Posts Tagged ‘ work ’

Olympic Fitness/Pilates for Athletes

February 12, 2014

Sochi Olympic Fitness

Most days of the year, I consider myself an athlete. And THEN I watch the Olympics…Wow!

Pilates can be key in Olympic fitness. There are many athletes who have said they practice Pilates and any injured athlete who has been to physical therapy (likely all Olympians) has probably done Pilates exercises. Read about Julia Manusco here who does Pilates in her ski boots. She won a bronze yesterday in Alpine Skiing Ladies’ Super Combined – Slalom.

While I get inspired watching these athletes, I have to adjust my thinking about the body’s movement and form. All the sudden I’m seeing knees that never straighten, tons of lumbar extension, high impact landings and shoulders up to ears. This is not Pilates! But, this is how these sports are performed. The teacher in me gets ideas about how to help them find balance in their bodies after using them in such a demanding way.

I bring to you: Olympic Fitness/Pilates for Athletes, a series of posts about Pilates and fitness training for Olympian athletes. (Go here for the one I did in 2012.)

Note: Think of these as creative posts about the movement of an extraordinary athletes as it pertains to Pilates, not prescriptions for success. I am NOT an expert in these sports and have not met these people. I am not a physical therapist. I’m simply someone experienced in movement who can’t turn it off when watching the games.


Working on Your Shins–First Reader Question!

January 27, 2014

A reader of mine posted this question to Facebook a few days ago. (He’s also my husband, y’all, and I did NOT put him up to this, surprisingly. What a cutie!)

Hello Mrs. Prime,

I have a question. I couldn’t think of anyone else better to ask, so it’s up to you to help me out here! I saw your post/picture on ‘optimal seated posture.’ Well, to be honest, I’m tired of sitting. I don’t have a fancy standing-optional desk. Is there any benefit to kneeling while working at my desk as a break from sitting? It feels pretty good to stretch out my hip flexors (…if that’s a thing). Thanks in advance!

-A fan

Here is the picture I posted about optimal computer posture for anyone who missed it:


Dear a fan,

Nice thinking! Theoretically, giving the muscles a break from the position they are in for an extended time is a great idea! Realistically, it may not be beneficial to stay and work in this position.

Kneeling can feel like a nice break from sitting, but most people’s bodies won’t allow them to stay in proper kneeling position for too long, especially when they are focused on something else.

1. For people with tight hip flexors, keeping no crease in the hips for a long time can require a lot of glute action and become very tiring if you haven’t built strength there.

2. If the hips do crease, chances are the front hip bones will fall forward and the tail will reach backwards and up (called an anterior tilt). If the pelvis stays this way, you can get tight in the lower back. (See picture below; the one on the right is anteriorly tilted).


3. Depending on the height of your desk, you will probably have to raise the arms very high in order to type while on your knees. This will likely cause stress in the upper traps and other neck muscles.

What to do?! MOVE. I suggest to my clients that they stretch for even just three minutes every hour they spend at their computer. Some simple options:

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch


Pec Stretch


Keep the questions coming!




June 18, 2013

There’s a first for everything and last week I did my first podcast with the wonderful Joel B. New on his podcast, Something New. We discussed what it’s like to be a singing, dancing, acting, Pilates instructor and then sang one of Joel’s songs.

Download here (Episode 13) or enjoy below.


Olympian Sessions: Just for fun!

August 1, 2012


So, I’m obsessed with the Olympics. It would be a huge challenge and dream come true to train or even work out with athletes of that calibre. Though I’m no sports expert, here’s what I would work on with these inspired athletes to ensure that their training keeps them balanced and functional in life. Click on the links to see videos!


Variations on Swan: Rowing requires a slightly flexed spine and tons of abs, so I would make sure their thoracic spine gets some good extension as well.

Single Thigh Stretch on Reformer and Extensors on the Chair: These athletes train for hours sitting with their legs out in front of them. It’s important for them to stretch the hip flexors and continue to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings.


Standing Cadillac work, Side Splits on Reformer: Being in the water creates a different pull on the body than when moving through real life with gravity. I would focus on functional movements to increase balance.


Back Rowing: I would take advantage of these athletes’ grace and choreographic strengths. This exercise also mobilizes the spine fluidly, hopefully releasing them from the sometimes rigid lines they must maintain when in the air or balancing.

Mermaid/Side Bends: Though I am sure they have strong obliques, I’ve been watching any and all gymnastic events and am surprised by the lack of true lateral flexion in the spine (side bending). These exercises isolate that direction and sculpt the waist.



Commitment, Clarity, Excitement

June 8, 2012

Teachers might learn a lot from the acting world. The one thing I’ve found to be imperative in both my acting projects and teaching Pilates: Commitment.

I’ve been working really hard (I’m a workaholic)–reading, practicing, teaching, watching others practice, observing and taking class at all kinds of studios. Guess what: I still don’t know everything that’s out there to know in terms of Pilates.

1. The body is complicated.

2. New research on the subject is infinite and always changing.

3. There are so many different opinions and styles of the method.

Still, I know a lot more than the average person does about Pilates. And yet, my classes still seem to be hit or miss.

I recently taught a class of 28 people and was forced to speak loudly, move quickly and take over the room. I said cues like they were FACT and not only  suggestion. Even adding drama on the last few reps seemed to engage people more fully. That same day I taught a class of 6 people that felt messy, clouded and, quite frankly, boring.

I’m learning that I don’t have to have ALL of the answers to be a good teacher. It’s my job firstly, to be safe, and secondly, to tell my students everything I do know so that they can get the best workout possible. Commit to what you do know and joyfully seek out answers for the rest. Speak like you have a class of 50–not 10, be present so you can be clear with your words, get excited and rock these people’s bodies. Commitment and excitement are key in creating solid classes. I can only go up from here!


Pilates Basics, Part 1: The Spine

March 13, 2012

In observing classes during my training and teaching classes these past few months, I’ve come to realize that a Pilates class can be totally useless if your teacher does not explain basic Pilates terminology. As with any sport, hobby, or skill, there is a universal vocabulary that makes it easier for Pilates instructors and other folk to communicate.

Don’t worry, no need to take notes. A great instructor will be able to guide a beginner with excellent cueing and will continue to refine the advanced student, but I thought I would outline a few of these basics in layman’s terms for those looking to get the most out of class.

Let’s start with the spine, which is a central point of focus in Pilates. Joe Pilates said:

“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”


  • Cervical-Neck area, upper seven vertebrae
  • Thoracic-Middle, next twelve vertebrae
  • Lumbar- Lower, bottom five vertebrae

SPINAL FLEXION: Similar to a cat stretch; the head and tail are curling to the front of the body, engaging the abs (in any position).

SPINAL EXTENSION: Similar to a cow stretch; head and tail are reaching up and back from the body, engaging the back muscles (in any position).

SPINAL ROTATION: Wringing out the waist and rotating the torso to one side while maintaining a stable, still pelvis.

Next Up, Part 2: The Pelvis.


Don’t forget: We will have a Pre-Patty’s Pilates for Performers on March 17th at 11am at Ripley Grier. E-mail to RSVP, or like heels together, toes apart Pilates on Facebook.

Make A Joyful Noise (and breathe)!

November 30, 2011

If the weather ever gets cooler (and stays that way), one of my favorite things is to step outside and inhale a breath of invigorating, sharp air. That breath of fresh air can’t happen without the exhalation before–which is a passive action in our daily lives.

In exercise and in Pilates, an active exhalation is vital to getting the most out of an exercise. Typically, the exhalation is on the most active part of the exercise, also known as the the “work.” This is meant to help you!

When you voluntarily force air out of your body, certain abdominal and thoracic muscles have to contract to bring the abdominal wall in and the ribs down. We tend to lose our rib cage and abdominal connection when we get tired, so exhaling is a simple way to keep those things engaged and get your mind off of whatever else might be burning! Also, exhaling expels all the bad stuff (tension, impurities, recycled and unusable air) and creates the room to inhale again and give your muscles the fresh oxygen they need.

So, my advice to you is to USE that exhale. Make it noisy! Try to blow out a candle in the middle of your exercise, sigh a Pilates sigh, practice your Pranayama, give a gentle or great giant grunt…Whatever breathing method you choose, don’t underestimate the power of exhalation.