Holiday season is quickly approaching. That means it’s time to pull out those cocktail dresses and festive tops. This 10-minute workout will help you get those cocktail party arms that you’ve always wanted, while also working your abs, butt, and legs. You only need a mat or towel and 3-5 pound hand weights. If you don’t have hand weights, grab some canned vegetables or bottled water. Go through the series two times, aiming for 3 non-consecutive days, a week.

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1. Forearm Plank

To do:

a. Start by getting onto your forearms and knees

b. Make a fist with one hand, and clasp the other hand around it

c. Extend your legs back to get yourself into a plank, keep legs together, shoulders over elbows, and heels over toes (as shown in photo)

Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute

Tips:

Press into your forearms to prevent yourself from sinking towards the floor, and simultaneously pull your heart towards the wall in front of you

Work your pubic bone towards your forehead to engage your abs and protect your lower back

Press backs of thighs together, and make sure they don’t sink to the floor

Think of your body being pulled in two directions with your head going one way and your heels the other

Modification:

Do with your knees down

Challenge:

Hover one leg off mat for 15 seconds, then switch to other leg for 15 seconds

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2. Bridge with tricep extension

To do:

a. Lie on mat, knees bent, legs shoulder-width apart and feet flat

b. With a weight in each hand and palms facing one another, extend your arms to the ceiling

c. Lift hips to create a straight line from knees to chest (as shown in photo)

d. Bend and straighten elbows

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep chest open

Imagine holding a little beach ball between the inner thighs to keep energy there

Make sure elbows are reaching up to the ceiling when the arms are bent

Reach the tailbone towards the heels and pubic bone towards the head to keep the core active

Modification:

Keep butt down

Challenge:

After last rep bend elbows to 90 degrees (forearms parallel to ceiling), with butt still lifted, hold for 30 seconds

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3. Bicep curl

To do:

a. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, while holding a weight in each hand, arms long by your side, shoulders down and back, and palms facing out (as shown in photo)

b. Bend elbows to bring the weights to your shoulders, then slowly lower to start position

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep elbows glued into ribs

Keep shoulders on your back to isolate the biceps

Imagine a corset around your waist to engage the abs

Gaze forward and stand tall

Challenge:

After you complete your reps, hold the forearms parallel to the floor for 10 seconds

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4. Tricep and shoulder swing

To do:

a. Stand with legs together, a weight in each hand, raise arms to shoulder height, palms face one another

b. Bend knees in to a squat, hinge forward, and press arms back so that palms face the ceiling, pulse arms up 3 times (as shown in photo)

c. Return to standing bringing arms to start position

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep shoulders down and back

Keep spine long when you hinge forward

Picture a corset around your waist to keep your abs engaged

Make sure palms face up to ceiling when pulsing

Challenge:

As you return to standing bringing your arms to start position, as draw one knee into your chest

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5. Lunge with twist and bicep curl

To do:

a. Stand tall with a weight in each hand, raise arms to shoulder height, palms face one another

b. Lunge forward with right leg, twist torso to the right, bend elbows (as shown in photo without the bent elbows)

c. Extend arms, untwist torso, step back to meet left leg while keeping arms raised

Repeat 8-10 times, switch sides and repeat

Tips:

Keep shoulders down and back

Press through the heel of the forward lunging leg to step back

Twist from ribcage, making sure to keep arms in line with shoulders

Modifications:

Lower arms a little if shoulders are tight

Take out the twist

flye-26. Bent Over Flye

To do:

a. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and a weight in each hand

b. Bend knees and hinge torso forward from the hips, keeping weight in heels

c. With a slight bend in your arms, lift them up to shoulder height, lower with control (as shown in photo)

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Focus on the back-side of arms and mid-upper back when doing the work

Keep shoulders on back

Picture a corset around your waist to remind you to keep

abs engaged

Make sure you can see your toes and watch that the knees track over second toe

Challenge:

Add an extra set of 10 pulses at the top of the last repetition before you lower arms back down

 

I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined forces with Andrea Speir, a talented and seasoned Pilates instructor, to bring you The Pilates Fix.  We know Pilates can be expensive, so we wanted to make it accessible to everyone. The workouts will be available on our Youtube channel, either with Andrea or myself.

Every week we will bring you classical Pilates workouts with a modern twist. Together we have almost 20 years of teaching experience, have worked in top Los Angeles gyms, and hold 600-hour classical Pilates certifications.  We will give you well rounded workouts and exercise tips to help you feel good and look good.

If you enjoy the workouts, please forward them on to your friends. And let us know what you would like to see on The Pilates Fix in the future.  Enjoy!

 

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Curious what I have to say with all things Pilates related including exercise ideas?  Then check out  Pilates Style.

On Pravassa.com, a healthy travel website, you can check out my reviews for Los Angeles based classes and restaurant as well as wellness posts.

MindBodyGreen offers a diverse collection of articles on all things relating to living a healthier and happier life.

Remember to check back often as I contribute every few weeks.

 

Running

FALL 2015 CLASS SCHEDULE at UpRise Classical Pilates

MONDAY:

1:30-2:25 Tower class level 2

6:30-7:25 Tower class open level

WEDNESDAY:

8:30-9:25 Reformer/Barre

UpRise Classical Pilates is located at 929 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. You can call Kristen to schedule at 917-887-3836 or book online.

 

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Excellence. Respect. Friendship. Those are the 3 Olympic values, and three of the reasons I love the Olympics so much. For 16 days every two years, we get to watch excellence from the athletes, as they show respect for their sport, and build friendships with people they may not have met otherwise. For 16 days, there is unity in this crazy world we live in. For 16 days, I get lost in something that is bigger than myself, and I truly enjoy it.

The London Olympics had their closing ceremonies on Sunday, and while it’s been nice getting to bed before midnight, I was sad to say goodbye. The past two weeks were filled with lots of celebratory tears, excitement, and a little bit of anxiety. I covered my eyes, held my breath, and cheered the athletes along from my living room. I even stood on my couch and ran with Allyson Felix towards her gold medal in a race she refers to as her baby.

I get competition. I was an athlete growing up, spending most of my childhood in a gymnasium or on a diving board. But at the end of the day, I didn’t have the commitment it took to be an Olympic athlete. By the time college rolled around, I felt that I had given much of my childhood to that point, to my sports. And decided to leave it behind. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. Over the years, I’ve had many dreams that I still dive.

I’ve always loved the Olympics, however I believe they have meant different things to me at different points in my life. When I was little I thought maybe I could be like Nadia Comaneci and score a perfect 10. Now in my 30’s, I enjoy being a spectator and cheering everyone on. I know how much work goes in to being a high school athlete, and that’s worlds away from being an Olympic athlete. I remember the joy of winning, and I know the disappointment when things don’t work out the way you had hoped.

What draws me back every two years, is the desire to be inspired by athletes from around the world. People like Oscar Pistorius, because he defied the odds, running as a double amputee, the U.S. swimmers, who jointly brought home 31 medals, the Jamaican men going 1,2,3 in the 200 m, and Kirani James winning the first medal ever for Grenada. Just thinking about it all still gives me chills.

As one of the broadcasters said during the closing ceremonies about the athletes, “they have been living in fantasy land and now it’s time to get back to real life land”. For some more than others, they may be able to draw out the fantasy land. But for me, it’s time to get back to focusing on my life. I’d like to thank all the Olympic athletes for reminding me you can do anything you put your mind to.

What do the Olympics mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

When the Pilates Anytime competition was announced for their next visiting teacher, I jumped at the opportunity to be online.  On new year’s this past year I sat with my friend Jackie and told her one of my goals/resolutions, is to get myself teaching Pilates classes online by the end of 2012.  This is my chance!  I filmed my video, uploaded it onto Youtube, and entered.  Now I need your votes.  Please help me win by voting here.  Voting goes until July 15th, 2012.

Whether or not I win the contest, I feel like I’ve come one step closer to achieving my goal.  It’s not as overwhelming as I once thought.  But, it would be fun to win!

 

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I recently had the chance to speak with Mika Street, owner of Uptown Pilates in NYC and Sag Harbor.  She filled me in on why she loves Pilates, what brought her from New York City to the Hamptons, and why Sag Harbor should be your next vacation spot.  Now I wish I had planned a trip there this summer!

How long have you had your studio in Sag Harbor and what made you choose opening a studio there?

I opened Uptown Pilates Sag Harbor in the summer of 2010. It was in response to years of clients requesting that the studio have a presence in the Hamptons. Sag Harbor was a natural choice because it is the most conveniently located and I personally love the town!

How is running a studio there different than the studios you run in NYC?  And is the clientele different between the two places?

The studio out east has a very casual vibe. Although clients can expect the same level of service, there is a fresh off the beach feel. Clients often come straight from swimming in the ocean with sand still in their hair and mellow music can often be heard when clients request it.

How many teachers do you have on staff, and what kind of Pilates do they teach?

During season we have four full time instructors. They are all classically trained either from Romana’s or from the Boulder Center. Out of season we have one full time instructor.

What makes your studio stand out among other studios in the area?

Uptown Pilates worked hard to earn our clients vote of Best Pilates Studio in NYC for four years in a row! The same dedication to the clients that earned us that reputation is what sets us apart from our competition in Sag Harbor as well.

Why do you love Pilates so much?  What about it do you think draws people towards it?

I love Pilates because you can never conquer it! The stronger you get the harder the practice gets – so you can never get bored with it. I also love the way my body feels after a session!

What advice do you have for someone looking to get into Pilates?

Research the studio and instructor. There is a tremendous difference today in teaching styles and you want to be sure that you work with someone who went through an apprentice program that was at least 600 hours. I also advise committing to at least three lessons. It is hard to wrap your brain around the potential benefits of Pilates in just one session.

Do you have any stories about clients who have transformed either physically or mentally, in a positive way, because of Pilates?

Oh for sure. Countless! One of the best parts of my job is listening to clients share their many stories of how Pilates has transformed their bodies and minds. I wouldn’t know where to start in terms of sharing them!

If someone is trying to decide on a vacation spot, why would you recommend Sag Harbor, besides the amazing Pilates of course?

Ha, of course the Pilates! Sag Harbor is a gem in the Hamptons! It is such a charming, casual and centrally located town with the best restaurants, farmers market and Main Street in all of the Hamptons!

If you could open another studio anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Bali – winter 2013! Jokes aside, probably Santa Monica.

What is the best way for someone to contact you and schedule an appointment?

For Sag Harbor bookings – 631-725-5994 or uptownpilatessag@gmail.com. Or directly through our website www.uptownpilates.com

 

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Last week I wanted a change from my chicken filled dinners, so I looked through some magazines I have at home, remembering I had recently seen some yummy meals in one of them, and I came across a few fish recipes that looked simple enough for me.  I like fish, but not fishy fish, and I’m not a fan of cooking it.  Once I poached salmon, and felt like my place smelled like fish for days.  Anyway, beyond the meals looking easy enough they also are supposed to not make your place smell like fish.  So, I ripped a few out, picked one for that night, and went shopping.

Unfortunately by the time I got to Santa Monica Seafood, they were out of char (the fish the recipe called for).  I asked them to give me something closest to it, which ended up being some type of salmon.  I bought it a bit hesitantly as the last time I cooked with salmon was the time my place smelled like fish.  I just decided to suck it up.  I was determined to make myself something that didn’t consist of chicken, quinoa, and veggies.

It ended up being so easy to prepare, and the salmon only took  12 minutes to roast in the oven.  Seeing as how I found it manageable, and very good, I wanted to share the recipe, which I found in Self magazine.  Next time I’ll have to go to the market early enough to get some char, which is eco-friendly, low-mercury, and less fishy than it’s cousin, salmon.  Luckily, my place didn’t smell like fish at all.  And I had leftovers that I ate for lunch the next day.

Roasted Arctic Char, with orange-lentil salad:

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

5 tsp olive oil, divided (if you don’t know what that means, which I didn’t, you use some in the mixture of lentils, and the rest on the fish when you roast it)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 package (17 oz) steamed lentils (or 3 cups canned, rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

4 arctic char fillets (5 oz each), skin removed

Orange slices and mint sprigs for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, whisk orange juice and zest, 4 tsp oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, mustard and t/4 tsp pepper.  Gently stir in lentils, chopped mint, and onion.  Arrange fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush with remaining 1 tsp oil; season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Roast until fish is opaque and just cooked through, 10 minutes.  Spoon lentil salad onto plates; top with fish.  Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs.

 

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A few weeks ago I completed a 3-week cleanse. I didn’t do it to lose weight, but to get myself back on track with eating healthy. As much as I love food that’s good for you, I also love chocolate, fries, and it’s pretty easy for me to finish a bag of pita chips in two days. So, after indulging myself a little too much with my favorite unhealthy treats, I decided I needed to press the restart button. What better way to do that than with a cleanse.

After the 21 days were over, the thing I noticed most was that I didn’t feel sluggish. Without that sluggish feeling, I feel like I have more energy to get things done. I’m also happy to say that I’ve picked up healthier eating habits, which is exactly what I set out to do.

For anyone considering doing a cleanse, below are 9 realizations and tips I thought I’d share:

1. Pick a cleanse that works for you. The reason I chose Clearvite-SF, which was recommended to me by my chiropractor/nutritionist office, is because I was able to eat full meals and snacks the whole time. Juice cleanses have never appealed to me because if I go a few hours with no food, I can’t function. But I have plenty of friends that don’t need to eat as often as I do. During my research phase I found this website, Green Lemonade, pretty interesting and helpful.

2. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of dishes I accumulated throughout the day, but made sure I cleaned them all before going to bed. Since I needed to use some of them every day, using the dishwasher (the most eco-friendly way to wash dishes) wasn’t an option. So I looked up ways to be eco-friendly with hand washing dishes and found this site helpful www.tipsonhomeandstyle.com/home/the-greenest-way-to-hand-wash-your-dishes.

3. Something I wasn’t expecting was the judgement I got from people when I told them I was doing a cleanse. I couldn’t really figure out why it offended people so much. In turn I started defending myself, for something that needed no defending. I was eating healthy for 3 weeks. After a few days, I realized less was more in my explanation.

4. The weekdays, not weekends, were much easier for me to stay on track with my meals, which surprised me. But what I realized was that there was much more structure to my workdays. The weekends were a free for all, and I would forget to eat or not drink enough water throughout the day.

5. For one week of the cleanse I had to cut out all meat and fish. This concerned me the most before I started, as I eat turkey or chicken almost every day. I survived though, and it wasn’t the end of the world. It made me realize that I don’t need to eat meat every day. I have found this site (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=158) helpful in giving me other ideas for ways to get enough protein.

6. Even though my reason for the cleanse had nothing to do with weight loss, I did end up losing a few pounds. For those looking to lose weight, remember a big part is what you eat. You don’t necessarily have to do a cleanse to drop the lbs. Just be more mindful of the foods you are eating.

7. When I decided to do this, I thought I’d save so much money from not drinking and going out to eat. I definitely didn’t spend as much as I usually do, but I spent more than expected. Buying organic and only shopping at Whole Foods certainly didn’t help. However, there are ways to be more frugal, and this article can shed some light on that as well as ideas on smart food shopping http://www.MindBodyGreen.com/0-4570/Top-10-Tips-for-Food-Shopping.html. I just wish I found it sooner.

8. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I wasn’t worried about a caffeine withdrawal. When I started having headaches I was a bit perplexed. I quickly realized it was from sugar withdrawal, but luckily it only lasted a day or two.

9. Last but not least, it’s important to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. It helps to flush out toxins, and keep you hydrated. This article goes into detail on why hydration is important www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283. It’s nothing new, but it’s good to be reminded.

 

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Last summer I took a Pilates workshop with Jay Grimes, one of the elders. Amidst all the stories and information, what stuck out most to me was when he told us that if you could truly understand the double leg pull (a.k.a double leg stretch), one of the exercises in the series of five, than you fully understand Pilates. Why, he asked? Because it’s in every exercise you do in Pilates. It incorporates a strong center, and opposition.

Everyone knows that one of the benefits of Pilates is a stronger core. Most people do Pilates for that exact reason. But opposition is like the middle child, often forgotten. Can you guess where I fall in my family order? But I don’t think I’m any less important, and neither is opposition. It’s what will help lengthen your body, and length can be your best friend. Just ask anyone who struggles with back problems.

In another workshop I took recently, the presenter focused on the importance of getting grounded through Pilates. She made the point that you must focus on the placement of your clients feet, because the more supported you are at the base of your body, the more length you can get all the way up. With the length you achieve through opposition, you decompress the spine. That’s why many people say they feel lighter after their Pilates session.

It’s not enough to just cue opposition. Look to see that your client has equal weight on the big and little toe knuckle, as well as on the inside and outside of the heel. This applies to when someone is standing, sitting, or inverted. While you bring awareness to the evenness of your clients feet, make sure their muscles are working the opposite direction, up towards the crown of their head. I like to tell people to visualize stirrups under their arches that work their way up the inside and outside of their legs, pulling their muscles up. Don’t forget the importance of grounding the feet at the same time.

In an inversion, you still want the same emphasis. If your feet are in straps, work to make sure there’s equal weight on all four points of your feet. Since you’re working against gravity, you have to put a little more energy into it. When I’m in an inversion, I pretend I’m standing on the ground and apply all the same principles. Your goal is still opposition. Ground your feet while you work the muscles up towards the crown of your head.

People often ask me if Pilates will make them taller. Clearly it can’t make your bones grow. However, if you strengthen your core and work in opposition, you will gain an inch or two. Truly understanding the double leg pull (stretch) is not only the key to understanding Pilates, but also the key to being taller. Looking to add a few inches? Head to a Pilates lesson.