Breathing in Pilates and everywhere else is crucial on many levels. Proper breathing helps everything!

Breathing comes up a lot in the Pilates studio. In fact, one of the first exercises we teach new clients is the Hundred, which involves a whole lot of breathing in flexion.

Yesterday I taught a workshop on Teaching Clients with Hernia and Diastasis Recti to a group of wonderfully talented and bright Pilates teachers (thank you Enja, Juan, Andy, Charlotte, Margaret, and Tricia!). When you are dealing with overstretched or torn abdominal muscles, the interplay of breathing, thorax pressure, and intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) becomes very important.

Here is the science behind how we approach breathing in Pilates, and why we inhale to start many Pilates exercises.

(featured image from Siyavula Education on Flickr)

Basic Breathing Mechanics

Breathing is necessary to bring fresh oxygen into our bloodstreams via the lungs. Our lungs are very lightweight, flexible, and porous, like a sponge. My dog loves to eat dried beef lung as a treat, and it is spongy in texture.

Air moves from high pressure to low pressure. The thorax is set up as a pressurized container. The lungs sit inside the ribs, which are jointed to move and have flexible intercostal muscles in between that allow for expansion and contraction. At the bottom of the thorax is the diaphragm muscle, which also helps regulate the pressure of the thorax by allowing for expansion of volume.

When you inhale, the diaphragm and intercostals contract and expand the thorax. This expansion of volume lowers the pressure in the chest cavity below the outside air pressure, allowing air to flow in through the airways (from high pressure to low pressure) and inflates the lungs.

When you exhale, the diaphragm and intercostals relax, the thorax gets smaller, and the decrease in volume of the cavity increases the pressure in the chest cavity above the outside air pressure. Air from the lungs (high pressure) then flows out of the airways to the outside air (low pressure).

Does Breathing Effect Abdominal Pressure?

Now, below the diaphragm is your abdominal cavity, which houses a majority of our crucial internal organs. The sides of the abdominal container are made up of several layers of abdominal muscles, starting at the deepest layer with the transverse abdominus that wraps from your lumbar spine all the way to the front, continuing with the internal and external obliques that wrap around, and finishing with the six-pack, the rectus abdominus that attaches your breastbone to your pubic bones. All of these muscles meet at the linea alba, the line down the center of your abdomen. The bottom of this abdominal container is the pelvic floor, made up of several muscles that work, in part, to hold up our internal organs, control our sphincters, and keep us continent.

In a basic view of breathing, it would seem obvious that inhaling, while lowering thorax pressure, would increase intra-abdominal pressure as the diaphragm drops down. This would totally be the case if we weren’t able to use our muscles, expanding our abdominal cavities and lowering our pelvic floors at the same time. It turns out that in normal, resting, supine breathing there is actually very little increase in IAP with inhalation. In fact, the increase in IAP comes during maximum voluntary breathing (like breathing in exercise, or any conscious breath work) at the moment that we start to exhale. Makes sense, right? That is the point where we need to use pressure to push out the air.

Maximum voluntary breathing was associated with marked changes in intra-gastric pressure which rose abruptly at the beginning of expiration and fell abruptly at the beginning of inspiration.

[Campbell, E. J. M., Green, J. H., (1953), The variations in intra-abdominal pressure and the activity of the abdominal muscles during breathing; a study in man. The Journal of Physiology, 122 doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1953.sp004999.]

What About those Hundreds?

Position also has an effect on IAP. Flexion increases IAP by impeding the ability of the abdominal wall to lengthen, overhead pressing increases IAP, moving limbs increases IAP, and lifting heavy objects increases IAP.

Looking at flexion, much of the basic and beginner healthy-body Pilates exercises involve flexion (hundred, half roll or roll up, rolling like a ball, spine stretch, etc.) and pulling navel to spine. So we place a healthy body into a position of increased IAP and then ask that body to navigate breathing and moving of limbs. In a healthy body this is useful work.

In a body that has weakness in the abdominal wall, asking for deep respiration while in flexion and moving limbs is almost impossible and frustrating for the clients, since they cannot properly expand and contract the area to build up pressure for the exhale – that is when you see the doming or popping up of the internal organs.

What exercises are safe and useful? Exercises that focus on deep breathing and stability.

Breathing in Pilates

Many exercises in Pilates start with an inhale or use an inhale to prepare – we inhale to press out for footwork or down for pumping, we inhale out on short box, inhale to start our backstroke, stomach massage, our neck pull….

This should make more sense now, since the moment of the most intense work and pressure in the abdominal cavity is at the beginning of the exhale. Joe Pilates has us inhaling until we are the point where we need maximum effort to get back, and that is where we utilize that pressure of the exhale! Brilliant!

Vintage pre-Pilates

The other imbalances in the body that will effect breathing are postural. Diane Lee has a fabulous article on this called, Butt-grippers, back-grippers and chest grippers – are you one?

What all of of these folks have in common is improper breathing caused by tension patterns. For them, restoring proper function starts small and deep. The hundred will not be helpful at the beginning!

What will be helpful are some pre-Pilates fundamentals, which Joseph Pilates taught to his most injured and damaged clients. I am teaching a workshop of the most useful ones next month, Saturday May 21, 2016 1-4pm, at Real Pilates Soho. Come join me for three hours of fun and learning. I promise that you will feel better for it, and your clients will love them!

Register for Vintage Pre-Pilates – Classical Fundamentals

While not all clients require pre-Pilates exercises, some definitely do. Somehow almost every “stretch” out there is currently being touted as a “pre-Pilates” exercise. I will teach vintage, classical fundamentals (including the TV – and I do mean Television and not the muscle – exercises) that will help your least-able clients understand better how to breathe and move in the actual beginning Pilates exercises. These also are safe exercises to give as homework!
*You must be a comprehensively trained instructor to register for this workshop.
 Cost: $150 without PMA CECs / $180 with 3 PMA CECs

Dosha Bars, GoMacro Bars, & A Pluggz Flash Sale

Dosha Bars

Dosha Bars, GoMacro Bars, & A Pluggz Flash Sale

Today I am spending my afternoon at Real Pilates new Soho studio, doing one of my favorite things – teaching other Pilates teachers about helping client with Hernia & Diastasis Recti. Awesomeness!

It is finally warm in NYC, so I will most likely wear my Pluggz fold ups, which are comfortable to teach in. And for a quick snack I will have some bars – Dosha Bars and GoMacro Bars are what I have in the house right now.

Dosha Bars

Dosha Bars

The lovely folks at Dosha Bar sent me a free sample pack to review. Dosha Bars are

100% Organic, Unsweetened Fruit & Seed Bar.  150 Calories per bar.  NO added flavoring, preservatives, fruit powders, lab-made protein powders, or fiber supplements.

The bars are basically a seed and grain blend with fruit. Note that while they say Unsweetened, each bar contains some kind of sweetener in a small amount (honey or brown rice syrup), plus lots of fruit sugars. If you are on a no sugar diet, I would avoid these.

That said, these are not bad. There are three flavors of Apple (Kapha), Cherry (Vata), and Blueberry (Pitta), of which I liked the Blueberry the best. The bars are a bit seedy for me, with lots of smaller seeds like sesame and chia. As someone who had a tooth pulled a few months ago and is awaiting an implant, small seeds are a huge pain.

As to the balancing effects of the bars, I didn’t notice a difference after just one.

Verdict? Committed yogis will love the concept, and if you don’t mind small seeds, this is a winner.

GoMacro Bars

GoMacro Bar

When GoMacro Bars contacted me regarding their new Ellie Goulding bar, I couldn’t say no. I have been hearing about how great these bars tasted, with lots of protein packed into a not-too-sweet, totally decadent, yummy bar. all GoMacro products: 100% plant-based, non-GMO, organic, Kosher and free of gluten, soy and dairy. I received one Ellie’s Bar, which contains Coconut, Almond Butter, and Chocolate Chips, and one Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.

These are some of the best protein bars I have ever tasted, and hubby agreed. The texture is great – smooth and not too grainy, and the flavor is spot on. Filling and totally great! Ellie Goulding started working with GoMacro because she is such a fan of the bars that it made sense.

When you purchase Ellie’s MacroBar, note that a portion of the proceeds go to support the homeless (Streets of London & Stand up for Kids). Plus there is a sweepstakes that you can enter (note the Golden Ticket in the image), where one lucky winner from the US and one from Canada will get to work out with Ellie and see her in concert!

“MacroBars have been my go-to snack after a workout and when I’m on tour. For the new bar, I wanted something that was sweet and a good-source of plant-based protein,” commented Goulding. “I am honored to help create a new product with a company that shares my values of healthy living and giving back.”

Verdict? Two big thumbs up on the GoMacro Bars! So yummy and can be a life saver for a busy Pilates teacher.

Pluggz Fold-Ups Flash Sale

Pluggz Fold Ups

I love my Pluggz Fold-ups! These travel-friendly grounding ballet flats are vegan, water-resistant, flexible, cute, comfortable, and come in their own little travel pouch. I have them in several colors, including matte black, glossy red, and teal! They are great shoes for the Pilates studio.

In addition to style and comfort, all Pluggz shoes have a black carbon plug in the sole that keeps your energy connected to the earth as if you were barefoot. Seriously, you will feel more grounded and energized in these shoes!

For today through midnight (4/23/16), all Pluggz fold-ups are $50 (reg. $89) when you use code EARTH at checkout. Hurry!

April Announcements

2016-04-18 00.10.35

April Announcements – Pilates for Back Pain eCourse 50% off Flash Sale & More!

April Announcements – April is the new March! When I was a little girl I learned that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, but now it seems like that happens in April instead. I just wish I could get that phrase out of my head!

Pilates for Back Pain eCourse 50% off Flash Sale

So many of you (and your clients) suffer from back pain. I decided to put everything I know on the subject into this comprehensive Pilates eCourse – how to properly modify, do, and teach the entire Classical Pilates mat from pre-Pilates Fundamentals through the Advanced Mat in a spine-safe way. Complete Manual, Videos, and Audios for Five complete Pilates mat workouts plus extras!

For today only (Monday 4/18/16), buy this course for only $23.50 (50% off)

Add to Cart


Pilates for Hernia and Diastasis Recti Workshop for Teachers

Saturday, April 23, 2016, 1-4pm at Real Pilates Soho, 333 Hudson Street, New York, NY

Training clients with hernia and diastasis recti requires a small shift in thinking and approach for many Pilates teachers. It is crucial at the beginning that these clients avoid increases in intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), yet almost all beginning Pilates exercises involve working with just that. Luckily, it is easy to modify exercises and cue your clients to work in a way that helps.

In this workshop, I will share the successful modifications and techniques that have made me lower Manhattan’s most sought out classical Pilates specialist for people with diastasis recti and hernia. This 3 hour workshop includes anatomy, lecture, and practice on mat and apparatus.

You will leave with many, many tools to help your clients literally pull themselves together!

*You must be a Comprehensively trained Pilates instructor to register for this workshop.

Cost: $150 without PMA CECs / $180 with 3 PMA CECs

Register for Pilates for Hernia and Diastasis Recti Workshop – April 23, 2016

Meet Juniper!

Back in January our wonderful old Smiley crossed over the rainbow bridge. Last weekend we went to Adoptapalooza in Union Square and this little nugget of love jumped into our arms and our hearts.

Juniper is a Thai Ridgeback mix who was rescued in Thailand from the illegal dog meat trade. We adopted her via Posh Pets in Westhampton. She is 4 years old and 28# – perfect NYC apartment size!


Enjoy Spring and See You in the Studio!

Pilates for Hernia and Diastasis Recti Workshop


Pilates for Hernia and Diastasis Recti Workshop for Teachers – April 23, 2016 1-4pm at Real Pilates Soho

Training clients with hernia and diastasis recti requires a small shift in thinking and approach for many Pilates teachers. It is crucial at the beginning that these clients avoid increases in intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), yet almost all beginning Pilates exercises involve working with just that.
I am really excited about this one! It is my first workshop offering PMA CECs, and is subject matter that I love.

Register for Pilates for Hernia and Diastasis Recti Workshop – April 23, 2016

What is a Hernia?

According to the NIH,

A hernia is a sac formed by the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). The sac comes through a hole or weak area in the strong layer of the belly wall that surrounds the muscle. This layer is called the fascia.

Basically, a hernia is an area where the intestines start to protrude through a weak area in the abdominal wall. Hernias are named for location (inguinal – groin, umbilical – belly button, hiatal – upper abdomen, femoral – upper thigh).

Hernias are caused by straining while abdominal pressure is increased – it can happen on the toilet, opening a window, or even lifting weights and/or doing abdominal exercises incorrectly.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti as defined by the NIH:

Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle, which covers the front surface of the belly area.

Most diastasis recti is seen in pregnant women, where the muscle separates as the woman’s belly expands, but I have also seen it in men, and is also present in some infants.

Pilates Can Help IF It Is Taught Correctly

Luckily, it is easy to modify exercises and cue your clients to work in a way that helps.
In this workshop, I will share the successful modifications and techniques that have made me lower Manhattan’s most sought out classical Pilates specialist for people with diastasis recti and hernia. This 3 hour workshop includes anatomy, lecture, and practice on mat and apparatus.
You will leave with many, many tools to help your clients literally pull themselves together!
*You must be a Comprehensively trained Pilates instructor to register for this workshop.
Cost: $150 without PMA CECs / $180 with 3 PMA

Easy 5 Day Fast Diet

east 5 day fast

Easy 5 Day Fast may help you stay healthy long term

As my long-time readers know well, I am all about moderation. I tend to eschew fasts, meal replacements, and deprivation diets in favor of real food. So when I received an email from Weight Loss Buddy about their new Easy 5 Day Fast Diet, I was initially skeptical.

What About Fasting?

Recent studies at the University of Southern California first tested the “periodic fasting mimicking diet” on mice, and then moved on to a small group of 19 randomized people who tried the diet, and 18 participants who ate a normal diet. The experimental group ate a diet that was less than half of their normal caloric intake, and featured about 12% protein, 44% carbs, and 44% fat. They ate the diet for five days in a row each month, for three months straight. For the rest of the time, they ate whatever they wanted. Read more in Cell.

By the end of the three months, the participants had lower risk factors when it came to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, as well as aging in general, with no major side effects. The idea of the diet is to decrease a certain hormone in your body, IGF-I, which promotes aging and makes you more vulnerable to cancer. “It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration,” according to lead researcher Valter Longo. “It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on.”

Once I read this, I accepted the free sample box!

The 5-Day Fast Diet

The folks at Weight Loss Buddy decided to make the The 5-Day Fast Diet easy, by choosing healthy snacks in a particular nutrition profile and packaging them into daily suggested servings – 1175 calories day 1 / 750 calories days 2 – 4. The snacks include miso soup, Kind bars, veggie chips, and apple sauce (you may substitute an apple if you prefer) and are all quite good. There are also packets of green drinks and different herbal teas to keep your mouth occupied. And a chocolate square every single day!

easy 5 day fast calories

Short Term Fast for Long Term Gains

To replicate the study, you could do this pretty painless fast over the course of three months. You would do the fast once a month for 5 days, eating whatever you like the rest of the time. You should see some weight loss, feel better, and your overall health numbers – cholesterol, sugar, etc. – should improve.

How often should you do this? Nobody is sure, but it seems reasonable to try this twice a year – 3 months with 5 day fast, 3 months off, 3 months with 5 day fast, 3 months off.

Will You Be Hungry?

Look, it’s a fast. You will be going from well over 2000 calories per day to under 1000. But the nice thing is that the snacks are chosen to give you enough fat and fiber to feel somewhat satiated. Plus, your food is spread out over the day along with the flavored herb tea to drink.

Here is a sample day:

Morning – mini Kind bar
Mid-morning snack – apple
Afternoon – pretzel crisps/wheat crackers/animal crackers/rice pops and almond butter
Mid-afternoon – super greens (mix with 8 or more ounces of water)
Evening – miso soup and kale chips
Late Evening – chocolate square

Note that even though this is all snack food, the snacks have been picked for fat, protein, and fiber content. No day contains too much salt or sugar (my concerns), and at least there is chocolate! Other than the crackers and pretzels, everything is gluten free, so if you can substitute a GF snack of the same nutritional value, go for it.

What Will This Cost?

Cost is not a big issue with the Easy 5 Day Fast. Each box, which contains all food for 5 days and a shaker bottle for the green drink, costs $99.95 with free shipping (and less if you order 2+ at once) – basically, less than $20 per day. You would spend at least that to buy these snacks at a retail store (especially the almond butter), plus you would have to spend the time doing that and parsing out the snacks.

Try it!

If you are looking to kick off a longer term weight loss program, or simply want to try a monthly fast protocol to get your cholesterol down with minimal effort, the easy 5 Day Fast Diet is for you.

Click the “Start Your Journey” button on the top right of the index page and you can order there. Note that none of the site’s Buy Now buttons work, and the product is unavailable on Amazon. Hopefully they will fix that soon!


Lose Weight With Me Week – Starts April 4

lose weight with me

Lose Weight With Me Week – Starts April 4, 2016

Why should you lose weight with me? In the past three months, with the help of the awesome coaches I work with at Team INSPIRE, I have been my healthiest self, ever! Without remotely depriving myself or over-exercising, I have lost 20 pounds and gained much muscle.

Team INSPIRE 7 Day Health & Fitness Bootcamp Starts April 4

I am SO incredibly excited to announce a Team INSPIRE 7 Day Health & Fitness Bootcamp launching on April 4!

My fellow health coaches and fitness professionals on Team INSPIRE are joining forces to bring you the BEST possible 7 Day Bootcamp and I could not be more thrilled to include YOU! The cost is only $35.

This is specifically for women who are serious about slimming down for summer, gaining more energy, strengthening your midsection, and saving time with effective workouts. You will gain hundreds of dollars worth of high level training and resources for a $35 investment.

Leave your email in a comment below if you would like to join, and order your 7 days of Shakeology for $35 and free month of Beachbody On Demand. We will add you to a private FB group with access to everything.

This is a treat! You will learn exactly how I managed to lose 20 pounds in the past 3 months directly from me and from the coaches who helped me.

More on how this helped me….

How I Lost 20 Pounds in 3 Months

Hormone Replacement and Thyroid

First, I had my hormone levels and thyroid checked. Sure enough, my hormones were balanced but low, and my thyroid was slowing down. My TSH levels were elevated and going up and I was exhausted, lazy, and 206 pounds.

My physician started me on 25mg per day of Synthroid and my gynecologist upped my bio-identical HRT dosage.

I did some food elimination, and recognized right away that gluten and sugar made me bloated and tired, so I slowed down my consumption of those (including fruit). I also stopped eating foods known to be problematic for hypo-thyroid – cruciferous vegetables, many dark greens, and peanut butter.


I had always made my own smoothies, which was a giant pain. Seriously, storing everything and measuring took a lot of space and time.

Then I discovered Shakeology. Superfoods, protein, probiotics, and fiber in a delicious, easy to make, shake. Just $4-5 per day for a yummy, densely nutritious meal replacement that is sugar-free, gluten-free enough that it doesn’t bother me, and replaces my multi-vitamin and probiotic.

Shakeology is so awesome, it convinced me to become a coach!

Try Shakeology for 7 Days – only $35

Beachbody On Demand

While I always do Pilates, and manage to swing the kettlebell a few times per week, I wanted some other fun options for my workouts.

Beachbody On Demand gives me that option, with almost every Beachbody workout available for instant streaming on my laptop and Fire TV Stick.

Sign up for a free month of Beachbody On Demand

So, join us! Experience for yourself how it feels to surround yourself with support from great coaches, wonderful nutrition, and fun exercise programs.

Let’s lose some weight together! Join me and Team INSPIRE for a 7 Day Health & Fitness Bootcamp starting on April 4, 2016.

Summer Camp for Grown Ups at Holman Ranch


Summer Camp for Grown Ups, including Fitness Camps, launching this summer at Holman Ranch

Holman Ranch in scenic Carmel Valley, CA is well known for its horses, vineyards, and olive groves, but I didn’t know that they are also a great place to have fun while boost my fitness and  health in a new and luxurious program, Summer Camp for Grown Ups.

Holman Ranch – Luxury Since 1928

Tucked away in the rolling hills of California’s Carmel Valley, the historic Holman Ranch provides a unique and memorable setting for weddings, special events, family gatherings, corporate retreats, and team-building events. With its charming gardens, stunning mountain views and serenity, this private estate affords old-world charm while providing modern day conveniences. This stunning Property includes a fully restored stone hacienda, overnight guest rooms, vineyards, olive grove, horse stables and more.


Glamping at Holman Ranch

Allow your inner child to meet your outer grown-up by attending one of Holman Ranch’s throwback Adult Camps.  It’s like summer camp when you were a kid, except no early bedtime or wake-up calls. And if you never went to summer camp, now you can! Relax, unwind, and disconnect from the stress of the workday world.

Enjoy a number of traditional camp activities, including:

·         Nature hikes
·         Swimming
·         Arts & crafts
·         Archery
·         Skeet shooting
·         Yoga & meditation
·         Star-gazing
·         Campfires
·         Billiards & ping pong
·         Dance classes
·         Board games
·         Barbecues

Plus a number of adult activities, such as wine or olive oil tastings, cooking or winemaking classes, or simply relaxing and reading a book  surrounded by nature on this 400-acre historic ranch. And, of course, s’mores at Holman Ranch’s nightly campfires.room_campbell

Oh, and you won’t be roughing it in bunk beds or sleeping on the ground at this camp. Instead, you’ll reside comfortably in one of Holman Ranch’s remodeled guest rooms or one of their new Glamping tents!

Fitness Camps at Holman Ranch

Want more from your summer camp for grown ups? If you also want to boost your health and fitness, Holman Ranch now offers Summer Fitness Camp packages.

Packages are available for 2-night minimum stay in either their 10 guest rooms, or in one of the new Glamping tents available for larger groups, and can be customized  from a selection of the following activities:

·         Individual or group fitness classes, offered in a secluded section of the estate amid olive groves and vineyards.
·         Yoga or Pilates classes or private sessions with a certified instructor
·         Dining options that include catering, cooking on your own, and healthy  and nutritious meals at a nearby restaurant
·         Cooking demos with renowned local chefs
·         Classes on nutrition and healthy eating
·         Guided hikes on numerous trails, from canyons to rolling hills
·         Swimming and water aerobics in the estate’s swimming pool

·         Workouts in a fully equipped fitness room with free weights, universal weight stations, elliptical and treadmill cardio machines
·         Customized personal training sessions
·         Fresh juice and breakfast bars to start your morning off with an energy boost
·         Guided vineyard run/walk, a fun fitness run or walk through the extensive wine vineyards on the 400-acre grounds


Contact Holman Ranch at (831) 659-2640 or Their helpful travel specialists will help you plan your perfect Carmel Valley, CA Summer Camp for Grown Ups getaway!