Pilates News

Pilates Helps 81 year old Return to NASCAR

81 year old NASCAR driver Herschel McGriff credits Pilates with keeping him a good enough shape to hop back behind the wheel.

After "McGriff retired from stock-car racing in 2002, he told the Los Angeles Times that his days behind the wheel weren’t over.

“When I turn 80, I just might go out to a short track and show the young guys that I can still do it,” he said in that interview.

Next week, that’s exactly what he plans to do.

McGriff, a member of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame (class of 2002) and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (class of 2006), will be taking part in the Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops “125” Race July 17-19 at Portland International Speedway at the age of 81 — making him the world’s oldest competitive driver"

He started doing Pilates in 2007 "and his exercise routine has enabled McGriff to get behind the wheel and attempt to prove that he wasn’t just blowing smoke in that L.A. Times interview seven years ago."

Great stuff!

Pro Skier Adds Pilates to Off Season Routine

Jess McMillan has started doing Pilates. About to leave for the Freeride World Tour, in which she placed Second last years, the Wyoming resident is going through a serious and strenuous pre tour training program. Her training includes lifting weights three days a week, and a good dose of pilates, yoga and 45 minutes of cardiovascular training per day.

“'In the past, I’ve always [worked out], but not this intense,' she said. 'It was more like three days a week. The pilates have [sic] helped as far as the stability muscles that all of us forget about as skiers.'"

Cellist Conquers Back Pain With Pilates

In 2005 60 year old Anne McCafferty, a cellist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, started having screaming back pain with pain down her legs. She had compressed 4 lumbar discs, causing nerve impingement. "People don't think of musicians as athletes, but in many ways, we are. Cellists tend to be prone to back problems because of the posture of sitting, and we don't have much flexibility of movement once the instrument is in front of us. Most of us sit toward the front of the chair, without back support."

After three months of physical therapy McCafferty started walking and taking Pilates mat and reformer sessions, a total of twice a week, to help relieve the pain.

"I've never been very athletic, but I find Pilates is crucial for me, as it enables me to do my job without pain. I'm in my 37th season and I want to be a lifelong cellist. If I live a long time, I also want to be able to stay in good shape. I'm highly motivated because it's changed my physical health."

Pilates for A Flat Stomach Fast

According to the "Food Coach" Lori Corbin of ABC's LA affiliate, both food changes as well as added exercise are necessary to achieve flat tummy nirvana. "'One thing that you can start doing right away is Pilates,' said fitness expert Jill Brown from the Sports Club LA.

Brown says there's no equipment needed. Just grab a mat or lie on carpet to try a reverse crunch in order to train the deepest level of your abdominal tissue; as standard crunching might not be effective.

'If you're doing crunches all day long, 1,000 crunches a day or what have you, you're only working the six pack. But that's not actually going to shrink the width of your belly or flatten your tummy,' said Brown."

See a video of great tummy flattening Pilates moves on the station's website.

Great Free Pilates Workout Videos

The holidays, with all their diet-busting treats, are here, but economic uncertainty is causing cutbacks on gym memberships, personal trainers and other fitness expenses. Pilates experts Katherine and Kimberly Corp are introducing UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com, their new Web site that helps people tighten their belts in more ways than one via free, full-length exercise videos. The site presents a variety of Pilates workouts, from traditional mat routines to workouts with stability balls, small balls, exercise bands and BOSUs(R). Users who want to learn Pilates in depth can also view detailed videos about specific techniques.

The instructors featured on the online workouts are the owners of Pilates on Fifth in Manhattan, twin sisters Katherine and Kimberly Corp. "We know of only one other site on the Internet that offers anything like this," said Kimberly.

The site's videos accommodate fitness levels from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts. More than 15 free workouts are currently available and new workouts will be added each month. All the videos are downloadable to computers, MP3 players and iPods. Users can even stream the videos straight to their TV sets.

"During our time as Radio City Rockettes, we endured a demanding performance schedule and used Pilates to stay injury-free," explained Katherine. "We knew that many people could benefit from this exercise system, which is why we opened our studio eight years ago. Now we're Manhattan's largest Pilates studio, but we don't want to restrict instruction to individuals with direct access to us. That's why we launched this site; with it, anyone can do Pilates anywhere."

One of the people already using the site is a personal trainer located in Istanbul, Turkey. "I use UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com to provide workouts for my clients when their busy schedules prevent them from taking a lesson with me," she stated in a testimonial.

The basic subscription plan allows for unlimited free viewing of all mat-based Pilates workouts. Those who wish to access more routines can purchase the fee-based subscription packages called the Deluxe, Premier and Ultimate plans for three, five and unlimited free monthly downloads, respectively. They will also soon offer a "Create-A-Workout" feature so that users can create their own video with the exercises they either like the most or need the most. The site will also add more traditional floor/dance aerobics as well as CARDIOLATES®, their own alignment-focused rebounding program.

The Corp sisters are certified through the Pilates Academy International and are ACE and NASM certified personal trainers. In addition to receiving NYC Small Business Awards, they have been featured in numerous publications and have appeared as fitness/body image experts on "Martha," "Geraldo at Large" and many local TV programs. Citysearch named their staff members "Best Personal Trainers" for two years in a row.

Mariah Does Pilates


According to the Mirrir, Mariah Carey stays in shape in part through Pilates.

"Her regime consists of low-impact water aerobics combined with pilates mat exercises and, most recently, yoga.

'I love the water,' she adds. 'And I like doing water aerobics because it’s less stress on the body – it’s three times as effective as exercising outside the water – but mainly because you forget the fact that you’re actually working out. You’re splashing around in the water.'

The pilates moves help to whittle her tiny waist and sculpt her arms and thighs, and the yoga is making Mariah super-flexible. 'I’m so shocked that I can actually put my feet over my head,' she says."

Back Into Pilates

Jennifer Whittemore of InnerPillar, a Pilates, Yoga, and Reiki practitioner who teaches in NY at my favorite studio, Lesley Powell's Movements Afoot, came to Pilates by way of rehabilitative exercise for a herniated lumbar disc.

She has an absolutely inspiring article on Lesley's blog, "Backing Into Pilates".

"During my investigation, I came across Joseph Pilates’ original mat series. Pilates was very much a part of the modern dance community, but was not widely known in other circles. After my first attempt at the exercises, I suffered a serious setback. Even though I had always been an active person, I wasn’t very core-connected. I didn’t understand how to use the triumvirate of musculature—the deep abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and paraspinal muscles—required to stabilize my spine. My low back took over and I strained it as soon as I attempt to perform the hundreds.

I was lucky that I had friends in the dance community who directed me to an instructor with expertise and compassion. I first studied with a dancer and teacher who had extensive experience in Pilates and Body-Mind Centering. Her approach was rehabilitative and focused on helping me stabilize my spine. Cathie Caraker was a caring instructor who encouraged me to keep moving and exploring my relationship to my body. She offered far more than Pilates—she offered movement education, which helped forge a connection with my body that would serve me through many physical passions. Within three months, I was pain free.

It was years later that I decided to become a Pilates and Yoga instructor. The “cure” that I found as a young person morphed into a deep-rooted curiosity about the process of physical transformation. During my back pain episode, friends and family were crucial support systems, but the healing journey was ultimately my own. Pain, in the broadest sense, was an indicator that something needed to shift in my body, mind, and spirit to make way for a deeper understanding and appreciation of life. I had to face my fears and take on new ways of treating my body so that it could repair itself and stay well.

With back-pain clients, I am acutely aware of the distress that comes from living life in constant suffering. I see my role in the process as part inspiration, part expert, and part witness. My work focuses on identifying clients’ pain patterns, strengthening the core and deep spinal stabilizers, and improving whole-body functional movement. My mantra is awareness—when we perceive what is going on in the body, we can relax into our strength. We not only get longer, leaner, and more supple, we begin to move with intelligence. I have seen many clients shift from disability to athletic ability in a few short months."

Pilates is an amazing tool for body awareness and recovery, but as happened to Jennifer if you jump right in without the proper guidance you can strain the exact muscles you are trying to strengthen. So if you tried a class, a dvd, or with a friend and Pilates strained your back or made things worse, I highly recommend that you try it again with a certified teacher who is aware of your issues. It can make all the difference.