Category Archives: Pilates

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.


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.


“12 Days of Pilates Transformation Challenge” – January 2019

By: Courtney Holcomb, Waveforms Pilates

As we ring in the New Year at Waveforms Pilates, we want to challenge you to bring on some transformation!  We believe in the power of Pilates to transform people, mind, body, and spirit.  Which is why we would like to challenge you to “12 Days of Pilates”.  We are asking you to commit to do twelve, 55-minute sessions of Pilates during the month of January. 

Why Twelve? When people begin their Pilates journey, the first question I often get asked is “How often should practice Pilates? How many times a week should I come to feel the benefits?”.  When Joseph Pilates created the Pilates Method, he designed it to be a daily practice.  Though this may not be practical in our busy schedules, with a commitment to frequency and consistency, the benefits can be seen and felt that much sooner.  My short answer to this question is typically, 1x/week yields injury prevention, 2x/week serves for strength building, and 3x/week brings transformation.  This is why we are challenging you, for the month of January to “12 Days of Pilates”. What would it feel like to do Pilates 3x/week?  We want you to feel what it’s like to truly experience the transformative benefits of the Pilates Method.

How do you participate?  First, message us to let us know you are joining us for the challenge! Then begin by downloading our challenge form to log your sessions.  There are many ways to get in your twelve Pilates sessions, group classes, one-on-one sessions, and from home. We have some suggestions for you here.

We will launch our “12 Days of Pilates Challenge” on New Years Day with a LIVE Pilates Mat Class, at 10:00 AM, CST, with a Facebook Live video class on Waveforms Pilates Facebook Page.  If you don’t currently follow us on Facebook, please do, and join in January 1st, 10:00-10:55 AM, from the comfort of your own home for your first mat class of the year!  All levels are welcome, so have your mat set up and join in!  

Are you ready for the challenge? Bring on the transformation. Message us to schedule a session, sign-up for a class, or do a little bit of it all!

(920)740-3085,
waveforms@yandex.com


What Do We “Do” at Continuing Education?

Forward: Courtney Holcomb, Waveforms Pilates Owner/Instructor

Multiple times a year you will find both myself, and Molly Jo out for a period of time gone for what we describe as Continuing Education.  Though our primary Pilates educations have been completed for quite some time, the learning end of movement is never over.  Choosing the path of being Pilates instructors and movement educators, this is a commitment we have made to ourselves:

That the education doesn’t stop after our final exams.  There’s not a certain graduation of sort where now we’ve magically achieved and learned all we need to know to be a successful and effective Pilates instructors.  But mostly, this is a commitment to our students.

That we will not repeat the same things without further investigation and exploration.  That we will not subscribe to a “one-size-fits-all” model for our students.  That we will not just parrot what someone told us once about movement.  We will learn, explore, and experiment to find the best solutions for our students bodies, and our own.

Molly Jo is excited to share with you all some highlights from her training and experiences from the 2018 McEntire Summit.  This is her third year in attendance, and each year there are new topics for exploration and further education.

 

A Report from McEntire Summit 2018

Author: Molly Jo Mathe, Waveforms Pilates Instructor

 

In July, I traveled to Rochester, MI to attend the McEntire Summit at the McEntire Pilates Studio to deepen my knowledge in movement and Pilates. Each year, the summit takes on a theme or intention for its Breakout Sessions, offerings, and content. This year, Trent McEntire offered us the intention full-hearted… and indeed it was. We discussed a wide range of topics including scoliosis and spinal asymmetry, new equipment and its opportunities for creative imagery, the importance of thoughtful movement exploration, and our roles as Pilates Facilitators in the world and how I can best serve my purpose and share my expertise with others.

 

JUST MOVE!

The first Breakout Session I attended was “#JUSTMOVE: Facilitating Exploration in Movement” with James Crader as presenter. There, we learned the difference between being a facilitator of movement vs. training bodies – the benefits of both approaches and how one offers a leg up in encouraging autonomy in students’ movement practice and exploration as well as my own. I loved the quote on the top of his page, because it accurately sums up the session: “What if good movement wasn’t about getting it ‘right?’ What if just moving was the medicine we’re all looking for within our practice?” – James Crader. I firmly believe healthy and fulfilling movement modalities are thoughtful ones. When we’re being inquisitive about how we’re moving and what we’re feeling we can get better at creating movement strategies for ourselves that extend beyond the time spent in the studio.

 

THE DUET

My next session was presented by my lovely mentor, Jenna Zaffino, where I experienced and explored her new invention, The Duet ™. The Duet ™ is a roller accessory system which allows two foam rollers to hook together side by side to achieve more feedback to the back and side body through the Pilates repertoire. I loved experimenting with the ideas of movement texture, quality, volume, and vibrations through the feedback of The Duet ™ system. I left the rollers with a better sense of my body in relation to the space around me and felt like I was buzzing in every positive sense of the word. It felt so good to feel embraced by the rollers in such a supported way! Since returning, I occasionally hook the rollers together simply to lay on them for comfort, relaxation, and support (and who doesn’t want more of that in their lives?) Some of my students who have experienced the double rollers in their sessions with me have voiced desires of taking a nap on the duo-apparatus, because of the embrace-like quality they experience – I respond by saying, “I might squirt you with the spray bottle if you begin snoring.” #kidding #itendtomakealotofjokes

 

UNCONSCIOUS MIND

My last day of the Summit included more information from multiple presenters. In Shawn Healey’s Breakout of “The Neurology of the Unconscious Mind”, he discussed brain functions in detail as well as how the mind processes movement and how movement behavior can change through unconscious decisions. However, the truly mind blowing take away from his session was the sneak-peak into how we can cast aside negative responses like bodily pain or emotional trauma and transform our outlook to take on a more positive one on our past, present, and future. I’m still digesting all I learned from this workshop, and how I can translate this information into my life and my vocation.

 

SCOLIOSIS & ASYMMETRY

Later, with Dr. Suzanne Martin, we executed tests by utilizing tools (like eye dominance information) for assessing and correcting movement patterns in relation to “Spinal Asymmetry, Scoliosis, and Laterality”. I deal with discomforts and occasional pain from my scoliosis on a daily basis and wanted to experience the benefits of this test firsthand. So, I jumped at the opportunity to be a “test subject.” What we all observed after completing the first assessment, the corrective intervention (where we applied corrective exercises), and then the second assessment was an improvement in executing our basic functional movements – like walking. I was excited to bring back more tools to my Pilates toolbox for myself and my students at Waveforms Pilates struggling with similar discomforts.

 

MOVEMENT FOR MOVEMENT’S SAKE

In the last session of the conference, we moved together with the guidance of Heather Vaughan Southard and Carol Crincoli. Some was Pilates based and the rest was what some would classify as a creative movement experience. Being a dancer, I’m quite comfortable with exploring “unconventional” forms of movement in my body – if you’ve ever observed or participated in an dance improvisation class, you understand what I mean. For me, dance was simple; I took dance class in order to perform. I trained my body in a specific set of skills but not necessarily as a resource for my own self care. But there, we took our emotions and intentions out of our heads and translated that energy into physical movement. It was liberating, fun, awkward, silly, scary, and wonderful – all at once. And after completing the movement session, I felt an abandonment of judgement and an embrace of acceptance and compassion.

 

A FULL-HEARTED COMMUNITY

L to R: Molly Jo Mathe, Julia Molyboga, and Jenna Zaffino.

It was fulfilling to be surrounded by people and presenters who are not only passionate about what they do in the Pilates community, but are also purely genuine and full-hearted people. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the their presentations, kind words, advice, and intimate conversations by all who attended and contributed. Everything I learned and rediscovered that weekend iterates that movement is and can deliberately be an emotional outsource, and by engaging into a regular intentional practice we have the tools to help us on our quest for self care. Now, please don’t confuse what I’m saying to mean that I or Pilates should replace your therapist. Spoiler alert: I’m not a therapist. What I am, is a facilitator of movement who uses Pilates as a vector, and through movement we have an opportunity to heal and change our mind and body if we are willing to embrace these ideas and simply #showup.

-Molly Jo Mathe

Curious to experience some of these movement ideas for yourself?  Book a one-on-one session with Molly Jo today by contacting us at info@waveformspilates.com!

 


9 Things You Should Be Doing Everyday!

Category : mind-body , Pilates

Our health and wellness involves a lot more than just diet and fitness.  How we interact with our environment can have a huge impact on how we feel daily.  Here is a list of ways that I try to interact with my surroundings daily.  I find, when I hit all of these nine things, I rest my head at night with a smile on my face.  Give it a try!

  1. Get a little sweaty.
  2. Go outdoors. 2 minutes, 10 minutes, all day. Sunlight, vitamin D. Fresh air. Connection to nature.
  3. Laugh.
  4. Alone time.
  5. Spinal Extension. Our spine craves movement, in all directions.  A healthy spine is a mobile spine, and our forward-curving culture is in dire need of daily, healthy, spinal extension to help counter our forward-primary existence.
  6. Pause all media. It can consume you. Turn off all the screens. Listen to the birds, your breath, what your partner or child is trying to tell you.
  7. Go barefoot.
  8. Have an interaction with an animal, plant, or person (or all three).
  9. Share gratitude and thanks.


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.


Join us for our Open House!

Join us as we celebrate our new location, 210 S. Commercial Street in Neenah. We are hosting an open house for the community. Demonstrations, snacks, and enter to win a free duet session for you and a friend!

Have you been curious how Pilates equipment works? What a typical session is like? Or who can all benefit from Pilates? We will have a short educational equipment demonstration on the half-hour. 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 PM.

Come and meet our instructors, see the new space, ask any questions you may have about Pilates training and its benefits, and join us in celebrating our move. Already train with us? Invite your family and friends to share with them where you train, and what it is you do at class.

All who attend will be entered to win a free 55-minute duet session for you and a friend!

Whether you are looking for pain-relief, sports enhancement, flexibility, pre- or post-natal exercise, pre- or post-rehabilitation, improved posture, dancer-specific cross-training, or overall health and well-being, Pilates may be a great fit for you!

All ages are welcome, no fitness clothing required.

We look forward to meeting you!  RSVP on our Facebook Page!


We are growing, moving, and adding more trainers!

Estin and I are excited to announce that Waveforms Pilates has moved to a commercial space!

For any classes, or one-on-one sessions that are booked for March 1st and beyond, you will find us at 210 S. Commercial Street, Neenah, WI.  This location is just one mile from our previous location, right off of the Neenah Downtown area, just follow the Neenah Clock Tower and you’ll find us.  There is a parking lot, so you will not have to worry about finding space.  We are currently working on getting our sign, so please look for the address plaque for now.  We are directly left of J. Anthony Jewelers.

We have enjoyed sharing our home with you all, and are excited for this new chapter.  We look forward to leaving our shampoo in the shower, using the crock-pot in the kitchen instead of our bedroom, using our wood-burning fireplace, and other simple things. 

It’s because of the support of all of you that this is possible! We are so grateful for your business, referrals, dedication, and encouragement!

 

Waveforms Pilates will still be a private studio space specializing in customized one-on-one Pilates training, small group Pilates mat classes, and educational workshops. Our new space is a stand-alone building, at around 800 square feet, we will have a little more room to breathe, house our growing array of Pilates equipment and accessories, and welcome Waveforms Pilates newest Pilates Trainer, Molly Jo Mathe.

Not only is Molly Jo Mathe a fabulous Pilates trainer, but Courtney and Molly Jo met their senior years of high school at their UW-Stevens Point Dance Department auditions, and have been friends ever since. They were roommates in college, were in each others weddings, and began their Pilates training journeys together. Post-graduation, Molly Jo moved to the greater Chicago area where she continued her Pilates career and has been teaching for the past 6 years. Together we will bring you twice as much expertise, vibrant energy and excitement about movement, and more specialized offerings. We are THRILLED to have Molly Jo joining us! She will be teaching our Thursday AM mat class, alternating Saturday AM mat classes with Courtney, and will be available for booking one-on-one sessions beginning March 5th.

WELCOME Molly Jo Mathe—

Being a dancer for most of her life, Molly Jo found that Pilates was a great way to maintain balance in her body through vigorous dance rehearsals and performances. Since then, she has been captivated by the profound work of Pilates and enthralled by its opportunity for creativity. Molly Jo believes that Pilates is for every body of every age, and that it’s never too late to take charge of your own health and movement practice. Molly Jo graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. While she finished her degree, Molly Jo also completed her Pilates Mat I and II certifications through Balanced Body in 2012 and has since completed the Fletcher Pilates Comprehensive Program in Chicago, IL. Molly Jo teaches Pilates to a variety of clientele and special considerations including men, women, dancers, pre and postnatal moms, diastasis recti, back injuries, and post-rehabilitation. She draws experience from her extensive dance and movement background and applies it to her clients in a unique way in order to increase their flexibility, strength, and awareness. Molly Jo loves to implement creative teaching methods to shape a fun and informative learning environment to motivate clients to achieve their goals with a sense of enthusiasm and joy. Molly Jo will be accepting new clients as of March 5th, and as always refer a friend for private training and you will receive a free session.

We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to serving you at our new location.

 


Pilates Power: From Reformer to Snow – Courtney C.

By: Courtney Cerniglia, Fortemente LLC

 

My Confession:

I never thought of Pilates as more than a mat class at your local gym. Leg kicks, boat pose, and planks formed my impression of the method. Comparing it to yoga, I felt it was on steroids that I didn’t want to be taking. I also thought it was a exercise fad. Not a methodology or a practice, but equivalent to TRX, step, or Zumba.

Whoops!

Courtney would die after hearing this description of Pilates, but unfortunately that’s the picture I’ve had prior to starting with Waveforms Pilates. Only when I started private sessions on the Pilates equipment did I realize the impact the practice would have on my training program.

 

A Long-Term Goal for Endurance

I’m an endurance athlete. I don’t like to call myself one, but when you have that odd love for long distance sports it becomes the only word to define you. My main sport is cross country skiing; I train for the American Birkebeiner, a 56K ski race held in Northern Wisconsin. It’s the biggest cross country ski race in North America…and hard as hell. The other sports in my life: cycling, running, and yoga; all support a year-round lifestyle of training for the Birke.

This year I trained for my 3rd Birke. The times I’ve posted for the past two years haven’t been in line with what I’d like to see. I knew I was capable of better performance, mainly because I know I’m an exercise slacker. I do what I like, when I like. Thankfully, I like exercise, so it’s enough to get me through events, but it’s not enough for an athlete who wants to perform.

This year I wanted to be serious about skiing. I wanted to gain real strength and power, and gain the mental capacity to post a time I was proud about at the 2017 Birkebeiner.

This meant I had to get serious about resistance training. I have cardio down pat (love cardio). I’m the person who loves to be dripping sweat on my bike and have shaky legs when I’m done running. I love to be sore and feel accomplished. I like to see calorie deficits posted after a long workout. I avoid the weight room and I didn’t have time for gym classes like Pilates. I thought they’d take away from the work I needed.

Whoops again!

Adding Pilates to a Training Program

In the Spring before training began, Courtney and I worked together to create a long-term training plan to build resistance endurance. This included the two areas I neglected most as a distance athlete: weight-lifting for power and low-impact resistance training. As part of the plan, I would go to Waveforms Pilates once a week for private sessions on the reformer and other Pilates equipment with Courtney.

I went in to my first session with mixed feelings. I love trying new things, but I’ve never worked with a coach at this level and I was new to the equipment. Courtney guided me through a few prep poses during the session and taught me what to focus on during the poses. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit overwhelmed after the first day.

While I’m a yoga teacher and there’s a lot of overlap, the movements on the reformer were so different than anything else I had done before. It was hard for me to concentrate on both moving correctly and the adjustments. I think many people feel this way after their first session, but of course! That’s why you don’t try something just ONCE.

It didn’t take long to catch on. After a few sessions I saw improvement I was astounded by. We worked together through the summer while I also did strength training. I toned up, built muscle and dropped fat. I started to develop real power in my core, back, and arms.

 

Gaining Power for Performance

I’ve never needed intense focus on my core muscles, as they’ve always been strong and toned. But, from my first day with Pilates, I realized although I had a strong core, parts of it were very weak. Courtney taught me how to work specific muscles within my midsection to become a solid tank. It’s never looked better or been more solid. This alone eliminated instability issues with my knees and any back pain I experienced moving through yoga poses.

Key for skiing technique, I also needed to strengthen my arms and shoulders. These areas were hands-down the most neglected part of my body. And, my shoulders are where I store tension PLUS agitation due to sitting at a desk during the day. Courtney would give me a 3-lb hand weight for shoulder exercises and I’d still want to cry from the difficulty.

Working on the reformer was great for me since there are endless variations of arm exercises you can do with your body weight. The design of the reformer couldn’t be more perfect for the poling motion of skiing. Courtney made sure she understood what muscles would be key for my technique and combined this with areas I was deficient in. Used together, she guided me through sessions that gave me the best low-impact resistance training for my arms and shoulders that allowed me to open and strengthen. In turn, this led to a more fluid poling technique on the snow and the power to continuously propel my stride forward.

 

Uniting a Fitness Regimen with a Holistic Approach

As an athlete, Pilates won’t make or break your training program. Like I described, I combined it into a full-spectrum training plan that included my normal routines, mental work, and diet monitoring. Great results never happen with a one-time quick fix. It takes deliberate practice, from all sides.

Pilates did, however, combine a mental focus to resistance training that allowed me to bring awareness to my body’s power. I adjusted the muscles I used for skiing to the ones that brought me greater efficiency and long-term strength. This alignment I learned on the reformer and practiced on the snow. It was the technical edge I needed to become a better skier.

It’s critical to work with the right coach. If I would’ve went to a gym Pilates class, I would never have seen the same results. Courtney brings a refined level of professionalism that’s backed by movement science, anatomy, and a goal-oriented attitude. I needed someone who could push me, talk to me as an athlete, and understand my constraints. Courtney kept me motivated while helping me to better understand my body as a system and how to use it as a whole for performance.

The story ends with a bit of a downer, as the 2017 Birkebeiner race was cancelled due to snow conditions. But, I felt prepared and ready to accomplish my goal. I’m stronger, leaner, and aligned. All the benefits I’ve gained, both mental and physical, will go with me as I train for next year. The best part about training through a holistic method is its universal application to whatever you want to accomplish. Pilates sets you up for success. Incorporating it into your regimen is a step towards achieving your fitness goals!

Courtney C. getting in a Ski Loop at the 2017 Birkebeiner Event