Category Archives: movement

Dance Bright Workshop Series

By: Courtney Holcomb

Over the years I have worked with hundreds of dancers on both technique, choreography, and conditioning. I’ve said a lot of the same corrections over the years, seen a lot of the same injuries, and witnessed the gap in traditional dance training to teach the HOW TO of many corrections. The purpose of a dance class is to keep the class moving, which means there is not always time for teachers to break down body mechanics and explain the corrections they may be giving. That is why I’ve designed the Dance Bright Workshop Series.

Dance Bright is a workshop series that focuses on movement education and intelligent strength and conditioning specifically for dancers. The purpose of Dance Bright is to help dancers improve their body awareness, better understand their anatomy and alignment, and learn about proper muscle recruitment and release techniques.  These workshops dig deeper into specific concepts and corrections that come up often in dance classes, but that a dance class setting doesn’t always have time to fully explain or explore.  Dance Bright will help close the gap between what dancers are told they should be doing, and how they can do it.

Workshops combine an element of lecture, movement exploration, strengthening, and stretching. 

The series is designed for dancers ages 12-adult.

Join us for our first workshop in the Dance Bright series, “Understanding our Hips and Core”, Wednesday, August 21st, 1:15-3:30 PM, located at Waveforms Pilates, 210 S. Commercial Street, Neenah, WI.

This workshop explores pelvic placement/alignment, proper core function and use, strengthening strategies for our hip stabilizers, as well as release techniques for tightness in the hip area. Through a combination of lecture, movement exploration, strengthening, and stretching, students will leave with an understanding of how to align and stabilize their hips to support the dynamic movements required while dancing.

Cost of workshop is $59 and includes a pinky ball and Franklin air ball for dancers to take home with them to incorporate the exercises and stretching strategies they learn at the workshop.

The Dance Bright Workshop Series was designed by Courtney Anne Holcomb.  She is a professional dancer, choreographer, PMA®-Certified Pilates Trainer, and owner of Waveforms Pilates in Neenah, WI.  She received a BA in Dance, and brings over 15 years of dance and fitness instruction, 9+ years of Pilates training, and professional performance credentials.  She’s worked with dancers ages 2.5-adult to help improve their technique, alignment, confidence, and expression through movement.

To join our specific mailing list for Dance Bright follow this link.


Specialty Monthly Offerings at Waveforms Pilates

Did you know that besides offering customized one-on-one training and small group mat classes we have other monthly offerings?  We wanted to share more with you about what each our our specialty classes are about, and some other ways you can train at Waveforms Pilates.

Formerly known as our Cardio-Infused Pilates Mat class, join us monthly for Amped Up! Pilates Mat:

This high-energy class is rooted in the Pilates mat work, but moves through the repertoire at a faster-pace designed to elevate the heart rate and increase cardiovascular health.  By working through a high number of repetitions of each exercise, the yield is an increase in overall muscle strength and endurance.  Cardio-bursts are added in throughout along with H.I.I.T. style circuits and lively music to keep you focused and energized.  All movements are low-to-no impact and variations are offered throughout the class to accommodate all levels.  This class occurs on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM.  Get ready to sweat, connect, and get Amped Up!

Our second monthly offering is our Unwind Series:

The Unwind Series is designed to combat chronic tension in the body through spiraling, twisting, and rolling while executing dynamic and active stretches often found within the Pilates repertoire.  Occurring once a month, each class has a different focus and uses various small equipment or props to help guide the body into more awareness and relaxation. There are six workshops in the series: Unwinding Mat, Invigorate Your Breath, Free Your Hips, Unlock Your Shoulders, Supple Spines, and Unroll Your Legs.  Join a class, and go from bound to unwound.

Share Pilates with a friend with Duet Sessions

Want to share a Pilates session with a friend or loved one?  Waveforms offers duet sessions on the Pilates equipment.  The Pilates equipment provides additional resistance and support to help elevate your practice.  Duet sessions are a great way to get in an extra session during the week, or to supplement your mat class training.  Duet sessions are 55-minutes in length, and have a rate of $40 per person.

Reach out to us via phone (920)740-3085 or e-mail info@waveformspilates.com to sign-up for one of our specialty offerings. Questions? Reach out as well!


Pilates offers Freedom, So Let’s Get Moving! “What Pilates Is and Why I Teach It”

By: Courtney Holcomb, PMA-CPT, Owner Waveforms Pilates

What Pilates Is

Pilates helps to close the gap between your physical moving body, and what your mind believes is your movement potential.  My role as a Pilates instructor is to assist in building confidence in your movement potential. 

What Pilates Is Not

When I first tell people I teach Pilates, I often get the response: “Oh, I can’t do Pilates, it’s too hard!”  Though there are many advanced movements in the Pilates repertoire that is just a small limb of the work. That is not the essence of the work.  Pilates has the unique ability to meet any body where it is at, and propel it forward to its potential.  I don’t practice or teach Pilates to be able to master a pose, to develop super strong muscles that can make shapes, or to perform high-performance elitist tasks.  It’s not about poses, or positions, it’s about movement.  I do Pilates so that I can move, so that I can be capable of moving, and so that I have more pain-free options throughout the day.  It’s all about movement potential, not about building rigid shapes, forms, bound muscle, or tense bodies.  Movement and Pilates gives me freedom to do whatever I might have to do during the day, and to experience my body in the world with the physical experience I was designed to have and enjoy.

Why I Like and Teach Pilates

If you are wondering why I like Pilates, it’s because it’s a tool that helps me move and experience freedom in my body.  That is the type of message that I like to send with the way that I teach my students.  That is the way that I want my students to feel when they leave the studio space.  That they are more capable of moving in their bodies, and that they experience and feel more freedom in their bodies.  I want to help them feel more capable and build self-confidence in their movement than when they first stepped foot in the door.  I want them to find a sense of liberation from any of the list of conditions or symptoms they may feel they are experiencing that they believe limit their ability to move freely.  They are not an accumulation of all of “those things”, but a wonderful, capable, and free body, with great movement potential.

As a Pilates instructor, I will help you build confidence in areas you don’t believe you are capable, to offer the options that you may not have thought were available, to help your mind and body work to free you of any restrictive “labels”, and to help you feel at ease in both mind and body.

For me, being a Pilates instructor helps me offers freedom.

So, let’s get moving!

From dancer, to Pilates student, to Pilates instructor, and beyond…
It’s all about MOVEMENT.

“Understanding Our Hips and Core For Dancers”, 2-day workshop

Courtney led a two-day workshop titled “Understanding Our Hips and Core For Dancers”, to the Conservatory dancers at Celebrate Dance Academy, in Arden Hills, MN. The purpose of the workshop was to help their students figure out their pelvis placement to support the dynamic movement required while dancing. They were taught about proper core function and use, as well as release techniques for any tightness in the hip area.

Did you know that Waveforms will design specific workshops for special populations? Dance is definitely a specialty, but we also have provided workshops for: athletes, vocalists, musical theater students, creative movements for pre-K, pre-natal, post-natal, business professionals/offices, active-aging adults, etc.

Reach out if you have a group you’d like us to serve. Workshops are a great way to get specific cues, tips, and conditioning to help work towards your goals, and help with building a deeper understanding of our ever-changing bodies.


Moving in All Directions with Waveforms Pilates

Category : exercises , fitness , movement , Pilates

Pilates Exercises for a Healthy Spine

**As featured in Appleton Monthly’s April 2018 “Healthy You” Edition.

Joseph Pilates, creator of the Pilates Method of fitness once said, “a man is as young as his spinal column. If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” We spend most of our days sitting, slouching forward, and rarely moving our spines at all, and it’s taking a toll on our bodies—and our posture.

Pilates moves the spine in all directions to help create resilience and flexibility that will keep your body feeling young through your years. Try these four exercises to

increase your spinal mobility and eliminate stiffness after a long period of sitting. Feel the spine flex, rotate, side bend, and extend!

 

Spine Stretch Forward

Set-up:  Sit up tall on your hips with the legs straight and shoulder-width apart.  Flex your ankles and reach your arms forward at shoulder height.

Exercise:  Inhale, and pull your abs in as you slide the shoulder blades forward.  Reach and round through the spine as if you were bending over a fitness ball.  Exhale, draw the shoulder blades back down your back as you roll to sit up tall on your hips.  Repeat 6-8 times.

*Pro Tips: Think about elongating the spine forward, rather than “crunching” it forward. How much reach can you feel through the crown of your head?  This exercise stretches the mid and upper back, so keep your hips anchored throughout the exercise (the pressure on the base of the pelvis should not change at all as you perform the movement).

Modification:  If you are unable to sit-up all on your hips, place a soft bend in the knees so you can sit perpendicular to the ground, or prop yourself up on a pillow or book.

 

 

Modified Corkscrew

Set-up:  Lay on your back with arms at your side, and extend your legs up to the ceiling at hip-height.  Point through your ankles and squeeze the legs together.

Exercise:  Inhale, swing both legs to the right, allowing the left hip to lift up and off the mat. Continue circling the legs down towards the ground while stabilizing both sides of the pelvic. Exhale, lift the legs back up towards the ceiling allowing the right hip to leave the mat, and return the legs to the starting position.  Reverse the exercise by beginning to the left. Repeat 3-6 times each direction.

*Pro tips: Only let the legs lower toward the ground as much as you can without arching the low back.  Feel for the subtle rotation of the low back as the hip lifts off the mat, keeping the hips level, the hip is lifting, but not hiking towards the ribcage.

Modification:  For more support, allow the arms to be out in a “T” with the palms facing down, or keep the legs bent at a 90 degree angle while performing the exercise.

 

Side Leg Bananas

Set-up: Lay on your side with your head, shoulders, hips, and heels all in one straight line.  Rest your head on your bicep with your palm facing towards the ceiling. Place your opposite hand palm facing down in front of your torso.

Exercise:  Take an inhale to prepare for the movement. On the exhale, engage your core and lift both legs up and off of the mat.  Feel your top hip move towards your ribcage. Inhale to lower back down, and on the next exhale, keep your legs down and lift your upper body off the mat all the way to the bottom of the shoulder blade using your waistline.  Lower back down and try lifting both upper and lower together on your next exhale. Repeat the whole sequence (lower, upper, both) 2-3 times, then switch to lie on the other side and repeat.

*Pro tips:  Keep the body in one long line from fingers to toes.  Think about pressing your waistline down into the mat to help you stabilize as you lift.

Modification:  Turn the palm of the arm overhead to face the ground and press into it while lifting just the head and legs off of the mat.

 

Swan

Set-up:  Lay on your stomach with the palms facing down right below your shoulders, elbows pointing up.  Legs long behind you as close together as is comfortable for your low back.

Exercise:  Inhale and engage the abs and press into your palms.  Exhale, and slowly begin peeling the spine up and off the mat one vertebra at a time.  Keep the shoulders gliding down your back, and lift only as high as you comfortably can.  Try to feel for even extension through the spine, head is in line with the spine. Inhale at the top, and exhale to slowly lower the spine back down to the mat with control.  Repeat 4-6 times.

*Pro tips:  Keep the low back long and feel for a stretch through the front of your hips.  As you lower back down to the mat, imagine the spine is pressing through the chest to stretch it longer as you lower down.  Try to maintain the shoulders down and wide across your back throughout the exercise.

Modification:  Place your hands level with your ears, and only rise as up to your elbows.  Focus on anchoring the pubic bone into the mat the keep the pressure off of your low back.


What’s In a Name? – Waveforms Pilates

Starting a Pilates business five years ago under my name, “Courtney Anne,” I felt ready to develop a brand. I wanted it to represent the way holistic wellness feels doing Pilates work.  It’s not about me, and it never was about me, so I didn’t want to have my name representative of the business.

Spring of 2016, I began the process of brainstorming what represents Pilates, my voice in the industry, and how I wanted my students to feel after a session.  Through this journey, I solidified key aspects of my to-be brand and what I wanted to accomplish to further Pilates education.

 

Identifying a Brand

I took a Spring trip to Denver, Colorado, for a Pilates continuing education. I treated it like a sabbatical to take time to think about my business.  I collaborated with my creative-guru, engineering friend Eileen, and began the process of identifying “the brand.”

This was a scary process for me.  Though I’d been in the field for over five years, sitting down to identify what I did, why I did it, and what represented the business best, all felt like huge questions to answer.  Where do you even begin?  

My prescription: The classic brainstorming list. 

Eileen and I wrote down all the words we could think of that relate to Pilates.  GO!  We looked for connections, what were the underlying themes in words that keep coming up?  What stood out as most important?    

 

Finding Underlying Themes

After making the lists, we decided to go for a hike.  Fresh air to clear the mind and talk.  Maybe as two minds, we could better identify that string holding it all together.  We talked through the ideas that came up during our brainstorm and I shared with her my excitement about working in Pilates.

In my movement instruction, we identified a focus on form.  The movements are not random or performed without a clear intention.  They require thoughtfulness, and mindfulness.  I also love that Pilates is truly for any body, and for anyone, no matter what stage of life they are in.  I’ve worked with ages eight to eighty-six years old, with all various health considerations and fitness goals.  That is the beauty of Pilates.  I also firmly believe that Pilates helps you stay healthy and active through your entire life.  Helping you find freedom and ease in your movement.  

Claiming an LLC

Feeling refueled after my trip, I returned with many ideas I loved for a name. I started searching online only to discover many of them were already claimed or too similar to existing businesses. I was frustrated and felt back at square one. My husband, Estin, decided we needed to just pick a name we liked to file for an LLC. He realized that once we file, we could name a studio under that LLC as anything we wanted. This gave us more time to think about what we wanted our outward-facing brand to be.

When I was out for the day, he sent in a request for Waveforms, LLC.  Being a musician of synthesizers, he deals with waveforms all day: sawtooth-waves, square-waves, sine-waves, triangle-waves.  Waveforms…he thought it sounded cool.

Coming home, he told me that he filed as Waveforms, LLC.  I was initially irritated.  We had not discussed a name of anything close this beforehand.  I felt like something I had spent so much time thinking about was simplified into something I didn’t feel related to the business I wanted.

For the next few days, I tried to come up with unrelated names to our new LLC name for the studio.  I was at a stand-still.  But, the more and more I sat with the name Waveforms, underlying connections started to come together.

 

Running with Waveforms – Form and Intention

Doug Lowe, in his article about Measuring Electronic Waves describes waveforms as this:

“Waveforms are the characteristic patterns—These patterns indicate how the voltage in the signal changes over time — does it rise and fall slow or fast, is the voltage change steady or irregular, and so on.”

Suddenly, the connections was clear to me.  My husband’s music world and my movement world collided.  The body does just what this definition describes, patterns of movement.  Some efficient, some irregular and imbalanced.  This is what Pilates helps solve, bringing form and intention to our movement patterns.

Viewing a waveform on an oscilloscope, the device used for viewing an electronic wave, you can see that a wave is in constant motion.  Just as a wave in the ocean.  These patterns are capable of change over time.

Waveforms Pilates, it’s about movement and change. Constant movement and change, that can be charted overtime.  This is what Pilates is about.

 

Constant and Easeful Motion

I love the water.  Being a Scorpio, water is my natural element.  Being near the water always makes me feel calm, pensive, focused, strong, and connected to something greater.  I love watching the waves and seeing the repetitive, effortless, circular movement.  

Waves are created by sending energy through the water.  In Pilates, we send motion through our body by sending energy through it.  We keep the body in constant motion, much like a wave.

Some definitions of a wave include: to move freely; to bend or sway; to be moved, especially in opposite directions; a mass movement; a swell, surge, or rush, as a feeling or condition; any surging or progressing movement.

Yes! Pilates is all of these things.  Pilates offers all of these things.  Waveforms Pilates identifies with all of these things.  

Pilates is about finding effortless movement. Discovering inner peace and relaxation. Creating and passing energy through the body and feeling connected.

 

Pilates through All Stages of Life

Our body desires to move even when we don’t feel like it. It craves it.  Pilates helps us bring form to the movements of life.  We have peaks and valleys, just like a triangle waveform.  You may be coming off of an injury, you may have just lost a loved-one, you may have gained weight, you may be training for an upcoming race, you may be experiencing depression, Pilates can help move you.  

And when you move, you will be energized. You will feel more connected in your body and mind.  You will make measurable changes overtime.  You will experience ease in the body.  You will find better form and function.  You will feel more confident in you.  We believe this.    


We Are Waveforms Pilates

This is what we stand for:

Using Pilates to bring form and intention to movement, to allow you to stay in constant and easeful motion through all the stages of life.  

See what Pilates feels like in your body. Send us an email to schedule your first session today.


Finding the True “Core” of Fitness: Making Fitness Goals that Matter

By: Estin Holcomb, 2 months into Pilates training

Many of us think of training in terms of sweat equity. In order for a session to be thought of as a “success,” we should be tired, sweaty, hot, and sore. These symptoms equate to a good workout. I believed this for years, until I stepped into a Pilates mat class at Waveforms Pilates.

My transition from typical free weight resistance training and cardio (mainly running) to Pilates was not an easy one at first. I came in thinking the work I saw being done didn’t appear to be work at all. People who were training weren’t panting and out of breath; they weren’t beat red, dripping with sweat.

These physical signs had become my definition of a normal work out.

 

Stepping Into a Pilates Mat Class

 

My first few mat sessions I felt restless and a bit discouraged by the repeated corrections of my poor form and body posture. My trainer would tell me I was done because my technique was being compromised and she didn’t want me to get hurt, even though I felt I could do a lot more.

Estin Pilates Forward Flexion

The truth was my form was bad, my posture was poor, and my supportive muscle groups were weak. I had decent abdominal definition but my internal core muscles were weak and my low back was suffering as result. When we continue because we think we can do more, it can result in overuse injury, joint problems, cramping, or worse. This was a stark difference from the kind of exercise I was used to.

 

Setting Realistic Goals for Holistic Health

 

As my trainer worked with me my mindset started to change to focus on fitness goals that would increase the overall functionality of my body and improve my sense of well being. I noticed I feel taller and my limbs longer. I’m more flexible; I can bend over and touch my toes, twist and rotate my upper body from side to side, and tension I used to carry in my neck and shoulders has subsided. Most notable, I no longer experience muscle cramps through my shoulder and chest when I run.

img_4124Continuing Body Weight Pilates Training

 

Pilates resistance training focuses on form first, then builds strength and flexibility. Techniques are done slow and controlled. Through this transition, I feel like I’ve worked out without being beaten down and in pain the next day. This is making me more efficient when I train and leaving me with energy for my next session.

 

I am very excited to see what the future holds with my continued training. The beginning stages of a Pilates journey are full of exploration and discovery. For me thus far, redefining my idea of a work out has been beneficial for my overall health and training plan. It’s clear this redefinition has and will continue to be beneficial for my physical accomplishments going forward.


Rediscovering Curiosity Through Pilates

Category : business , movement , Pilates

By: Courtney Holcomb

Certified Pilates Instructor, Waveforms Pilates

 

Pilates attunes you to yourself and asks you to be curious again.  

 

You see, children are encouraged to move in curious and creative ways.  I love to challenge adults to think the same.  I’ve seen many adults really discover their bodies for the first time through Pilates and that is incredibly inspiring to me.

 

Pilates – Keeping you youthful throughout your life.  

 

It’s rare to have our bodies observed for movement as adults.  Maybe as a kid, taking a dance class, doing karate, or playing sports, you received feedback on your form, or told “how-to” perform a certain movement.  For the most part, our bodies turn to auto-pilot after the childhood years.  And with auto-pilot, we begin to form movement patterns that become habits. If our bodies were perfect, this would be great.  But more often than not, habits without awareness lead to imbalances in the body.

 

Pilates teaches us to reclaim curiosity and helps us question the what, how, and why of our movement patterns.  The discovery and exploration of movement is the task, the sensation is the reward.

The freedom from chronic pain is the reward.

The improved posture is the reward.

The inner strength is the reward.

Why Does Body Awareness Matter?

To not operate on autopilot, we have to bring the mind into it.  Pilates is a mind-body practice that brings us into actively thinking about the body.  I had an instructor who often said at the beginning of class, “this is your hour to make your body primary.”  Not your list of errands, not your weekend plans, your body.

IMG_0280

The Pilates session is your hour to put yourself first.

Considering we can never escape our body throughout the day, it has always surprised me how little time we spend listening to it.  The more we listen to our body, the more consciously we can change our movement patterns for the better.  If we are listening to our body, we are able to tell if a movement we are doing is creating pain.  We are able to sense our body to find balance if we stumble to avoid a fall.  We are able to navigate the busy hallway without bumping into others.

 

When is the last time you truly took time to make your body primary?

 

How Does Pilates Teach Curiosity & Body Awareness?

 

Group Class Introspection

Pilates work is personal and introspective.  Even taking class in a group setting, you are taking class for yourself.  I love this about the work.  It takes the competitive aspect out of group fitness.  The whole class feeds off the energy of one another without comparison.  Each individual is on their own adventure of curiosity, trying to discover the connections within their body.  With much of the work performed lying on your back, stomach, side, and kneeling on all fours, it is difficult to even observe others in class with you.

 

Guided Discovery through Individual Sessions

I love seeing adults engage in a one-on-one Pilates sessions for the first time.  Without guidance, or “eyes in the sky” observing your individual body, it can be difficult to have awareness of our own imbalances.

 

General cues from a group class can be helpful, but aren’t always beneficial.  Though they may not harm you, they also might not be what your body needs.  Guiding people through a thoughtful movement practice is something I find extremely rewarding about teaching Pilates. No fitness is one-size-fits-all, and everyone’s goals are different. Working in an individualized session provides what your body needs, every time.

 

Self-Correction for Improved Movement Patterns

Pilates is not just fitness, but also movement re-education.  The ultimate goal of a Pilates instructor is for their students to be able to sense and correct their own form.  The more body awareness you develop, the easier this becomes.  It’s great to have verbal and physical cues from a class setting, but you won’t always be in class.

 

In a group class or one-on-one session, you first may receive a manual cue.  The instructor using their hands to place your body in the proper position.  The next step of awareness is receiving a verbal cue to remind you how to find the correct position on your own.  In the final step of repatterning the body, you are able to sense the adjustments that need to be made on your own.  This is the ultimate goal of the mind-body experience that translates into your daily life: developing the ability to self-sense.


Awareness Outside the Studio Walls

Staying curious about our movement discoveries outside of the studio helps the Pilates work translate into our daily lives.  With increased body awareness, we are able to sense inefficient movement patterns throughout the day.  We becomes attuned to our bodies wants and needs.  Hearing a client tell me things like “I was driving and noticed how tense I was in my shoulders, so I softened them down my back,” is one of the biggest compliments I can receive as a teacher.  It’s working, I think to myself.

IMG_0265

If we want our body to serve us well for years to come, we need to listen to its needs.  We need to take more time to make our bodies primary.

 

Where Can I Learn More?

 

Changing habits in our body won’t happen overnight, but it will happen with intentional movement practice.  Pilates serves as a perfect mind-body complement to create changes in your body for the better.  Waveforms Pilates exists to provide movement education for fostering body awareness, strength, and self-confidence.

 

We believe that Pilates helps us build body awareness and internal strength to keep you healthy and moving throughout all the stages of life.  We provide not just instructors, but Pilates educators, to support you in your personal goals and help you develop a connected body and mind.  We take a contemporary approach to the Pilates Method layering in anatomy and exercise science.

 

Rediscovery your curiosity by investing in a fitness plan that works your mind and body.  The exercises don’t end at the door, they carry you through your day-to-day and help to serve you a life of movement longevity.  Begin with a group class, or dive in with a one-on-one session.  Your mind with thank you, and your body will too.

Contact Courtney Holcomb at waveforms@yandex.com or by calling (920)740-3085 to schedule your first session today!

IMG_0292