Friday, January 20, 2012

About the Pilates Method and Moving Breath Pilates…

Born in 1883 in Germany, Joseph Pilates suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. He would watch the young children playing outside from his bedroom window and longed to participate. As a result, he dedicated his entire life to becoming physically stronger and healthier, studying and participating in a wide range of activities from bodybuilding and gymnastics, to boxing, yoga, diving and martial arts. Joe believed that the root of people’s poor health was inefficient breathing, poor posture, and our “modern” lifestyle, so he devised a series of exercises and training techniques to improve health.

In 1912 Joe moved to England working as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. During World War I, Pilates was interned as a German national at a camp in Lancaster, England, and later transferred to the Isle of Man. Here, Joe refined his ideas and techniques while training other fellow internees. Joe did this by rigging bed springs to hospital beds enabling bed-ridden patients to exercise against resistance. Thus, the engineering of the Universal Reformer and other Pilates equipment began. The Spanish Influenza epidemic struck England around 1918 killing 21 million worldwide but remarkably, not one of Joe’s patients died.

In 1926, Pilates moved to New York and with his wife Clara set up a studio. Joe and Clara originally called his method “Contrology”, which encouraged the use of the mind to control the body, focusing the attention particularly on core postural muscles which balance and provide support for the spine. Pilates exercises gently teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, emphasizing slow, flowing motion that does not strain the joints. The Pilates method first gained popularity in New York City in the dance community, where Joe rehabilitated injured dancers and began to be known for his remarkable healing powers.

One of those dancers was Eve Gentry who worked closely with Joe for over 22 years as a friend and his longest client. Joe rehabilitated Eve through injuries and even a complete mastectomy. Eve moved to Santa Fe where she started her own studio and added her own rehabilitative expertise to her instruction. Michele Larsson, another injured dancer, studied with Eve Gentry for 12 years. Michele passed on her knowledge to Virginia Nicholas, M.A., R.N., owner of Moving Breath Pilates, and handpicked Virginia to carry on the training of Pilates instructors.

At Moving Breath Pilates we embrace the work of Joseph Pilates and the rehabilitative techniques used by Eve Gentry. We tailor each class to our clients and how they are feeling that day. We, and our clients, believe in the healing properties of Pilates because we’ve seen it work. Whether you come into the studio for instruction, or simply spend 10 minutes a day at home doing Pilates, the exercises will stretch, strengthen and balance your body, increasing lung capacity, circulation, muscular and mental coordination, core strength, and flexibility, without any stress to the joints. This means that doing Pilates exercises will leave you feeling better, more energized and more cheerful that day and for days to follow. And, you can do Pilates exercises at home, no special equipment needed.

If you would like to benefit from the expertise of Virginia Nicholas, M.A., R.N. or one of her highly trained instructors feel free to contact us at 480-731-3101 or by email at You can also learn more about our studio online at At Moving Breath Pilates, we have the full range of Pilates equipment, designed to gently aid you in executing the exercises, as well as highly trained instructors who will help you achieve your movement goals. We hope to hear from you!

“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly”- Joseph Pilates

Notes from the Lupus Foundation Presentation by Virginia Nicholas

As promised, here are the notes from my talk about Pilates for auto-immune disease. I hope this assists you in your attainment of health.




Focuses on breath: Each exercise begins with the breath. Pilates encourages breathing into the fronts, sides, and backs of the lungs to improve respiration, promote relaxation, and improve muscle function of the muscles of the of the chest and middle back, as well as the diaphragm and intercostals.

Exercise helps remove toxins through the breath and movement.

During Pilates clients are able to alternate periods of rest and activity to achieve full, complete breath cycles.

Is Joint Friendly: Pilates stresses proper range of motion and biomechanics. It helps the muscles become stronger without stressing the joints, which results in less pain.

When working on the Pilates machines we use light resistance to gently increase strength and support the body.

Core Strengthening: At its foundation, Pilates focuses on strengthening the core. Clients are taught to “fire” the deeper muscles prior to executing any exercise to promote stabilization and strength. Clients are taught proper biomechanics to improve stretching and flexibility.

Works the entire body: Strengthening the core muscles and providing flexibility. Benefits include: improving tone, increasing strength, stamina, endurance, coordination, posture, alignment and pelvic floor function, and increasing overall energy.

The Way We Move: Pilates supports the core and the spine in all planes of movement. Pilates exercises can be completed non-weight bearing, partial weight bearing, or full bearing.

Does not stress the cardiovascular system: Pilates is low impact, gentle, and progressive. Pilates emphasizes constant, slow motion promoting a healthy neuromuscular connection, and allows for proper stretching.

Emphasizes the Mind-Body Connection:

Pilates emphasizes the mind-body connection, putting clients in touch with how the body feels and responds to specific movements.

Exercise releases endorphins and improves mood while decreasing pain. This is a win-win situation for the client.

Is a Pain Free Technique: In Pilates we do exercises that avoid pain, adversely effect inflamed areas, or stress tight areas.

Is Tailored to Individual Clients: Pilates allows use of props, modifications, and assistive devices to correctly execute the exercises while maintaining the intention of the exercises and still meet the needs of the client. Pilates looks at the individual and tailors the lesson to the client's needs today.

Encourages delivery in a toxin free environment: Pilates is delivered in an environment with natural lighting, soft music, and are chemically free of irritants. Specialists are educated to offer simple, clear instructions (in case the client is experiencing “brain fog”).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Upcoming Teacher Training

Here are some of our upcoming teacher training events. For more info:

Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun 7/7/2011 - 7/10/2011
from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
4 Day Mat Certification Intensive hosted by Margeaux Raymond of Position Red Studio in Chicago.

Mat Intensive with Sarah Lisi, Tempe, Arizona
Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun 7/14/2011 - 7/17/2011
from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
4 day mat intensive training.

Fri 7/22/2011
from 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Level 2 Teacher Training Workshop. This workshop focuses on the Level 2 exercises on all the Pilates equipment. Hours: Friday: noon to 6 P.M. Saturday: 10 A.M. - 4 P.M. Sunday: 9 A.M. - 3 P.M.
Sat 7/23/2011
from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Level 2 Teacher Training Workshop. This workshop focuses on the Level 2 exercises on all the Pilates equipment. Hours: Friday: noon to 6 P.M. Saturday: 10 A.M. - 4 P.M. Sunday: 9 A.M. - 3 P.M.
Sun 7/24/2011
from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Level 2 Teacher Training Workshop. This workshop focuses on the Level 2 exercises on all the Pilates equipment. Hours: Friday: noon to 6 P.M. Saturday: 10 A.M. - 4 P.M. Sunday: 9 A.M. - 3 P.M.

Sat,Sun 7/23/2011 - 7/24/2011
from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Level 1 & 2 exercises on the Mat with Kelly Letalien of Strong Tower Pilates.

Fri 7/29/2011
from 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Level 4 Teacher Training Workshop covers the advanced Pilates exercises, focuses on teaching techniques. recognizing common misalignments and client issues. Hours: Friday 12-6, Saturday 10-4, Sunday 9-3.

Sat,Sun 7/30/2011 - 7/31/2011
from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Levels 3 & 4 exercises on the Mat with Kelly Letalien of Strong Tower Pilates.

Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun 8/11/2011 - 8/14/2011
from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
4 Day Mat Intensive training levels 1-4 with Kelly Lippert at Quantum Fitness 760-449-7515.