Problem Areas…They’re NO problem

We all know that you can not just workout certain spots to fix those pesky problem areas.  If we want to see results, we need to loose weight all over.

HOWEVER!!  Pilates and Barre do tone and work areas of the body that tend to be problem areas, DIFFERENTLY than traditional exercise!

For example, many of us have a little less tone in the back of our arms and shoulders.  Because we tend to be tight across the chest and front deltoids, it is harder to train those posterior muscles.  Pilates and Barre have certain exercises that can train the back of the arm while simultaneously opening up the front of the shoulder and chest.

Our bodies tend to settle weight where we have trouble toning. Here is a list of traditional “Trouble Areas” and a list of Pilates and Barre exercises that can help these areas!

  1. Rear Shoulder/arm (rear deltoids and triceps)- We are weak in this area because we spend our days unintentionally rounding our shoulders forward when we work, drive, and sit.  We need to train these areas to maintain proper postural alignment, and to limit or correct tight neck and trapezius muscles.
    1. Equipment: Arm pulls and T; Key thoughts: widen collar bones, pull arms apart while pulling back
    2. Barre: tricep press, arm lift
    3. Key thoughts: widen collar bones, pull arms apart while pulling back

  1. Outer thighs (abductors)-   We are weak in this area because we sit a lot and that contributes to tightness in the front of the hips, while weakening the posterior chain.  We need to train these areas to maintain healthy hip function balancing out the muscles of the leg.
    1. Equipment: side splits, (green spring)
    2. Barre: side leg work with or without straps
    3. Key thoughts: Make sure knees are in proper alignment lining up over your second and third toes. The movement should not come from a movement in the pelvis, but rather the actual hip.  Make sure pelvis isn’t hiking towards the ribs!
  2. Inner thighs (adductors) – We are weak in this area because we rarely do adduction.  We need to train this area to maintain health hip function and to aid in the strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles.
    1. Equipment: side splits and leg straps (red spring)
    2. Barre: lunges with knee squeeze, squats with the ball
    3. Key thoughts: when bringing the legs together, think in and up as if your inner thighs could draw all the way up through the pelvic floor and out of the top of your head!
  3. Low belly (rectus abdominis and transverse abdominals)- We are weak in this area because we tend to use our backs for the functions of the low belly.  We need to train this area to maintain a healthy and pain free low back, hips and core (and pelvic floor).
    1. Equipment: overhead (bonus works back of shoulder too),
    2. Barre: Bear hover walking back to plank
    3. Key thoughts: NO MOMENTUM! If you can’t get all the way over, just do little controlled lifts of the tail.  Belly should feel like it is doing the work NOT your back (or swing of your legs)!

4. Glutes (Gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and gluteus minimus)-  We are weak in this area because we tend to not bend at our hips, but rather our back.  If we don’t bend at the hips, then we aren’t using the glutes to extend the hip! We need to train this area to maintain a healthy back and hip function while also supporting our spine health

  1. Equipment: side lying footwork, side lying jumpboard
  2. Barre: bridge work on ball, one legged bridge work
  3. Key thoughts: think about where your glute turns into your thigh, make sure that you are feeling that transition do the work.  Lengthen the low back, so you aren’t using your low back to find the height of your bridge.

Although we want to continue to be active, work the whole body, and get in appropriate amounts of cardio, it is ok to give a little extra attention to those areas that weaken due to our daily lives.  Pilates and Barre are efficient ways to tone and target the body while also giving a total body workout. Let’s stop the pinching, poking and pulling on those pesky areas, love ourselves where we are, and train smarter!

Follow us on instagram for videos and workouts specific to these areas!

In strength and self confidence,

The Pilates Barre Studio

How to Stay Healthy this Summer! (Without Missing Out!)

Sunshine, summer vacay, and boating!!!

That is what summer dreams are made of! But what about that swimsuit, or shorts, or tank? We don’t care what you look like in those pieces of clothing, but we do care how you FEEL in those items.

We were on the boat as a family this weekend and I found myself in a swim suit having fun with just my kids and husband…until other people showed up! (Eeek!) I am bound and determine to not miss fun in the sun with my kids because of not feeling comfortable in my swim suit or clothes.  For me, that means continuing to eat healthy and exercising for me to feel my best.

Here are 10 ways to stay healthy this summer!

  1. Bring your own food/plan ahead – We go boating with other families just about every weekend in the summer.  This usually means meals out, quick grabs, and bad choices.  When we plan ahead as a family, it makes healthy choices much easier and makes me feel confident instead of bloated and guilty.  I challenge you to really think about how the foods you eat makes you FEEL. If you are good at journaling, I recommend a food journaling through My Fitness Pal.
  2. Make Healthy Swaps – What are you favorite summer foods? Ice cream – eat nice cream; Eat a healthy heavy salad instead of fried foods or heavy foods; Add avocado – it’s a great way to make a meal feel indulgent without adding something bad for you.
  3. Fit in exercise with the play – Boating, water workouts, walks with kids, and active trips are all ways you can easily fit in exercising with the family without feeling like you are missing out! This also helps with summer boredom!  When we are boating, I try to get in deep water, so I have to tread water while I’m planning with the kids! Talk about a workout!! This kids also love to ride their bikes, or ride in backpacks while my husband and I hike.  We are lucky to have several parks and great hiking within an hour or two of us, so it is fun for a quick getaway!
  4. Find community workouts – In the Edwardsville and Maryville Communities, there are several offerings of FREE Yoga or other workouts in conjunction with the local markets! What a great way to fit in an outdoor workout while building community!
  5. Make summer fruit a sweet tooth swap – There are so many yummy things in season during the summer, it is easy to substitute a fruit to satisfy that sweet tooth.  Adding a healthy dip makes the sweet treat even more enjoyable
  6. Hit the local Market – After yoga, don’t forget to pick up some fresh dinner options! Often times the people selling the produce at the market have their favorite ways to cook the ingredients, or sell their own cook books. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  7. Rehydrate – It is easy in the heat and humidity to become dehydrated quickly.  You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces each day.  Sometimes I need a little more than just water to replenish what I have lost.  Instead of sugary electrolyte drinks, I go for a coconut water because of all its benefits.  Read the labels when it comes to coconut water!  Many brands add extra sugar, or “other natural ingredients” and those are no bueno!
  8. Break out the grill – Grilling is an easy way to make an entire healthy meal with little clean up!! My favorite on the grill is salmon, seasoned squash and zucchini in a foil pack, and corn on the cob (still in the husk while grilling).
  9. Wear sunscreen – don’t forget to keep your skin healthy this summer! It’s best to use a moisturizer with sunscreen in it to make sure that your covered!
  10. Journal – Mental health is important too! Journal during your morning devotional time, or upon waking is a great way to find things to be grateful for, process emotions, and stay connected to the important things in life!

The most important thing to remember is that being healthy is a lifestyle. It is the accumulation of smaller, everyday choices in order to meet a goal. Each decision is independent of each other, so if you make one bad decision, that doesn’t mean that the whole day is ruined. It means that you made one bad decision, own it, and move on.

My kids will not remember how I looked in a swimsuit, but they will remember if I joined them in the fun, or sat out because I was too self conscious to participate. I want them to look back on their childhood and remember us having fun, playing tag, jumping in the water, and enjoying laughter together.

In strength and self-confidence,

Stephanie and The Pilates Barre Team

Why we wont be making a New Year’s resolution this year!

In the day of information, we have research to support just about anything – including New Year’s Resolutions!  Research shows that most New Year’s Resolutions fail by the second week in February, so, this year, we are focusing on Healthy Habits!  Increasing healthy habits is easier to stay committed and to make steps towards a healthier lifestyle for the long term.  I have made plenty of New Year’s Resolutions over the years and none of them have stuck.  A few years back I started focusing on increasing healthy habits and I have continued to make measurable steps towards a healthier lifestyle!  The beginning of the year is a great time to reevaluate those healthy habits and to start fresh after the holidays.  In the spirit of the new year, I have made a list of my favorite healthy habits and a few recipes that help me stay on track.

  1.  Prep, prep, prep – taking 30 minutes the night before to prep for my day helps my chaotic mornings with two kids go much smoother.  I make sure my shake is made, lunch is made, and any snacks I will need are ready to go!
  2. Wake up and drink –  the first several hours of my day is all about consuming fluids! I wake up and have a glass of water right off the bat. Next, I will drink either a detox drink or half of a kombucha.  I feel that it helps get things awake and helps my healthy gut flora thrive!  Last, I will grab my shake on my way out the door.  When I am in a hurry, I will just do Juice Plus Protein and Your Super Foods Energy bomb and Greens.  If I have prepped the night before, my favorite morning smoothie is the below recipe.

Green Smoothie:

– Two large handfuls spinach

-one frozen banana

-1 tsp cinnamon

-1/4 tsp turmeric

-1 scoop Juice Plus Protein powder

-Almond milk to cover ingredients

3. Drink water throughout the day – When I drink the amount of water I should (half your weight in ounces), I feel that I am less hungry and feel better throughout the day!

4.  Plan for dinner – I received an instant pot for Christmas.  Let me start by saying, I do not like extra “stuff”.  I don’t usually want the latest and greatest when it comes to kitchen equipment.  Since I received it as a gift, I thought, I’ll give it a try.  I have used it several times already and love it.  It’s easy, quick, easy to clean, and I can now get rid of my rice cooker and pressure cooker.  There are also TONS of recipes on Pinterest and specific groups on Facebook to help me catch up with the trend.

I hope these tips help you evaluate your habits and know that our health is in our control, it is about the small decisions we make, and one bad decision in a day does NOT derail your entire day.  Each decision is an individual piece of the whole day!! (Thank goodness for that!)



The Pilates Barre Studio


Stretch away the Holidays!

The holiday season is exciting, comforting, and can also be stressful.  With the added stress, our bodies start to tense and tighten in areas such as hips, shoulders and upper back.  This added tightness can cause unwanted pain, which can be alleviated through mindful movement and stretching.  Take a few minutes from your holiday hustle to complete these moves.  Give yourself the gift of a relaxed and open upper body!!

Theraband Stretch:

  1. Start with the band in each hand, hands wider than your shoulders.
  2. Slowly start to lower the band behind your back keeping your arms straight and without popping your ribs.
  3. Take the band all the way to your hips stretching open your chest and shoulders.
  4. Slowly lift the arms back to your starting position.

Open Chest Wall Stretch:

  1.  Start with your arms in a goal post position placing your arms and upper back against the wall.
  2. Slowly draw your elbows towards your hips trying to keep our hands and arm against the wall.  Only go as low as you can keep the arms flat without popping the ribs.
  3. Slowly return to your starting position.  You can also start with hands above head for a more advanced version.