September 1, 2023 

Join us every 2 weeks for the coming year as we do a semi-deep dive into Pilates and Wellness topics to bring you a little closer to your best self in a way that might be sustainable.  Every 2 weeks we will tackle another letter of the alphabet and 14 topics that begin with that letter.  You can experiment with any or all the topics over the next 14 days to see if any appeal to you and stick.  When something resonates, stick with it as we add the next letter.  Before you know it, you will have a habit stacked your way to wellness one letter at a time.

A is for… Alignment (and more)

In my teacher training program, we were taught that the teacher’s role is for alignment.  So, to kick off our program of Wellness and Pilates thoughts, we will begin with alignment.   

1. Alignment 

This can refer to aligning your goals with your actions or alignment on the Pilates apparatus.  On the apparatus, we align to the shoulder blocks, the mat, the box, the poles, or anything the teacher finds useful.  Whatever apparatus we are on, step one, before we move, is always to check the alignment and adjust as needed.  That pre-flight setup is equally important for your goals!   Take the time to clearly identify your goal and then align the steps you will take into actions that will help you achieve those goals.  For example, if your goal is to achieve a split but you’re focusing all your workouts on core and strength exercises without stretching, your goals and your actions are not aligned. I chose that as my illustration because of this post from 2020 on goals and splits.  I am still making slow and steady progress towards this goal.  Take some time to figure out what your goals are and then make lists of specific steps you need to take, whether they’re exercises, activities, or mindset shifts to help you achieve those goals.   As the saying goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. 

2. Attitude 

Having the right attitude is a superpower.  The quote “fake it till you make it” illustrates how attitude can propel you towards your goals.  If you believe you can, you will. 

3. Acceptance 

We live in a fast culture and have very little acceptance of the fact that things take longer than we would like them to.  Accepting where we are at any given point in time and realizing that we’re taking steps towards a goal is one of the keys to achieving goals and is a huge component of self-care. 

4. Activity 

One of the most critical keys to health and wellness is being active.  We are not getting enough activity in our days. Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your routines. It may be nice to sit on the couch at the end of a long day and just binge-watch some Netflix but if you habit bundle your Netflix addiction with walking on the treadmill or even walking in place while you watch TV, you’ll get a little more activity than you currently do and that’s never a bad thing.  Think of ways that you can do this like walking to run some errands, parking further than you might normally park, or going for a walk instead of a meal with a friend.  The list can be endless, so make it and start moving more. 

5. Action 

In the words of Elvis, a little less conversation a little more action.  We often feel like we must have a complete plan strive for perfection or talk an idea to death before we begin and never end up doing the thing.  Just start anywhere.  Take one step then another and action snowballs into more action. 

6. Audiobooks 

Recently audio books have transformed my day.  They are the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.  I easily walk for an hour at a time lost in a book and killing two birds with one stone. I have listened to more than a dozen books this summer and feel like I am expanding my intellectual horizons as well as my physical ones.  If you have not yet dabbled in audiobooks or podcasts, I strongly suggest you give it a try.  I use the free Libby app from the library, but people love Audible as well.  Hit me up for my summer reading list! 

7. Apples  

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  An apple is one of the easiest ways to incorporate more fiber in your diet, address a sugar craving, or a crunch craving, and fill you up with some healthy vitamins. I like to cut my apples into bite-sized wedges and keep them with me for an emergency snack.  Add some nut butter for an even better snack to keep you satisfied.  Read this article to learn more about the wellness benefits of this humble fruit.    

8. Apple Watch 

Calling all techies. You know I love me a gadget, and my Apple Watch was a game-changer for me. Competition is a healthy thing even if the competition is with yourself.  Setting goals and tracking your activity with your watch from day-to-day week to week month to month year to year can keep you motivated when we tend to lose sight of the fact that we are doing more today than we did this time last year. If you have a friend with an Apple Watch, set up a competition like to I do with my son.

9. Aromatherapy 

The benefits of aromatherapy and ancient and numerous.  We love to diffuse the oils in the studio to freshen the air, protect us from illness, and create a special space.  They can be used in a carrier oil for lotion and massage, ingested for a host of health benefits, and to enhance general well-being.  If you don’t have any on hand yet, get a starter kit like this one and discover your favorites.  If you want to learn a bit more about the oils, you can check out this bestseller, or this guest-authored blog post.  My personal favorites include Grapefruit and Frankincense and a blend called Joy. 

10. Acupuncture 

I am a huge fan of and believer in acupuncture.  I discovered it when I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and have used it on and off over the last 15 years to help me address inflammation, back pain, hot flashes, skin disorders, migraines, you name it!  I see Dr. Tae at 5 phases of acupuncture in Manhasset.  We have also heard great things about Dr. Ma, in Port Washington.  If you’ve never tried acupuncture and suffer from any ailments that you would prefer not to take medication for, I highly suggest you check out these gifted providers. 

11. Airplane 

This exercise is either a fan favorite or a hard pass.  I love it because the feeling of flight makes you feel like a kid again.  But it is also one of the ultimate full-body exercises on the Cadillac or Tower.  While the airplane board is designed to assist with the exercise, I find the board can also make it much harder.  We only have one board in the studio so book a private session and see for yourself! 

12. Armchair 

The armchair is hands down my favorite piece of Pilates apparatus. This piece of equipment has the lightest springs in the studio.  The back of the chair provides support so you can work on lifting up and out of your core, making it ideal for mastering exercises that may be too challenging on different apparatus.  I currently only do swakate on the armchair.  It’s a great piece of apparatus if you are pregnant.  It was intended for people who have neck and shoulder injuries and as a result, it is often neglected (unfairly) in the studio.  We like to say “nobody puts baby in the corner” when we pull her out because the armchair gets shoved in a corner in Pilates studios lucky enough to have one.  I like to grab a quick 5-minute workout on it between clients 

13. AB series 

The ABS series, or as Ania says the AB serious. This series of five exercises has so many variations, so many places it can be executed, and so many interpretations we wrote a post about it.  Here is a little-known fact: in Joe Pilates’ book Return to Life, only the first 2 exercises in the series were part of the mat work.  That said, the series of five is rarely left out of any session in a classical studio for good reason.  It is one of the most effective ways to work your core in multiple ways.  We love it in one of those love-hate relationship kind of ways. 

14. Awareness 

I like to think of awareness in the world of wellness as meditation for those who have not yet mastered meditation.  We tend to be on autopilot so often as a byproduct of the culture we currently live in.  We don’t take time to be aware of how we feel, how somebody else might be feeling, or what’s happening around us.  Awareness in the Wellness world is simply taking that pause and recognizing or sitting with a situation for a beat before rushing on to the next thing. 

So now that you have this less that comprehensive incomplete list, I suggest you take one point that spoke to you and for the next week or so explore it more deeply.  Or explore a different idea each day. 

The road to wellness is about the journey, not the destination.  We often focus on the body, but true wellness is mind, body, and spirit.  I’d like to help as your wellness concierge in addition to your Pilates instructor for the next year.