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Stretch Your Pike Up With Some Upward Dog!

So maybe you’re not quite up to doing TRX Pike Ups quite yet; perhaps you’re a work in progress (as we all are) perfecting your basic plank, building up strength to reach the “nasty” plank level. Wherever you are on the plank path, you’ll find the control and gracefully executed movement demonstrated here, well… uplifting. Brooke Siler wrote in The Pilates Body, “Remember that with the power of your mind you can bring anything to light, so see your goal and then work to achieve it.”
Strengthen and stretch yourself in all you do.

Pilates Philippines is a Youtube channel we admire. She will often combine classical Pilates with other modalities in interesting and amazing ways. And her form is always very, very good. We’ll be posting more of her videos.


Teacher Training

Almost a decade ago, I had a Pilates teacher training program for a couple years. There were a dozen or more students that went through one of the most rigorous year long Pilates programs there were. The students not only had to know, understand and be able to teach the complete classical repertoire (except maybe the Flying Squirrel on the Cadillac) but they had also to perform the level 5 reformer workout with some degree of proficiency. All of them. And they did it.

While I have lost touch with some of them, I think most of them are still teaching today. Many of gone on to other modalities and other trainings. Some of them have minimized or even stopped mentioning where they got their training (sadly enough). I was proud of their ability to learn this massive amount of information and to synthesize it into their own Pilates understanding. I think they received a wonderful Pilates education.

Now thousands of training hours later, (50 hours/week x 50 weeks x 10 years – you do the math), I am ready to resurrect this program. I have to put all the information, curriculum, sample tests, etc. together to be licensed by the state. But I have a clearer vision of what I want to teach. I want to teach students how to teach like I teach: to see what I see, understand the body the way I understand the body, have the same set of guiding principles that I have when teaching. Maybe that sounds arrogant. But I believe so strongly in how and what I teach that I think it is the way every teacher should teach whether they teach Pilates, or general fitness or yoga or Crossfit.

What do I have that I think is unique? I think I can see movement and quickly understand how it should be done for functional movement. For example, I’ve taken an occasional ballet barre class and was immediately creating a checklist of correct alignment, range of motion, speed of movement and even whether the exercise was worthwhile or not (usually it was). I’ve been so surprised on how rarely a teacher would say the things that, in my mind, are completely obvious and should be said in order to get the most of the exercise and to make sure it is done correctly.

My new teacher training program will still teach the classic repertoire on all of the equipment and expect some degree of proficiency. But it will also embrace any amount of new ‘choreography’ that has a rational and an understanding of effectiveness and bio-mechanics. That is how our studio has exercise using blankets: the shoulder blade drags (moving planks), hamstring curls, etc or bands or breadboards or other traditional equipment. It is not the exercise but how it is taught and executed.

I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to teach others to see the way I see because sometimes, I am not even sure how it is that I am seeing what I am seeing as a client performs an exercise. But they almost always say I am correct. It will also be exciting to be challenged by these new teachers as they bring their own set of eyes to teaching Pilates and movement.

It should be an exciting year.


What Love feels like

Do you want to know what gay love feels like? To be in love with someone of the same sex? This is what it feels like.

It feels like reaching for someone’s hand in the movie theatre and finding that hand reaching for yours.

It feels like looking at him across the room and see him smile and you smile too and the crowd disappears.

It feels like trying to figure out where he put the damn spatula this time and laughing about it a couple hours later.

It feels like wishing you didn’t have to leave the warm comfortable bed where he is still sleeping.

It feels like feeling special when you’re together – in a crowd, at the ballet, or at home watching TV.

It feels like laughing when you thought you were crabby.

It feels like trying to be your better self because you want to be your better self for him.

It feels like you’ve just met but you can’t remember how long you’ve been together.

It feels like a confusion of legs and arms in bed – a pile of puppies all happily tangled up in each other.

It feels like wanting to sort out your own shit so you don’t project it on to him.

Is that different from straight love? I don’t know – you tell me. Does love have a particular face or shape or color? I don’t know. . .

I only know what it feels like to me and to me gay love feels like what it looks like your love must feel like – the smile, the hand, the lips, the eyes.


Father’s Day and Farm Toys

In the city, little kids play with trucks and cars. Little farm boys, though, play ‘farm’ and have a wide collection of machinery to turn that into reality: Barns, sheds, tractors of various sizes and brands and endless farm implements. Today, one of my clients, Melissa (who is from Iowa) was talking about her son having a scary ‘combine’ dream and it reminded me of all of my own ‘playing farm’ days.

I didn’t play farm nearly as much as my little brother and his best friend Tom did but my brother Paul and I were the first users of the big barn my Dad made for us. I think we only had one tractor and I don’t really remember any other implements except for a perhaps a couple trucks. But we made do because, after all, we had a barn. A barn that my Dad made for us.

I think Fathers of my Dad’s generation were more constrained by society and conventions than these days. Affection came as a pat on the back rather than a hug, a ‘you’re a good boy’ rather than an ‘I love you’ and doing something for your children was more typical than doing something with your children. Furthermore, I think my Dad was (and maybe is) somewhat mystified by this son so different than he expected and different than most other sons. What do you do with a boy who wants to read more than play sports (not that we were a big sports family), sing to the horses more than play with others or dance to ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ on the backyard swing set rather than play kickball. Yet, all in all, I think he did just fine with me, ultimately. And – he built us the barn (along with a swing set and the largest neighborhood slide among other things).

I had completely forgotten about the Barn until today. It was the standard ‘hip roof’ barn that you imagine when you think of a barn. It was painted a red and had shakes on the roof that really made it look like a roof. It had a haymow (the second floor of a barn, basically) but it was open along the long side of the barn so you could get stuff in. Like Haybales. That he made. And it was big – about 2 1/2 feet long and 1 1/2 feet tall (I think).

I’m pretty sure that he made the hay bales for us or at the very least, helped us to make them. They were made out of particle board and pretty close to the right proportions. The genius though was that they had a nail nailed into the top of them. What for? So that you could use a magnet hooked to a string that ran through the window in the haymow to hoist the bales up where they could be stacked ‘for the winter’. It was cool. Watching the magnet lift those bales up was like creating magic. At least for me it was. Maybe it was less magical for my older and wiser brother but for me it really was magical.

That barn remained part of our family for all of our growing up years. I know my little brother used that barn for many, many years and for all I know, one of the grandchildren may still be using it. Solid, well-designed, simple – just like a real barn. I don’t even know when we got the barn; it was just there ready for when we were.

And so on this Father’s Day, I think about the things that Fathers are and the things they are (or were) not. And I am old enough to realize that every son in every generation has had those dreams for what they wished their father was. But I was lucky enough to have a father: a father who didn’t abuse us, a father who provided well for us, a father who did say ‘you’re a good boy’ rather than nothing, a father who taught us how to do all kinds of things like building and welding and fixing and creating and thinking and figuring out how to do something when you don’t have a clue. A Father who builds his sons a barn.


Day 11. 5- 50s. Halfway there.

Day 11. I hope you have been doing your 50s. I must admit that it is hard to make myself do them in addition to my regular workouts. And then I tell myself that it doesn’t have to be super hard and I don’t have to go for speed. And it is only 10-15 minutes. So keep at it.

Surprisingly my abs have been sore which is nice since it takes a lot for my abs to get sore. For the 50s, remember I recommend:

  • 50 of some Abdominal exercises
  • 50 1- Upper Body exercise
  • 50 1- Lower Body exercise – usually squats of some kind
  • 50 ‘Dealers Choice’ which usually means upper body for me
  • 50 ‘Dealers Choice’ which will either be another Abdominal exercise or one more Upper body exercise.

I am happy to report that overall, something as simple as 15 minutes of focused hard exercise done daily can really make a difference. I think I might try to make this a lifestyle change for me.
Don’t give up! Do your 50s!


Day 6! – 5-50s. The June Challenge

It is now day 6 of our challenge. It is definitely easier doing them earlier in the day that at the end of the day. Doing my 50s last night after my 7:30 class was challenging. But I am finding that 50 is a great number. The first 20 fly by and then in a few more reps you’re halfway done. For me, at 30 reps, while it is getting really hard, I know I can make it because it is only 10 more reps and then I am in my final 10 reps.

To be sure, those last sets are groups of 3 or 4. For my pushups last night, it was a set of 20, then up to 26, then 33, then 37, then 40, 43, 46, 48 and finally 50. It is over before you know it even if it feels like it lasts forever.

You can choose any exercises you want. My posts here are simply to give you some options and ideas for your exercises.

For day 6, I was thinking Blanket Extravaganza (assuming you have hardwoods at home). If you have carpet, you can actually use paper plates for your feet. They slide surprisingly well on the carpet.

  • 50 Full Rollups or some ab exercise
  • 50 Sumo squats (with or without weight)
  • 50 Shoulder blade drags with knees on the blanket and shoulders dragging the body forward and back
  • 50 Hamstring curls – on your back in a bridge. Make sure you use your arms and shoulders anchoring into the floor to keep yourself stable
  • 50 Blanket knee stretches. Flip over again; hands on the floor and toes on the blanket. Slide toes forward and back with knees off the ground.


Day 4 – 5-50s

It’s a plank kind of day:

50 Shoulder blade pushups
25 Side planks each side with either leg lift or up and down butt.
50 sumo squats with KB or some kind of weight if possible
50 Jumping pull ups or squat pulls. (you can hook a strap or towel over the edge of a door and do them that way)
50 Oblique 1/2 teasers. each time you come up is 1.

It’s easier if you can get it out of the way earlier in the day. It takes so little time and then you’re done and you can feel virtuous the whole day through.