries going and they are not just for old folks anymore! In most cases poor tracking and a pattern of less than optimal support around these joints are partially responsible. On top of that years of muscular imbalances from head to foot can put extra strain and stress on these joints without you even knowing it. The bottom line is that your hips and knees depend on good mechanics along the entire chain from top to bottom to work properly and last you a lifetime. So, doing exercises that make posture and alignment top priority literally means your hips and knees get a break, get some help from other parts of the body and end up lasting you forever.

7. Good posture makes you taller

Work on your posture with a few targeted exercises each day and we guarantee you will feel more stretched out and like your head balances on your spine in a more erect way. Most people report they find themselves looking straight ahead rather than down and that they have to adjust their rear view mirrors in their cars because they sit taller and more erect without even trying. One of the best parts of this “I feel taller” sensation is that your shoulders and upper body feels open and square. And the best part? Working on your posture takes only minutes a day.

8. Good posture helps your balance

Our major balance centers are located in our head and neck. So, if your head is not properly positioned atop your spine, your sense of balance can become precarious and compromised. Most of us try to grab the ground with their feet and legs, and if we spent some time on exercises for our eyes and tilting our heads in different directions a new-found sense of equilibrium and steadiness emerges. So, the next time you feel like your balance is off, remember to move your eyes up, down and side to side and to practice turning your head left and right. These little exercises work wonders.

9. Good posture means your organs sit properly inside you and have a better chance to function well

All you need to remember here is that if taking a deep breath feels laboured, or your digestion seems sluggish or unpredictable, part of the problem is likely rooted in your posture. It is by no means a cure all, but when we align our bones, our organs align and our bodies start to work the way they were intended. Something as simple as lying on the ground and swaying your knees and hips side to side can massage your digestive tract and get things moving!

10. Good posture keeps your body flexible and mobile

You have to try it to believe it but in our experience focus on postural control and support leads to way more flexibility and agility than the best stretching program out there. Think of it like hanging a door: if you don’t get the door frame straight and the hinges set just right, the door can’t swing freely. It is the same with our joints. Our mobility depends on the support we create for our joints!