Tag Archives: yoga

Mind Your Words: Body Mapping

Professionals who play the role of being your Guide Through Movement (Pilates, Yoga, Functional Fitness, etc …) use a third person perspective of observing your body from the outside WHILE using our words to construct a narrative that gives you the opportunity to perceive yourself from the inside.

In doing this, we focus your awareness, we create an opportunity for you to practice the skill of conscious attention.

Body Mapping

BODY MAPPING IS INTENTIONAL RELEASE WORK

Conscious Attention: what’s in it for you?

Improvement of your overall body function. Avoid the stress your day to day activities (which include working out) creates in your body resulting in habitual movement patterns that do not serve you. Once a movement crosses into the habitual realm you are giving up voluntary control. Involuntary conditioning decreases your body function or potential function, it lays the ground work for chronic ailments, dysfunctions and leaves you with a rigid body.

Body mapping, intentional release work, creates a space for learning. This learning expands your range of action and your perception of available action, resulting in a greater range of movement, strength and ability. If the skill of conscious attention during movement (sensory-motor system) is practiced through out your life time you have opportunity to avoid the habituating effects of stress.

Two of the ‘guru’s’ of these methods are:

Thomas Hannah: Clinical Somatic Education

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais: Feldenkrais Method

At KW Art of Fitness our base of this concept is drawn from Integrated Movement Therapies (IMT)®, from the Pilates educator Second Wind Pilates Plus, Danielle LeBlanc.

But I just want to feel my “core work”?

Oh you will.

BUT

You must also be willing to first address the practice of perceiving minimal sensation, minimal movement – thus creating new sensory feedback, new clarity of movement. The unknown becomes the known. Undiscovered opportunity of functional strength becomes discovered and you will have access to voluntarily eliciting effortless effort.

So, how do I do this thing called body mapping?

It all starts with breath, YUP … breathing again ….

and IMAGINATION ….

Cortical Activity During Learning

Movement, Imagery, Active Increase …

Our thinking directs our movements. Your imagination (mental pictures) will cause the deep muscles to come into action.  This conscious access to your body is underneath the superficial layers of muscle. Therefore, you will not feel them work in the traditional sense. If, in fact, you get a work sensation then you are doing, not thinking (imagination), thus defeating the purpose.

At our studio we intentionally drop in moments during your time with us to search out these body mapping opportunities. Sometimes we make it obvious, while other times we sneak it in ….

Learn more about how we specifically create these opportunities for you to explore this world of voluntary consciousness through body mapping.

Join us for the workshop: Stretch for Strength, Release for Range.

Thursday, November 29 from 5:15 – 7 p.m.

We are also running the same workshop for movement professionals, which will dive into cuing (using your words) to help elicit this idea in people whom you are guiding others.

Saturday, November 24 from 10 – 11:45 a.m.

Pilates, Yoga, Cross Fit, Strength Conditioning …

Call your pursuit of fitness and function by whichever label suits; just remember your pursuit will be better served if you take the time to also potentiate your efforts exerted by learning voluntary control (fluid, responsive, supple, efficient movement) – Body Mapping …

Who Would You Be If…A Koan

When working with clients, it is disturbing but a delicious moment when repeatedly coming up against fixed notions of who the client believes they are – as if they are an object like a table or something. This is especially so when the belief is not even serving the individual well in their everyday experience of themselves – their experience of life with this set of beliefs.

The good news is that we are NOT objects; we are verbs. So…this is why I ask a client the question: ‘if you didn’t know who you were (as in a fixed set of beliefs; a fixed storyline)/a single narrative), who would you be?’

The difficulty in this koan (above) is that we are attached to our fixed notions when indeed we have a freedom – and the responsibility that goes with that – to CHOOSE. So…why are we so resistant to choosing? I don’t really have the answers though I do have some ideas about the resistance. But if we choose to approach this conundrum as a koan, could we be off the hook for an answer? 

Koan, Japanese Kōan, in Zen Buddhism of Japan, a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline. “Among other things, Zen is the task of re-learning how to live your daily life with a quirky, sometimes poetic spontaneity. “ (a quote is from Zachary Turpin, doctoral candidate in literature, 2016).

unsplash

So the real task might be the need or the opportunity, given the right support, to relearn who or what we believe to be true i.e. ‘carved in stone’ right…We even do this with our notions about fitness, relationships, roles as partners, parents, pastors (???) even. Lol. Why would we resist the freedom to simply choose a new definition of our self?

Minimalism is beginning to gain some popularity as a lifestyle. What if we were to marry these two ideas: Minimalism and the fact of being verbs?

Could it be as simple as what Mary Oliver shares in a stanza of her poem:

When Death Comes

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Couldn’t we assert that if we are not willing to live LIVE, like a child ‘verbs’ through his/her moments, thriving… that we are simply getting by, settling for and lamenting, or possibly even lauding, comparing, judging, fearing, or gloating based on someone else’s thinking (a fixed set of beliefs).

Mary Oliver closes out her poem saying:

“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” What about you? Verb and vitality or ‘same old, same old’ and lacking zest that celebrates the gift of the life you have been given?

Choose!

What would you have to relearn in order to freely choose?

Words UNSPOKEN Communicate

Communication for Connection – much more than the words we say.

The words we speak represent less than 10% of the message delivered.

Communicate

Even when we use words, it’s not just the words we say that matter – it’s the tone of our voice, facial expressions, or even the shapes we make with our bodies. The body knows and doesn’t lie.

Through learning The Model of Human Behaviour, I learned why my husband would have referred to me as, “excessively happy.” How is this possible!?

Ahhh: the case to be made for personalities, how we process information, and what are the respective needs of the various profiles (Model of Human Behaviour types). There are astonishing distinctions between the four types: D (Dominant type); I (Influence); S (Steadiness); and C (Compliance). Each of these ‘types’ has very unique differences and life-giving needs.

 

ChessHigh “C’s” tend to want to socialize less & focus on details, logic, and accuracy.

High “D’s” like to be in control, like a challenge, and need autonomy to make decisions & solve problems.

 

 

Social

High “I’s” most want others to be friendly, emotionally honest and want to be recognized for their contributions.

High “S’s” most need others to be relaxed, agreeable, cooperative & appreciative.

 

If/when we fail to perceive and speak to these differing ways of communicating and orienting, we might be down and out before we ever get up and going.

Have you ever felt like this, and maybe wondered – hey! What just happened?

The different profiles (and we all have some of each type in our unique blend) are actually like a different language that includes nuances specific to tempo, details, and the attending emotional needs that go along with our strengths.

Dr. Robert Rohm says we must beware to not tolerate and until we can annihilate but rather learn to celebrate our differences. However, we cannot beware until we are aware. The Model of Human Behaviour is a lot of fun, easy to learn, and mastery of this skill makes life and relationships improve like magic. As a Master Trainer and life skills coach (a “Guide to all things Great” ©), I never leave home without this highly energizing, user-friendly tool.

Communicate

Remember the adage: it’s not the words we say but the music we play? This learned skill is where the music happens – where words, tempo, and other unique flourishes have the result of everyone feeling like they matter. Isn’t this what we would all like?

Feeling seen and heard supports a sense of worth and respect. All manner of connections begin here – fundamentals in the human dynamic.

What could our world become if there was a little more of “us”/presence, engaging through the art and science of listening, and fewer of our words?

BTW: listening and responding to others in their preferred style (D, I, S, C) accomplishes connection – that sense of being love, peace, possibility, friendship, better relationships overall – even making better choices for our fitness and training needs. People “light up” when they learn about themselves inside this model.

Question: whose responsibility is it to get your needs met?

“Close the language-door and open the love-window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.”  – Jelaluddin RUMI (1207-1273

— Judith
Judithlharrison.com

Teach Don’t Tell

For the Pilates participants who may be reading this, the perspective below offers a glimpse into part of what goes on behind the scenes;

the mind of the instructor;

the person who can NOT count to 10 — forwards or backwards 😀

The aim is to clear up just why we, Pilates Movement Instructors, are so darn persnickety, and why we take our storytelling skill so seriously!

Patience

Teach, Don’t Tell

Movement Instructors connect words with actions, simultaneously offering relevant reasons to motivate the participants intention and attention to said action. We are fostering intelligent communication for connection between teacher and client; the cues we use are meant to describe and inspire the idea of a movement that has energetic expression. This is our art.

Our underlying quest as instructors in our storytelling skill is for clients to experience success. To feel like the time spent pursuing quality movement was a worthwhile endeavour.  Sometimes, this pressure surrounding the self created quest takes our storytelling skills down a notch. We find ourselves relying to heavily on anatomical details or ‘feeling’ the exercise/movements, in a specific area or repeating go-to phrases the industry has latched on to.

There is a danger in being too anatomical or too focused on what or where someone “should be feeling” an exercise. Let’s face it; some of us don’t care what moves who where, some of us feel to much and even more of us don’t have any feelings at all …. AND we’re all snowflakes, each one of us different, with different needs and goals.

When the Movement Instructor and the client can get out of our own way and step cleanly into the moment in front of us, the body systems and the brain know how to move, the story is being told, teaching action is happening, the magic takes place …

Motivation and the Pleasure Seeking Brain

The pleasure seeking brain is continually searching out and repeating action that makes life easier. When action results in making life easier the brain categorizes the action as pleasure. The pleasure causes the brain to look for ways to groom and groove excellent movement patterns, this becomes motivation.

Storytelling skill (cueing) aims to borrow that instinctive desire and drive the individual to continually ‘tidy up’ movements, until there is the awesome moment of “effortless effort”.

“Effortless Effort”

What?! (Insert eye roll here…)

Pilates is designed to give you the opportunity to work better, THEN harder, while encouraging participants to always avoid working harder then is necessary.

Clean (i.e effortless effort) movement demands efficiency, Pilates teaches that, grooms that, and ultimately what was once your workout becomes your warm up.

As Movement Instructors we endeavor to:

Step up, be prepared to explain an action in several different ways. Explore cueing until you see the action being understood or you see the light bulb going off behind the eyes of the client.

Work towards understanding how the client learns. What brought the client through the door in the first place? Why do they keep coming back? We need to learn to adapt our cues and expressions to match the person in front of us.

Be clear. We all have our ‘go to’ expressions. For example: belly button to spine. Let’s make sure we first express what we actually are asking for. Avoid relying on and assuming a phrase will always inspire the correct action.

Address complex action simply. Sometimes the list of cues are LONG, be sure to highlight a priority. In other words, emphasis what shouldn’t be sacrificed in order to accomplish another action further down the list of cues.

One of my favorite teaching moments is between breathing and action. If the effort to create an action causes you to hold your breath, the sacrifice is too great. In other words, if you catch yourself holding your breath, reign it in, work only as hard as you can breath consistently.

Teach, Don’t Tell

Simply means exploring with clients to learn what to say in order to help someone organize and co-ordinate a movement. Look at what happens when the client does what you asked them to do.  Then identify and address perhaps TWO of the most important corrections according to their demonstration.

Both the Movement Instructor and the client need to allow for room to grow into the actions. It takes time for the brain to instinctively and confidently adapt movement patterns. Every energetic expression of the teachers cue has to sort through outside force, internal deviations or habits and the complexity of the action.

Your brain and body systems know this and will learn to re-organize itself according to the brain’s pleasure response.

Client

As Clients, You Can Help Us Be Better:

We need you to speak up when what we’re asking for sounds like a foreign language.

Do you keep hearing a phrase that you feel or think is wrong for your body? Ask the instructor to explain themselves or to paraphrase what they are saying.

If you’re given a bony landmark or a muscle or a feeling/sensation as a reference point, speak up if that reference point is even a little bit foggy. There are hundreds of ways to describe an action.

Be patient with yourself, it’s just Pilates. #gregpember

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

Introducing yet another Brilliant Client

We would like to introduce one of our clients, Judith, who participates in weekly private sessions with Stephanie.
 
Judith brings with her a playful and curious attitude, warmth for all those who cross her path at the studio and has been the long time source of Stephanie’s intrigue into the ‘Art of Cueing.’ Judith and Stephanie will be exploring words and their potential together through an upcoming monthly blog: “Mind Your Words”, a punny play on the British phrase “mind your step”; “mind the gap”; “mind your head”; because we are if nothing else funny like that.
 
Judith
 
A few words from Judith:
 
We need the accountant on board to definitively answer the question of how long I have been coming…I believe it may be around a ‘bakers dozen’ of years but honestly I could say it has been a ‘lifeline and a life time’. The reason I say this is because in the intervening time since becoming acquainted with Stephanie and the studio, I have become acquainted with my body and fitness in an entirely new way – nothing short of being ‘reborn’? In this process, I have had the joy (not without its frustrations, I might add…) of relearning what is fitness, my body, and how the body functions in its beautiful, natural and powerful design.
 
At  the time of joining the studio, I had been working with a great massage therapist who enjoyed boasting (appropriately!) about the amazing things she was getting from classes with Stephanie. I was unable to resist the promise of ‘what else was possible’. I joined. and, all I would add is that “excellence begets excellence”:) Whats not to love about this!?
 
I have always loved being active but I had never learned how to deeply appreciate the process from a disciplined approach that begins with honouring the body rather than the intended outcome, in that order of priority.
 
Being active over the years included running, skiing, yoga, Tai Chi. Qi Gong, horseback riding, walking, cycling, and several attempts at trying to learn how to swim…oh well, forget the swimming – LOL.
 
Fitness with Stephanie has led me to an entirely new way of knowing: my body, myself, healing, spiritual connections, weaving my outside world into my studio workouts and vice versa – just for starters.
As a practicing “Guide to all things Great (I work as a life coach and psychotherapist), I have through this journey also come to realize how central the body, emotions, the mind are all interconnected to a healing journey. Therefore, I have now also become certified as a Yoga Teacher and am exploring how to weave this into the healing journey for others. WOW! You may catch a glimpse as to why I say this is nothing short of being “reborn”. Thank you Steph and all who make the KW Art of Fitness a great experience.”

People who you’ll bump into at our Studio

So you’ve met our instructors but who else helps us make the studio brilliant?

We would like to introduce one of our clients, Steve Knipping, who has been coming for the past 5 years, 3 times a week, participating in reformer classes, spin classes and privates sessions.

Steve brings with him a warm and ready sense of humour, always has a motivating, albeit funny, word for other participants and he has this remarkable ability to connect golf lessons into potential real life lessons.

Tell us a bit about yourself Steve: 

I am 54 years old and have been married for 34 years to Lianne. We have two daughters, Lauren and Danielle. Lauren is a registered dietitian, married and lives in Boston; Danielle is a registered nurse and lives in Hamilton.

I am a partner at WalterFedy – a consulting architectural and engineering design firm in Kitchener. As a  senior project manager I am primarily involved in land development projects and client relations.

How long have you been coming to the Studio?

I’m going to say 5 years but I’m not 100% sure; neither is Steph as she can’t count nor is she overly aware of time. 

Why did you start coming to the Studio?

I initially came as part of a golf/pilates combo lesson. I had signed up for golf lessons with Rob Hannah and it included some sessions with Steph.

At one of the classes we did some exercise that completely “released” my back and that made me think I might be on to something that could help me. I had been looking for something to help improve my fitness but most things I had tried just seemed to aggravate some of my past injuries – bad back, bad shoulder, rotator cuff issues, hip issues. Pilates seemed to be something I could do, challenge myself, get in better shape but not hurt myself. I started with one on one training with Steph, which I still do, joined a group Pilates class and also joined a spin class.

Why do you keep coming back?

I like the small class sizes. The atmosphere of the studio is focused but relaxed and encourages a balanced approach to fitness and life. The breaks between sessions are nice and help you recharge and keep things fresh. The instructors are all great, as well as the other clients. There is a common element to the instructors and clients with respect to values and general approach to life. This makes it easy to blend in together during the group classes whilst having space for personal modifications when necessary.

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

My big passion (and frustration) is golf, but I also enjoy cycling, curling in the winter as well as snow shoeing. Once I retire I would like to add another Pilates class to my routine.

Why do we shut the studio down between seasons?

What are the benefits for you as a client?

As everyday people, we are constantly being bombarded from many sources to continuously strive towards our health and fitness goals. So much so that we miss the fitness paradox: In constant striving we neglect a key ingredient that is the foundation to our quality of life and the success of our goals: REST & RECOVERY!

Putting in place our transition week was to reinforce the concept and empower our clients to own and enjoy rest and recovery, it is well deserved and should be honoured. Why does your body need to FULLY recovery and restore itself? The article written by, By Daniel Duane for Men’s Journal, in the Huffington Post does a great job explaining why recovery is so very important.

So, as us smartie-pant Pilates Instructors like to say when you let us know you are feeling your muscles during a workout … You are welcome, this time not for the burn but instead for the Studio ‘forced’ shut down.

“Taking a long break doesn’t mean getting overly friendly with the couch, but stay away from your familiar workout routines, the getting ‘fitter’ part comes while you eat and rest. The body repairs tissue damage, strengthening the heart and other muscles, restoring depleted fuel reserves and getting better at transporting oxygen throughout the body. This makes your body a little more efficient and stronger than before.” – Daniel Duane, Men’s Journal, Huffington Post

 

We’re a little Different from Other Studios…

Art of Fitness

 

  1. Don’t worry about a Pilates mat, water, or a towel – we’ve got you covered!
  2. Class shouldn’t be easy. If it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. No, really, you are. If it felt easy, ask a teacher to show you how to work harder. It’s always possible to work deeper in an exercise.
  3. If you want to take a class and it’s full, get on the wait list. You have a pretty good chance of getting in!
  4. Class is all about you. Request what you want to work on. Request what you don’t want to work on. Ask teachers to stay after and give you pointers. They’ll do it.
  5. If you forgot something just ask us – it’s likely we will have a stash somewhere. aka – hair ties, water bottles etc.
  6. Notify the teacher of any injuries or medical conditions. This helps us know how to give you modifications. You are the boss of your body! Never do an exercise that doesn’t feel or sound right to you. It is perfectly acceptable and expected to honour where you are at and rest for a few moments if the class is moving in a direction that is not appropriate for you.
  7. Have fun. There’s no reason for Pilates to be so serious. We’re glad you’re here and hope you enjoy the energy of our studio.
  8. Ask questions. As Instructors, we love to talk and are passionate about why Pilates is great for you – so don’t hesitate to ask about a certain exercise or sequence.
  9. We are always here for you – email us with concerns, questions or feedback.
  10. Turn off your cell phone. This enhances your experience and is a polite gesture to your fellow students.

Get to Know: Kris Witmer

As a client of KW Fitness for many years, Kris has enjoyed the benefits of Pilates while training with Steph. Pilates benefits people of all ages and improves overall strength, balance and flexibility. This is particularly important as we age since Pilates helps our bodies move more efficiently, improves bone density and helps us to avoid injury.

After 35 years of working in the corporate world, Kris retired and is excited to begin this second career – especially since she is so passionate about Pilates.

Kris

1. What is on your bucket list? To remain healthy and active. Continue to explore Europe – Italy, Spain, Scotland, Ireland
2. Where did you grow up? Waterloo
3. What food can you not live without? Vegetables
4. Who is the funniest person you know? My friend Laura
5. What is the best gift you have ever received? Benjamin (my grandson)
6. First thing you do in the morning? Coffee and breakfast
7. What is the one thing people would never guess about you? I have my Grade 4 in piano
8. What’s on your bedside table? A glass of water and my Kobo Ereader
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Strive for progress (moving forward) rather than perfection
10. What’s the background on your computer? My grandson