Category Archives: resistance training

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 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


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.


Waveforms Spotlight: Carolyn K. – “Pilates makes you more fit, stronger, and increases your stability.”

Contributing Author: Courtney Cerniglia

When Carolyn moved to the Fox Cities, she wanted to continue her Pilates routine. “I felt blessed to have found Courtney in this area. She’s right up there with some of the top trainers I’ve worked with.” Knowledgeable, kind, and thoughtful, Carolyn enjoyed these qualities of Courtney’s that made their private sessions fun and effective. Working in the new Waveforms Pilates studio this summer, she felt more relaxed and comfortable in the “studio spa space,” as she described it.

 

fullsizeoutput_bWhile Carolyn has done both Pilates mat and private sessions, she will never give up her private sessions. The one-on-one training she receives from Courtney is helping her continue to progress towards her goals. Her goals shift over time, but she continues to see benefits in keeping her body mobile and capable for any phase of life.

 

Once an athlete, Carolyn mentions how powerful it is to pair Pilates work into your training regimen. We asked her what benefits of her practice she’s noticed, she exclaimed, “Strength! Pilates makes you more fit, stronger, and increases your stability. I’ve also lost some weight as well, as it tightens everything up. For an athlete, it’s a discipline that works on the things other methods don’t.”

 

“Pilates is results driven,” Carolyn explained. “You stand taller and gain results from the work you put into it. Courtney challenges me to work harder, do more, and take my practice to the next level.”

 

 

Carolyn’s favorite Pilates exercises tend to include almost anything on the reformer. Different than with a mat class, using the reformer can create space in places hard to access without the added resistance. It also adds an extra element of gravitational pull and spring resistance to add intensity to easier movements. But when Carolyn’s on the mat, she likes plank postures. “They’re difficult, yet rewarding. I feel a sense of accomplishment in the end.”

 

It’s easy to see Carolyn has a goal driven practice that’s pushing her to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She uses Pilates to enhance her natural strength and continue to improve in areas that need more love.
“I encourage anyone who isn’t sure about Pilates to look into adding it to your routine. Runners, cyclists, triathletes, can all see improvements to their performance by incorporating it into a training program,” she encourages. “I can’t say enough great things about working with Courtney at Waveforms Pilates. She has a vast breadth of knowledge, acute attention to detail and a kind approach, she is everything I am looking for in a trainer.”

 

Pilates Trainer Courtney & Carolyn K.

 


Pilates, More Than Just Mat (Beyond the Mat: How We Use Equipment for Resistance Training)

Resistance Training with Pilates Equipment

By: Courtney Holcomb, Certified Pilates Trainer, Waveforms Pilates

denise-austin-pilates-photo

Pilates, in the early Millennium, was often depicted in the media as housewives doing high-kicks while lying on their side.  Thank you Denise Austin!

While there is Pilates mat work like her style, it is a small piece of the school of Pilates.  When I explain Pilates, people often tell me they had no idea there is equipment available.

Many people are familiar with the small pieces of equipment used to complement a mat class – such as rings, balls, foam rollers, and hand weights. They’re less familiar, however, with the large pieces of equipment used in Pilates.

Don’t Worry…Looks Can Be Deceiving

Pilates equipment can appear to be quite intimidating and almost appear torturous.  It is the exact opposite!  People love the way it feels to move with the equipment and to experience the smooth and relaxed range of motion. Here’s a bit more insight to break down that barrier.

What Is Pilates Equipment?

Joseph Pilates, father of the Pilates Method, invented and patented over two-dozen pieces of exercise equipment.  Not meant to replace mat work, equipment training serves as a great complement to mat classes.  Some of the most common pieces of larger Pilates equipment include: the Universal Reformer, Wunda Chair, and the Trapeze Table/Cadillac.

In some cases, the equipment provides some precursory exercises to help you build strength for advanced mat work.  In other cases, the equipment exercises make similar mat exercises more challenging by adding resistance.

“I invented all these machines… it resists your movements in just the right way so those inner muscles really have to work against it. That way you can concentrate on movement. You must always do it slowly and smoothly. Then your whole body is in it.” – Joseph Pilates

 

How Does the Equipment Work?

 

Increased Resistance Training with Springs

Pilates is resistance training, just like weight lifting.  The main difference is that Pilates equipment primarily uses springs as the source of resistance instead of dumbbells or cable weights.  Springs need the user to maintain fluid range of motimg_3767ion from the beginning to end of an exercise.  If you try to “jerk” the range, or use momentum for exertion, the machine won’t function properly – so there’s no cheating! The springs also help you control both the flexion and the extension range, allowing you to use the fullest range of your muscles.

This fluid control causes the muscle to also be stretched during the exercise, which improves flexibility and overall strength.  Resistance can also be increased or decreased based on how many springs you attach and where you attach them.  Not to mention, springs help trigger your deep core muscles as you negotiate finding balance and stability.

Closed-Chain Exercises & Pulleys

Working with the springs and pulleys associated with some Pilates equipment, you are able to perform more closed-chain kinetic exercises.  Closed-chain exercises increase the force on the joint to increase stability.  Closing off the kinetic chain by having a grounding point, helps protect connective cartilage and the joint itself.  These types of exercises also work multiple muscles and joints at a time, making them very efficient.

Anyone who has experienced an injury, in conjunction with, and post physical therapy, working in a closed-chain manner is safer. Other populations that benefit from this type of execise include: those with osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, hypermobility of joints, muscle weakness, and middle-aged to older adults.img_3766

The equipment helps to train and reinforce symmetry in body, by working with even force on both sides.  For example, placing both hands in separate equal-length straps, you must press with even force with both arms in order to move the machine.

Using Gravity and Body weight for Resistance

The higher off the ground you are, the greater the effect gravity has on your body.  With the Pilates equipment raising you off the floor, you experience more natural resistance from gravity.  Just like with mat work, most exercises incorporate body weight resistance and gravitational forces.

Versatility of Pilates Equipment

 

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The Universal Pilates Reformer

Working the Body in All Positions

Exercises on the Pilates equipment mimic movement actions that you use in daily life.  This makes the exercises applicable and practical outside of the gym.  The equipment can be used seated, lying down, kneeling, standing, side-lying, flexing forward, curving backwards, and rotating.  Any possible position you could find yourself throughout the day, there is an exercise for it!  This creates a full-body workout every time and provides functional fitness.

Incorporating Pilates Equipment Training with Physical Therapy

Joseph Pilates made his first piece of equipment working with wounded soldiers by taking two springs from under their cots and attaching them to the bed frame with a pole.  If someone had a leg injury, there is no reason they couldn’t work their upper body!

Many people use time on Pilates equipment for post-physical therapy work, or in conjunction with their physical therapy.  Many special populations such as people with osteoporosis, hip replacements, MS, pregnant women, and people with scoliosis, to name a few, are able to utilize Pilates equipment to perform safe exercises and stay in shape.

Exercises for All Populations

Don’t be fooled though, the equipment can give a vigorous workout!  It’s not just for rehabilitation.  Professional athletes all over the world use Pilates equipment to help with injury prevention, alignment, flexibility, core, and overall strength.  The possibilities truly are endless.  There are modifications to make each exercise more or less challenging based on the client’s abilities and goals.

 

Feel The Pilates Resistance Difference!

 

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The Pilates Chair

The best way to understand the difference between traditional resistance training and Pilates resistance training is to feel the difference!

Pilates equipment trains the whole body instead of individual parts, making for a complete full-body workout every time.  The resistance is smooth and demands control from start to finish to create a fullest range for the muscle.  The fluid sensation created from the springs provides stretch and strength to the body and gives support for the joints.

Sign-up for a session to feel the difference today!

waveforms@yandex.com

(920)740-3085