One on one with client, Rebecca Sarnicola.
How did you get started with Pilates?
Pilates was introduced to me by a personal trainer I knew while at school in Boston (2005). When her gym started introducing pilates classes to clients, (being the workout enthusiast that I am) I jumped right on the opportunity. I fell in love with pilates on that first session.
Overall, how was your pregnancy?
Conceiving was not easy for my husband and I. We waited a long time (ready for IVF) before we got pregnant. So, we took it as a miracle when it finally happened. I think this made my pregnancy easier for me, at least mentally. But don’t get me wrong, the first three months was an adjustment and the rest of the months was a journey. However, I kept active. I worked out 5 days a week. Eventually, exercise felt like comfort. Endorphins helped me a whole ton and staying active made me feel strong and made the 9 months fly by.
Do you think that committing to prenatal Pilates helped you throughout your pregnancy and labor/delivery?
Let’s just say I texted Sandi a few days after delivery, first to cancel my session (I gave birth 3 weeks earlier and had a session booked) and second to thank her for helping me throughout my pregnancy. I say this because I knew Pilates helped me stay strong during pregnancy and delivery. Going through pregnancy the first time can be filled anxiety for the unknown. Not to mention, your body changes dramatically for nine months straight and then you have to push a baby out at the end of it.
Pilates helped me stay present. It helped me focus on strengthening my body to minimize the strain of pregnancy and taught me how to work muscles that would eventually help me during delivery. Because I practiced all throughout the nine months, when it was time to give birth, I could say that it was easier than I thought it would be. I was more aware of my body and how to engage the right muscles to help me push a giant baby out!
Now that you are a new mom, what are the biggest challenges you’ve had to face?
Being a mom is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. However, adjusting to becoming one is a big challenge. My experience so far is overwhelming. All the new responsibilities that comes with it like breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, sleepless nights, anxiety from “Is my baby okay? Is he breathing?”, and all the other new mom problems…is a lot to handle.
How are you adjusting?
I think the biggest challenge of a new mom (besides just pushing a giant baby out of a tiny hole) is finding and trusting that your mommy instinct is the best out there. It’s overwhelming when a million people have their own opinion on what to do post partum, how to take care of your baby, and if you should breastfeed or not. It took me a while to separate myself from the noise and just learn to take it day by day and trust my own instincts. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your baby and growing family.
How did your body feel returning to Pilates for the first time after giving birth? Was it difficult to motivate yourself to return?
I couldnt wait to get cleared for exercise after 6 weeks! I can’t speak for everyone, but I always need to move and sweat and feel strong. So after 6 weeks of adjusting to a new baby, I couldn’t wait to go back to the gym and the studio! However, I had to remind myself that just like pregnancy, it will be a journey back to my body pre pregnancy. Although staying active throughout my pregnancy helped me maintain the weight gain to 18lbs, my body still changed in ways I never imagined. But I used that as motivation to go back to being strong and feeling good about my body. One thing I learned throughout this experience is that a woman’s body is so beautiful and incredible. Our bodies are built to endure things we didn’t know we are capable of.
Is there any advice you would give to a first time mom?!
Motherhood is such a special experience! That by itself is something we should all always remind ourselves everyday. Just be present and enjoy every moment of it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t breastfeed, or if you co-sleep, or if you have to go back to work, at the end of the day we are all mommies to a beautiful baby who will love us unconditionally. Just trust your mommy instincts and take it one day at a time. It’s such a beautiful journey! Enjoy and have fun!
The Pilates Project is now offering Ab Rehab, a monthly postnatal workshop specifically designed for moms…
Ease back into your workout safely in this one hour Postnatal Pilates workshop! Having a baby is an incredible feat and challenges your body to the max. In this workshop we will explore common conditions associated with pregnancy/postpartum & what it takes to start your recovery process. The hour will focus on safe exercises for the abdominals and pelvic floor, regaining strength in your arms, legs and upper back and realigning your hips. You will also learn how to discover and help heal Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) or “mummy tummy”, a common condition that effects many new moms. This workshop will help you bring your whole body back into alignment and balance and give you the strength you need to move throughout your day.
For my last blog post, I wanted to talk a little bit about intention. Intention is an important part of Pilates. There are six principles of Pilates – centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and fluidity. None of these principles can be applied to exercises without intention. Many exercises have very simple movements that initially look simple, but simple and easy are two very different things. When combined with proper alignment and the use of the right muscles, every exercise can become extremely difficult. Since a lot of the same exercises are repeated in every Pilates class, it seems like it can get boring after a while. In my first few days, I would watch the instructors and think, “wow, it must get terribly boring to guide clients through the same exercises all the time.” I’ve come to learn that a) there are so many exercises and variations of exercises that no two classes ever have to be the same b) Pilates has no end goal. There is no nirvana or absolute perfection that can be reached in the Classical Method. You can always reach more, execute more control, move with more fluidity. This is what makes Pilates constantly exciting. Musicians and dancers devote their lives to practicing their crafts and improving, knowing that even if they are the best in the world, they can still get better. The same concept applies to Pilates. There is always more.
As for myself, I know that there is a lot more work for me to do. Nevertheless, I have improved immensely over the past few weeks. I feel much stronger, especially in my noodle arms. Of course, I feel much more connected to my core. At dance, I can do the warm-up core exercises with ease and control. I find it easier to stand with better posture, and I find myself thinking about my “neutral spine.” However, I know that my journey with Pilates has only begun. I hope to continue Pilates throughout this summer and into college. Maybe one day, I’ll even become a certified Pilates instructor…
After my second week of taking Pilates classes, I’ve started to notice that my arms feel stronger. I’ve always had weak arms, and thankfully, Pilates has offered me a full body workout. Working with the arm springs on the tower has proved to be a major challenge. I watch the springs wobble rapidly as my weak arms struggle to do chest expansions and arm circles. Luckily, the benefits of taking Pilates on a regular basis is that I can start to see gradual improvements.
Additionally, my prom was this week, and just like every other high school girl, I wanted to be in my best shape. However, unlike every other girl (or so it seems), I knew that I was not going to be able to magically drop a few waist sizes over the course of a few days. I chose to focus on my posture instead.
Posture is an important aspect of Pilates because the maintenance of proper alignment is an essential tenet of all exercises. It’s easy to have good posture and alignment in Pilates class because the instructors are constantly reminding you and correcting your body placement (or at least that’s what good teachers do). The challenge is to bring the proper alignment outside of the class and into the rest of the day. I often find myself hunching over my desk or slouching while standing in lines. Therefore, I made it a goal to take my proper alignment into the rest of the world, and I really found that it made a difference on the day of my prom.
It’s interesting to notice how Pilates translates to everyday life. Maybe one day you notice that you’re standing up straighter or you find it easier to carry the load of groceries. Pilates may not be as vigorous as running a marathon or as high-risk as playing a contact sport, but it is easy to notice a difference that it makes on your everyday life and well-being.
My name is Patricia Magistrado, and I am the intern at The Pilates Project for the next month. As a graduating senior at Biotechnology High School, I get to spend the last month of the school year at an internship of my choice. My interest in Pilates and my background in ballet ultimately led to my decision to work here.
I have been dancing ballet for almost fifteen years now. It’s a form of art that requires a tremendous amount of flexibility and strength. Ever since Joseph Pilates began teaching in the United States, ballet dancers have been studying his technique as a way of cross-training and gaining additional strength and body awareness. Today, Pilates has become the most popular method of supplemental exercise for dancers of all disciplines.
While working here as an intern, I’ll have the opportunity to take class on a regular basis. Over the next few weeks, I will have the opportunity to observe the effects of Pilates. Expect some weekly blog posts about my experience.
I’ve never taken daily Pilates classes before, but I start to notice a difference almost immediately. I have struggled with experiencing soreness in my hips after a long day. When I am dancing, I often feel that I am “gripping” the muscles in my hips, which causes them to feel sore. This week, I have experienced almost no such discomfort. In my Pilates classes, I am often reminded to “relax” my pelvis and focus more on my core muscles.
I find that certain exercises are very challenging for me, while others feel much easier. As a dancer, I’m always using the same muscles while consistently neglecting others. I notice that many movements in Pilates can be translated into steps that are common in ballet. For example, in the Swan, my back reaches a position that is similar to an arabesque. The single leg pull with straight legs is very similar to a grande battement. However, while I may be doing similar movements, I am learning to approach them with a different attitude. All movements, even a simple leg lift can be initiated from the core. I am using different muscles to execute the same movements that I do in ballet. I’ve also started learning about the importance of breath. In ballet, I often find myself holding my breath as I’m dancing. In Pilates, I am instructed to coordinate my breath with my movements.
Frankly, I am quite surprised with the difference I can already feel with myself. I feel more coordinated and much more aware of my muscles when I’m exercising. I’m excited to see what happens within the next few weeks.