Pilates at Home

Pilates Allegro Footstrap Question

Q: Lynda, I have an Allegro pilates reformer (which I love!) and just purchased the box and a foot strap. Where is the strap supposed to be attached? I tried the area by the springs, but then I'm too close and my legs aren't straight. I also tried the area on the back of the footplate, where the wheels would attach if I didn't have the 14 inch feet. That sort of worked, but still didn't seem right. Any other suggestions?
Thanks! Laurie

A: Hi Laurie, The foot strap does go in the area by the springs for the Pilates short box series. The box can be moved back to sit on top of the shoulder blocks instead of in front of them, and you could try sitting back a little bit further on the box. Also, your legs do not have to completely straight for the short box series and the legs should be up enough to catch under the strap.
If this doesn't work it may be that the strap is too long (they make 2 lengths). Just call Balanced Body and get the correct length strap. Hope this helps! Lynda

Laurie then replied to let me know that all she needed to do was shift the box back and the foot strap worked just fine!

Lifting Your Head in Pilates

A lot of the Pilates mat exercises are performed with the head up and this is a problem for many people. If you do not curl your head up properly in conjunction with your cervical spine and ribcage, your neck will hurt and impede you from completing the exercises. Follow the instructions here and you'll have an easier time.

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.

Book Review: Get Off the Couch, Potato! How to lose inches while watching Oprah...

So many of the diet and exercise books I have read and reviewed over the past few years have really been geared to people who are already somewhat health conscious. They require huge major lifestyle shifts including throwing out all the food in your kitchen and replacing it with healthier items, exercising at least an hour a day, and taking many supplements.

So I was interested in fellow Pilates Teacher Kathi Casey's Get Off the Couch, Potato! How to lose inches while watching Oprah... if only because it is a 30 day program geared to the super de-conditioned obese lazy person who is not going to get up, throw out the potato chips, and suddenly eat brown rice and exercise an hour a day. From my experience most people fit into this latter category and are looking for the easiest way possible to make a change.

Casey uses a very pleasant, funny, simple, and slow approach to lifestyle change that incorporates daily affirmations, exercises done on the couch (except for a few walks to the kitchen and back - really!), and a few minor diet changes. Casey's premise is that making tiny simple changes every day will create larger changes in the long run, and this approach generally works.

Whether it is doing five leg lifts on the couch while watching Oprah or marching in place while brushing your teeth, the activities probably eat up about 10 minutes per day but after 30 days I can see that they would make a difference. This is not a book for anyone who is even partly active, but is a great introduction to movement and feeling good about yourself for the primarily home-bound, inactive, obese person.