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Pause for Pilates: a variation of the Swan Dive

The Pilates Swan Dive is an advanced exercise of which there are many variations; including the one performed by Victoria.

The Swan Dive works deeply into the back, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and the inner thighs.

It is usual to feel the heart rate increase and to feel slightly breathless.

All clients should be aware of their own range of movement before attempting the Swan Dive, if pain in the lower back or neck is experienced it is essential to retreat to the rest position and when you next attempt the movement reduce the range of movement you aim to create with your ‘rocking’ and bring your awareness to your powerhouse muscles – aiming to really keep the abdominals scooped back towards the spine.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Pause for Pilates: Curl Up

The Pilates curl up is a wonderful exercise to mobilise the cervical and thoracic spine whilst strengthening the abdominals.

It is crucial to learn how to support and move the head in a curl up before practising too many repetitions.

The head should be imagined to be a heavy bowling ball, which is fully supported through out the movement by interlaced hands.

The curl up is initiated by the head tipping down and the eye gaze pointing towards the groin.

The ‘heavy bowling ball ‘ must remain heavy in the hands to avoid straining the neck muscles by the ‘pulling’ effect that often happens by mistake.

Keeping the little toes, big toes and heels of the foot connected to the floor will help the flow and control of a well-performed curl up to enable the upper spine to mobilise and the abdominals strengthen.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Pause for Pilates: Oyster and Flying Oyster

The Pilates Oyster and flying oyster are fantastic exercises to mobilise and strengthen the hip joints whilst toning the buttock muscles.

The fact the Oyster exercise requires the client to keep their pelvis stable and avoid ‘rolling’ the hips backwards really helps to challenge the stability of the pelvis and create more strength.

Because the Oyster exercise works deeply into one of the hip stabilising muscles; it is very beneficial when working with clients who suffer with hip, knee and lower back pain.

To gain the full benefits the Oyster series have to offer; we aim to ensure the movement is initiated from the hip joint and not the knee, keep the feet in contact with each other throughout and all whilst ensuring the shoulders remain relaxed with width across the collar bones.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Pause for Pilates: 30 minute workout

The following 30 minute workout includes:

  • Introduction
  • Spine curls
  • Glute stretch
  • Climb a tree
  • Arm circles
  • Power of 6 x 12
  • Chalk circles
  • Oyster sequence
  • Diamond press
  • Flying around the world
  • Closing thoughts

These are typical pilates moves taught at group classes or one to one lessons.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Beginners guide to Pilates equipment

Victoria uses a variety of Pilates equipment with both her private clients and group classes.

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The huge variety of equipment can be seen here in the photographs taken at Victoria’s Pilates clinic and includes tennis and golf balls (1); resistance bands (2), foam rollers (3), broomsticks (4), leg and hand weights (5), the over and gym balls (6), spikey and traid balls (7), power ring, mat (8) and cushions (9).

Pilates equipment benefits:

  • Increased strength.
  • Greater flexibility.
  • Increased muscle tone.
  • Increased bone density.
  • Improved balance.
  • Challenging the core muscles.
  • Myofascial release.
  • Soothing to painful and tight muscles
  • Fun!

Pause for Pilates: Elephant Walking

Elephant Walking is an advanced non traditional Pilates exercise.

Working deeply through the abdominals, spine, hamstrings and calf muscles.

Clients are advised to be experienced in Pilates Roll Downs and have the ability to keep the abdominals scooped towards the spine whilst in a challenging flexed position.

It is crucial to not ‘lock’ the knee or elbow joints and to ensure the head remains ‘ hung’ to keep it free from tension.

As the client endeavours to walk from heel to toe on one foot as the palm on the same side walks forwards; a strong stretch up the back of the calf and hamstrings is usually experienced.

Lengthening the spine in an ‘up and over’ posture whilst elephant walking helps to prevent the exercise from collapsing and releases tension in the lower back.
Challenging and rewarding.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Pause for Pilates: Spine Curls

The Pilates Spine Curl is a fabulous exercise for clients of all abilities to mobilise the spine and hip joints whilst toning the buttock muscles.

Although a simple movement pattern, it is crucial to initiate with a posterior tilt of the pelvis – really imprint the lower spine – think Pubic bone towards the head as the spine moves sequentially up to the tips of the shoulder blades. Really aiming to not hyper extend into the neck.

Maintaining a sense of width across the back of the shoulder blades and the front of the chest with the feet remaining in contact with the floor at all times.

Many clients will find it helpful to place the overball or a small cushion between the knees to help ‘fire’ up the inner thighs and to help avoid the knees rolling outwards.

Aim to keep the weight distribution even through each leg and foot.

A wonderful exercise for daily practice to keep our spines mobile and flexible.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Pause for Pilates: Dumb Waiter

The Pilates Dumb Waiter is a wonderful standing exercise to encourage correct shoulder placement and stability whilst mobilising the shoulder joints.

A superb exercise to reinforce basic Pilates principles.

Including; a neutral pelvis and spine position, to focus on the stability of the scapulae whilst avoiding over retraction, a lengthened and released neck position, correct hand and wrist alignment and all whilst softening and closing the rib cage and maintaining a sense of width across the collar bones.

Exercises adaptations include performing the exercises in a seated position; making it an ideal exercises for desk bound workers, hunched over a computer for long hours as well as being a helpful alternative for less mobile clients and those with balance issues in a standing position.

Even the most intermediate of clients can benefit from the Pilates Dumb Waiter.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Pause for Pilates: Single Leg Stretch

The Pilates Single Leg Stretch is one of Joseph Pilates’ traditional movements.

There is much to gain from performing a controlled sequence of the Single Leg Stretch.

Clients learn co-ordination of the upper and lower body whilst mobilising the hip and knee joints and really challenging pelvic stability and improving core stability by strengthening the stamina of the deep abdominal muscles.

The Single Leg Stretch is about learning to move from the ‘centre’, which helps to train the abdominals to initiate movement and stabilise the trunk as the arms, and legs are in motion.

Very helpful when targeting the lower abdominal muscles.

All video footage is aimed at existing clients with a solid understanding of core stability, lateral breathing and good Pilates alignment.

If you are not familiar with these then please contact Victoria before attempting the exercises exhibited here.

Top ten tips for New Year Pilates resolutions

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As 2013 is only round the corner, it’s worth adding a few tips to your daily life to keep pilates working for you between classes:

  • Daily spikey balls foot massage - one minute each foot and remember this can be done whilst you are cleaning your teeth, watching TV or even at your office desk
  • Remember to think tall, long and lengthened spine as you walk around each day
  • Think general width across those collar bones with relaxed shoulders
  • Don’t forget to breathe – We all tend to hold our breathe when under pressure at work or feeling anxious so remember our wide and full breathes when you feel the stress creeping in..
  • Aim to not put all your weight down one leg when standing
  • Where possible aim to spread your weight evenly throughout each foot taking notice if you tend to place your weight more through the ball or heel of the foot or even the inside or outside edge of the foot and correct.
  • Remember to treat the body holistically; just because we have one problem area does not mean we must ignore our other body parts
  • Every time you sit at your desk aim to not hunch those shoulders and poke the head forward
  • If you have children and carry them on your hip; aim to alternate which hip you carry them on
  • Ideally we would all practice one hour of pilates a day; where this is not possible in the busy modern world perhaps aim for 20 minutes to see and feel all the vast benefits pilates has to offer