Asheville Pilates Archives - "Exercise your brain. Educate your body."

Asheville Pilates

Wearable fitness trackers are all the rage.   My husband will go out for a walk, in the cold and rain, to try to reach his step goal for the day.  My mom has set up her UP2 bracelet to alert her when she’s been sitting for too long.  Even my 10 year old daughter’s friend wears a Fit Bit.   There are a lot of options available, in a price range from $15 up to many hundreds of dollars, and so it can be hard to figure out which one to choose.  I found a great article to help you decipher the variables and hopefully make the choice a little easier.

Saying Thank You

“Do you talk to your body parts?” a client asked me yesterday.  I had to think about it.  I decided that, no, I don’t.  She explained that when she is having a hard time falling asleep, instead of counting sheep, she thanks her body parts–starting at her toes and working up.  “Thank you toes, for helping me balance when I walk.”  And so on.  This idea struck me as both simple and profound, and I love it.

Honestly, we have so much to be grateful for, and a working body is no small thing.  You have 206 bones, about 650(!) muscles, 10 organ systems, at least 5 senses, and a host of other miracles.  The opportunity for mistakes in our genetics, and accidents in our daily lives is huge, and all of us have encountered both, to different degrees.

So! When we are mobile and sensory and healthy, we have so much to be grateful for!  Being aware of our gifts, good fortunes, blessings, and joy makes us happier and healthier.  Here’s a great article about the science behind gratitude: How to Practice Gratitude.

Thank a body today!  Thank YOUR body today!

And, as always, be well and do good.

Can You Really Roll Those Aches And Knots Away?

If you’ve spent any time with me, you know what a fan I am of the foam roller.  In addition to the many ways it can be used as a proprioceptive training prop, it is a wonderful therapeutic tool.  Here’s an article, written by Katherine Hobson, a freelance health and science writer, which delves into the research and opinions on the foam roller for muscle and fascia release.
Read the article here

“My back hurts”

Today is, so far, the first pain-free day I’ve had in almost 2 months.  My low-back has felt fragile and painful, with muscle pain moving up and down my spine, and into my hip.  Yes, I hear Pilates is good for that.

I can’t point to any injury or incident.  It’s happened before, tho not nearly for so long.  My back issues seem to be muscular in origin.  Tight gluteus medius and piriformis muscles painfully torque my SI joints, creating inflammation and pain.  It’s a cycle that can be hard to break.

After acupuncture treatments, foam roller rolling, tennis ball rolling, stretching, and isometric exercises, I have released the tight, balanced the imbalanced, and restored my alignment.

I am incredibly grateful.

Asheville Go Local

We are proud to again participate in the Asheville Go Local program.

This program is a fundraiser for our public schools and highlights and supports our locally owned, independent businesses. While other schools sell wrapping paper or candy bars, Asheville city public schools use the Go Local Card network to link the importance of a thriving local economy to strong public schools. Since it’s inception in 2012, card sales alone have raised over $45,000 for our schools. This card connects our entrepreneurs and local businesses to the success of over 4,000 children and their families via this collaboration.

Cards are $16 (plus tax). $8 of each card purchase goes directly to a school to help fund classroom supplies, school field trips and special projects. When you purchase online, you may choose the school you wish your $8 to be donated to, or you can select “All Schools” to have it distributed equally. The other $8 goes to our organization to help fund the Go Local Card program and grow the Love Asheville – Go Local movement.

For more information, and to purchase a Go Local card, please visit

Pilates for Winter Sports

If you know me at all, you know that I am a reluctant skier.  My husband, son and daughter are huge fans of skiing and snowboarding.  Me, not so much.  But I absolutely love it when we are on the mountain together, and so I gear up and go along with them, and they patiently wait for me where the trails diverge.

Staying safe and injury free is my number one concern on the mountain.  Here’s an article by Kerrie Lee Brown, as published in Can-Fit-Pro Magazine in 2009, about how Pilates can help you be in top shape for winter sports.




Fascia is fascinating, and complex and getting a lot of attention these days.  But what is it and why should you care? Here is a great article by Derrick Price with 8 take-home points about fascia and fitness.

Originally Published on IDEA

Hip Stretches for Men

It’s true that most men struggle with inflexibility, and that stretching is often ignored in their fitness routine and self care.  It seems to be useful to my male clients to have a stretching routine, and this is a great one, by Dave Schmitz, a Physical Therapist.

Originally Published on IDEA


Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite

Tis the soup-making-season, and soups are so much better when made with homemade broth!  If you haven’t yet heard about the much touted benefits of bone broth, read this article By Dr. Axe, who drinks bone broth every morning upon waking!

Published by Dr Axe


Diffusing Essential Oils

We are big fans of essential oils around here!  We use them for immune support, healing wounds, quieting the monkey brain, air purifying, and just about everything in between.  As you might guess, not all essential oils are created equal.  Here’s a great introduction to the why’s and how’s of using essential oils.

Benefits of Diffusing Essential Oils



from chi blog
Satisfy your sweet tooth guilt-free with this delicious, decadent and (dare we say) good-for-you dessert! We like this healthier chocolate pudding even better than the real thing because it doesn’t sabotage your fitness goals or cause your blood sugar to spike and crash.

Chocolate Almond Chia-Seed Pudding with Fresh Blueberries

Serves 4

2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Toppings: Fresh blueberries, goji berries, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, and chopped almonds.

1. Place all the ingredients (except the toppings) in a high-speed blender. Whirl away until smooth. Pour mixture into a large bowl, cover with a towel, and place in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours (or overnight).
2. Once the pudding has set divide among four bowls and top with fresh blueberries, goji berries, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, and chopped almonds.

How Pilates Benefits Runners

“The benefits of cross-training for runners have long been touted as a necessity to a well-balanced training regimen. Some runners turn to yoga; others to cycling and swimming. Another workout that offers runners multiple benefits is Pilates. For both injured and non-injured runners, Pilates presents a functional workout routine that incorporates many components of physical therapy and strengthening and directly impacts running form and strength.”

It’s so true.  Pilates is all about functional movement, and is such a good partner to running.  Pilates fundamentals emphasize balance, mobility and breathing, while strengthening the core muscles that support running. Breathing patterns and body mechanics are essential to performing Pilates movements correctly, which translate into a runner’s breathing patterns and posture to improve form and efficiency.

Read the whole article by By Elena Sonnino, on US News


Pilates and Gardening: The Knee

by Shane Belau
September 6, 2012

published on bodycenter

After several months of spring and summer gardening your landscaping may look wonderful but your knees may be protesting. The repetitive movements of squatting, kneeling, and standing up could possibly be contributing to some discomfort. In this article we will look at some simple ways you can work with your knees in good alignment to keep them healthy and strong. As always, if you are experiencing pain you should consult your physician and physical therapist.

The knee is described as a modified hinge joint, similar to the hinge on a door. However, the knee not only bends back and forth like a hinge, it has a rotational component that occurs with flexion and extension of the knee. The patella, or kneecap, glides over the end of the femur and covers and protects the anterior surface of the knee joint. Both the knee joint and patella rely on the balanced work of the muscles surrounding the structures to keep them in good alignment and good function.

In a previous article about gardening and the lumbar spine (see below), I mentioned how to do a squat and keep your core connected for good back support. In a squat, a movement that gardeners do a lot, good knee alignment is crucial. You can practice doing this small squat by bending at your hips, knees, and ankles and keeping your spine in neutral with your core muscles engaged. Your spine should be at the same angle as your lower legs (the tibia and fibula) with your body weight distributed evenly over your feet. Look down at your knees and feet. The should be pointed straight forward. It is important to engage your gluteal muscles and quadriceps to help control you going down and to help you push your body to a vertical position. By practicing in the correct alignment with the proper muscle support you will decrease the amount of compression in the knee joint and increase your strength. If you find that you need to squat deeper than this, try to maintain your leg alignment throughout the range as best you can.

Kneeling is another working position that many gardeners find they need to use. The most practical item you can have is a pad to knee on to make the surface ore comfortable. If you are kneeling with your feet tucked under your bottom make sure the lower leg is lined up with your femur. Your heels should not be facing our or in, but directly underneath your pelvis. This will reduce any rotational torque that may cause discomfort in the knee joint. And, of course, if you need to reach to pull some weeds hinge form your hips and keep your core muscles strong to support your spine.

Happy Gardening!

Pilates and Gardening: The Lumbar Spine

published on bodycenter

Pilates and Gardening:  The Lumbar Spine

By Shane Belau

May 10, 2012

 It’s spring and the gardener in you has been waiting all winter to get those hands in the dirt.  Gardening is a great form of exercise as you are using your legs, back, abdominals and arms to move that dirt, dig up those plants, and prune those bushes.  Like any form of exercise, gardeners need to be mindful of using good alignment and physical form when tackling yard work.  Because it is warming up and the soil is workable you may be tempted to everything in one weekend but if you go slowly and do a little bit at a time there will be much less risk of injury.
In this first installment of Pilates and Gardening, we are going to address the low back, or the lumbar spine.  Many gardeners complain of low back pain after a hard day’s work of weeding or digging.  While these tasks potentially require a lot of bending over, many gardeners do not realize that leg strength and flexibility (or lack of) can contribute to the over all health of your low spine.  If there is a lack of flexibility in the hamstrings and the hip joints then the action of bending over and flexing the spine places a lot more stress on the discs and muscles of the lumbar area.  In addition to poor function of the legs and hips, the deeper stabilizers of the back and the abdominal muscles may not be working in concert to support your body in a flexed position.
Here are some tips to help you with better alignment as you garden. Of course, if you are experiencing chronic pain you should consult your doctor and physical therapist.  First off, you want to start flexing at your hip joints, knees, and ankles instead of always curving your spine to bend or get closer to the ground.  This way you will be using your legs to support your upper body.  Start practicing with a small squat:  with even weight over your feet, bend at the hip joints and knees until your spine and your lower legs are at the same angle. Keep your spine straight and abdominal muscles active for support and make sure your gluteal and quadriceps muscles are engaged. Practice alternating standing and squatting, keeping all of those muscles engaged.
Sometimes, gardening requires you to get into awkward positions like digging up a stubborn bush, for example.  If you need to bend lower, try placing one foot in front of the other in a wider stance. This will allow you to get lower toward the ground and still keep your spine in as good alignment as possible.  If you do find that you have to bend a little bit, make sure you have initiated the sequence of squatting, keep your abdominals active, and keep your lumbar spine in a good neutral position as long as possible.
I hope this gets you started on a wonderful and injury free gardening season.  Happy planting!


Don’t like water?!

I hear people say it and I can’t believe it.  “I don’t like water.”  What?  Water is water and it’s so awesome!  But, if that’s you, there is hope!  There are so many ways to enjoy water without all the added sugar found in sports and energy drinks.  Check out these ideas from for 50 awesome flavored waters!

Osteoporosis and Pilates

Should you avoid Pilates if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia? Certainly not!  But you need to find an instructor who know the specific contraindications associated with the conditions.  Read more about it on


Homemade Goodness

‘Tis the weather for warm and hearty soups!  Soups are fantastic and easy one-pot meals; they are often better the next day and they freeze well.  So let’s make soup!

When I cook with onions and most other vegetables, I save the root and inedible ends and skins in the freezer.  Then, when I am ready to make soup broth, I dump the frozen veggie ends into a strainer (pasta) stock pot with water.  (Add garlic and ginger for even more immune boosting flavors!)  Bring it all to a boil and then simmer it for several hours (or most of the day!) for a rich and healthy soup stock.  If you’re inclined, you can also throw in chicken bones.  When it’s cooked to your liking, simply lift the strainer with all the veggies out of the pot.  Season the stock with salt and pepper to taste.

You can use the stock immediately, and/or freeze it for later.  I freeze it in ice cube trays to have small amounts available, and also measured in 1-cup and 2-cup containers.


Podcasts for Pilates Enthusiasts

These podcasts are for anyone, beginners to experts, looking for a fun and challenging method of exercise and a healthy way to improve their everyday lives…

Looking for a great winter race?

Asheville’s Hot Chocolate 10K and Kid’s Hill Climb is the biggest annual fundraiser for Isaac Dickson Elementary’s PTO.  With a pasta dinner the night before, and hot chocolate after the race you will be totally satisfied!  It’s the flattest 10K in town and tons of fun.

For more information, to register, or to volunteer, please visit

Pelvic Floor Muscles

This is a great video on the function, use and training of the Pelvic Floor Muscles.

Vegetable Soup

I made this last night, and it was oh-so-perfect for these crisp, Fall evenings!  I added a can of Cannellini beans and some chopped green cabbage.

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

Serves 4

Hands-On Time: 20m

Total Time: 40m


  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1  large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2  carrots, chopped
  • 2  celery stalks, chopped
  • 3  14.5-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  pound  Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • kosher salt
  • 1  14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4  pound  green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
  • 1  cup  chopped broccoli
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1  baguette, sliced and toasted (optional)


1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the broth, 1 cup water, potatoes, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, 15 minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes, beans, and broccoli. Cook 5 to 10 minutes more or until all the vegetables are tender.

5. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with toasted baguette slices (if desired).


The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutritional Information

Calories 239; Calories From Fat 38%; Carbohydrate 31g; Cholesterol 0mg; Fat 10g; Fiber 4g; Iron 2mg; Protein 10mg; Sat Fat 1g; Sodium 542mg; Fiber 6g; Sugar 8g

5 Hidden Benefits of Exercise

by: Eudene Harry, MD

“With more than a third of Americans classified as obese, everyone from first lady Michelle Obama to TV news anchor Katie Couric is advocating exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

‘That’s great,” says Dr. Eudene Harry, author of Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps, “but the benefits of exercise go far beyond fitting into those skinny jeans.’”

Read the article on

The Pilates Hundred

You can do Pilates ab work every day!  Want to check your form on the Pilates Hundred?  Watch this video:

How much do you know about Joe?

Chasing Joe Pilates

By Stacey Redfield

The life history of Joseph Pilates appears to be covered, to some extent, in just about every Pilates book, workshop, conference and training program.

The narrative that’s passed on about his life generally goes like this: He was born in Germany, and it is rumored that he was a sickly kid who became obsessed with developing his own physical strength. He first wife died in Germany when he was 30, and somehow he made his way to England—Joe stated that he was touring with a circus troupe. When WWI broke out, he was interned on Britain’s Isle of Man because of his German citizenship. It is a common belief in the Pilates community that the rehabilitative work he did with his fellow detainees became part of the foundation of what we know today as Pilates. (Unfortunately, records from the Isle of Man were destroyed in the war and I haven’t found any official account of his work there.) Pilates immigrated to the United States in 1926, and in doing so, made the acquaintance of Anna Clara Zeuner, whom we all know as Clara, and with whom he remained until his death in 1967. After arriving in the States, he opened the New York City studio in which he taught for the duration of his life, though exactly when he opened it is unclear.

Read the rest of this article here Chasing Joe Pilates

Study: Pilates Helps Relieve Neck Pain

Chronic sufferers had less pain, greater function after 6-week program.

 People with a history of neck pain found significant relief after a six-week Pilates program, according to a small study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Perhaps most significantly, the participants reported less pain six weeks after their last official Pilates session, suggesting that the exercise program had induced subtle changes in movement patterns that had long-lasting benefits.  Read the article here Study: Pilates Helps


Pilates for Runners

“Running has long been a favorite fitness activity for millions of people. However, as more people catch the running bug, more also succumb to overuse injuries. Running tends to be high impact, it’s repetitive, and it occurs mostly in the sagittal plane. No wonder, then, that many runners fall prey to injury or imbalance.

Pilates-based moves can be invaluable when incorporated into runners’ fitness regimens. The six principles of Pilates—concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision and flow—all apply to running. Most important, if a runner can learn how to engage his powerhouse and allow motion to originate from it, he will run faster, more efficiently, with control and with less risk of injury.

Common running injuries stem from tight, weak hips; an overworked but weak gluteal complex; weak, improperly trained abdominals; and weak leg stabilizers. Pilates-based exercises address these issues.”  Visit Pilates for Runners to read the whole article by Christy Stevenson.

DIY Skin Tightening Masks

Visit Natural Facelift Without Surgery Blogspot for the original publication, and to find more skin care recipes.

Best Skin Tightening Egg White Face Masks

An egg white face mask is one of the best ways to tighten your skin pores naturally. Egg white masks can provide a temporary tightening of the loose facial skin. Egg white facelift mask recipes are a nourishing natural skin care treatment for removing loose sagging skin on face and neck. These skin tightening egg white facial masks are suitable for all skin types. Regular application of egg white firming face mask will greatly improve your skin’s appearance and also helps to tighten loose skin naturally. Homemade egg white skin tightening masks can be very effective if you add some natural additives.

Homemade Facelift Masks – Firming Egg White Mask Recipes

Making your own homemade facial masks isn’t very hard, especially with egg whites. Egg whites form an excellent base for any homemade face mask for skin tightening. Following are some of the best egg white mask recipes to tighten your skin naturally and fast. Natural facelift masks is one of the best non surgical facelift options.  You will get a smooth, firmer, younger looking face naturally with these homemade egg white facial masks.

Homemade Egg White Mask Recipes

Egg White Facial Mask # 1: Prepare an instant face tightening egg white facial mask by mixing together glycerin with egg whites, some flour, and a little amount of honey. Apply this homemade facelift mask on face and neck for 10-15 minutes, and then wash off with cold water to tighten loose sagging skin. You can also add fuller’s earth or green clay in your natural face mask for toning, firming, and rejuvenating the skin on face and neck.

Egg White Facial Mask # 2: Egg white yogurt facial mask is one of the best homemade natural face masks to tighten loose skin on face. To prepare this egg white mask, simply mix 2 egg whites, 2 tablespoons of yogurt, and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar together. Apply a generous amount of this yogurt mask to face, including areas under your nose and eyes. Use two fingers of each hand to gently massage, with small circular motions. Leave this skin tightening egg white facial mask for at least 15 minutes before rinsing it off. Egg white yogurt facial mask will remove the top layer of dry, dead skin to get a smooth glowing skin. This egg facial mask also tightens pores while purifying, refreshing and increasing the elasticity of the skin. Your face will feel soft, firm, beautiful, and younger looking.

Egg White Face Mask # 3: Another best homemade facial mask for a natural facelift can be prepared by blending a mixture of 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon of corn flour, 2 tablespoon of fine sea salt, and 1 drop chamomile essential oil. Apply this instant skin tightening facial mask mixture on your face and leave on for 25 minutes. Remove this homemade facial mask with warm water using a wash cloth to tighten loose skin.

Egg White Facial Mask # 4: You can apply egg white straight to your face without any other ingredients. Just apply a thin layer of egg white on your face with clean fingertips. Let the skin tightening mask dry and wash it off with warm water. Egg white natural face mask is a very effective astringent which means this homemade facial mask tightens and firms your sagging skin.

Egg White Face Mask # 5: You can also prepare a homemade natural facelift mask with oats and egg whites. Take an egg white and beat it to foam. Now, add a tablespoon of crushed oatmeal and mix it to make a thick paste. Apply this natural face mask, leave it to dry, and rinse it off with water. Apply this easy homemade face lifting and skin tightening mask twice a week to tighten loose skin effectively.

These are some of the best egg white face mask recipes. Try these homemade facial masks using egg white to tighten loose skin naturally.

Trying something new

This week I did something I’ve never done before.  You have probably seen in magazines suggestions for a week’s worth of meals, complete with recipes and shopping lists.  I have picked a recipe here and there before, but I had never used all of the week’s recipes, nor the shopping list.  Just off the boat (and the van, and the plane) from Mexico last weekend, I needed to shop for the week and replenish our empty refrigerator and figure out a few meals.  So I did it.  I tore out the week’s worth of recipes and the shopping list and headed to the grocery store.  Having that list, different from my usual one, was fantastic.  And so far, the meals have been great.  And my husband and children concur!

From Shape Magazine, here is one of the recipes.  I used Cod because my local grocery didn’t have Red Snapper.  It was a great substitution.  Also, rice or quinoa would be a fine substitution for the couscous if you want to avoid the wheat.

Red Snapper with Asparagus and Mint Couscous

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 small red onion, sliced
4 red snapper fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds asparagus (about 20 stalks)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dry couscous
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Juice of 1/4 lemon

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add parsley and onion and cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, or until onion is soft.
2. Season snapper on all sides with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Lower heat to medium and place fish in an even layer over onions and parsley. Cover and let steam for 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside.
3. Add asparagus to the same skillet with 2 tablespoons water. Cook, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes, until bright green and tender. Remove 6 stalks, set aside to cool, then wrap and refrigerate for Friday’s dinner.
4. Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium pot, then stir in salt and couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 to 7 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, stir in mint, and season to taste with salt if desired.
5. Divide couscous, snapper, and onion mixture evenly among four plates. Squeeze a bit of lemon over fish and serve with asparagus.

Pilates Principles

People ask me all the time if I do Pilates everyday.  And while I don’t necessarily do the Hundreds every day, the answer is “Yes!” because I practice the Pilates principles every day.  As a Pilates enthusiast and teacher, it is my ultimate goal to help people embody the principles of Pilates in order to improve body mechanics, efficiency, strength and overall comfort in their bodies.  So let’s talk about the principles of Pilates.

Centering – Both energetically and physically, all Pilates exercises initiate from the core, or powerhouse — the muscles of the abdomen, low back, hips and buttocks.  Practice initiating everything from your center.

Concentration – Your mental attention to your movements connects your mind and body and improves your physical function, reducing injury and accidents.

Control – Pilates is founded on awareness and control.  No Pilates exercise is done just for the sake of getting through it.  Each movement serves a function, and control is at the core.

Breathing – You will learn to use your breath to help control your movements.  Awareness and control of breath is another link in mind-body connection.

Precision – Proper form is essential to get the most benefit, and to reduce the risk of injury.

Imagination – Use your mind’s eye to enhance physical movements.  Pilates employs both visual and verbal metaphors to reinforce  the essence of the work.

Integration – Integration is the ability to see and use your body as a whole.  You learn to stabilize and mobilize at the same time.

When beginning a Pilates practice, or trying a new class, don’t be shy about asking the instructor about his/her training.  It is imperative that your instructor be well versed in the classical (original) exercises as well as their modifications, and also anatomy, and conditions for which certain exercises are contraindicated.

Educate your body.  Exercise your mind!