What Is Magic Circle ?

magic circle prop

What is the magic circle ?

magic circles Pilates group

The magic circle is a Pilates tool created by founder Joseph Pilates that’s intended to help practitioners find their center. It’s also referred to as a fitness circle, exercise ring, and a fitness ring, but “magic circle” is still the preferred name within Pilates. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring of a keg.

Magic circle is a “add-on” meaning it’s not mandatory to perform exercises with, it diversifies the benefits. Because the props are small, lights and not expansive, a lot of studios are equipped with it, and also individuals.

More than anything, magic circles has many benefits.

What is a Magic circle ?

The Pilates magic circle is a ring, usually made of flexible metal or rubber, about 13 inches in diameter, with small pads on either side. It provides gentle to moderate resistance in an exercise. It also gives the body feedback about which muscles are being used. Flexible metal is the most common material for magic circles. There are some that are all rubber, but the rubber models tend to be to soft. ” If you have more strength person and wants more muscular challenge, then you will not want a rubber ring or the versions of the metal. If your purpose is mild resistance and more body placement oriented, then a lighter ring could be perfect. Sometimes lighter moves are more efficient than strong ones.

This little resistance prop is very popular due to its easy to be carried on, and used both in Mat classes & reformer classes.


Magic circles resistance is light, but they enhance an exercise benefit and feedbacks; It gives the body & mind a very good feeling of which muscles contracting and how to engage properly. The magic circle provides gentle to moderate resistance in an exercise.

Instead, this prop is integrated to be mindful into the body to support or challenge you during exercises. It provides gentle tension to activate muscles. It can be squeezed light to hard to increase the resistance during certain exercises to build strength, control and body-mind connection.

pilates mat shanghai jeydancepilayes

It helps develop more awareness and mind focus, magic circles with light tension, gives you a lot of feedbacks on the movement performed. I explain: this prop can be used to “guide” the body, target the right muscles and the right sensation in an exercice. It develops control & precision.

When placed between ankles or thighs, the resistance from the ring is great for strengthening inner thighs and activating the pelvic floor. We use it a lot for postnatal Rehab.

Squeezed between hands, this ring is an effective way of building arm, chest arm and shoulder strength, thoracic spine control and shoulder girdle.

Adding the magic circle to your mat workout can also help you find the right muscles and challenge your movement (precision, center, see above)

Used in combination with the mat leg circle series, for instance, squeezing the ring can help you find those hard to target side hip muscles & adductors

When placed between your hands behind your back for extension exercises, like dart, the ring shape supports your chest opening. Squeezing on the ring as you move into extension means that the tension creates a further challenge to the movement and strengthens your back muscles.


1- Into the hands

Place your open palms on the pads on the outside of the ring. With slightly bent arms, raise the ring directly above your chest and keep it there.

Press gently on the ring to create some tension and keep this tension as you perform the exercise. This will increase the challenge to your arms and involve (and work) the whole body in this exercise. It creates shoulder strength, chest arms, and pectorals development. Upper back strength.

magic circle hands

2- In your ankles

Place in your ankles the magic circle is adding inner tights muscles challenge and pelvic floor activation. With proper breathing it will also helps feel your deep core muscles such as transverse abdominis. The adductors are ribbonlike muscles attached along the femur thighbone that help to rotate, flex, and squeeze the thighs together. Potentially, they are among the strongest muscles in the human body, even though we forget to use them enough in modern life.

3– Inside the knees – lightly above knees

This will target right into your adductors, but also external rotators, back muscles and deepest abdominal muscle, it’s a good exercise to feel core & pelvic floor. The anterior muscle chain of the legs is also targeted.

4- Side lying leg press

side lying press leg

The side-lying leg press is a mat exercise done with the Pilates magic circle. It is a good exercise for thigh that focuses challenge on the inner thighs. It also tones the glutes (butt muscles) quite well. The whole Pilates powerhouse is engaged and creates length and stability.

This exercise especially works the adductor muscles which draw your legs together.

4- Palm Press crossed legs

This exercise is very good for pectorals, chest, pelvic floor and obliques, lower abdominals.

In the palm press, the position of the body combined with the pressing of the magic circle with flat palm activates and lifts the pelvic floor muscles while strengthening the waist, obliques and lower abdominals.

Pilates ring and exercise mat kept on wooden floor

Pilates ring and exercise mat kept on wooden floor in fitness center

There is so many exercises we can use Magic circles with, now you have some examples - if you want to learn more or practice 
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How to combine Pilates with other training

How to combine Pilates with other training ? 


If you do Pilates and add other forms of exercise into your weekly routine, you are cross training. There are some good reasons to do this. Here are a few:

  • Pilates exercises are oriented toward functional fitness, meaning that Pilates teaches you to move better, in general, thereby enhancing performance and reducing risk of injury in other activities.
  • Cross training that combines strength training with cardio is said to be the best way to get in good shape.
  • Cross training helps to add variety to a workout routine & develop balanced muscles.

Pilates with other training:

Strength and Flexibility in Cross Training

Cross training is really just combining exercise types. Pilates is the moderate strength training aspect of a cross training program.Pilates has so many more benefits, it’s hard to leave it at that but for today’s topic let’s look into that aspect:

Among Many Benefit Pilates huge benefit is to develop both: Strength and flexibility are of special interest for cross trainers.


The Pilates Method is founded on core strength.

Pilates mat and equipment exercises strengthen not just the outer muscles of the center of the body but also the deep inner Stabilizer muscles of the pelvis, abdomen, and back: like muscles: pelvic floor, deepest layer of the abdominal, and back muscles. These kind of precision is hard to obtain in any other disciplines as many sport target a result, a goal and a performance, whereas Pilates is all about correct & precise movement.  

Core strength by supporting trunk muscles is giving a nice and sculpted posture.  The joints without any pressure are free to allow a natural flexibility of the limbs.

While gaining this precision and right musculature will lead you to get better performances in any others sports.


Pilates is a full-body integration training. It develops amazingly: core strength.

However, if you are going to depend on Pilates exclusively for your strength training, you will probably want to add the resistance exercises done with large and small Pilates equipment. I like to use props in my group classes: magic circles, balloons. That will expand your options for developing strength in the limbs as well as the core.

Most of people love the long, lean-looking muscles that come from Pilates. Most of my clients are satisfied with the level of integrative, moderate strength training that Pilates provides.

Pilates resistance training is enough to give you:

  • -functional power
  • -help build bone
  • -burn more calories (because muscle is a calorie burner)

Continue reading

Pilates the power of Reformer

Pilates the power of reformer

Reformer Jey

jeydancepilates studio Reformer

There is probably no piece of equipment more famous than the Pilates reformer—and that is for good reason.

The reformer makes a dramatic impression when you first see one, and an even more dramatic results in your body when you use it.

Reformers classes are usually one of the main choices and most popular choice for Clients and Pilates practitioners.

Portable reformers are also popular as home exercise equipment. (See MOTR) and Reformer becomes a “must do” when looking for private class.

  • What makes the reformer so special?


pilates Balanced Body

First, take a look at what is a reformer is and how to properly use it, then we will see tremendous benefits of it on your body.

The reformer was invented by Joseph Pilates. It is like a bed with a flat platform on it, called the carriage.

The carriage is attached to the reformer by a set of springs more or less resistant and heavy / light.

The carriage has two shoulder blocks that makes a stopper for shoulder, avoid sliding and help perform some exercises.

At the spring end of the reformer, there is an adjustable bar called a footbar.

On the Footbar you put the feet or hands. The reformer has straps with handles on them that are attached to the top end of the frame. They can be pulled in legs or arms, hands, elbows, to move the carriage as well and perform exercises.

Reformers parts are adjustable for differing body sizes and different levels of skill, different resistances to challenge or make the exercise easier.488626850_XS

How to Use

With endless possibilities of exercises, you can perform almost everything, any kind of muscles group, different range of motion, different levels and modifications on the reformer.

From classical exercises to creative and modified versions: catalogue is infinite.

Exercises motion goes from lying down, sitting, standing, pulling the straps, pushing the footbar, up on the ​footbar, up on the shoulder blocks, with some add-on equipment, upside down, sideways, and all kinds of variations.

In other words, the reformer can train many parts and dynamics of the body in many different ways with just one relatively sleek piece of equipment.

long spine reformer

Pilates long spine reformer jeydancepilates

Benefits of Reformer 

From: Overall strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance, benefits from Reformer are the same than benefits of Pilates.

From these benefits it leads to:

  • Better posture
  • Graceful and efficient movement
  • Body awareness
  • Pain relief (ease chronic pain)
  • Restore physical balances

The Reformer creates a unique and varied exercise environment; It is large enough to accommodate full-range motion, which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength.

The action of the Machine itself: Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance, carriage, and body weight is helping strength building.

The exercises provide enough resistance and movement variety to help build strong bones. And there is a special feature—eccentric muscle contractions. This is when a muscle lengthens as it resists a force. The reformer’s set-up for eccentric contraction is one of the keys to achieving the long, strong muscles without bulk for which Pilates is known.


So Mat or Equipment?

 This is one of the one of the most common question and sometimes it can be confusing for new comers.

Both Mat and Reformer workouts provide tremendous benefits, many Pilates newbies and regulars are often confused about which form is right for their current goals and abilities.

Both methods train you to initiate the movements from your body’s powerhouse (your core/centering) and accordingly will quickly translate into benefits across your day-to-day activities.

While you can perform the same series of exercises on the reformer that you can on the mat, the workouts are notably different.  1108_a2_inUse466x228_0780

Mat classes uses the body weight for exercises, while the Reformer adds resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the springs of the machine.

Due to the resistance and straps, moving carriage Reformer’s exercises variety available is greatly increased compared to Mat.

The level of Reformer I would say can reach from basic to highly advanced movements in virtually any position on the reformer.

The Reformer can also provide a more challenging strength and endurance due to resistance than mat classes, leading to visible results sooner.

Basically, you can do more exercises on a reformer compared to a mat and it gives you the option of performing exercises in more different body positions, from your back, side, stomach, being seated and also on your feet or knees.

Note also that pricing is different: Reformer’s classes are more pricey than Mat classes- due to the highest cost of the machine it self for studios. 


So which one?

From my point of view: It depends on your need, goals and profiles. Don’t worry too much: both are complex systems, with very high end workouts. Both activate core’s muscles, body’s awareness and will help you get stronger, leaner and more conscious of your movements the right way.

MAT: for me Mat’s class IS great option for beginners because of its emphasis on learning how to control your muscles during exercises and focus on your body and breathing with no interference of the machine. Mat is only using your body weight and that makes a whole challenge. Plus it’s super easy you don’t need anything but yourself and mat. Can practice anywhere, everywhere.
But don’t be fooled, Advanced Mat classes are the hardest because you’re using your body all the time, the reformer isn’t there assisting or supporting you. 

REFORMER; I like to use Reformer with Men, injured people, rehab and pre/postnatal women. Reformer resistance, straps and movement is helping assisting the workout and can help client’s feel their muscles easier and faster.spine reformer

It’s very good for rehab as it’s very good to target on specific muscle area and also to work on physical unbalances.

Reformer frame allows the client to exercise in a horizontal plane of motion and not be vertically loaded and weight bearing through their legs.

For example, if a client had knee surgery/ injury, this horizontal plane enables you to strengthen the muscles of the leg through a larger range of motion using a lighter resistance than their own body weight, speeding up their recovery through controlled movement.

Another example is someone with scoliosis, they may find it difficult to do Mat Pilates, but with the Reformer they are able to increase their range of motion safely and effectively. Correct their postures faster and develop muscle’s strength on their weaker side with more precise workout.

For the same reasons I find it amazing on Prenatal workouts as most pregnant women suffer from deep unbalances and back pain but can’t lay down the whole class.pilates-reformer-prenatal-2000x1600 With reformer we can play in other planes such as kneeling, sideways, up on your feet, and much more.


 Marylin, 34 yo, former Athlete, beginner practitioner

“I found Reformer easier that it targets faster my muscles and I can control my movement better with the help and assistance of the machine. Mat is nice too but really difficult and hard to control your body at the first place”

Marie 28 yo, Young Mom, practicing Pilates postnatal,

“For me Reformer helps work deeply and target more precisely some group of muscles; Thanks to the moving carriage It challenges gravity and balance and help me work on my weaker side and muscles’ unbalance. I feel every inch of body’s muscle; With resistance you can choose heavy / lighter and that push you through your limits and beyond;When I stretch with Reformer I can go deeper in my stretches and reach a bigger range of motion. I love the Reformer, definitively my favorite!”

Arnaud, 41 yo, Reformer and Yoga practitioner

“Reformer allows me to focus more on my breathing, the machine helps me structure my practice. As a beginner it gives me a strong guidance and the ability to work deeply and effectively, with no risk of injuries. I like the emphasize on my upper body: arms and back exercises are really interesting and shaped me fast. Fully recommend to do Reformer ”

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First trial 350 rmb- 

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The importance of taking some time Off


time off  -jeydancepilates- 

Holidays and summer are around the corner, and you already trying to figure it out: how to continue my routine? Keep my efforts all together and keep on progressing?

One week with no sport and you already freaking out thinking about it;

In this article I will let you know how to compensate 1-2 weeks without sport and which benefits (yes, yes) you can even get from it.  

First question is: How often do you practice?

To understand benefits, you can get from one-two weeks off: you first have to know where you stand. I explain:

-are you a regular practitioner?

-or occasionally workout If you a regular, meaning you train at least 2/ week during the whole year, even more if you’re an athlete: it’s brings benefits to stop your routine 1 to 2 weeks off /year.

The off-season is a necessary part of the training cycle.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with specializing in one sport year-round, it does present a problem when there is no time taken to let the body properly recover.

If you an occasional, you do less than 2 hours / week and you are not strictly regular, then it’s different: it might cause more negatives than positive to stop your sport. It can break down the fragile habits and make you get back to sedentary lifestyle.


 When you stop your routine: how to compensate?

Now big question is: you are taking some time off, ok, for 1-2 weeks, sometimes more: no regular sport : how to compensate?

  • Eat less

It might not be the advice you want to read. But big truth is: you are less active, you need less fuel: logic.

You need to reduce your amount of food and choose lighter options;

I see a lot of my athletes’ friends’ gaining weight when they stop training, because they keep on eating the same amount of food, sometimes more. It can lead them to sometimes 4kgs a week.

To enjoy your rest without alerting the scale: you’ll have to reduce your carbs intakes, sugar intakes and eat smaller portions;

Choose raw veggies, fruits full of water like watermelon (awesome in summer) and nuts : they will be your best friends.

  • Drink a lot of water


 Water plays a role in both muscle repair and growth.

Our body is made primarily of water, and water helps carry nutrients, electrolytes and virtually every other substance in your body to your muscles and organs. In fact, most experts affirm that a lot of disease, injuries and infections could be avoided by drinking sufficient water the whole year.

If you exercise regularly during the year your heart rate increased so your muscles can get a quick supply of blood and oxygen. But if you don’t drink enough water, this process becomes less efficient. The result can be muscle pain, spasms, cramps and slowed muscle growth. And of course fatigue.

While you taking some time off you want to get rid of all the toxins accumulated and help your metabolism to regenerate. Water will help with that.

  • Get plenty of rest

 As your’ on holidays all the point is to rest and enjoy with your loved ones right?

And if I tell you, (to make you feel even more guilt-free) that resting is playing a huge role in fitness results & muscles gain: then it’s even better right?When we regularly exercise: some of the fatigue stays with us, gradually accumulating during long periods of intense training dedicated to our favorite sport.

Even as we get fitter and fitter, the mechanisms of recovery and adaptation begin faltering, putting us at risk for chronic exhaustion, difficulty sleeping and loss of motivation, evidenced in part by declining testosterone levels and increases in creatinine kinase and urea.

  • Plenty of sleep

 How many times you heard that sentence huh?

As you taking some days off from your usual routine, it’s the right moment to allow you intense nights’ sleep. And those naps during daytime, along by the pool: why not?

Researches has shown that poor sleep is a major risk for heart disease and overweight;

Sleeping 8 hours a night is an amazing tool for:


-weight loss

-muscle’s gain

-sport performances

Athletes know that and most professional trainers ask for 10 hours sleep to their athletes.

A study from Stanford university women’s tennis team for five weeks as they attempted to get 10 hours of sleep each night. Those who increased their sleep time ran faster sprints and hit more accurate tennis shots than while getting their usual amount of sleep.

iStock-619238534-5a7884986edd6500365a247f (1)

Sleep can, in fact, be one of the best workouts you give your body, enabling it to rest and recover enough to hit the gym with more vigor the next day.

  • Move

Taking a long break doesn’t mean getting overly friendly with the couch and laying down all day long.

You don’t want to fall completely out of shape, and you certainly don’t want to add kgs that will be hard to shed later.

It’s time to diversify: Instead of your usual routine: take it easy an try new things.

Look for activities that either build up some attribute useful in your main sport or keep you moving but with a different mental focus.

For example if you’re a cyclist or runner: choose low impact activity and it might be the right time to try some yoga and stretch those legs!

And if you play basketball or tennis, dabble in mountain biking to keep the heart and lungs working, while giving the joints a break. 

If you spend a lot of time in the gym normally/ you can just enjoy some outside walks or go swimming each morning, your body deserves a rest and taking a Summer holiday is the perfect excuse.


I like to take 10 days completely off from my routine, and I feel that’s what my body needs after 10 months of intense training and teaching; During those 10 days I just take walks, slow swimming in the sea and that’s it : stretching, reading, enjoying  sun tanning sessions.


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Enjoy your holidays

Get plenty of rest, love, friends, sun, fresh air

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What about your Bones ? Pilates for osteoporosis

Modifying Pilates for Clients With Osteoporosis



jeydancepilates abdominal

Find out who is at risk for fracture and which exercises they should avoid

Osteoporosis is globally epidemic in Europe and in USA : more and more people, younger and younger are concerned. 

Why does this concern the fitness professional?

One in every 2 women and 1 in every 4 men aged 50 or older will suffer an osteoporosis-related hip, spine or wrist fracture during their lives

 Among women over 50, 1 in every 2 who walk into your exercise classes has low bone density and is at risk for fracture.

In France : 3 millions of women are touched by osteoporosis and 130 000 fractures caused it. 

Research has shown that given the fragility of the osteoporotic vertebrae, most fractures are caused by the stresses of everyday life (Cummings & Melton 2002; Keller 2003).

As the disease progresses, bones can become so vulnerable that fractures can occur spontaneously or through such mild trauma as opening a stuck window, lifting a light object from the floor with a rounded thoracic spine or even just coughing or sneezing.

The problem is so widespread that a report called: Bone Health and Osteoporosis—A Report of the Surgeon General (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] 2004)  has been published.

It treated on how to improve bone health and reduce the risk of illness and injury. The document also raises the profile of a disease that too often has been overlooked.


What Is Osteoporosis?


Osteoporosis is the gradual and silent loss of bone and not a normal aging process. It is defined as a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture (NOF 2005). Osteopenia is mildly reduced bone mass—a loss of approximately 10%– 20%indicating the onset of osteoporosis.

Clients who have their bone mineral density (BMD) tested receive a T-score, which tells them how their BMD compares with that of a young adult (25–30 years old). A standard deviation (SD) of -1 to -2.5 below the mean indicates osteopenia. An SD of more than -2.5 indicates osteoporosis. For every 1-point SD drop below the mean, fracture risk doubles.

The World Health Organization did not recognize osteoporosis as a disease until 1994. Since it is not only a newly recognized illness but also a “silent” one (bone loss stays hidden until we see its effects through changes such as height loss or kyphosis [dowager’s hump]), our lack of awareness is one of its biggest allies.

This lack exists even in the medical world: Studies have found that doctors and physician too commonly fail to diagnose and treat osteoporosis, even in elderly patients who have suffered a fracture .

Persons with osteoporosis usually discover bone loss insidiously or later at their on cost: often they find out  that their pants, clothes  are too long; People around notice that they are shrinking in height, they’re developing a dowager’s hump or their arms look longer. Other persons complain of waistline pain (caused when the ribs sit on the iliac crests), mid-back pain or neck pain. Hip pain is not common with osteoporosis and is present only after a fracture.

A Question of Lifestyle


In my practice as  a Pilates instructor, I am finding that clients and even Pilates teachers are discovering they have osteoporosis at younger and younger ages.

Now I’m frequently seeing osteoporotic clients in Pilates studios, and health clubs where I teach Pilates mat classes. What are we doing wrong?

Evidence suggests that lifestyle is a major culprit. Studies have found that Americans & European are not engaged in enough physical activity, do not take in enough nutrients to support good bone health

Researchers working on the China-Oxford-Cornell Project studied rural Chinese farm families for incidence of osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer and found that even with low calcium intake the incidence of these diseases was extremely low (Hu et al. 1994; Campbell 2005).

In contrast, the researchers found a positive link between urbanized cultures and these diseases, which Campbell has even called “diseases of affluence” (Campbell 2005).

In modern societies : we base our habits of daily living on convenience and time management. We have computers for shopping: TVs to entertain us; and microwaves, washing machines, elevators, escalators, cars and high-tech devices to “save time” and to make our lives more “efficient”. M

More efficiency means we are increasingly sedentary, and sedentary living is bad for our bones. We walk less, we bear less weight, and we do less physical labor.

In short, our high-tech assistant labor-saving lifestyle is destroying our bones. 

Who is at risk ? 

Instead of what we think osteoporosis is largely spread out among populations. We estimate that 30% of women at 50 years old, and 50% of women above 5Os have osteoporosis. 

Women are more subject to osteoporosis than men: 

Factors that help increase osteoporosis

  • Hormones (lack of oestrogen during menopause or before)
  • Some medications like pain killers, corticoïdes and hormones. 
  • High intake of alcohol and caffeine 
  • Big smokers
  • Lack physical activity
  • Lack of calcium and D Vitamin Intake 

The Solutions: Two types of bones:

Two cell types are at work in our bones: osteoblasts (bone “builders”) and osteoclasts (bone “cleaners”).

In the healthy skeleton these two cell types are continuously working together, with osteoclasts breaking down old bone and osteoblasts replacing it with new bone. In someone with osteoporosis, however, the osteoclasts continue to break down old bone, while the osteoblasts get lazy. Bone breaks down more quickly than it is renewed, and over time, bone mass and density decrease.

While modern medicine offers significant benefits for those at risk for osteoporosis, studies with no doubt suggest that individuals can do a great deal to promote their own bone health.

For example: Engaging in regular weight-bearing exercise, following a bone-healthy diet and avoiding pattern such as smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can all contribute to strong & healthy bones.

The Role of Pilates

The importance of weight-bearing exercise that loads and strengthens bone cannot be underestimated.

In fact, research has shown that physical exercise alone can decrease the progression of bone loss.

One program that is often suggested for building strength is Pilates.

For most people, this is a great idea. Careful!

Despite the media hype: is Pilates safe for clients whose bones are compromised?

To teach safe and effective osteoporosis Pilates exercises, all Pilates instructors should be educated about osteoporosis and know the precautions that apply to clients at risk for fracture.

What instructors must know—if they are to help rather than harm these clients—is who is at risk and which moves are contraindicated. Without such knowledge, their clients may end up breaking a bone even as they’re exercising to build bone strength.

Let’s say a client in her early 50s says she has had a BMD (bone density) test and was diagnosed with osteopenia, or slightly low BMD.

Do the same contraindications apply to her as would apply to a client with osteoporosis?

The thoracic spine is the area of the spine at greatest risk of fracture. That’s because the vertebral bodies get smaller as you move up the vertebral column and also because the thoracic vertebral bodies’ orientation toward flexion loads the spine anteriorly. However, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)—commonly used to test bone density—does not view the thoracic spine because it is surrounded by ribs and the sternum, which would skew the results of the BMD report. DEXA views the lumbar spine.

Statistically, we know that bone density decreases from the cervical to the lumbar spine. However, bone size and ability to distribute force load decrease from the lumbar to the cervical spine.

So if someone has osteopenia of the lumbar spine, an exercise specialist should assume that the person may have osteoporosis of the thoracic spine.

What’s more, until the results of the client’s next bone density test are known, the instructor doesn’t know if bone loss is progressing as he or she is working with the client. Therefore, all exercise specialists should use the same precautions for clients with osteopenia as for those with osteoporosis.

Forward flexion causes excessive compression force on the anterior (or front) surface of the vertebral bodies, where most of the trabecular bone is located. 

Compression forces on the vertebrae are also excessive during side-bending of the thoracic and upper-lumbar spine. Forward flexion, side-bending and particularly forward flexion combined with rotation are therefore contraindicated for clients with osteoporosis—and hence for clients with osteopenia.

Spinal extension is a different story. These areas do get compressed as the spine moves into extension, but the movement is much less risky than flexion because of the strength of cortical bone. One research study showed that people with stronger back extensor muscles had higher bone density in their spines.

Testing with Pilates

When clients with low bone density or newly healed fractures are ready to start a strengthening program, modified Pilates is an option. But safety must be paramount. 

1. Make Sure Clients Have Obtained a Physician’s Clearance to Do Pilates. Anyone who has osteoporosis or is at high risk for it must have clearance before beginning a Pilates program.

2. Use Safe Evaluation Techniques. Do not test the spine’s mobility!

The following tests are safe to use:

  • Functional Reach Test: Assess how far the client can reach forward without excessive rounding of the thoracic spine.
  • Supine to Sit, using “log rolling” method.
  • Sit to Stand, without using hands and with knees apart.
  • Hip Hinge: Check to see if the client can flex at the hip joint without rounding the low back.
  • Abdominal Strength Test—Leg Lowering: The head is on the floor, or if the client is kyphotic, on a small pillow. The lumbar spine should be flat. Have the client perform single-leg lowering first, and then double-leg lowering if this is possible with a flat back.
  • Balance Test Stand: Instructor must closely keep an eye at the client. Test a 10-second stance on one leg, or single-leg heel-raises 10x (tiptoes) 

Teach Proper Breathing. Teach costal breathing, in which the ribs expand laterally (bucket-handle-style, encouraging breathing into the lower back) and the transversus abdominis muscles are contracted to prevent abdominal expansion or bulging. Placing a strap around the lower ribs at or near the level of the xyphoid process will give clients feedback. They should be able to expand 11⁄2–2 inches. Teach them to avoid lifting the chest wall or flaring the ribs.

When All of the Above Are Mastered, you can start the Bone-Building Program. 

Example :

  • Focus on the abdominals but without using “crunches,” which place the spine at risk for fracture
  • Improve thoracic spine extension, reduce or prevent thoracic kyphosis. Foam roller can be a good tool for osteoporosis clients. 
  • Weight loads: planks, walking, jumping, are good low bone density exercises.

1st of all: get your self diagnosed :

Not only  women over 50 have osteoporosis, and we tend to have more and more people with osteopenia at our modern age, best is to know your condition, then we can work on it. 

Sleep like a baby – 5 tips

Sleep like a baby – 5 tips

Funny-Baby-Sleep-Pictures-HD-Wallpaper.jpgSpring is here, time changed (in France), weather changed, everything comes to open again.

In between it requires your body a lot of adaptation and sometimes « season changes’ time » can be disturbing for internal functions. At this time of the year or in general you may experience some trouble in your sleep.

Researches shown that most of half of the people in modern cities are deprived from good sleep and don’t sleep enough. Shanghai is not the best city regarding sleep, and we all know how it can be struggling having your 8 hours sleep while lifestyle can be extremely busy, stressful and dense.

Here are 5 easy tips to improve your quality sleep (tested on my self)

All these advices are adaptable for mummies or especially mom to be who can experience big trouble to sleep last few weeks before delivery

1-Time sleep routine:

Very often, sleep is the first thing busy people compromise, so simply making time to sleep will help protect our health and well-being. To achieve this, you can create and commit to a schedule. 

For exemple 11 or 11.30 (the latest) Researches shown that before 10 pm is the best, but it’s not doable every day I admit. But Once per week: try to make a full recovery night: sleep time at 10/ 10.30 pm

2- Use Melatonin.

Some will not agree, but I did back and forth to France in five days, and had no jet lag feeling or sleep issues thanks to melatonin. I Will not recommend to use on a long term period, but for short terms sleep issues and some nights where you know (mind overthinking) you will not sleep well: go for it. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and is primarily made in the pineal gland in the center of the brain;

It’s 100% natural, and safe under 3mg for pregnant women.

(ask sproutslifestyle to purchase some)

3- Calm the mind

Use breathing (calm baby breathing) and meditation to ease your mind before sleeping; It’s often the time where we start to think, and think, and over think and then leads to insomnia; Instead: use deep breathing method (see deep breathing pattern with Pilates or Yoga). I found out some applications are really useful with guided mediations.

For French speakers: petit bamboo offers some nice range of free meditations, and guided ones. Body scan meditations are the best to easily fall asleep.

English speakers: Calm App is good option too.

4- Avoid upsetting talks at night

One of my wise and very close friend gave me precious advice : Do not start upsetting conversations after 6 pm. It will create stress, it starts messing up with your brain, thoughts and emotions and will ruin your night.

So no ‘financial conversations’ with your siblings over the phone, no deep controversial subjects, no arguing or even possible fights” matters with your husband, boyfriend, etcera. Leave it for the morning.  Hardest to apply, but honestly one of the most effective advice too (so simple right?)

5- Get tired

Finally most obvious one but not so easy: get yourself tired. Do exercises, move, feel tired from good fatigue at night.

Physical exercises are the best way to spend a good night sleep; from walking (for our pregnant ladies) to running, exercises with Pilates or even enjoy good sex with lover indoor bedroom: they all work, they will make your tired!

The secret is exercise will increase pleasure hormone the endorphin and dopamine, it decreases the cortisol: it helps you relax and unwind physically and mentally.

Remember lack of sleep is responsible for poor health: depressive mood, lack of interests, chronic fatigue and affects most of your abilities during day time. So get get this good night sleep you deserve now!


Pilates exercises to help with sciatica

What is sciatica and what causes it? Are there sciatica exercises that will help relieve the pain?  

Dr. Brent Anderson has dedicated a lot of researches to that question. He is a physical therapist, Orthopedic Certified Specialist, and the founder of Polestar Pilates method, one of the leaders in Pilates instructor training focusing on rehabilitation. 

So in this article we will see what’s sciatica, and the role of Pilates exercise can play in relieving the pain.


The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in ​the body. It provides the majority of the motor and sensory activity for the lower extremities. It is made up of a nerve plexus originating from L1 to S1 and passes from inside the pelvis to outside the pelvis through the sciatic notch – a little hollowing in the pelvis. The sciatic nerve then typically goes under the piriformis muscle, runs down the back of the leg behind the knee and splits, going inside and outside the calf and along the top and bottom of the foot.

sciatica23117022_m2- Causes of the pain

Anything that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve or its root can create the irritation we refer to as sciatica.

This can happen from a vertebral disc putting pressure on the nerve root, or you could have some problem in the sciatic notch – an accident or fall on your buttocks that caused a trauma to the nerve passing through the sciatic notch.

The injury could cause swelling and that could cause sciatic pain. An overactive piriformis muscle  pressuring sciatic nerve is also a common reason for sciatic irritation.

Another common cause of sciatic pain is neural tension (NT) (tension of the nerve).

NT is thought to be caused by restriction on the sheath (biological term for girdle) that surrounds the nerve. The nerve should glide smoothly through the sheath like a bicycle brake cable gliding through its casing. But sometimes the nerve does not glide through the sheath well and this can cause restriction.

3- Protect the nerve

As we’ve seen sciatica is a nerve injury; First preventive is to : protect the nerve.

With a sciatic injury, you want to be careful not to irritate the nerve more than it already is. Consider that the nervous system is continuous through your whole body from the crown of head to the toes and fingertips. Anywhere we move the body we are in essence moving the nervous system. So what you want is a gentle movement without over-stretching the nerve.

Adapt the movements

In my approach I Like to caution people about “over recruiting” the muscles; for example, if you follow classical Pilates, you have some moves where you tuck your bottom a little bit or squeeze hips extensors, it might not be appropriate for sciatica.  

That would increase the pressure on the sciatic nerve and decrease the space around the nerve. You want to work in a more neutral spine. 

If the sciatica is coming from a herniated disc, then we have to take all the disc precautions.

Disc precautions include:

  • not going into unnecessary flexion, and sometimes extension.
  • Avoid overusing the buttocks and the piriformis muscles. Avoid putting the nerve on stretch.
  • Avoid too much flexion [forward bending] in the lumbar spine which could irritate the nerve if there is a disc lesion.
  • Work from a neutral spine, get things to move and relax, and get the core

My advice:

  • Work with a qualified instructor, one on one one if possible
  • Find instructor that knows sciatica and can put you in touch with physiotherapist or chiropractors if needed adjustments
  • Also work on your own

People with sciatica should do exercises at home too.

I have clients who say “I feel great here but terrible when I go back to work”, and I say, do Pilates at work!

4- Home exercises for sciatica

In general, pre-Pilates simple exercises are good to practice:

  • Quadruped with knees / hands support; like Cat stretch
  • Pelvic curl and bridging exercises to mobilize and articulate the spine
  • Sides exercises: clams and glutes
  • Pre-swan
  • Leg circles

5-Exercises to avoid

Exercises that would probably bother a person with sciatica would be exercises:

  • like rolling like a ball
  • intense stretches like spine stretch, spine twist, and saw

But in my approach I’m much more inclined to do whole body movement and do modifications to perform the movement successfully.

As a teacher, I know how to modify the exercise and make corrections to provide a successful workout experience without pain.

I’ll tell the student it’s their responsibility to let me know when they have discomfort, and my responsibility to modify the exercise so that they have a successful movement experience and results. Pain free is my mojo.

In general, that formula of equal responsibility and knowledge has been the best for dealing with the ones with back pain, sciatica or any kind of injuries.


Conclusion and general tips for people with sciatica
You want to improve awareness of the core, increase mobility of the hips, and become efficient movers, minimizing over recruitment of the body’s musculature.


Jey Geraldine Pilates Shanghai


8 foods To enter Fall with energy

Fall is around the corner, Shanghai has done its back to school and with it it’s craziness of: work, social reunions, parties, birthdays and activities. We love it, but it’s gonna require you to have a good level of energy.

Now you may know from TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) and others holistic sciences that food can heal and prevent a lot of things, especially when it comes to energies and the way you feel.

Today let’s have a look at 8 easy recipes and ingredients to get you all pumped up.

  1. Lemon Water


Start your day with this beverage, it’s the best way to clean you inside out. Lemons are loaded with healthy benefits, and particularly, they’re a great vitamin C food source which is partly responsible for energy level.

  1. 2. Bananas


If you feel tired you might lack of magnesium, and in any case it’s always good to do a cure when fall comes. So let’s you full of this mineral.

Bananas take 1 every two days is enough to get the trick. Bananas are rich in potassium, packed with vitamins, and high in flavor. They are nutritious snack at around 100 calories per serving. They’re best consumed mid-morning 10 am, when you feel the fatigue, or before a workout. With all the fiber, bananas will help you feel full and keep cravings at bay last until the next meal.

  1. 3. Nuts

Grab a hand of those every day.

Chock full of heart-healthy fats and other nutrients, those nuts you like to munch on are a superfood that’s super good for you. Which nuts?


Two of my favorites are:

  • Walnuts: provide a significant amount of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid, a compound that helps reduce plaque buildup in arteries and fights heart disease. Studies have also linked walnuts with stronger bones.
  • Almonds: Almonds are high in calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, protein and vitamin E. They contain more vitamin E than any other nut—just one ounce of almonds holds half your daily vitamin E needs. To top off their health benefits, almonds are also high in antioxidants. These superfood nuts will fill you up fast.

I love to get those two during my day, just before giving a class. You can grab a hand while leaving home for work that’s also a healthy option.

  1. 4. Ginger

My favorite!

Ginger has so many benefits that’s unbelievable how much you can get from this root.

As we talk of energy today let’s look how It goes for ginger: two things.

  • Circulation: it is increasing the circulatory system, allowing the blood inside you to move more freely throughout the body. The sensation this provides is one where you feel the get up and go that you once did in your younger years. It helps you feel like you can be more active.
  • Sugar: Ginger can help keep blood glucose levels in check. This is important because these levels have a direct impact on weight loss and weight gain, as well as how energetic or lethargic you feel throughout the day. If you’ve noticed that you get a midday crash it’s likely due to your blood sugar levels, and adding ginger to your lunch might help you stay focused and on task. An all-natural alternative to products like 5 Hour “Energy”.

I like to pour it into water (ginger water)  or eat it raw sliced on my meals; I also like the Japanese option pickled ones. Just right after your meals.

  1. 5. Spinach


Spinach is extremely high in iron, magnesium and potassium.

Magnesium plays a vital role in producing energy, and paired with potassium enables effective digestion in the stomach and the regulation of nerve and muscle function.Add some fresh spinach to your favourite salad, or serve it wilted with some eggs for breakfast.

If you think you have enough spinach, think again Just keep adding it!

  1. 6. Spirulina

Talking about Iron, this superfood is my “chouchou” (little favorite in French). So as a non-meat eater I might need to double dose my Iron to get the good amount per day that I need. As a woman you also need more to get the same amount of energy than men.

The first sign of iron deficiency is fatigue, and spirulina contains high levels of iron. The iron-rich content of spirulina is not just for those with a deficiency. Spirulina can help to increase athletic performance; as adequate iron intake maximizes the use of oxygen throughout the human body.

Get a spoon of spirulina everyday into your yoghurts, meals, soups, or if you can’t stand the taste: get a pill version (only organic). Mix it with some Vitamin C to get the full nutriments of it, and absorb Iron.



Talking about super food these ones are little but so efficient. Chia seeds help with hydration by absorbing 10 times their weight in water. Plus, they have the right ratio of protein, fats, and fiber to give you an energy boost without a crash. BY boosting digestive system, they will get you go to toilets faster and eliminate better, by it: get rid of low energy due to slow digestion.

  1. 8. Tea


By now, it’s no secret that green tea has a slew of health benefits. You can add putting some pep back in your step to the long list. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine give you energy without the jitters. Bonus: Research suggests that green tea boosts brainpower as well, which may come in handy when you’re down to the wire at work.  Take the time to brew the tea yourself because store-bought varieties often have lots of added sugar.

Tips for summer / Fall: I like to do it cold version. For your homemade cold tea: brew your tea in hot water as usual, let it cool down, then put it into the fridge for one night. The next day you have this delicious version of green iced tea.

For a detox version add lemon and ginger ! It’s delicious! I also like caffeine free version with Rooibos and infusions !




Eat fat, get slim


Many of us, including me, have been told for many years that fat is bad for your health and scale, and to get healthy and fit, you’ll have to remove fat from food.

For a long time, we thought that fat was “global fat” and make no distinction between “fatty” ingredients. I myself, removed all kind of fat many years ago, and since recently, was not able to ingest any of them, more over I was intolerant, I had no weight loss, even gained a bit, and started to notice some side effects.

Talking with my friends in fitness industry, yoga teachers, former dancers, nutritionists and so on, I realized a lot of them have tried to cut off fat as well and ended up with one same consequence: didn’t lose any weight at all, or worse: got fat.

Indeed, not eating good fat food will not only stabilize your weight or get you gain some, but it will stop the “losing weight” process if you wish to do so.

Recently many researchers, and my personal studies led me to the same answer to these questions: fat can help us maintain our weight? Fat doesn’t make us fat? In a word: exactly.

Fat is not something to avoid. For starters, it’s essential for normal growth and development. Dietary fat also provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients. Even better, it helps the body burn fat.

But be careful there is two kind of fat, fake beliefs have been built on some “kind of truth”: Not all fatty foods are created equal. For example: pizza, French fries and hamburgers can contribute to weight gain and deterioration of health.


That’s where confusion has started- 50 years ago researchers have shown that “fat” raised bad cholesterol and can gives many health issues such as heart disease, plus get you fat. But that was about saturated fat.

Nowadays more complex researches have shown that good fat not only reduce bad cholesterol, but raise the good one (yes, yes there is a good one), protect cells, balance the proporitions of nutriments in the body, and by it get you thiner;

It’s not an “abstract” example, I experienced it. Like I said, I stopped every kind of fat many years ago, and only couple years ago got convinced by my friends and professionals to re incorporate lipids in my diet. 

I was not looking for weight loss to be honest, my main concern was my skin, hair and overall beauty that seemed a bit deteriorated and way much more dry after many years of fat free diet. After reincorporate fat results were not to wait: my skin get back to soft and hydrated, my hair as well and “cherry on the cake” i’ve stabilized my scale two kilos under where i’ve started. It was only positive!

It balanced proportions in my body, help digest and ingest good vitamins, it feeds your hair, skin, your brain, your heart. It will help maintain a good number on the scale without any effort.

Which fat to eat then? I will give you today easy “good fat” food

Let’s list three of my fav !

1. Sesame Oilstéléchargement

I might be Mediterranean but I can’t stand olive oil or butter.  I’ve tried other kind of oils to have this amount of good lipid I needed; and I’ve found it: Sesame oil. Living in Asia: sesame oil is one of the most popular one, and it happened to be my fav: super tasty and perfumed, you don’t need much to get one of your dish fulfilled and delicious.



Sesame oil, which comes from sesame seeds, is a lesser known vegetable oil but is, in fact, one of the healthiest alternatives to normal vegetable oil options.The health benefits of sesame oil include its ability to improve hair and skin health, stimulate strong bone growth, reduce blood pressure, maintain good heart health, manage anxiety and depression, protect infant health, cure the dental problems, prevent cancer, improve the digestive process, and lower inflammation. In a nutshell: it’s a 10 for sesame oil !

2. Chia seedschia-seeds-in-a-bowl

One of the greatest product or “super food” as it considered so, you can find; Chia seeds is full of benefit and the example of good fat. They’re full of fatty acids and omega3. More over they’re also protein, dietary fiber (easy to digest) and full of minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium).

But careful as they became so popular, they also ate in a wrong way that make you miss of the content.  Chia seeds have a mild, nutty taste and can easily be added to most dishes as a garnish, yet chewing small seeds like flax or chia generally doesn’t make the omega-3s and other nutrients readily available for digestion and assimilation. The best way to access their vitamins and minerals is to either grind or soak them.

3. Fatty fishes 


The term “fatty fish” may sound unappealing, but actually these are the tastiest and healthiest foods from the sea. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout are full of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the bloodstream. Omega-3 fatty acids may also slow down the growth of plaques in the arteries and reduce inflammation throughout the body.

In an important review of studies, researchers found that getting daily omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil could lower triglyceride levels by 25%-30%. Research has demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in brain and heart health. Specifically, they have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and be beneficial for pre- and post-natal development. 

Which fatty fishes ? 

Fatty fish typically are cold-water fish. You have many good choices when it comes to fatty fish, it includes: 

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel 

One important point to keep in mind: How you prepare the fish is almost as important as which type of fish you eat. It’s always best raw, to broil, grill, or steam these foods.

To conclude: researches on “fat” have shown that good fat exist and even more that we need it. This idea revolutionizes how you eat and how you feel on every level. We got into this “big fat mess” and now we can incorporate healthy fats back into our lives to feel better, cut cravings and live with more energy. 

5 ways Pilates can improve your sex life

sex life images

Dear Students I often point out Pilates for rehabilitation or alignment but there are much more fun reasons to add Pilates to your repertoire.

Researches have shown that not only Pilates exercises make sex better, but many of Pilates benefits have more than basic benefits in the bedroom.

1-Use your pelvic floor

The most obvious reason, Pilates makes you have a better sex, and I always emphasize this point elsewhere, it uses your pelvic floor;

Nowadays everybody talks about pelvic floor, but very few (even among professionals and fitness) know what it is and how to use properly.

Pilates is actually one of the only discipline that really makes pelvic floor muscles grow and tone up, and first develop consciousness about them. We work closely the pelvic floor as part of the core foundation.

But what really are pelvic floor muscles?

Before everything let’s recap what are pelvic floor muscles: Pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic organs are the bladder and bowel in men, and bladder, bowel and uterus in women.

Because yes we talk about both genders when it comes to « pelvic flor », men are often surprised to learn that they even have one!

Researches, and the acclaimed Dr Kegel, recognized the importance of training the pelvic floor and its role to improve sexual function and satisfaction. A healthy, toned up, strong pelvic floor, Is the key to good sex life for women and men!

WHAT TO DO? Work your shoulder bridge on the Mat. Curl up and down between each repetition.


Then bring that move to the mattress. With consistency, your performance and intensity should help everyone cross the finish line

2- Stress reduction

As being a mind-body focus technique, Pilates will help you reduces stress and calm your mind.

The effects of stress are insidious. It takes a toll on your physical, emotional and relationship health, probably more than you realize. It impacts your overall health and by it your sexual life. Stress raises the production of a hormone called cortisol, and high level of cortisol in your body actually lower your sex hormones.

Lower degree of sex hormones equal lower libido.

Pilates with its regular practice, helps you control and manage stress, and prevent cortisol level from rising too high and too often.

It also, by calming the mind rises testosterone. When it comes to sexual desire, the most influential hormone is testosterone: the hormone responsible for sexual appetite, performances and pleasure.

Pilates class gives you stress reduction comparable to “holidays”, and who never noticed that on holidays your sexual life is way much more active

Playful smiles.jpg

3- Work on your breathing

A correct breathing is actually a pattern that very few master and that is essential in every daily life aspect.

When you have sex: you need all the oxygen-rich blood you can get coursing through your body, refreshing your cells, enhancing your endurance, and waking up all of your senses. Unfortunately, for many people their version of heavy breathing is shallow panting, not optimal for full on sex or exercises.

In Pilates we learn to lengthen and pace our breathing timing the exhales with the point of exertion. Translate this into love-making when you’re up for something more than a quickie and you and your partner can draw out a sex session that takes up a full afternoon or more.

What to do? Practice your hundreds (see picture below) then practice small pumps inhale for five, exhale for five.

hundreds version

4– Concentration

One of the sad facts about exercise is that most people try not to be there for it. They work their bodies but send their minds elsewhere. Pilates is one of this technique that makes you help concentrate and by it: be totally at what you do. Stay present

If you rehearse mentally checking out during physical activity, you may well fall into that pattern during sex. Distraction is an enemy to sexual satisfaction.

So working on your focus is imperative. Joseph Pilates intention was to integrate the body and mind toward an elevation of the spirit and full enjoyment of the pleasures of life.

WHAT TO DO? Begin at the beginning. Work on the first 5 moves of Pilates mat work (The hundreds, leg circles, rolling like a ball, one leg stretch, double leg stretch) with maximum concentration.

Do not let your mind wander outside your body. Note your sensations, challenges and breathing.

The next time you’re feeling frisky, bring your new found focus with you in bed and add this perk to your lover panoply.

This may be the most challenging for some but has the most impact.

 5- Improve variety, better balance

Pilates moves happen on your back, on your stomach, in sitting, kneeling and standing. Many moves challenge your stability and balance. Sex play can be a bit scary for some as we often get into habits routines that involve repeating the same position. As we get older, trying new things is harder mentally and physically.

Improving your balance can help inspire everyone to test drive a new method and simultaneously keep us safe.

WHAT TO DO ? Incorporate some balance Pilates moves into your routine. Most can be done anywhere and anytime. Try teaser.


Pilates is all about balancing your body. A balance of strength, mobility and even your body chemistry.

Be aware whatever exercise you choose that adopting a Pilates sensibility to right-size your workout is the very best strategy for a happy healthy body both inside and outside of the bedroom.

Now: what are you waiting for?