13
Aug

When I first read Return to Life, the line that stopped me in my tracks was “Decide to remain true to yourself.”
To me, this statement encapsulates the very essence of The Method.
There is an unparalleled feeling when you do the work and feel it in your own body, when you show up for yourself. You experience a kind of euphoric high that simultaneously makes you feel lighter than air and grounded, confident and powerful. You feel this way, because when you move your body intelligently, allowing the breath to illuminate the path ahead, you enliven and awaken the spirit. You feel lighter because you become more enlightened, more conscious, more alive!
It comes from a dedication to yourself, so that you can be your very best.

Let’s face it, when our businesses grow and we’re teaching hours each day, our own practice suffers. And it’s honestly the most important component to keeping your own inspiration alive and to embodying the work—to serving as an example to others, particularly to your students. As they transform, so do you. As you observe them and take them through the sequences you design for their bodies, you can truly feel what they’re experiencing because you’ve committed yourself to feeling those same sensations in your own body. And you become a more sentient, more compassionate, more inspiring teacher as a result.
Explore how honoring yourself and doing the work makes you an exceptional teacher and entitles you to a lifetime of learning and upward-spiraling excellence. This is true not only in body and mind, but in spirit—how on any given day, even when you’re feeling tired or low, you can meet yourself exactly where you are with lovingkindness and appreciation. It’s how you’ll invite your body to partner with you in your daily excursions and help you rise to your own occasion. It’s how you’ll be true to you!
Don’t you think it’s time that this joyful feeling of self-fulfillment be yours?
Time to rise to your own occasion and make yourself proud. A great teacher is a devoted lifetime student. When you dedicate yourself to being your best, you inspire the same in others. This superlative interconnection between teacher and student provides each with a mirror and when movement is taught from a place of knowing, experience, and joy, it can be passed along in that spirit of dynamism and inspiration. When executed with finesse and vim and vigor, it tempts the onlooker to want to move in the same way! Why? Because the spirit is coming alive through the body, all from having made the commitment, the decision to remain true to you!_mg_9209_web

23
Mar

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When I first read Joseph Pilates’ Return to Life, the line that stopped me in my tracks was “Decide to remain true to yourself.” To me, this statement encapsulates the very essence of The Method.

There is an unparalleled feeling when you do the work and feel it in your own body. When you show up for yourself,  you experience a kind of euphoric high that simultaneously makes you feel lighter than air and grounded, confident and powerful. You feel this way, because when you move your body intelligently, allowing the breath to illuminate the path ahead, you enliven and awaken the spirit. You feel lighter because you become more enlightened, more conscious, more sentient!

It comes from a commitment to yourself and the practice of following through, so that you can be your very best.

When you honor yourself and do the work, you are rewarded. You are left with a feeling of magic brewing … you are reminded of what it feels like to be truly alive! When you dedicate yourself consistently to a ritual of self-love, it entitles you to a lifetime of learning and upward-spiraling excellence, not only in body and mind, but in spirit—how on any given day, even when you’re feeling tired or low, meeting yourself exactly where you are with lovingkindness and appreciation is how you’ll invite your body to partner with you in your daily excursions and help you rise to your own occasion— to be true to you!

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Don’t you think it’s time that this joyful feeling of self-fulfillment be yours?

Time to rise to your own occasion and make yourself proud. When you commit to being your best, you inspire the same in others–hence the origins of “living by example … ” This superlative interconnection between the self and the world at large, particularly our trusted intimates, provides everyone who chooses to notice the connection– with a mirror. When movement springs from a place of knowing and experience, like the truth itself, it can be passed along in that same spirit of purity, dynamism and inspiration. Executed with finesse, vim and vigor, even the simplest gesture tempts the onlooker to want to move in the same way! Why? Because it’s magic. You’ve turned it on and it’s irresistible.

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24
Jan

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Fear. Loneliness. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Hopelessness. Despair.

Alongside what I still believe is my life-embracing, joyful essence, and moments of uplift from my own inner flame and the love of a few dear friends and family, I’ve been surfing these treacherous waves for the past two years.

We know that Pilates is one of the finest ways to sculpt a beautiful and powerful body, but what about our spiritual selves? What about the life inside that body? What about its truly profound effects on the mind and the spirit?

When I was asked to participate in Mark Pedri’s exceptional film, A Movement of Movement a few years ago now, I spoke about how Pilates had created his method between two world wars as a means to survive life’s twists and turns and hard knocks and to rise above them and thrive. Little did I know then that I would be fighting on my own battlefield not so long after, going into one of the darkest, deepest caves of my life.

Pilates never intended for his method of physical and mental conditioning to be a vanity exercise system. He devised it to help us navigate this human life through the body. It was meant to help us evolve and appreciate ourselves, to make the most of our miraculous machines—body, mind and yes, to enliven–to literally LIFT our spirits.

Yes, undeniably, Pilates can help you to create a body you can be proud of, but in the bargain, it can also save your life.

In January, 2014, I found myself atop a slippery slope and by mid-summer, I had slid into hell. Flying solo in a new city, my mother, who had fought her brave battle with multiple myeloma long enough, decided on July 18th that it was time to leave this world.  To say that I was heartbroken and traumatized doesn’t come close. I was beside myself—literally. Exhausted from the rapid fire, cataclysmic shifts in my life,  from having to grasp how to travel this new terrain, each day, I awoke feeling like I didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. Every rug had been pulled out from underneath me, and while I had a full toolkit, an arsenal of techniques to pull from, I had become so accustomed to sharing them with others, that in some way, it felt like I had forgotten how to redirect that rich water flow back to myself.  Read the rest of this entry »

02
May

Workout. That’s what I want to know.

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When was the last time you worked out and felt so damn amazing that you felt like you had to shout it from the rooftops to even come close to teleporting that singular feeling to the world?
In honor of Pilates Day, this is my homage to the gift that Joe gave the world: The work.
In order to really honor yourself–that miraculous body of yours, move it! Flex and extend it, twist it, cajole it, whisper to it, laugh with it, applaud it, and above all, work it out! Partner with it. It’s yours, and its the only one you got in this life as we know it. It is your house, your true home. So honor it by keeping it happy, and it, will in turn, serve you!
I am often stunned when I teach at large venues and I open the floor for questions, and sadly, one of the most popular I am asked,  is “How do I keep from getting bored, burned out?” And I say I am stunned, because people, if you do the work, if you actually workout and taste the juice, that manna from the Gods at least three to five times a week, and I mean working yourself so well and so hard that you break a good sweat and feel like you kick your own A___, with YES, a capital “A,” then boredom and burnout? Be damned I say. Those are two sorry visitors who will never come a calling again.

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And when I say “break a good sweat,” what I am really saying is, humble yourself. Each and every time. Push yourself out of the nest, outside your comfort zone, beyond your preconceived limits. Let me put an earth-shattering concept before you: What if when you tried something it didn’t look perfect? Would that be okay? What if you stopped worrying for a minute what it looked like and just abandoned yourself to the sheer joy of moving?

I have news for you: You will feel so incredibly proud and fulfilled after trying something that scares you when you pull it off! And that, that’s the magic stuff that builds on itself. (That’s one of the best kept secrets of the work, until you actually start doing it  …) When you give yourself permission to make mistakes and to be human, you know what happens then? You surprise yourself. And more importantly, you feel ALIVE! You return to life. Every. single. time.
And your teaching? Oh man, look out. Because you are evolving through challenge, through this self-imposed adversity, you know that clean, hard work is what your body responds best to, and you then can’t wait to pass it on exactly the same way to your clients! You’re ON FIRE.  And you will know with fairly impressive accuracy what they will be feeling as you make them do an extra ten reps of “knees-off” on the reformer– GRATEFUL, oh so grateful and ALIVE!
And so, on Pilates Day, one of my favorite days of the year, this is my charge to you:
Get on that reformer and do yourself proud. Hop on the chair and try the pull-up with one arm, or going up side, but whatever you do, do it with gusto and work hard in the way Joe intended you to … sign up for a class or a workshop that intimidates you, that you think you’re not ready for … take a risk. Be rewarded. Surprise yourself.
And then the next time I see you, tell me how it’s working out for you–those issues with boredom and burnout.

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No, really, I mean how is it, working out?

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Integrated wellness, fitness and lifestyle expert Jennifer Kries is an internationally renowned mind-body-spirit innovator, credited with being the first to bring Pilates, and The Method, the groundbreaking synthesis of Pilates, Yoga and Dance to a mass audience. Her award-winning videos, The Method Series, Jennifer Kries DVDs, and Fit TV’s The Method Show, revolutionized the fitness community and started the explosive wave of enthusiasm for Pilates and mind/body exercise. Her approach to fitness and wellness is unsurpassed. Jennifer brings unmatched clarity and an extraordinary perspective to her teaching. Jennifer has inspired countless readers, practitioners, graduates of her programs, and viewers alike to embrace her all-encompassing philosophy of movement, art, health, life and energy. Through her inspiring work, she leads people to experience a joyful connection to themselves and to their essential aliveness. Students tap into a reserve of power, clarity and freedom like never before. Her attention to detail, superb teaching style, artistry, and knowledge of Eastern healing techniques makes her one of the most highly sought-after mind-body teachers today.

Catch Jennifer at one of her upcoming workshops in San Francisco, San Diego and Oceanside, California this spring/sumer 2015, or work with her in your own home with her award-winning Pilates Method Master Trainer Series, “The definitive companion guide and one of the most exceptional practice and teaching resources on the market for Pilates devotees and professionals.”

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25
Nov

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In honor of Thanksgiving, which is fast approaching, I know that you’re all buzzing around and collecting your goods for the big feast. And while the feast itself can be delightful when spent in the right company, preparing for it can be very stressful.

I’m here to supply you with a pick-me-up that will get you ready for the fray!  Nothing like a good Pilates exercise to serve as the perfect outlet for some of that nervous holiday energy, right?! Can’t think of anything better than the Open Leg Rocker to remind you of your ability to literally “roll” with the punches while you’re doing battle in the lines at Whole Foods!

This little Pilates wonder not only strengthens your core the way every exercise in the Classical Pilates Mat work series does, but let’s talk turkey (couldn’t help myself) –it also sparks the baby monkey inside you, your kid self that just wants to roll around on the floor, go upside-down, scream and yell to your heart’s content and have someone else cook your Thanksgiving dinner!

In all seriousness, it’s a great reminder to have fun while you’re dealing with the grown-up stressors of life.

Adding to this burgeoning list of benefits,  in just a few repetitions, your entire spine and surrounding muscles get a deep massage, stimulating your cerebral spinal fluid, which calms your central nervous system. Add to this, that your will and determination, as well as patience and fortitude are all invited to this party, because the only way you can successfully rock back up to a balance is by calling upon a high-level focus of mind, and selectively recruiting the muscles you need to execute the movement.

But the very best part of the Open Leg Rocker? When you do it, you look like a harvest “Horn of Plenty!” And by virtue of the very shape you create with your body (like a human letter in the Erte alphabet) you feel grateful for all of the bounty you have in your life, and the gifts you are going to enjoy come this Thursday!

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Bet you’ll never look at The Open Leg Rocker in quite the same way after this … and for that alone, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful.

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15
Feb

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Let me make something perfectly clear: I am not a joiner. I have never been a Girl Scout. I never really played a team sport, with the exception of boy’s soccer when I was 10 years old. I’ve never been in a book club, or part of a sorority. I’ve not been tempted to join a specific niche “group” per se, unless it was to protect animal rights and preserve the environment.

For years, I felt that egos ruled the Pilates community, speaking in diametric opposition to what the work was meant to inspire: transformation and elevation of the human spirit. In the late 90’s, after creating the first ever Pilates videos under “The Method” series, largely responsible for catalyzing the explosive wave of Pilates and mind-body fitness to the tune of over 15 million units and counting, rather than being congratulated and commended, I was rejected by my own “home” community at Drago’s, where Romana’s training program was held. Add to this, that like so many peers at the time, I had been sufficiently tormented by the trademark lawsuit, and felt that the last thing I needed was yet another group or community that could disappoint, or add more strife and stress to my life, ironically surrounding the very thing that I felt so passionate about and which had changed my life and through me, the lives of so many others.

So Why Did I Join the PMA?
After feeling burned and deeply hurt by the “communities” I had grown up in, I was understandably reticent. For years I watched and studied the PMA from afar, curious, but simultaneously resolved in my disagreement with certain policies, and disapproving of what I considered to be a standardized test that in no way could appropriately assess a Pilates instructor’s true acumen and ability. After speaking with like-minded people over the past several years, and hearing positive commentaries about the conferences and personally watching the PMA evolve, most especially in the domain of inclusion, making people from every lineage feel welcome, I decided that the time was right. Not only did I want to introduce myself to this new community, I felt especially motivated to participate in revising and improving the testing system, but just as importantly, I wanted to be that Classically trained teacher with a rich heritage, and a uniquely broad world view who could bring the energy of love to a group of people that sorely needed it. I joined the PMA because I saw it as a road to harmony, a path I feel will lead to the kind of open hearted spirit that Pilates is meant to communicate to the world. I believe that our generation today has an obligation to rise above the past and together create a peaceful, productive, transformative present and bright future, and I see the PMA as one of the more formidable conduits through which we can all accomplish this mission.

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21
Nov

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Yes, that’s me sitting there and smiling proudly on the cover of my 2006 release of Hot Body Cool Mind, feeling great in my then Lulu ensemble, “Deep V” tank and Groove pants, just one of countless similar outfits that graced most of my DVD covers that sit next to your tv’s, ready to go, as we speak.

Sadly today, however, I’m not feeling particularly jolly or joyful– the way I looked on my 2006 cover. I’m feeling angry and disappointed. And like some of my brave peers, I feel compelled to speak out about the truth of what has long been hiding beneath the 4-way stretch and alleged “no-stink” technologies Lululemon espouses. Something does in fact stink at Lululemon. Something is rotten in the state of fancy yoga and Pilates apparel, and he looks like this:

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No, today, I am not smiling, but I am feeling damn good about two things:

#1. That unbeknownst to Mr. Chip “No rub” Wilson, the day he had his team name me Ambassador, my well-muscled, dancerly thighs did in fact not only touch, but RUB, and they still do!

#2. I am downright proud that I have thighs that touch AND rub, and I love my beautiful, curvaceous, womanly body and celebrate it!

Today, I tendered my resignation and sent an official letter to the original “Lululemon Community Team” in Philadelphia, terminating my Ambassadorship and my affiliation with the company.

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13
Sep

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I have always thought of the combination of Pilates and Yoga as the perfect marriage.
Both are transformational, focused methods of movement that literally help you to “meet” yourself, to discover your capabilities and facilitate positive change in the body, mind and spirit. In my opinion, their differences complement one another in the best of ways. While Yoga is better known for its philosophical and spiritual components, Pilates also inspires spiritual evolution, but this aspect is not emphasized as much as the physical component; Pilates is known as a “workout,” and Yoga as a “practice,” however, the irony here, is that in order to get good at anything, we have to practice, and done correctly, both Pilates and Yoga are both a workout and a practice. And as you will see, both are worthy of your time and attention for innumerable reasons.

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Here’s a cool, little-known fact for many of you out there: Joseph H. Pilates, who invented the Pilates Method, studied yoga and most of the exercises you’ll see in a Pilates workout are inspired by yoga. The poses in yoga are incredibly similar to the shapes and positions of the body in Pilates exercises; the difference is that in yoga, one holds poses longer, and in Pilates, you move at a slightly faster pace. Rather than holding a pose longer the way you would in a yoga class, staying in one position and cajoling the body into stretching more deeply through the breath, in Pilates, the practitioner dynamically extends as far as possible into a greater range of motion within a limited amount of time using self-imposed isometric resistance, core awareness and breath.

Both Pilates and yoga are intended to cultivate greater awareness and connection between the body and the mind, which in turn, enlivens the spirit.
Both help us to focus on the process, the “journey” of moving, breathing and stretching, rather than the end goal, which can be anything from a stronger, well-toned body to peace of mind.
Both encourage you to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome; they are each regimes that promote consciousness, evolution and self-transformation, while helping you to accrue innumerable health benefits that arise from the specific combination of connecting conscious breath to movement.

The subtle magic of Pilates and Yoga is that the work grows as you do. You rise to higher levels of challenge as your self-awareness and experience deepen. As you gain insight and as your actual physical strength increases, the work refines and redefines itself.
Both are refreshing approaches that see our physical activity as a way to restore total oneness with ourselves and create harmony with our body, mind and spirit, and under this notion, exercise becomes the means to experiencing a personal potential greater than the physical skills themselves.

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11
Nov

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Dolphins play a vital role in reminding humans of their connection with the Divine. For thousands of years they have expressed the qualities to which we aspire - unconditional love, joy, playfulness, strong sense of community, creativity, and the ability to heal ourselves and others. We all have these qualities within ourselves. It’s just that many of us have simply forgotten because the bittersweet blessing of our advances in modern technology has pulled us farther and farther away from nature, the world around us, and our own true natures.

There is one exception to this bittersweet blessing that comes to mind now, however, that inspired this blog, and it is Pilates Anytime,  a brain child that rides the technology wave but rather than pulling us away from ourselves, has helped us all to grow closer, not only to our own unique potentialities as individuals, but as a global community. Kristi Cooper-White has helped us to achieve what the dolphins live every day- this sense of joy, playfulness and sense of community that was sorely lacking in the Pilates world before she and her groundbreaking site arrived on the scene.

Last month, I was honored to be a part of this magical world on Padaro Beach with Kristi and her incredible community. I can no longer recall my exact words that were spoken at the moment that everyone’s eyes moved to the window behind me and quiet exclamations were uttered like a chant that echoed softly throughout the room, “did you see the dolphin?!”  I do know, however that the great energy in the studio was palpable from the moment I entered the morning of our workshop and shoot, and only expanded into a powerful upward spiral for the hours that followed. At the moment when the dolphin broke through the water’s surface, I believe that I had been speaking about love … asking the participants of the workshop what the opposite of fear was. And just as I uttered the word, “L O V E,” the dolphin appeared. I remember wondering how I could be that lucky- to be graced by a dolphin’s presence on top of the already extraordinary experience I had been having … “Really?!” I exclaimed as chills ran up my spine and the tears started rising to my throat-I had already been so moved by the exchange I was having with the beautiful group of people I was working with, that the dolphin’s presence reached swiftly into my heart the way he had just broken through the water, and within seconds, I wasn’t just crying, I was sobbing, and could have cried for a long time, I was so swept away by the immensity and beauty of the confluence of events and transformative energies swirling around inside that special space. A part of me in fact, wished for that moment, I could have found myself entirely alone on the beach watching the dolphin, communing with him and my tears, allowing myself to surrender entirely to the overwhelming joy and sadness that came rushing through me in that moment. Joy that I was with a community I resonated with, and sadness that it had been so long in coming to feel that sense of “home,” to be in a place that was dedicated to fostering union, facilitating camaraderie and celebration in uniting for the true purpose of transformation and growth- to celebrate the reasons that Pilates had been created in the first place.

A portal opens today.
11.11.11, a day that has incredible numerological potency, a day that the sages say has the power to change one’s destiny. A day when you have the opportunity to break the chains of history and choose love instead. A day when we can empower ourselves and heal, when we can aspire to what the dolphins do every day- love unconditionally, unite and find strength in community, in sharing, in generosity of spirit and support of one another. I knew when I woke up this morning that today was the day I would write this special piece about my incredible heart opening with Kristi and her global community of Pilates Anytime at her other-worldly home on Padaro Beach, where the divine messengers lead the way, nodding their heads and smiling in approval that we are on the right path at last.

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09
Dec

Today, you are 127 years young. Happy Birthday!

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You were a Saggitarius! You HAD to be a cool dude. How could you not have been?! It’s one of my favorite star signs for a man- exemplifying all of the character traits and qualities I esteem: Pioneer, visionary, freedom-lover, philosopher, multi-talent, generous spirit, man for the people. Describes you to a “T” from what I have come to understand, and all that I have personally gleaned by being an avid fan, student and teacher of your work all these years…
Your revolutionary system changed the face of fitness today.
And I can’t help but grow nostalgic and take a stroll down memory lane on this special day. As a budding baby ballerina at age 13, I had no idea what that first mat class taught by the illustrious and endlessly elegant Eve Gentry, one of your beloved disciples, would mean to me one day … that your work would inform and influence the better part of most of my years since then.

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