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The Pursuit of a Workout Routine: Creating a Habit

The Pursuit of a Workout Routine:  Creating a Habit

Triceps Side Bends with Leg Lifts Pilates Corps Physique Level 3 Workout Routine

            If you want to make exercise a habit, pick an activity you actively enjoy!  If you do something you love, the joy you derive from it will help you to maintain the commitment to it.  Many studies explore the science behind behavioral formation, and they focus on the psychological pattern called the “habit loop.”  Any routine is made up of this three-part loop: a cue, a behavior and a reward. The cue, or the "trigger," is what initiates a particular behavior, the routine is the actual activity itself and the reward is the stimulation/enjoyment the brain likes in order for it to remember the habit loop in the future. Within this particular structure of habit formation, the reward is key to maintaining a habit, as the reward ensures that the habit loop is remembered.  If an individual enjoys an activity, then the pleasure he/she derives from it can function as the reward part of the equation that is needed to form a habit.  So choose an activity you enjoy, do it, and the fun you derive from it will keep you going!

            Our Two Cents Worth!!

START SMALL!  If you haven't exercised in years and want to get in shape, start slowly.  So if you like or used to like running, please do not go out and run five miles "cold turkey!"  If you like swimming, don't spend an hour in the pool the first time you dive in again!  And give yourself permission to "rest" during any group class you start.  If you start small and work up to your desired exercise goal, you're more likely NOT to get discouraged and quit for good.  Do you remember the movie “What About Bob?” (1991)?  Bill Murray’s character, Bob, fully embraced the concept of “baby steps” to change his unwanted behaviors and instill new ones…and it worked!  Of course this was all done in the spirit of comedy, but in reality, we find it to be very true.  Small, incremental changes do work, and they serve to keep you motivated as opposed to discouraged.  So, take your cue or trigger to start a new exercise routine, but please DON’T plan for or expect a grand overhaul.  Rather, introduce new routines and behaviors a little bit at a time. A new routine of fifteen minutes a day will do more for you than an attempt at 60 minutes a day that turns into a once a week, 60 minute-a-day workout!  Workouts that overdo it and render you too sore, too tired or too frustrated to workout for the next three or four days are not good ways to start.  Don’t be afraid to ease into a habit so that it is not a shock or an impossible addition to your LIFE routine.

  Pilates Workout Strength & Challenge Level 3


            Most important:  don’t forget the REWARD!  The “Pleasure principle” trumps what we all call "will power" EVERY TIME.   Please reference the Psychology Today article below for more proof of this!  You simply MUST find something above and beyond the exercise itself to motivate you to stick to your routines and not just give up.  As we mentioned in the last blog, movement is meant to be JOYOUS!  It is meant to make you feel GOOD!  It is meant to make you feel ALIVE!  But if that alone doesn’t yet do it for you, here are some ideas:
1)    Plan to give yourself a “reward” for every time you complete, let’s say…. 10 minutes of exercise….  This can be a point system, a star system, or anything you want it to be (but try not to make it a "food" reward!).  Then, decide what you will REWARD yourself with once you hit a certain number of points, stars, etc…  NOTE:  No cheating and, more importantly, no skipping the reward!
2)    Try to start with something you enjoy --  Then it can be something that you look forward to, as opposed to something you dread.  If there is one part of a workout that you like more than the other, save that part for last so that you end on a high note!
3)    Add in activities or workouts that you’ll actually DO – You may NEVER love cardiovascular exercise, but you know you NEED to do it!  So the trick is finding the type of cardio that you actually will do!  Don’t get discouraged, and keep looking until you find something that you like.

And finally!  Remember that doing SOMETHING is better than nothing!  Don't have time for 45 minutes?  DO 15!


15 minute workout!  Strong, Svelte and Savvy:  Legs and Butt!

We’re continually offering a two-week free trial at UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com.  You can stream videos from 10 minutes in length to 55 minutes in length!  Read more about it here!
Here are the articles used in the research of this blog:

Aeon Magazine:        http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/mark-rowlands-play-childhood/

Psychology Today:   http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201112/the-neuroscience-perseverance

NPR Books:     http://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them

Friday, October 18th 2013

The Pursuit of Routine -- Why Cultivate a Habit in the First Place?


Creating a Pilates Exercise Routine


We all know that one of the seven deadly sins is sloth.  In our efforts to avoid that label, we develop more active pursuits.  The concept of sloth actually comes from the combination of Acedia and tristitia.  Acedia was the old Christian concept of what is usually termed boredom. The word denotes a literal “lack of care” and was one of the original eight cardinal sins in early Christian theology before it was eventually merged with tristitia (sadness) into sloth.   Now you know! When talking about forming beneficial habits, it is often hard to persevere to a rigid structure that will allow you to get into a routine. Forming habits is perceived as a chore or a trial that must be borne in order to gain a particular benefit, be it health, wealth, etc. This is primarily because the activities that are supposed to become habitual are not a source of enjoyment to the person who is partaking in them. If a specific form of exercise, say the Stairmaster, is one routine that you would like to develop a habit performing, but you don’t derive any intrinsic pleasure or enjoyment from it, then it is harder for you to maintain the continuous form of dedication needed to make the Stairmaster a routine in your life. The Christian progression of the idea of acedia to tristitia to sloth demonstrates the mental processes that kick in when an activity that fails to stimulate is repeatedly performed. The person does not care about the activity, and when there is no external or internal satisfaction felt when completing the activity, then it is a short path to completely abandoning the commitment to the activity altogether.


            Our two cents' worth!!

In your efforts to find the workout regime that is right for you, first and foremost find something that does not bore you!  Runners who run avidly do it because it’s invigorating, not boring!  People who play tennis regularly can say the same.  So why on earth would you force yourself to do something so monotonous that it drives you to boredom (Acedia) and then sadness (tristitia), and then finds you just sitting doing nothing (sloth)?  MOVEMENT SHOULD BE JOYOUS!  Most people don’t believe us when we say this, but we actually get bored VERY EASILY!  This is one of the reasons why Pilates is so perfect for us.  It affords variety, balance, and something to THINK about while working out.  Truly, if we had been mandated years ago to ONLY use the Stairmaster as our form of exercise, we likely would have devised some sort of choreography on it to at least help the time pass more quickly and prevent boredom!  And that was our goal with UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com.  We constantly come up with new workouts so that no two are identical.  You should never be bored, sad or sloth-like!

Variety IS the spice of life!!!


We’re continually offering a two-week free trial at UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com.  Read more about it here! 



Tuesday, October 1st 2013

Pilates and Core Strength-- more than just your abs!!!



Core awareness and postural alignment are components of a healthy body and good physique. The essence of Pilates helps facilitate both core strength and improved posture. The benefits of core strength go way beyond flat abdominals. Your core is made up of not only your front and side abdominals, but your entire back as well. Pilates helps to achieve a control of the core by integrating the trunk, pelvis, hips and shoulder girdle.

One of the best ways to look and feel thinner is to have good posture. Pilates helps create better posture by firming not only your abs, but your back too. Pilates work is performed with proper alignment and attention to posture. By establishing optimal spinal alignment, you can facilitate better circulation, improved lymphatic flow and increased stamina of the muscles along the spine. Toned spinal muscles help you continue to lose weight via increased metabolism.

            Pilates is also instrumental in creating an even musculature, which is in stark contrast to more conventional exercise methods that focus on developing short, bulky muscles. It improves muscle elasticity, which lends itself to the visual of long and sinuous muscles.

            The choreography of Pilates is a combination of flexibility and strength training with postural awareness and control. The versatility and the levels of intensity within the exercises in Pilates gives exercisers the freedom to choose workouts that can be tailored to their specific needs, whether it be weight loss, postural improvement or core strength.

            For starters, try Morning Posture Prep or Dynamic Stretch and Tone !!  You can also enjoy a FREE TRIAL AT UPW.com and enjoy these workouts during your trial.

For more information about muscles which comprise the core (Hint! There are more than you think!), click here for all about the core!


Tuesday, August 20th 2013

Slimming Down with Pilates

            Pilates is a fitness system that provides a blend of aerobic and strength conditioning while also making a physiological difference for the exercisers. It is an appealing exercise regimen that combines multiple benefits, which include improved strength, mobility, core stability, endurance, flexibility and body control. But one of the recurrent questions that many want to know about Pilates relates to that of its benefits for weight loss. “Will I lose weight with Pilates?” The answer to this question depends on the specific type of Pilates exercise that one practices and the types of Pilates classes attended. Pilates is an extremely flexible exercise system with hundreds of Pilates exercises, and modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Increasing the intensity of Pilates workouts can lead to the body conditioning that many exercisers desire.  SO! Don't think that in order to get a great, fat burning Pilates class online that you must do a Level 5 workout, the Level 2 and 3 workouts still have fat burning effects and can be great Pilates classes to build lean muscle and help you lose weight... read on!

            The basic principle of weight loss is the differential between the calories consumed and the calories burned. You must expend more calories than you consume in order to burn body fat. One of the most efficient ways to increase the calorie burning potential is to develop muscle mass. Every pound of muscle put on requires approximately 50 calories per day to maintain. Pilates is and Pilates exercises are strength training. The two common Pilates applications that are used are the reformer and the mat- based exercises. Reformer pilates uses springs and cables to provide resistance from a number of angles while the mat exercises are performed with little to no apparatus besides body weight. Working with resistance to increase strength and thus lean muscle mass, Pilates helps to create an increased metabolic rate that is crucial to long- term weight loss and visible physiological change.

            MANY of the workouts we’ve created on UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com work on both fat burning and muscle building/toning!  With Pilates, LEAN (not bulky!) muscle is built, and thus you are both burning calories in your Pilates workout and creating your body to be a fat burning machine.


For more information about the “fat-burning zone”, click here!




And this article helps highlight how Pilates can help you lose weight!  Focus:  LEAN MUSCLE!



Friday, August 2nd 2013

Online Pilates Manuals are now available for EVERYONE!!!!

FINALLY!!!  Online Pilates Instruction Manuals are ALL up on UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com!  While our Pilates instruction online manuals have been available to upw.com ULTIMATE members for a while now, the digital versions of ALL Pilates on Fifth/ Pilates Academy International manuals are available for immediate download.  OF COURSE, if you'd rather order a good ol' fashioned bound manual, you can do that too!  BOTH are available here! If you are an ULTIMATE member of upw... scroll down!

Read on about our online manuals for Pilates instruction:

The Pilates Academy International manual has been designed to educate students, to empower apprentices, and to provide a constant reference to Pilates instructors long after they've completed their courses.

  • Each exercise is clearly listed on each page, along with the Tier, Target Muscle Group and Spinal Motion for easy referencing
  • The Goal of Each Exercise, Prerequisites and Contraindications are clearly listed at the top of each page
  • Exercise Set Up: The starting position for each exercise is broken down, along with the necessary equipment (or mat)
  • Each movement of the exercise is outlined with the corresponding breath
  • “What to Watch For!” section creates a quick guide for the instructor of common pitfalls of each exercise.
  • Modifications are listed, which can be implemented to either make the exercise more accessible or increase the intensity or difficulty
  • A list of props that can be incorporated in this exercise is provided so that variety can be added quickly and easily
  • A Biomechanics section so that target muscles can be shaded in interactively, facilitating learning
  • Primary mobilizers and stabilizers are listed for quick and easy reference
  • To aid in the jump to practice teaching, a simplified “cues at a glance” provides simple prompts

Appendices at the back of the manual include a comprehensive list of all exercise in chart format, information on designing an introductory lesson, and an overall workout template to aid you in designing workouts.

Finally, the manual's index provides an excellent way to look up exercises quickly. Each exercise can be located by name, by Tier, by Target Muscle group, and by Spinal Motion.

Here's a sample:

NOTE!!!  If you are an ULTIMATE MEMBER of UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com, all online Pilates instruction manuals are INCLUDED in your subscription!  Select EDUCATION VIDEOS from the Purple Menu Bar to select the exercises you wish to learn and you can download the manual pages there.

Thursday, July 25th 2013

Katherine & Kimberly Corp's business tip is featured in a new book!

Katherine & Kimberly Corp's business tip (#109) is featured in JJ Ramberg's new book, It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business out today!  

What's our tip? Well, it would be unfair if we told you!  Why not buy the book?!  Our tip is #109, which leaves 182 additonal tips for the small business owner.  We've been going through the book and enjoying it thoroughly.  JJ Ramberg (who is a fellow alumnus of ours from Duke University!) has assimilated an amazing array of business professionals across a wide range of industries and created a must have for the small business owner.  It's like a crash course for the aspiring entrepreneur!  Check out the video of our initial meeting at Pilates on Fifth with JJ!


Thursday, October 18th 2012

How to REALLY squeeze the inner thighs for the best inner thigh toning exercises EVER!

Last week a devoted viewer aksed us a GREAT question about targetting the inner thighs.  Here is her query:


WAIT!!  Before you dismiss this "problem" as irrelevant to your situation, think again!  When YOU "squeeze your inner thighs", what are you thinking about?  Are you thinking about squeezing your knees?  If so, you just might be missing the upper most inner thigh muscles... key muscles for stabilization.  On top of that, if your are super skinny or your hips are naturally wide (we're talking bones here) meaning the Q Angle is large (What's the Q angle?), squeezing knees will be awkward or even cause pain.  So what to do?

Quick anatomy lesson!! Check out the drawing illustration below, taken from the AMAZING "Trail Guide to the Body" (you can purchase it here)!  As you can see, many of the adductors (inner thigh muscles) attach WELL ABOVE the knee, so why just focus on squeezing the knees?     

Our solution?  

Our FAVORITE prop for really feeling and intensifying inner thigh work is the Pilates Small Ball.  It comes with a little straw so you can inflate it yourself, just to the desired level that you wish.  If you don't want to place it as high as, say, where the pectineus and adductor brevis attach (see drawing), then it is also effective to place the ball mid thigh, around where adductor longus attaches to the femur (again, see drawing).  If you don't want to spring for the $8.95 for the small ball, then you can ALWAYS roll up a towel or washcloth and place it between your upper inner thighs when you are doing your workouts.



Tuesday, October 16th 2012

Anti-Gravity Buttsky Workout: The Best Butt Lifting Pilates Workout!


Back and Butt toning with Ultimate Pilates Workouts Strong, Svelte & Savvy Series
We are now fully into Fall, but we firmly believe (ha ha, pun intended) that there is no reason that butts shouldn't stay bikini ready all year round! We found a great article on cosmopolitan.com with great butt lifting exercises, but why wait until April or May, and then FRANTICALLY try to get the butt of your bikini dreams?  Start early.... like now! In fact, we created an "Anti-Gravity Buttsky Workout".... a 15 minute workout of exercises that will keep your butt lifted like it’s been injected with helium all fall and winter long!  You'll find exercises that target the same muscles the side lunges and the kettlebell swings featured in the article.  ...And if you like the Kick Back  and Hip Extension exercises, then try them with an exercise band to kick up the intensity in our "Strong, Svelte & Savvy:  Legs and Butt with Band" workout.  If you do these workouts regularly, you’ll keep your backside where it should be....UP!!!    And what’s the downside?  You'll have to buy a great new pair of jeans to show off your hot new buns!
Want even more toning for your tushy?  Then add "Back and Butt Toning", also from the Strong, Svelte & Savvy Series, or the Lean Legs and Butt for an extra "WOW" effect.
Kick Back as featured on Cosmopolitan.com done with an exercise band
Thursday, October 11th 2012


One of our viewers recently wrote in, asking us if the principles of muscle confusion can be applied to Pilates.  Programs like P90X have soared in popularity due to the emphasis on Muscle Confusion, and their practitioners have seen amazing results. “Muscle Confusion”, most basically, is derived from two training principles:  the Specificity of Training Principle and the Overload Principle. Both of these principles can be applied to Pilates so that you will continue to reap all the benefits, including flat abs fast, lean legs and a lifted butt, and a stronger core.

The Specificity of Training Principle states that the body will adapt to the specific demand that is placed on it.  If you’re a Pilates beginner, it may take a while for your body to adapt to the new exercises you’ve given it, which is a good thing!  You won’t hit an exercise plateau as quickly as someone who is already fit.  However, once you’re able to do the Pilates exercises correctly in your class, while you will maintain your current level of fitness if you keep doing your Pilates workout in the same way, in the same order, etc., you will not necessarily get stronger and stronger.  This is where the Overload Principle comes into play.

The Overload Principle states that to continually adapt, the body must be placed under a stress that exceeds the body’s current capabilities.  In other words, with Pilates exercises, one must continually work at his/her own edge as opposed to work in the range that’s comfortable.  (That’s why your instructor is continually cueing you to pull in your abs more, to work more deeply, etc.)  This is also why certain exercises should always feel hard!  For example, once your body adapts to “The Hundreds” with your legs bent, you can then straighten the legs, and then proceed to lower them from there…. get it?  And with an exercise like “The Teaser“, the possibilities abound!  Most Pilates exercises can be made either more difficult or more intense relatively simply.

Upon researching more about Muscle Confusion online, we found two interesting articles, one for and one against the idea of muscle confusion.  Both have useful tips you can use (or not use!) in your teaching of Pilates.  One article (http://www.articlesbase.com/muscle-building-articles/how-the-muscle-confusion-principle-can-maximize-your-workouts-911684.html) LOVES the idea of muscle confusion, stating that even if your goal is NOT to build muscle, (and most Pilates enthusiasts are avoiding muscle bulk) you will achieve your goals much faster applying the muscle confusion principles.  On the other hand, the following article (http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Biggest-Muscle-Building-Fallacy-in-Bodybuilding&id=553415) scoffs at the over-emphasis on muscle confusion, pointing out (very convincingly) that if you do not allow your body time to give your brain valuable feedback, then you can’t really accomplish anything.  We agree!  You need to know where you are to really know where you want to go.  Be patient!

So, what’s the final answer?  YES! You absolutely can apply the principles of muscle confusion to Pilates workouts as well, of course dependent upon the type of Pilates that you are doing.  If you are going to a studio where the lesson is exactly the same every time, then, as you pointed out in your email, your body will adapt and eventually plateau to the extent that you stop seeing results.  However, if you are continually varying your Pilates workouts and routines, focusing on different muscle groups AND increasing the difficulty level appropriately, then you have effectively introduced the principle of muscle confusion and thus made it impossible for your body to adapt!  But remember, whether doing Pilates online or in a studio, you don’t want to change things up too quickly!!  Give your body enough time to give you valuable feedback.

For those of you who are utilizing our website for Pilates online, www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com, we recommend balancing your workouts between total body workouts and targeted workouts, such that are found in the Strong, Svelte & Savvy Series.  If you were to do one of the longer total body workouts on one day, and one of the targeted workouts for arms, legs, butt, back, etc., on alternate days, and then throw in some cardio 2-3 times a week, your muscles would be confused, but balanced and happy as well!  Keep the same Pilates training routine for 2-3 weeks, then increase the difficulty.

Incorporating props is another way to keep your muscles COMPLETELY confused!  The stability ball, foam roller and BOSU(R) will introduce new challenges with both core stability and strength, while the Pilates Ring and Stretch Band can be used to intensify the workload of certain muscle groups and simulate the Pilates equipment, respectively.  It’s all about how you put everything together!!

The bottom line is, even if you find a Pilates video or Pilates DVD that you love, don’t do the same one all the time!!  Our site has over 25 free mat workouts, so we encourage people to try different ones so that different muscle groups are continually being worked and challenged, and new exercises are continually being introduced.  Our new Pilates iphone app (debuting soon!!) will have workout plans included, so follow one of those for great success!

Wednesday, April 11th 2012

How to maximize your Pilates personal training and group class revenue during a recession

During this tough economic climate, Pilates instructors find themselves with a smaller client base than they did two, even three years ago.  For instance, at our New York studio, Pilates on Fifth, our numbers are still down about 30% from what they were two years ago.  Ouch!!  But we are not alone.  We are fortunate to know Pilates studio, Yoga studio, and even spa owners around the country, and most are experiencing a similar situation.

So then, the big question is “how do we Pilates instructors retain our clients and thus maximize our revenue?”

Let’s start with what NOT to do!

1)  Take your discouragement with your personal financial situation with you to the studio, the home of your clients, the gym, etc.  After all, it’s PERSONAL training, and your personality is a large part of what helped you retain the client in the first place!  So remember, it’s your personality that could lose them as well.

2)  Talk about yourself and your personal life.  Now is the time to make sure that you are focused entirely on your client or the students in your class in their hour.  Phoning it in will not gain you clients or help you retain them either!!

3)  Raise prices unnecessarily in your attempt to make up for the decrease in clients.  While it might be necessary to raise prices due to increased costs you might be incurring, make sure you know exactly why you are raising the prices, and if you do, make sure that the service you are delivering eclipses the percentage increase tenfold!

That being said, let’s talk about the more positive side of what you SHOULD do!!

1)  Be completely invested in your clients’ progress in results.  If you don’t invest in them, how can you expect them to invest in you?  Take a moment to ask yourself if you’ve seen them make progress in the past two months.  If the answer is no, then think of what you can do to program more effectively.

2)  Mutually re-evaluate your clients’ goals.  Let them know that you want them to reach their goals, whatever they may be.  Additionally, by setting goals together, you can motivate your clients to make their appointments and show up both in body and mind to each and every lesson.  After all, we don’t want our clients phoning it in either!  Goal setting also allows you, the instructor, to create benchmarks which you can then use to chart your clients’ progress.  Once they see their own records of improvement, they’re more likely to keep at it.

3)  Bring your A++ game to the table every lesson or class, every time.  No excuses!  We recently had a conversation with our top instructors at Pilates on Fifth, and across the board, we noticed that regardless of teaching style, our best instructors are the ones who are excited about the hour, keep the energy up, and keep their clients moving.  Ironically, in doing so (and we all agreed on this!) the hour FLIES by… and that’s never a bad thing, right?

4)  Make it ENJOYABLE!!!  Exercise is one of the BEST forms of stress relief, so keep that in mind!

All in all, we’ve noticed that our best instructors have not only retained, but GAINED clients, even with this crazy economic climate.  Hopefully these tips we’ve provided will help others gain and retain lots of clients, both for group mat classes and for private lessons!!!

Wednesday, April 11th 2012