Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What is Cupping??

We have recently added the bodywork technique of cupping to our list of services.  Several clients have asked what it actually is especially after it was brought to light by many athletes in Rio’s 2016 Olympics.

Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. There are many ways in which suction in the cups can be created. One method involves swabbing rubbing alcohol on to the bottom of the cup,then lighting it and putting the cup immediately against the skin. Flames are never used near the skin and are not lit throughout the process of cupping but are only a way to create heat that causes the suction within the small cups.
Image result for cupping
Once the suction has occurred the cups can be gently moved in a gliding motion across the skin. The suction in the cup causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping can be compared to an inverse of massage rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. When combined with Massage Therapy, Cupping is a tremendously helpful technique for pain as well as many other conditions. In general, stagnation of circulation in the muscles and body tissues will lead to pain and illness. Cupping improves the circulation in these areas and pain is alleviated and underlying health issues are often relieved. Cupping helps such issues as pain, arthritis and other conditions such as asthma,insomnia,high blood pressure and more. Cups are usually left in place for about 10 minutes while you relax.

written by Rene Reynolds, massage therapist certified in cupping

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Everywhere!

I drove by a pumpkin patch yesterday, and thought "It's that time of year".  I need to get my pumpkins to put by the front door.  They are not only for decoration but also can be used in some of your favorite foods.   Pumpkin is being put in everything during this time of year... coffee, donuts, soup, and even ravioli.

Image result for pumpkin images
Did you know that pumpkin is good for you?  Pumpkin is a nutrient dense food filled with vitamins and minerals but low in calories.  It is high in fiber so will keep you full longer.  Pumpkin contains beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A and essential for eye health.  The vitamin A also helps the body fight infections and recover from the common cold faster.  The beta-carotene in the pumpkin is also good to help the skin look younger.  The pulp can even be used in a facial-mask.

Here is a recipe for pumpkin bread with a little added protein from greek yogurt.  Let us know what you think!

Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Bread


2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (or softened coconut oil)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and mix until well blended
  4. Add the eggs, pumpkin, yogurt and vanilla.
  5. Add flour mixture; mix until blended.
  6. Spoon batter into two loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
  7. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Try adding 1/3 cup of chocolate chips.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

We asked some of our clients what their favorite Pilates exercises are.  Here are a few of their responses.

Bridging... because it helps my lower back and stretches my back all along the spine. - Nancy
Image result for pilates bridge

Short spine on the reformer and rolling like a ball.  Both exercises give a great core/ all body working helping with stability.  Rolling like a ball also helps with balance.  I also love the plank.  It works everything especially is moving while holding the plank.- Kathy
Image result for pilates short spineImage result for pilates rolling like a ball

Jumping! Great cardio workout.  And short spine because it stretches my entire body, releases stress, and improves breathing. - Laura

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why Pilates?... Why Polestar Pilates?

Why Pilates?

I'm often asked how I ended up where I am.....like many others in the fitness world, I've had personal injuries that have led my interest in specific trainings to find healing. On my path, I was l led to Polestar Pilates. I was drawn to them because of their mission to create life changing movement experiences. Polestar Pilates philosophies have been an integral part of my work for several years. God made us so marvelously complex and yet so simple at the same time!  Moving the body as it was designed brings strength and healing.
Positive movement experiences are always the mission!  We focus on how the body moves and functions to be in the best shape in order to live life to your fullest potential. Helping you find your inner strength is truly our goal.
I've been so blessed to be a part of many others journey on their path to wellness.  Over the past 23 years I have seen clients overcome various obstacles. Here are a few inspiring examples!
*Clients that have been able to reduce or eliminate medications
*Pro athletes adding Pilates to balance out their training programs
*Chronic pain clients that are so fearful to move when they begin, then realizing freedom of movement when function is restored
*Post operative and post rehab clients that learn how Pilates can bridge the gap to wellness during recovery
*An 87 year old great-great grandmother who is as spunky today as she was 17 years ago when we began working together
*Spinal cord injury client that has gained range of motion
*Clients that have seen an increase in bone density to the effect that they've been removed from the label of osteoporosis
*Clients with MS that have been able to maintain independence and movement even through flares of their condition
*Clients suffered from strokes using Pilates for functional rehabilitation

Pilates changes lives. To some it is simply another form of exercise to add variety to ones routine, to others it is a groundbreaking revelation that blows their mind!

Why Polestar?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Staying Hydrated During These Hot Days

We have compiled a list of tips to stayed hydrated during the summer.

-Always keep a bottle of water with you to remind you to drink.
-Start and end your day with a glass of water.
-Enjoy a glass of water before each meal.
-Thirst is not the best indicator that you need to drink water.  If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. 
-Drink water before you exercise or go out in the heat is a good rule.
-Watch your caffeine and alcohol consumption.  Drink a glass of water for every glass of wine or cup of coffee you enjoy.
-Eat foods that contain water... watermelon, yogurt, oranges, salads count.
-Drink enough water to go to the bathroom every two to four hours, and your urine should be a light color.

Don't like plain water?  Try this spin...

Lemony Herb Cucumber Water

1/2 cucumber
1 lemon
2 sprigs rosemary
1 handful thyme
1 handful mint
Wash and thinly slice cucumber and lemon.
Fill a pitcher with water.  Add cucumber slices, lemon slices, and herbs.
Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Baked Avocado Rolls

While on vacation, I saw these on a menu as an appetizer.  I thought it sounded good especially during the summer months.  Luckily a fellow instructor pointed this recipe out to me.  A little healthy recipe to try for an appetizer or maybe even for a Fourth of July celebration.

Baked Avocado Rolls
Baked Avocado Rolls

3 medium avocados, diced
½ Cup red onion, diced
½ Cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
3 Tbs cilantro, chopped
½ tsp kosher salt
½ lime, juiced
8-10 egg roll wrappers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl combine the avocado, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, kosher salt, and lime juice. Toss gently to combine.
Position egg roll wrapper so that the corner is pointing toward you. Add roughly 2 Tbs of avocado filling to the center of the wrapper. Fold the bottom corner up, ¼ of the way, over the filling.
Fold both sides in toward the center. Brush the top corner edges with water then roll the egg roll closed.
Placed finished egg rolls on a sheet pan, spray both sides with cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes. Flipping halfway once the bottoms have browned.
Serve with Sweet Cilantro Sauce.

Sweet Cilantro Dipping Sauce
1⁄4cup white vinegar
• 1⁄2teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• 1⁄2cup honey
• 1⁄2cup chopped cashews
• 2⁄3cup fresh cilantro
• 2garlic cloves
• 2green onions
• 1tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1teaspoon ground black pepper
• 3⁄4teaspoon ground cumin
• 1⁄4cup olive oil

Puree all above in a blender.

Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


What is that ladder looking thing?... and oh my, those pedals move!

That is a common question for both veteran Pilates clients and the newcomers.
The CoreAlign is a unique piece of equipment that is a blend of mind-body, cardio, and strength.  It improves balance, posture and movement patterns.  This revolutionary apparatus was developed by Jonathan Hoffman, a physical therapist, who believes the body heals and functions best when it moves in a balanced and sound way.  It cannot only be used to challenge the devoted Pilates client, but also for musculoskeletal rehabilitation.  Through training, the CoreAlign creates controlled stability and dynamic mobility of the body.  Many of the exercises put the body in a up-right position, which many clients like.  Stabilizing muscles instantly are recruited to perform even the basic exercises.
The next time you are in the studio ask the instructor if you can try it out.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Oh the Pilates Chair!

When we ask clients what their favorite piece of Pilates equipment is, the response is rarely the Pilates chair.  It is a very challenging piece of equipment and can be a little scary with some exercises. 

The original chair, or "Wunda Chair" was designed by Joseph Pilates to be used at home in a small NY city apartment.  Early designs even converted from a Pilates chair in to a chair that someone could sit in.  Over the years modifications to the original chair have been made... increase chair's height to meet the height of the cadillac, adding the number and resistance of springs, splitting the pedals to make 2 pedals instead of the 1 pedal on the original chair, and adding resistance bands hooked on to the chair.

Unlike on the reformer and cadillac, exercises on the chair are done sitting or standing which make for an athletic kind of exercise.  There are many beginner and intermediate exercises that can be done on the chair, but there are numerous advanced exercises that require a lot of body stability.  The Pilates client that wants a challenging workout on the chair will need to have a strong core, good upper body and leg strength, and scapular and pelvic stability.  An exercise series on the chair is good for not only the regular Pilates client, but also runners, bikers, skiers, and basketball, football and soccer players.  Many of the exercises involve explosive movements while maintaining stability. 

Try the chair... you may love it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pilates & Golf

The weather has gotten warmer and the grass is greener... time to schedule those tee times.  Is your body ready to play some golf?

Approximately 60% of all amateur golfers experience injuries playing the game.  Amateur men golfers sustain injuries most commonly in the low back, elbows, hands and wrists and shoulders. The most common sites of injury for amateur women golfers are in the elbows, the low back, shoulders, and hands and wrists.

The golf swing is an unnatural, challenging, and total body movement—but in an asymmetrical way.  Imagine doing an oblique curl to just your left side 100 times and you may get a sense of the toll golf puts on a player's body.  Pilates exercises can help create symmetry and coordination, increase muscular endurance and improve range of motion.  Specifically, it focuses on core strength, alignment of foot and leg, joint and spinal flexibility, shoulder rotation, and arm, wrist and hand strength to improve impact with the ball. 

Pilates will advance a players game, prevent injury and improve general fitness.  Pilates is good for you... golfer or spectator!

Corey, K. & Corey,P.  MD.  2006.  Create a Pilates Conditioning Program for Golfers. www.ideafit.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Barre Safety

I found the following article on Ideafit.com to be very interesting... especially after recently taking a barre class at a studio that I will leave unnamed.  I discovered some of the same things that are mentioned in the article... quick contracting movements, extreme tucking of pelvis, moving too fast to make sure exercises are done correctly, too many clients for instructor to ensure correct form and alignment.
In contrast, I feel that the barre classes taught by ISP instructors put an emphasis on correct alignment and maintaining a neutral body position.  Our teaching is more fluid with a focus on lengthening versus constantly contracting a muscle or group of muscles.  With a background teaching Pilates and understanding the fundamentals of Pilates this helps us teach barre in a safe and effective way.  Barre and Pilates make a good team.  Try it out!

Risks (and Limitations) of Barre

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 04, 2016

Susan Grimm, 60 years old, in Orlando, Florida, says, “When I opened the door of the 1 Body Studio, managed by Leslee Bender, I felt at home. I had been turned away before from an expensive local barre studio. After two C-sections and much weight gain, I felt horrible about myself. I tried health clubs but always felt out of place. In 1 Body Studio’s barre class, I could go at my own pace. I try to come three or four times a week. I’ve lost 40 pounds, but the weight loss is icing on the cake. I feel stronger now. I hear my body more now than ever.”
Grimm’s story points to one reason why barre classes are growing in popularity: While participants can train together, they receive individual coaching and work at their own pace. Another reason for barre’s success? Using a prop helps many students feel confident they can accomplish exercises that otherwise would be too intimidating. Bender noticed that this was true in Grimm’s case.
“People can feel success doing barre,” observes Michele Olson, PhD, CSCS, professor of exercise science and a researcher at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Montgomery, Alabama. “It’s not over-the-top cardio like HIIT, which is demanding. Barre classes use positions, postures and exercises that target muscles in the trouble-zone areas such as legs, glutes and abdominals, making people feel satisfied that they’ve challenged those ‘challenging to change’ body areas.”
Tricia Murphy Madden, co-creator of Barre Above™ and fitness director at Denali Fitness in Seattle, says, “Barre is a current fitness obsession because its focus is muscular endurance. Bodies respond rapidly, because for many people it’s their first time doing endurance training. And it’s low impact, upbeat and easy to follow.”
Statistics support the noticeable barre boom. Barre and Pilates are the top two group exercise activities among women, according to the Fall 2014 IRHSA Health Club Consumer Seasonal Trend Report. Barre has grown so quickly that the Sports& Fitness Industry Association began collecting data on it in 2013. From 2013 to 2014, total participation in barre across the United States rose by more than 10% (Sports& Fitness Industry Association 2015). Currently, barre programs are providing the boost to the fitness industry that CrossFit® stimulated a few years ago. Fitness facilities are adding programs to avoid losing members to studios.

Risks (and Limitations) 
of Barre
Barre may involve two isometric-style training elements: pulsing and static holds. Isometric training has benefits, but also limitations and risks.
Pulsing —contracting a muscle in a range of motion up to 2 inches—is close to an isometric contraction, and the burning sensation means the muscle is primarily using anaerobic glycolysis to fuel contractions, explains Olson. With pulsing, increased strength occurs only at the precise range where pulsing occurs.
A static hold is an isometric contraction that improves the ability to hold a position longer without reaching muscular fatigue. For example, when you hold a crouched position in an activity like gardening, you’re maintaining a static hold.
Pulses and static holds should be done for 10–30 seconds after the muscle has been prefatigued with full-range-of-motion exercises—which is very challenging.
Risks of isometric-style training include lightheadedness or dizziness, explains Olson. Deep exhalations that release a lot of carbon dioxide reduce lactate levels, which can make participants light-headed until they adapt. People are also prone to holding their breath during long isometric contractions; this can cause blood pressure to rise and then fall quickly, leading to dizziness, light-headedness or “seeing stars.” Reminding students to breathe is essential.
There are other risks to barre if proper form is not maintained: People can develop or exacerbate lower-back pain, and they can place too much stress on joints (hips, knees or ankles) and connective tissue. Externally rotating the legs or doing toning exercises on the balls of the feet can worsen this. Bender says, “Participants should work in their personal neutral alignment so they can move in and out of exercises without restricting the lumbar and thoracic spine. People should also avoid doing excessive external rotation, overusing hip flexors and tucking the pelvis.”
Olson agrees: “Extreme positions are unnecessary and unadvised. Tucking [the pelvis] is overtaxing on the low back and sacrum, and it pushes soft tissues and spinal alignment into ranges that cause too much compression and shear force.” Jenn Hall, Atlanta-based director of education programs for Lebert Training Systems™, in Canada, and creator of LTS LeBarre, recommends teaching all exercises initially in parallel and then introducing them in external rotation when people have developed sufficient strength to maintain good alignment.
“More and more people are suffering from barre injuries because they are not training in proper alignment,” says Michelle Austin, creator of the Fluidity® Method and CEO and founder of Fluidity Management, LLC, in Indialantic, Florida. “. . . They’re often using posterior tilts and training small muscles before large muscles. If people train in misalignment, they make their pelvic floors weaker, their balance gets worse and [they develop more] back issues.” Some experts think it is essential for barres to be height adjustable and able to support a participant’s weight in 360 degrees for a workout to be effective. Other experts think portable barres and wall-mounted barres can be equally effective for training. To learn more about different types of barre programming and equipment options, see the Web Extra.
To read more about how to create a safe and effective barre program, please see "The Barre Boom Bonanza" in the online IDEA Library or in the November-December 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


Sports & Fitness Industry Association. 2015a. 2015 Barre Single Sports Participation Report. Silver Spring, MD: Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Sports & Fitness Industry Association. 2015b. 2015 Sports, Fitness and Leisure Activities Topline Report. Silver Spring, MD: Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Pilates & Running

One of our favorite clients, Donnie Cowart, is a runner training for the Olympics.  Here is what he said about Pilates and how it has helped him be a better competitive runner:

This winter marks my 17th year as a competitive runner. Heading into the Olympic year with hopeful expectations. I have always used running to challenge myself and push my limits. Year after year I learn new lessons or sometimes I relearn old lessons. One lesson I am often reminded of, and I think every runner can relate, is I need to stay balanced. All my running often leaves me off balanced and weak in certain areas. After listening to people say for years that some NFL players take ballet I decided to broaden my horizons and I went to a Pilates class. Basically I wanted to challenge myself in different ways and just see how my body would respond. After one class I was hooked. In just a short time I had better posture, I was breathing better, my glutes and hips were better balanced. Pilates has proven to challenge me week after week and year after year. From one on one classes with Tiffany to Jump classes with Hope. I have gained better range of motion, better power and explosiveness. I am a faster runner when I’m balanced and more importantly I’m a healthy runner when I’m balanced. Pilates has given me all the tools to stay a balanced healthy athlete. I’m glad I started pilates when I did.

Congratulations to Donnie on his recent gold medal win in the Pan-American XC 10k!  Donnie won with a time of 31:07!  We are so proud of you!  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blake's Story

One of our amazing clients, Blake Johnson, is an inspiration to all of us.  Here is what he has to say about his experience at ISP:

"I would like to take a moment to thank Amy Dixon at Inner Strength Pilates for taking the time to work with me over the past few months. I was injured last February leaving me paralyzed the chest down. I've tried a lot of different therapies, all of which has been a new experience. Since dealing with Amy at Inner Strength Pilates studio, I've learned to be more in touch with parts of my body. While I still can't move from the chest down, I feel there is definitely energy moving throughout my body. Amy has taught me how to focus, and to see that energy moving through my arms and legs. It is very important for me to keep that memory going through my body for any future improvements. The equipment Amy has, has helped me focus more on ranges of motion, and motor skills while taking the weight or removing gravity from my arms while I work. Amy has also worked extensively with my shoulder which has been in pain for quite some time. I'm in pain from tightness of some of the muscles that aren't being used anymore and Amy takes time to work that out and I feel better every time I leave her studio. I've never taken time to try Pilates in the past but I'm very thankful that Amy has agreed to work with me and show me some things that I've been missing. I can see how Pilates would be helpful for anyone regardless of their health. So once again thank you Amy Dixon and for everyone at inner strength Pilates for allowing me to come into your studio and work. Pilates is definitely a tool for your over all well-being."

We are honored to support Blake Johnson and invite you to learn more about how you can help.   Follow Blake's journey on his Facebook page, Blake is Unstoppable.


Monday, March 7, 2016

What to eat before a Pilates class

We get asked what clients should eat before taking a Pilates class.  One of our instructors, who is also a nutrition coach, suggests a few options:

cottage cheese
peanut butter or other nut butter

Try to eat 1 to 2 hours before class.  The recommendation is to eat atleast 2 hours before a jumpboard class in order to burn fat and not the sugar.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I thought this would be helpful to many clients.  As instructors, we hear, "Am I in neutral?" or "Is this neutral?".  A few tips to help out.

Thank you to Karyn Staples for allowing us to share her knowledge.

How To Find Neutral Spine


How to find your neutral spine aka “the optimal alignment for your body”:

  • Lie on your back, feet in parallel and about 2-3 inches apart, knees bent. Relax your shoulders and with your next exhale, feel your tummy tone. Keeping your abdomen as firm as possible, maintain a small space between your low back and the mat.

  • Draw your ribs down. Think of drawing your ribs away from your clothing.

  • Challenge yourself and your ability to stay organized by lifting your arms towards the ceiling. As they lift, keep the tone in your abdomen and your ribs connected.

  • If you feel your back arching and ribs flaring, you’ve reached your end range of motion. Practice moving maintaining your neutral spine to build up strength and improve your posture!


About the author

I am a physical therapist, Polestar Pilates educator, wife, mom of 2, world traveler, business owner, and researcher. Helping people move better is my passion and Pilates is the way to make it happen!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy New Year!!

One of our instructors posted the following on her Facebook page. 

In light of the New Year, I've had some thoughts on my mind I wanted to share. I do believe in new beginnings, fresh starts. I do however get troubled by what I hear and see at the start of a new year. Being in the business I'm in, I feel like I should tell you my feelings on being "healthy".
As many of you know, I have lost both of my parents. My Father died from Alzheimer's and my Mother died from Dementia, kidney disease and heart disease. They were 68 and 71. Frankly, I got scared. I started to imagine what I wanted the rest of my life to look like, but based my my family history it didn't look to promising. At the time of my Mom's passing my husband Troy was on medication for high blood pressure and he pretty much felt like crap. I had also had a bout with high blood pressure myself brought on by anxiety. Things had to change.
I started practicing yoga. Life changing at the time. Not only did it teach me about the importance of meditation, I heard something that I will never forget. HONOR YOUR BODY. I now had a new perspective and one that needed to be shared.
How does one "HONOR THEIR BODY"?

Nourishing your mind, body and spirit. So, I decided to start teaching Pilates again. I started learning about disease prevention through whole foods. That's when I was introduced to Juice Plus. Life changing for me as well. The power of fruits and vegetables. Simple and it made sense for my family.
Food is powerful. Food is beautiful. Food is healing.
We as a society are so hyper focused on our outsides, that we forget about our insides! Especially this time of year. What if we made changes for our bones, joints, muscles, organs, our minds and our spirits.
My word for 2016 is NOURISHMENT. I will nourish my body with food, ALL KINDS, but especially with more fruits and veggies. I will nourish my mind through learning, cooking, and meditation. And I will nourish my spirit by trusting God's plan for me and by using the power of prayer to lift others up.
I have been so blessed in my life. I have an amazing family, I have wonderful friends and most of all I am a child of God. May God bless you in 2016 and may you find nourishment. xoxo

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yummy soup to try now that the weather has gotten cold... healthy too!

After having seasonably warm weather on Christmas day, it is finally feeling like winter.... 18 degrees when I woke up the other morning.  Here is a perfect recipe to try on those cold nights.  I also love that it can be frozen for a future dinner.

Autumn Vegetable Soup

Serves 6-8 as a starter; 4 as main course

2T olive oil
3 medium carrots, medium dice
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2C 1/2 inch cubed and peeled butternut squash ~half a 2# squash
1/4 t ground allspice
pinch cayenne pepper or more to taste
kosher salt
1 Quart low salt chicken broth *I use veggie broth*
1 14.5 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 C lightly packed, coarsely chopped kale *I sometimes sub with spinach*
1 C low salt canned chickpeas

Heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. more.  

Add the squash, allspice, cayenne and 1 t salt and stir to combine.  Add 
the broth, tomatoes with their juice and thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the kale and chickpeas and cook uncovered unitl the squash is tender and the kale has wilted, about 10 minutes more.  Discard the thyme sprigs before  serving.  Season to taste with s/p and more cayenne.

Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze for 2 months.

From Fine Cooking Recipes, Sept. 2009