Exercise of the Month: Finding Neutral Pelvis

All my clients and students hear the words “neutral pelvis” a LOT. And if you have ever taken a Pilates class then, most likely you have heard this term. But, what IS neutral pelvis?

A neutral pelvis is finding the natural curve in your spine and doing movement and work with your spine in a completely decompressed position. A neutral pelvis is the keystone for an aligned body that moves efficiently.

Instead of “tucking” or “over-arching” the pelvis and lower back, working with neutral is the most ideal and can actually help decrease or eliminate back pain. When your vertebrae are stacked up on one another as opposed to compressing into one another, then there is less room for back pain to develop. Think about a neutral pelvis creating space between each vertebrae, and now imagine muscles supporting this spacious posture — as opposed to muscles overworking and keeping the body in habitual compressed positions.

Now, with that information, I will introduce one exercise to find neutral and one exercise to introduce neutral pelvis into stabalized movement. These are both beginner exercises but are SO important to learn and revisit even as advanced students.

1. Pelvic Tilts
imageLie flat on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and have your feet on the floor. Place your hands on your hip bones. Tilt your pelvis so that you are imprinting your lower back into the floor, feel your hip bones rocking under your hands as you do so. Now extend your pelvis the opposite way, arching your lower back off the floor and sinking your tail bone into the floor. Keep going through this tilting-extending movement. Now find somewhere in the middle, where the lower back isn’t pressing into the floor but isn’t overarching. You will feel the hip bones in the same plane as your pubic bone and you’ll be able to imagine that you can balance a full glass of wine on your lower belly. This is neutral. This is a decompressed lower back. image_1

2. Knee Raises
Begin with a gentle exercise with neutral pelvis. Keep your hands on your hips to make sure you are not moving your pelvis. Engage your abdominals by wrapping lower abs, narrowing your waist, and drawing navel to spine. Pelvis does not move! Exhale and slowly lift one leg up into table top WITHOUT moving your pelvis. Inhale and place that foot back onto the floor and switch legs. Go through this 20 times (10x each leg). Feel how your abdominals work to support this lengthened and decompressed spine instead of your pelvis moving around or falling back into bad postural habits.image_2

Next month, we wil progress these exercises to intermediate/advanced neutral exercises.

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Belly Basics 101

bdpI am so excited to be appearing at Birth Day Presence SoHo on April 29th to give a presentation on prenatal fitness!

I will be presenting along with several other experts, all sharing our tips and tricks for caring for your core before and after birth. It’s a free event, with great prizes, great information, and a lot of fun.

The details:

When: Mon, Apr 29 from 6:15-8:30p.
Where: Birth Day Presence SoHo Studio
580 Broadway, Suite 304, SoHo, NY. (bet. Houston and Prince St.)

Fabulous workshops, snacks, and a great raffle!
Anyone who attends will receive $15 off childbirth class sign-up (*new students only)

6:15 Arrival, snacks and drinks
6:30 “Unfolding the Mysteries of Pediatrics” with Dr. Blanchard of Premier Pediatrics
6:50 “Top Pain Relief Techniques for Labor ” with Jada/Anna of Birth Day Presence
7:05 “The Do’s & Don’ts of Prenatal Fitness” with Charlotte Blake of Mama Moves
7:25 “Pelvic Floor Workshop” with Isa Herrera of Renew Physical Therapy
7:45 “The Benefits of Doula Care” with Jada/Anna of Birth Day Presence
8:00 “Baby Gear: What you really need to buy (and what you don’t!)” with baby gear gurus, Jamie Grayson, The Baby Guy and Jennifer Link of Sweet Pea Baby Planners
8:20 Raffle* including a $50 Gift Certificate to local Maternity store Bump and a Joovy stroller

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Exercise of the Month: The Teaser

The teaser is one of my favorite abdominal exercises!  I’ll first explain the teaser peal-back which is called Balance Point and then I’ll explain the infamous Teaser.

Balance Point

Balance Point

Balance Point (good for beginners or new-moms who are just beginning to do flexion exercises again after healing their diastasis)

Begin in the Balance Point position which is: balanced with knees bent and legs off the ground, in a C-curve, balancing just off your tail-bone, and wrapping hands around the back of your thighs. Keep your elbows bent and feel biceps working as you first exhale, draw navel to your spine, and then slowly, SLOWLY articulate through your spine and control your torso down to a supine position. Make sure each vertebra articulates one at a time.

Inhale and breath wide into your back before your exhale to slowly peel your spine off the floor, C-curving up into your Balance Point position.

Repeat 5x



Teaser (good for anyone who wants to feel a challenge and good work-out through Pilates)

Lie on your back with knees bent into a table-top position.  Inhale to prepare.

Exhale and slowly lift head and shoulders up as you reach navel to spine, imprint your lower back into the mat, and peel your spine off the mat. Slide shoulder blades down your back as you reach your arms forward.

Inhale and lift your chest while keeping your C-curve in your lumbar spine.

Exhale and begin to scoop your lower abdominals back as you roll back onto the mat, sequencing through the spine.

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5 tips for not turning into a winter blob

raisehandRaise your hand if the last thing you want to do is work out this winter.

I do realize it is March but here in NYC, we are *still* in the dead of winter and I don’t know about you, but it is leaving me feeling quite lifeless. It is such a chore to drag myself to the gym or to Pilates class or to a dance class. Once I’m there, I always get into moving my body and exercising but getting there has been the hardest part.

I think I have found my winter tricks to remain active and strong while we all wait for that burst of energy and sun this spring.  This is what I’ve been doing and am sharing with you as my top 5 tips for not turning into a winter blob:

1. Schedule yourself.

Instead of flying by the seat of my pants, I’ve been looking at my calendar every Sunday and scheduling workouts.  I have been putting these workouts in my Google Calendar and have set it to remind me 24 hours in advance and again a few hours in advance.  Making movement a part of my schedule–as opposed to vaguely planning for a few days during the week–has really helped me keep my commitment.

2. Sign up for classes or make appointments that have a 24-hour cancellation policy.  

In order not to lose money, I definitely show up for a session even when winter hibernation is calling my name. Signing up ahead of time is making a tangible commitment that I find easier to stick to. Continue reading

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Get Floored, Baby!

charlotteblake2forwebYou CAN have amazing sex after giving birth!

Through my work with mothers of all different backgrounds I have discovered that one of the biggest concerns you face is the strength and vitality of your pelvic floor, and the fear that your sex life has been forever altered. This is why my health and wellness practice has evolved into a specialization in abdominal diastasis and pelvic floor rejuvenation.

The truth is that you CAN restore your pelvic strength and have amazing sex after giving birth!

I am going to be offering several group workshops in this area in 2013 and want to invite you to the first.

When: Sunday, January 27th at 2:00-3:30pm
Where: SHAG Brooklyn: 108 Roebling St.
Register and learn more: shop.weloveshag.com/getflooredbaby

Our time together will include:

  • Introduction to Pilates based exercises for your core and pelvic floor
  • Explanation of why having a diastasis can compromise your pelvic floor and why it is important (and possible!) to heal and strengthen both
  • Breath work instruction
  • One-on-one guidance among a community of like-minded women
  • Clear explanation of what exactly those Pelvic Floor Rehab “toys” are and how you can use them to help you heal

My goal is that everyone who attends will be given a full opportunity to get answers and learn take-home tools to heal and emerge…fully empowered and ready for the next chapter of your life.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me directly. I would love to speak with you about this, and hope you will join me!


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Exercise of the Month: Hip Bridge

The Hip Bridge is my absolute favorite exercise for awakening and activating your glute muscles.  When done correctly, you’ll feel your hamstrings engaging first and then your glutes firing.  This exercise is perfect to do while warming up before a a run, a work-out, or as part of a regular exercise program.

1. Start with your spine in neutral along the floor, knees bent, and soles of feet on the floor.

2. Tilt your pelvis so your lower back presses into the floor and begin to pour weight into your feet, activating your hamstrings.


3. Continue to press your feet into the ground as you lift your hips up to the sky.

HIPBRIDGE4. The challenge is to keep your back neutral.  When your spine stays nice and long and does NOT go into spinal extension, you will have to fire your glutes to begin lifting your hips higher until your hips are in extension.


5. Refrain from over-arching your back, splaying your ribs, or rolling up onto your neck.  Find, what we call in Pilates, your thoracic shelf (upper back) to roll up on.


6. Keep abs engaged the entire time to keep pelvis stable and spine supported.


Make it more challenging!


LEGLIFTHBBegin marching one leg up into tabletop at a time WITHOUT dropping hips and without letting your pelvis rock side-to-side.  Your supporting leg glute muscle will really have to work and your obliques on the opposite side will have to work a lot to help keep your pelvis stable.

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My new studio

breath and bonesOne of the reasons I am super-excited about 2013 is because I have moved to a new studio in the Union Square area. The new space will allow me to work with more clients, offer a wider variety of services, and really dive deeper into my Pilates, wellness, and maternal health work. It is truly what I have been wanting in my business for a long time.

Now that I have my own space I am expanding my one-on-one wellness coaching and Pilates services, and would really love to speak with you about how my support can help you achieve all of the goals you have for your health this year.

Contact me today to find out more about my programs, or to schedule a time to discuss what might be a good fit for you.

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