If you start looking for Pilates classes, you’ll soon find that there are at least three main types: Stott, Winsor and Power Pilates. In order to choose the right class for you, you’ll want to understand what each type is and its comparative benefits to the others.

What is Pilates?

All three types of Pilates focus on improving strength, flexibility and posture, with a strong emphasis on the core. Afterall, the core muscles support our limbs and the rest of our everyday movements.

Pilates is typically done in long, but low-impact classes that can be adjusted for beginners or amped up to challenge even the most seasoned professional athletes. From that foundation, each Pilates style brings a unique element to the exercises.

  1. Winsor Pilates

When you think of Pilates, you are probably thinking of Winsor Pilates. Mary Winsor created this style, and she is credited with popularizing the exercise. Her DVDs were sold nationwide and featured her and her team in colorful 80’s style workout gear.

Winsor Pilates focuses on fun and flexibility more than a challenging workout. As with most forms of Pilates, Winsor’s exercises prioritize the core muscles, but also provide a shorter and less intense class.

  1. Power Pilates

Power Pilates is commonly viewed as a return to the original intention of Joseph Pilates, the creator of the exercise program. In the 1980s, Romana Kryzanowska was a Pilates instructor at the original studio where Joseph taught. Some of the instructors that Kryzanowska trained became the first Power Pilates instructors (one was Mary Winsor).

Power Pilates instructors focused on balance, supporting the spine, and efficient movement in intense workouts. Power Pilates is considered “classical” and rejects the modern changes that Winsor brought to Pilates.

  1. Stott Pilates

Stott Pilates is the newest form of Pilates. While it is grounded in the initial theory from Joseph Pilates, it also incorporates modern understanding about physical rehabilitation and performance. Stott Pilates was also designed to be a complete exercise program that offers cardiovascular training as well as strength training. That means you don’t necessarily need to do any other activity to improve your strength and balance, though it can complement other forms of exercise.

Stott Pilates improves on other forms of Pilates in several ways, including:

  • Three-dimensional movement: While other forms of Pilates neglect some movements, Stott Pilates ensures you maintain a full range of motion.
  • Focus on joint muscles: Instead of just focusing on the core, Stott Pilate instructors know that the muscles around the joints are also key for better movement and balance. We work on these muscles.
  • Corrects over-training: By adding cardiovascular training and focusing on exercising both sides of the body equally, Stott Pilates corrects over-training.

Visit Absolute Pilates for Stott Pilates

At Absolute Pilates we offer Stott Pilates because we believe the program gives our clients a more complete, effective and safe exercise regimen. This flexible Pilates style is perfect for everyone, from pregnant women to seniors to professional athletes. All you need is guidance from an experienced, registered Stott Pilates instructor.

Contact us today for more information on our Pilates classes.

Yoga may not help your body fight cancer but it can help you cope with the emotional, physical, and mental stress of receiving treatment. From the moment you’re diagnosed, you’ll find that yoga has many surprising benefits that can help you, and those around you, make it through this challenging time.

Cancer affects many individuals and families. According to the CBC, almost one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and this can have a significant impact on their lives and the lives of their family members. While more than half of people with cancer will recover, it’s often a long, difficult road.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important for you to have a strong support system, including family, friends, medical professionals, and more. It’s helpful to keep your spirits high and your mental health strong, and yoga is a powerful resource for that. Yoga has a number of benefits that can reduce fatigue and stress, and can help enhance overall quality of life.

The Research on Yoga and Cancer

The American Cancer Society states that yoga can help relieve some of the symptoms linked to cancer and other major illness such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, and more.

If you have cancer, what might you get out of a yoga class? Research suggests you may feel the following:

  • Lower fatigue: Research indicates you may have more energy the more classes that you attend.
  • Reduced stress: You may feel your mood is more stable, less depressed, and less stressed.
  • Better movement: Yoga keeps you limber and can help your stiff and sore body recover from hospital stays.
  • Fall asleep more quickly: Research indicates that if you have cancer and suffer from insomnia, yoga can help you fall asleep faster.
  • Lose weight: If you lose weight while doing yoga, you may have a lower chance of cancer recurrence.

Along with these benefits, you’ll also experience the benefits of other yoga practitioners, such as lower cortisol, higher oxygen levels in the blood, increased flexibility, and much more.

Adjusting Yoga for People with Cancer

Cancer and cancer treatments may have affected your mobility, strength and energy levels to the point you think you can’t participate in yoga. Don’t fret—you can. You may want to start with our gentler yoga classes, such as Hatha Yoga and Restorative Yoga.

Restorative yoga is an excellent option as every posture is supported by blocks, blankets, straps and eye pillows. It does not take a high degree of physical strength to participate in. You’ll still see the emotional and mental benefits of yoga and feel your stress melt away.

That being said, any yoga class can be adjusted for those with cancer. If cancer keeps you from bending over without pain, moving your arm in a certain way, or some other restriction, our skilled and compassionate yoga instructors can adjust the class so you can still participate without pain.

Sign up for our yoga classes today, or reach out to us for more information or questions. We are here to help!

You’ve probably seen adorable photos and gifs on the internet where a mom is striking a yoga pose and her kids are copying her in the background. At Absolute Pilates, we find those photos and gifs inspiring. Yoga can, and should, be an activity that the whole family participates in. While yoga might traditionally be more popular among women, everyone can find a type of yoga that suits their abilities and challenges them.

At Absolute Pilates, we offer classes for all ages—from young children to seniors. Here’s how your family can enjoy and get the most out of each class.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha style yoga is gentle. During a Hatha class, you’ll focus on relaxation and breathing while trying basic poses. This is the best type of class for any of your family members to try if they are beginners. Seniors will find that this class isn’t too physically challenging and young children won’t be pushed beyond their limits. Everyone will benefit from:

  • A calmer nervous system
  • Higher energy levels or vitality
  • More flexibility and balance
  • More strength

Slow Flow and Strength Yoga

Though we call it “slow flow”, this type of yoga is still “yang” or active yoga. It focuses more on building strength with rhythmic, repeated movements. The adults in your family who are looking to build strength may enjoy slow flow yoga. Teenagers with a lot of energy may also enjoy this type of yoga over others. Overall, it’s a more engaging, challenging activity.

Additionally, seniors and those with injuries or physical limitations may find that slow flow yoga improves their functional movement. Beginners can join this class, but it also challenges those who already know some yoga too. If you’re looking for your next yoga challenge, this could be it.

Restorative Yoga

Every pose you take during a restorative yoga class is supported by props, such as blankets, sandbags and eye pillows. This class is more inward focused and helps heal the body, mind and soul. Anyone can achieve the poses because they are supported and the class offers a wide range of benefits.

These benefits include:

  • Reducing stress hormones in the body
  • Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
  • Decreasing chronic pain and discomfort
  • Increasing blood flow and oxygen levels

If any of your family members need an escape from their busy lives, this is an excellent class to start with. You’ll feel peaceful, patient, and rejuvenated after each class.

Meditation and Yin Yoga

If yang yoga is active, yin yoga is receptive and calm. In this class, we start with a half hour of meditation, for focus and relaxation. Then we do an hour of yin yoga, which is mostly seated poses that target the deep muscles and connective tissues in the body.

This type of yoga is also very accessible to everyone in the family. Any child who enjoys their quiet time will like this yoga. Older family members won’t feel outpaced or challenged beyond their ability as every pose is supported.

Yoga at Absolute Pilates

Do you have concerns about any of your family members joining our yoga classes? Let us know ahead of time and our skilled, compassionate yoga instructors can make the class more accommodating to their specific needs.  Contact us today for more information about the styles of yoga we offer!

Pilates might be best known for increasing your strength, especially in your core muscles. However, it also helps women burn off excess calories and therefore manage their weight. The great thing about trying Pilates for weight management is that it’s an accessible exercise.

Truly, no matter your fitness level, Pilates will challenge you to burn fat. Those who have chronic pain or other disorders can easily modify Pilates to be comfortable, while athletes at peak performance can still find movements that challenge them.

At Absolute Pilates, we have experience modifying Pilates routines and intensifying them for advanced Pilates participants. We find that some moves are better suited for burning fat and managing weight than others, and we want to share those moves with you.

The Best Pilates Moves for Weight Management

  1. Knee Up/Heel Up
  • Step One: From standing, keep your elbows bent and at your side. Begin jogging.
  • Step Two: While jogging, for eight leg movements, raise your knee in front of you to hip height.
  • Step Three: While jogging, stop knee ups and start extending your legs back to kick your bottom, eight times. Do not lift your knees and attempt a kick at the same time, only alternate the movements.
  1. Crisscross
  • Step One: Lay on your back. Place your hands behind your head and lift. Pull your knees to your chest.
  • Step Two: On the exhale, move to touch your right elbow with your left knee. Your hands should stay behind your head, and your right leg should straighten for balance.
  • Step Three: Slowly return to the start position. Switch sides, reaching your left elbow to touch your right knee.
  • Step Four: Combine the movements and complete five sets of twists.
  1. Corkscrew
  • Step One: Lay flat on your back. Extend your arms straight out at your sides. Turn your palms to the floor so you can use them for support.
  • Step Two: With your legs straight, press them together, engaging the muscles from calf to rear.
  • Step Three: Point your toes and lift your legs, still pressing them together. Use your arms and shoulders for balance. Do not let your weight rest on your neck.
  • Step Four: Lift so your glutes aren’t touching the floor. Lean slightly right and move your legs right, then left in a circle.
  • Step Five: Return your legs to the floor. Raise them again and perform a circle as before, but first leaning left, so the circle is in the opposite direction.
  • Step Six: Repeat each circle four times, alternating each time.

Attend Pilates Classes at Absolute Pilates

While you can always practice these Pilates moves at home, it’s much more motivational and fun to take part in a class. Plus, our experienced Pilates instructors can help guide you to get the most out of the class, whether you’re looking for weight management or other Pilates benefits. Contact us today for more information about our classes and how to register.

Immobility, even for a short period of time (or only in a certain limb), can have serious effects on the whole body. Your muscles, bones, and even heart will weaken unless you take steps to keep them healthy. In fact, it is much easier to prevent the complications of immobility than to treat them after the fact. Pilates can help with both scenarios.

Causes of Immobility

You may need to counter-act the effects of immobility if you are limited to your bed or a wheelchair. Other causes of immobility include:

  • Bed rest due to illness
  • Paralysis of any limb
  • Restriction of a limb in a brace or cast
  • Restriction of joints with a brace or cast
  • Loss of sensation in any body part

Effects of Immobility

Overtime, the effects of immobility can become worse than the illness or injury that caused the immobility in the first place.

  1. Muscles Loss

The first complication is muscle weakness. Research has found that immobile muscles will lose up to 15 percent of their strength each week. This means that after five weeks of immobility your muscles will have lost almost or more than half of their strength.

The first muscles to be affected are the core muscles, because they no longer have to resist gravity. These muscles support you throughout essentially every kind of movement. Unless you prevent core muscle loss, you will find that climbing stairs, walking, and even sitting up is a challenge.

Pilates focuses on these vulnerable muscles first and foremost. Not only can you maintain their condition with Pilates, you may even improve their strength, leaving bed rest stronger than when you started. Many of the key Pilates exercises that develop the core muscles can be done while lying down, so you can exercise no matter what kind of immobility you are dealing with.

Pilates exercises can also focus on the muscle groups that you can move, to ensure they maintain as much of their strength as possible.

  1. Bone Density Loss

Like muscles, bones need activity to remain strong. During immobility, bones will lose their density rapidly, until 12 weeks at which point bone density levels out. However, this rapid immediate loss may cause osteoporosis, or give you a much greater risk of developing it later on. It is much harder to regain bone density than to maintain it in the first place.

Pilates exercises will allow you to use your own body weight to put pressure on your bones, encouraging them to remain healthy. Those exercises which develop muscle strength will also maintain your bone density, especially in critical areas like your hips, knees and back.

  1. Other Complications

There are other rarer complications of immobility that you can prevent. For example, after three weeks of bed rest you could develop orthostatic hypotension, where your circulatory system no longer adjusts as you sit up, making your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Leg exercises and pressure wraps can treat this condition over time, but Pilates leg exercises and sitting exercises may help prevent it in the first place.

Similar treatments are given to patients who develop venous thromboembolisms from inactivity. This condition is a blood clot that forms in the veins of the leg. Simple leg exercises and other Pilates exercises can also help prevent these clots from forming.

If you have immobility, even for a short period of time, you can take charge of your health and prevent these conditions from developing. Contact us at Absolute Pilates to sign up for a Pilates class. You may even end up stronger than you were before your immobility!

If you have low bone density, and osteopenia or osteoporosis, you may have heard that Pilates is not the exercise for you. That’s only half right. While some forms of Pilates may cause harm to your fragile bones, others like STOTT PILATES® can help you rebuild bone density.

The Right Exercise

Those with low bone density are often advised by doctors and physiotherapists to try weight bearing exercises in order to preserve and build bone density. Instead of cycling or swimming, which can take much-needed pressure off your bones, you’ve likely been encouraged to walk or lift weights.

However, walking doesn’t apply any pressure to the bones in your arm, and few seniors feel comfortable lifting weights. The solution is to try STOTT PILATES® instead.

STOTT PILATES® can be adjusted for any level of physical ability. It doesn’t require equipment, unlike weight lifting, and uses only your body weight and gravity to add pressure. Sometimes Pilates involves equipment, but this is usually equipment which relieves pressure, like a trapeze table or TRX machine. Further, there are many Pilates movements that will apply gentle pressure to your arms, which are often neglected in other bone density exercises.

All types of Pilates involve weight bearing exercises, that’s not the problem. Instead, certain positions that Pilates demands of you can be dangerous when your bones are fragile, especially for your spine. The same thing goes for yoga.

No one with osteoporosis should be rolling, on their hip or shoulder. They shouldn’t be twisting their spine, even by reaching behind themselves. They also should avoid leaning forward or curving their spine forward.

The Movements and Goals of STOTT PILATES®

We often adjust STOTT PILATES® programs to avoid these dangerous movements and allow those with low bone density to enjoy the benefits of Pilates. Instead of those dangerous movements, we might work on:

  • Leg pulls and circles
  • Push ups
  • Chest expansion
  • Single and double leg kicks
  • Side-lying movements

The movements we choose for these classes are designed to accomplish a few goals, including:

  • Improve bone density especially in the hips and spine
  • Improve strength to help support weakened bones
  • Improve balance, to prevent falls and fractures
  • Improve range of motion and flexibility
  • Improve posture, which can address pain in some parts of the body

Talk to Your Instructor

If you have low bone density you should let your STOTT PILATES® instructor know, so that they can teach you to modify your movements to maximize your bones and keep you safe.

If you’re not sure if one of our classes is right for you, please reach out to us. We can let you know which of our classes fits your goals best.

Breast cancer survivors may be surprised to learn that after their last treatment, there are still physical challenges to overcome.

You may feel pain, swelling and stiffness in your shoulder, arm and chest from several treatments, including:

  • Breast biopsy
  • Lumpectomy
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Lymph node removal
  • Mastectomy
  • Radiation
  • Breast reconstruction

Physiotherapy, Pilates and massage therapy each offer their own benefits to breast cancer survivors who have undergone any of these procedures. Learn how each can reduce your pain and help you move forward.

Physiotherapy for Cancer Recovery

Physiotherapy can help you recover from breast cancer by reducing swelling, increase range of motion, and reducing pain. Physiotherapy can get you back to your regular activities faster, like brushing your hair, driving a car, and simply taking a deep breath. When you still have stitches or drains from your procedures, your movements may be more restricted but there are still physio exercises you can do to promote a full range of motion. Strength exercises can be added once your stitches and drainage devices have been removed.

Keep in mind that even when performing simple range of motion exercises, it is easy to hurt yourself when you’re recovering from breast cancer. You need professional supervision to move in the right ways at the right times.

Further, specific physio exercises can target common side effects of breast cancer. Specific movements can reduce lymphedema, a type of swelling where your body holds onto your interstitial fluid for too long. Other movements target lymphatic cording, also called axillary web syndrome. Stretching can painlessly break these cords so you can regain your arm’s full range of motion.

Pilates for Cancer Recovery

After chemotherapy and radiation, survivors often experience fatigue and weakness, on top of a weakened immune system, usually for four to six weeks afterwards. Exercise can help restore your normal energy levels and rebuild muscles.

Pilates is a particularly great exercise regimen for this task, focusing on core strength to increase your balance. It also doesn’t require you to perform heavy cardio, something few breast cancer survivors are ready for, especially when your ability to take deep breaths is likely impacted by your treatment.

Exercise has benefits beyond your muscles and energy levels. Research suggests that exercise helps your immune system strengthen after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to keep on the path to health with exercise.

Massage for Cancer Recovery

After the stress you’ve been through, a massage is probably a very appealing thought. So, feel free to treat yourself and know that your massage will further your recovery efforts. Massage relaxes you and promotes a positive frame of mind. It also helps to reduce swelling. Though you may not want your chest or shoulders massaged right now, particularly as your incisions heal, it will be more comfortable to be massaged near your sore spots, and you may find that it helps subdue painful swelling.

Besides, massage is more helpful than it seems. Research has found that massage can even help with immune function and helps to combat fatigue.

Join us as Absolute Pilates for any, or all, of these three healing practices. Feel free to contact us anytime about our programs. We wish you the best of health and comfort on your breast cancer recovery journey.

Yoga and Childhood Anxiety

September 3, 2019

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, anxiety is the leading health issue among children, even elementary school children. Sara Dimerman, a Toronto-based psychologist, told the CBC that school environment, peer pressure, and parental decisions may be at the root of increasing childhood anxiety.

What can parents do to support their child and reduce their anxiety? One study suggests that yoga may help.

Studying Yoga in Children with Anxiety

The study compared two groups of anxious third-grade children. One group received normal care for their anxiety, which included counseling from a social worker and other activities.

The second group of children received mindfulness instruction and participated in ten sessions of yoga for forty minutes before the start of school, over the course of either the fall or spring.

Results indicated that yoga had a positive effect on the children. Those third graders who participated in yoga and mindfulness had, on average, higher emotional quality of life and scored better on a psychosocial questionnaire than their peers who did not participate in yoga.

Researchers also engaged with teachers to discuss the benefits of yoga. Teachers found yoga to be a useful tool in the classroom. According to the study’s authors, teachers “reported using yoga more often each week, and throughout each day in class, following the professional development component of intervention.”

Other research has found that children receive similar benefits from yoga and mindfulness practices. Children with ADD or ADHD, Asperger’s, and depression may all see symptom improvement after yoga. Research also indicates that the emotional benefits of yoga and mindfulness may last for the long-term.

Yoga for Your Child

In the study, researchers designed a yoga program which included, “breathing exercises, guided relaxation, and several Vinyasa and Ashtanga poses appropriate for third graders.”

Our Hatha and Restorative yoga classes fit the bill, with gentle and calming movements that are meant to reduce anxiety and stress. Our yoga instructors can adjust these programs to be achievable for young children. You may also maximize the benefits of yoga by having your child attend classes at an especially stressful or challenging times in their life.

Generally, children tend feel more anxiety at the start of the school year, as well as when they transition into key school years such as grade three, six, and nine. The study’s authors chose grade three students precisely because this year is a challenging transition.

“Our initial work found that many kids expressed anxious feelings in third grade as the classroom work becomes more developmentally complex,” Bazzano said. “Even younger children are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, especially around test time.”

If your child is struggling with anxiety, or facing a challenge or transition, signing them up for a yoga class may help them self-regulate their mood and flourish. Contact us today for more information on our yoga programs for children.

Older adults can take advantage of the latest training equipment to better their health. Don’t worry, what we have in mind doesn’t require you install an app and doesn’t have a touch screen. However, it will target specific challenges older adults face, and will reduce your likelihood to fall. We’re talking about the TRX system and the suspension training it allows.

Advantages of Suspension Training

The TRX system hooks securely into the wall and has two elastic lines with secure handles on the ends. All exercises involve holding the handles with your hands or feet. The system can take the full weight of almost all people, which means that it is a built-in fall prevention mechanism. If you stumble while holding the TRX handles, the system will support you.

The TRX system provides resistance quite similar to free weights. However, it is much more flexible. You can adjust the intensity of the TRX workout on a moment’s notice, simply by walking closer to the wall for less challenge, and further away for a more intense workout. This saves you the trouble of switching out weights, including bending down to store one pair while you grab another.

While many seniors use the TRX system while standing, it can also adapt perfectly to exercise while laying down. This can help seniors who are recovering from falls to exercise their upper or lower body without risk of falling again. The system lends well to gentle, low-risk exercises that can help you maintain your strength when you otherwise may not have been able to.

In particular, seniors in downsized-homes or retirement complexes will appreciate that the TRX sytem doesn’t take up much space, especially when compared to other exercise equipment.

What Older Adults Can Achieve with Suspension Training

As suspension training gives seniors the benefits of weight training with reduced risks and greater flexibility, you can target many different aspects of health that are particularly important for seniors.

This includes:

  • Grip strength
  • Core strength
  • Ligament and tendon flexibility and strength
  • Overall balance and stability
  • Joint mobility
  • Bone strength
  • Gait
  • Posture

Many of these advantages, especially strength, cannot be well-developed by seniors in typical low-risk activities like swimming and cycling. Suspension training is a great option for seniors to get these rare benefits without adding to their fall risk.

Suspension training can also help reduce chronic pain. One study, conducted in Germany, found that after weeks of TRX training, 36 percent of the seniors reported their musculoskeletal pain had decreased.

Get Started with Resistance Training

At Absolute Pilates, we have the TRX system and the professional guidance you need to get started, safely. Learn the best TRX exercises for seniors in a safe environment and how to adjust the level of challenge to suit your ability. We can also teach you to target specific advantages that you need to improve your overall quality of life. Contact us anytime for more information on our TRX sessions.

The Best TRX Exercises

July 12, 2019

The TRX suspension trainer is an incredibly versatile tool. Using just this tool and gravity, you’re able to work out any part of your body, even in a small space. Plus, you can scale your TRX exercises to any fitness level and it will always engage your core.

On the other hand, the TRX is such a versatile tool that you might not know where to start with it. We thought we’d share the best TRX exercises we’ve found to help strengthen every part of your body and start or diversify your TRX workout.

Try These TRX Exercises:

  1. One Leg Squat

You can do normal squats with the TRX but to really take advantage of the extra stability the TRX lends you, try out one leg squats.

  • Step One: While holding the stirrups, lean backwards and raise one leg.
  • Step Two: Keep your back straight and core engaged while you squat with your other leg.
  • Step Three: Raise yourself. Repeat on the other leg.
  1. Inverted Row

Working both of your arms in a rowing motion couldn’t be simpler with the TRX suspension trainer.

  • Step One: Put your legs hip-width apart. While holding the stirrups, lean back.
  • Step Two: With your arms relaxed and straight, turn your palms to face each other.
  • Step Three: Keep your back and legs straight, and your core engaged, while you bend your elbows and pull yourself towards the anchor. Relax your arms and repeat.
  1. Lateral Lunge

Often when using TRX, people move backwards and forwards, but neglect to move sideways. Moving laterally is an important step to build and maintain your flexibility and symmetry.

  • Step One: Set your legs further apart than your shoulders. Point your toes forward.
  • Step Two: Hold the stirrups slightly in front of your shoulders.
  • Step Three: Keeping both feet planted, bend your right knee and sink down to the right.
  • Step Four: Use the handles to stabilize yourself as you lift back up to standing. Repeat on the other side.
  1. Rotational Ward

Ready to build core strength? A fan of yoga? This one is for you. It looks simple, but if you pull hard, you’ll challenge yourself.

  • Step One: Stand sideways instead of facing the anchor point.
  • Step Two: Put the foot closest to the anchor point forward and the other slightly back.
  • Step Three: Place your hands flat together. Place them in both stirrups.
  • Step Four: Push your hands forward, together. The further you go, the deeper the burn. Keep your core tight.

If you find any of these exercises too challenging, move your feet back from the anchor point. If you want to increase difficulty instead, step closer. In this way, the TRX suspension trainer grows with you, without having to add weights.

Interested in more instruction on how to use your TRX suspension trainer with proper form or in targeting a certain area of your body these exercises don’t cover? Contact us at Absolute Pilates. We can help you find the right exercise to accomplish your goals.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!