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My Everyday Makeup for Working Out (Sweat-proof, All Day)

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As a Pilates instructor, it’s crucial that my makeup lasts all day. I try to keep my makeup fresh, and natural. I like to wear just a touch of makeup, to make sure I still look polished and put together for the clients and classes I am teaching. Although we are #blessed to be able to wear fitness apparel all day long, I try to still put a little effort into my appearance, even before early morning classes.

I am currently trying to “clean” up my beauty products and routine and am looking for completely organic, natural products that don’t have any harmful ingredients. If you have any recommendations for favorite products, please leave a comment. I would so appreciate any recommendations! I’m still working through old products but, when it comes time to buy new ones – I will definitely take them in consideration.

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Here’s a list of products I use:

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen

I recently discovered this all natural sunscreen/tinted moisturizer (SPF 30) in San Diego. It provides a little more coverage than an average tinted moisturizer (like a light CC cream, it has enough coverage to still rub off if you use a tissue). This mineral based sunscreen uses zinc oxide as a natural sunscreen, and comes in a pretty wide range of shades for deeper skin tones. It has a mousse texture and isn’t super greasy or oily like most sunscreens are. Unlike other zinc oxide sunscreens, it blends in completely.

Here’s an additional review from The Beauty Proof 

Milani Eyeshadow Primer 

This super cheap drugstore eyeshadow primer has been one of my tried and true eye makeup products. I see a HUGE difference when I’m too lazy to put this on. This is a MUST in my eye makeup routine. I’ve been able to do a quick body shower (while rinsing my face) and have my eye makeup stay perfectly in place.

MAC Soft Brown Eyeshadow

For me, this matte warm brown shade is the perfect shade to create a slight contour. I use a big fluffy brush and just sweep it across the crease and through my lids to create a little bit of depth. I don’t use anything with too much shimmer as, I find that come across as too frosty.

Covergirl Mascara (any)

I’m not picky at all about my mascara. I tend to be brand loyal to Covergirl and pick whatever is the darkest shade and waterproof. I don’t wear this every single day as I have the shortest, stumpiest lashes and it doesn’t make the biggest difference. This is a “if I’m feeling fancy” add on!

Milani Liquid Eyeliner or Mally Beauty Waterproof Eyeliner

I use either eyeliner – one is a liquid pen eyeliner and the other a waterproof gel eyeliner pencil. Both stay all day but, I decide to wear one over the other based on the color (brown versus black) and ease. Eyeliner pencils are super easy for me (just a sweep across the lash line) while I usually create a wing with liquid liner.

And that’s it! I keep my routine simple and something that is easy to wipe off when I get my workout in. You will often find me working out with my eye makeup still on (just because it’s so hardy!) but, I will wipe off any face makeup I have on before I work out.

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#NoAddedSugar Approved Alternatives (Recipes, Resources, and Ideas!)

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It’s been 13 days.

One of the biggest struggles in taking this challenge has been my craving for dessert. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. It’s been 13… and I feel like my body is still intensely craving what it is used to – sugar, chocolate, ice cream, etc. I wouldn’t say I feel constantly hungry. I still feel like I am fueling my body but, I am still actively craving all my sweets. As a result, I’ve had to find a lot of “dessert” alternatives to cure my sugary cravings. Here are a few great alternatives I’ve used. Even if you’re not taking on this challenge, these are great healthier alternatives you can incorporate into your diet. Not all of these are “deserts” but, the whole point for me was to change my habits. I wanted to crave ending the night with tea, instead of a giant gooey vegan cookie (ugh which sounds delish, by the way).

  • Tea or other hot drinks

In the morning or during lunch, I usually have a green tea. At night, my favorite drinks are an ACV tonic (just apple cider vinegar and hot water, sometimes I add lemon, chia seeds etc) or herbal tea (I love ginger or anything “fruity”).

  • Fruit

This is always a good sweet option. I aim to have 3-4 servings of fruit a day. My go-to choices are grapes, apples, or oranges. I aim to have at least 2 different types of fruit a day.

  • Larabars/Homemade Clean Energy Bars/Date bars

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    Image from Martha Stewart

I love having an energy bar during the mid-day slump (3 PM) or around 10 AM. My favorite packaged bar are Larabars. Currently, I’m loving the Carrot Cake version but, Cashew Cookie is good too! Unfortunately, the ones with chocolate chips have added sugar.

If you are craving something chocolatey, here is my favorite Chocolate Walnut Date Bar Recipe (sub chocolate for the homemade dark chocolate below): https://www.marthastewart.com/1526520/dark-chocolate-walnut-date-bar

Lastly, I cook a batch of oat based bars at the beginning of every week. They’re practically fat-free, super clean and so easy to make.

Christie’s Homemade Energy Bars (great topped with peanut butter!) 

Ingredients: 2 cups of oats (quick oats or pulsed in blender to a fine consistency), 1 mashed banana, 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup of plant milk, Add ins: 1 tbsp of cinnamon or spices of choices, dried fruit, chocolate chips, flax seed, nuts etc.

Mix ingredients together and place into a 9×5 loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Inside should be cooked, outside should be golden brown. Cut into 9 pieces.

  • Smoothies/ Protein shakes

I love making a quick smoothie with frozen fruit. Usually I’ll sub this for breakfast but, sometimes I’ll have it as a snack. Add in some organic protein, and you have a quick tasty protein shake. My favorite combination is 1 banana, 1 cup of frozen pineapple, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 1 tsp of chia, 1 tsp of flax, 1 tsp of Spirulina, 1 tsp of Amazing Grass greens powder. Optional, add in one scoop of vegan protein powder. I blitz it all up with water and voila – super tasty shake!

  • Nice Cream

A play on the smoothies, you can add a little less water and make the above smoothie more of a “smoothie bowl.” Additionally, just blend frozen bananas with some water or plant milk. Add in toppings as you need – cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, etc.

  • Raw vegetables

An easy snack are raw carrots, celery or cherry tomatoes. These are easy to munch on when hunger sets in.

  • Sugar Free Granola

I’ve been loving sugar free and oil free granola recipes. They’re an amazing crunch topping for smoothie bowls. Normally, I’d have these with some vegan yogurt but, sadly a lot of vegan dairy products contain added sugars.

My favorite recipe: https://fitveganchef.com/healthy-vegan-pumpkin-granola-oil-free/

  • Toast with homemade Chia Jam

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Image via 40 Aprons

I love having sprouted toast with chia jam and peanut butter. This is one of my go to snacks. Jam is often filled with added sugars and making your own is soooo easy!

Christie’s Homemade Chia Jam Recipe:

Ingredients: 1/2 cup of frozen berries (strawberries, mixed berries, cherries etc), 2 tbsp chia seeds

Microwave the frozen berries. Blitz the berry mixture in the blender with all liquid. Add in chia seeds and let set in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Homemade Dark Chocolate

If you’re REALLY craving some chocolate, here’s an amazing homemade chocolate recipe that is VEGAN and sugar free. This is the perfect add on to the date bars or to crush up into some dessert recipes.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/236212/homemade-melt-in-your-mouth-dark-chocolate-paleo/

Some other recipe resources for inspiration:

I generally have not been using these resources as, I’m trying to avoid many items instead of finding a complete replacement – e.g. chocolate cupcakes without refined sugar. But, if you are simply looking for replacements or some other great recipes, here are a few are a list from some of my favorite bloggers.

The Minimalist Baker Refined Sugar Free Archives: https://minimalistbaker.com/recipes/refined-sugar-free/

Bakerita Refined Sugar Free Archives: https://www.bakerita.com/category/refined-sugar-free/

Top with Cinnamon: https://topwithcinnamon.com/restricted-diet

 

What I Eat in a Day/Day in My Life as a Pilates Instructor

Hello everyone!

So, I’m really nosy. I love watching “Day in my Life” videos on Youtube but, only about people who live a totally different lifestyle than I do. I probably just want to live vicariously through those people that I look up to in some sense. In case you’re curious, some of my favorites on Youtube are Sarah Lemkus, Ellen Fisher (Mostly raw, vegan mamas), Caitlin Shoemaker (food blogger), and Sarah’s Day (Australian fitness personality). Most of those women are hilarious, down to earth and make some bomb food. Inspired by them, I figured I’d share a “What I Eat In a Day” that also detailed what a day in my life could look like. As a fitness instructor, every day is different. From week to week, I have developed a routine but, it’s still always changing! For me the variety in my schedule keeps my career exciting and fresh. As some of you know, I started the #NoAddedSugarMarch challenge this month. I’ve been avoiding any refined and added sugars in my diet. I also am plant based, and love it! So here are a bunch of simple meal ideas that are sugar free/and plant based!

So, here’s a day in my life. Monday. March 5, 2018.

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Today is a lighter day than normal in terms of class load. On days like this, I try to catch up on emails, plan my lessons for the week, and playlist for my group classes throughout the week. I try to keep 2 days of the week lighter and the other 3 on the busier side (teaching 7-8 classes a day).

6:30 AM: Wake up and get ready for the day (brush teeth, wash face, skincare etc). Right at the beginning of the day, I posted a video on Instagram to announce my group class schedule for the week.

6:45 AM: Make breakfast. Today I had two pieces of sourdough toast (bread made locally, no added sugars) with organic peanut butter from TJs (no added sugar, just peanuts), a sprinkle of chia seeds, and a sliced organic banana. I always have a little bit of green tea, in a Yeti mug! My husband and I both cut coffee out of our diets around November of 2017. We haven’t looked back since!

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7:20 AM: I left to teach a couple of privates in the Back Bay area of Boston. I bike commute around this time of year, so it takes about 20 minutes to get there on my bike. Especially if the weather is nice, my commute is so much enjoyable above ground than below on the subway. I love that Boston is such a walkable/bikeable city!

8 AM- 9 AM: I met and taught a new client who is running the Boston Marathon and looking for Pilates to help her cross train! It was so much fun to educate her on how Pilates works, especially for runners.

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM: Another private client! This one is a postnatal client so, I shifted my focus to more inner thigh, TA work.

10:30 AM – I picked up a salad at SweetGreen and bike commuted back home.

11:00 AM- Eat lunch! I prefer to eat an earlier lunch and have a small snack around 3-4 PM. I usually eat dinner around 8 PM, which is on the later side. My lunch today consisted of a salad from Sweet Green – custom made with kale, spinach as the base, tomatoes, spicy broccoli, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, beets, falafel and the Miso Sesame Ginger Dressing. I double checked and the dressing is sugar free, there’s a touch of agave! I also had a foamy tea latte (with homemade cashew milk!) and a medium sized Lady Alice apple. Over lunch, I caught up on social media (added some stories, worked on blogging and answered emails). I also spent some time detailing and planning some private sessions on my phone. I like to keep track and plan out sessions for everyone so they’re getting the best workout possible!

Snapseed1:00 – 2:20 PM- Time for my workout! I ran outside for a total of 6 miles. I warmed up for 1.5, ran for 3, cooled down for 1.5.

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM- I see a few clients on my reformer in my apartment in Cambridge. If you’re curious about that, please see this page. https://christiewang.co/studio/

4:30 PM – Time for a quick snack! I had a few grapes, and an apple. If I don’t have access to fresh fruit, I’ll often grab a Lara Bar or some of my homemade oat bars. Right now I’ve been loving the Carrot Cake Lara Bars, they have a hint of walnut and pineapple and a super cinnamon-y taste! In the past, I’d have another type of energy/protein bar which would have rice syrups, or added sugars. During this time, I did some last minute preparations for my class and some household chores (folding laundry, organizing etc).

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6:35 PM – 7:20 PM – I took the T over to Equinox Franklin Street and taught a group Pilates mat class for 45 minutes.

8 PM- I called my family on the way home and then it was dinner time! We usually like to meal prep a few things in bulk at the beginning of the week so meals are super simple. I was craving something really easy. Today’s meal was just a mixture of brown rice, frozen broccoli water sautéed with some kale and garlic, and some prepped black beans (cooked from dry in the Instant Pot with an onion). I topped it off with a tablespoon or two of sauerkraut and some plain pickles – I have a weird love for sour foods! I usually spend the next hour catching up on emails, social media and with my husband (if he’s home!). This is also when I’ll read or watch TV/Youtube videos! And if I’m still hungry, I’ll often have another piece of fruit for dessert (in the past this is when I’d have some vegan desserts!).

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9:00 PM – I start to get ready for bed with the aim to be asleep by 9:30 PM. Usually it looks more like going to bed before 10 PM. My wake up call for Tuesday is 4:40 AM!

And that’s a day in the life of me as a fitness instructor. A lot of running around from place to place, preparing for clients, and working out and eating – my favorite!

My No Sugar Challenge (March 2018)

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So, I was chatting with my husband the other day- specifically about diet and muscle definition. He’s been genetically #blessed with a 6 pack since he was 13. Maybe he’s not the best person to talk to about this. As many of you know, the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” is true. Your diet and nutrition is a surefire way for your abs to peek out.

So, out of curiosity, I decided to conduct a little experiment on myself. I’ve never been one to diet or cut out food groups for the sake of weight loss. I usually workout 5x a week (a mixture of many types of workouts), along with bike commuting and lots of walking. I already live a plant based lifestyle for sustainability reasons- although to be honest I’m less “whole foods” than I’d like to be.

But, in the month of March (this month!), I will be cutting out all ADDED SUGARS (REFINED) from my diet. I’ll be tracking my progress along the way (before/after photos, how I feel and what I eat in a day) on this blog and on my Instagram @fitwithchristie. My goal is to simply see if it makes a difference in how I feel, how I eat and my body composition.

My first post will be a “What I Eat in a Day/Day in the life of a Fitness Instructor” post! Look out for it in a few days!

My Weekly Fitness Routine

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Every week is different. I am constantly surrounded by studios, gyms and more so, this might look like a “lot of working out.” Keep in mind that this is my job so, I don’t necessarily “recommend” this to everyone. If you have a full time job, my best recommendation is to pick a workout that is efficient and helps you meet your fitness goals. It’s so important to pick a sustainable routine – something that you feel like you can stick to day after day.  Generally, because I am not training for a race, I like to do a good mix of workouts but my primary focus is still Pilates and running. I’ve been sprinkling in more strength training (with weights) and like to do a Yoga class once a week. So.. here’s a peek into week of workouts. This is my plan for this week.

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Everyone has a different perspective on what the “best” workout is. From my point of view, health is about picking an activity you love doing, so that it’s sustainable. Find some things that you love and stick to it. Don’t overthink it. My best advice for someone who just wants to start to get in shape is to just build a baseline of exercises that you love. Create a routine (3x a week) and start to incorporate working out with friends!

 

What does your weekly workout routine look like?

Our Wedding Day

Today’s post is a personal one. In the midst of the winter season engagement fervor, I can’t help but remember my own special wedding day. On September 29, 2017, I married my college sweetheart after four years of dating. Although this isn’t “fitness related,” I thought it could be helpful to share some of the vendors I chose to use. And it’s a great excuse to share some of our beloved wedding photos. 😉 Stay tuned to the end of the post for my best fitness advice to get ready for the wedding.

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We chose to get married at Fruitlands Museum located about 40 minutes from Boston in Harvard, MA. We knew we wanted a local Boston wedding, as we met and got engaged here. But, I desperately wanted an outdoor ceremony so, we took our search outside the city. We stumbled upon Fruitlands Museum after visiting 7-8 other venues and just knew it was the one. It was a no frill, no fuss outdoor venue that provided all the rustic charm I wanted with the ease of full coordination and catering included. (Another plus: Fireside Catering provides amazing service, coordination, drinks and food!).

Wedding Photographer

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Two of the most important things for the wedding day were the venue and an amazing photographer to capture the moment. After a long search (I’m picky!), we were blessed to find Tiffany Von Photography. I wanted a light, dreamy vibe that captured emotion and sentiment well. Tiffany was incredibly professional, friendly and warm and did an incredible job with our photos. She gives great direction when it comes to posing so, don’t worry about feeling “awkward” in front of the camera. A big thing that sets her apart is that she puts a lot of focus on the little details of your wedding. These are things you might have missed (like I had no idea what our centerpieces looked like until after the wedding!) during your wedding.

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Tip: I used Instagram (searched things like #bostonweddingphotographer) to find photographers. It gave me a good idea of their best work, their vibe and their personality. Would highly recommend! You can also stalk some of their other clients and their past work!

Our Florist

I had big ideas for our flowers. I didn’t want to do just the traditional bouquets and centerpieces. I wanted to find a florist who had a whimsical style that was still classic. Since our wedding was in fall, I loved the idea of using dahlias (a flower that Emmanuel has bought me plenty of times through Fivefork Farms) on our special day. Sweet Annie Floral Design was the answer to our prayers. Beyond our centerpieces, bouquets and boutonnieres, she built an arbor, garland for our sweetheart table and a wooden structure that added a special touch to our ceremony.

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Hair + Makeup + The Dress

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I decided all of these details early in the wedding planning process. Once I settled on the venue, wedding dress shopping and makeup artist shopping happened quickly! After searching through every Boston based bridal boutique and finding nothing, I headed home to the bridal boutique my sister found her dress at. I was skeptical as I had tried on at least 50 “nos” but found this dress and knew it was the one.

Hair + Makeup: Min-ah Campos

The Dress: Essense of Australia Style D2298, purchased from Max Bridal NY in Long Island, NY

Getting Fit for the Wedding

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My best piece of advice is to not stress about it. I know everyone wants to look their best the day of…and for the rehearsal dinner… and for your tropical honeymoon. But, realistically, you probably are already so stressed planning the wedding, going on a crazy restrictive, over exercising diet is not the way to go. My best advice is to add one easy extra thing/rule to both your fitness routine and nutrition. So, for example, a nutrition thing could be – replace breakfast with a big green smoothie or no processed sugars. You can add in an extra spin class every week or start doing Pilates privates to get extra toned arms and abs for the wedding day. For my wedding day, I (non intentionally) was running the Chicago Marathon 2017 the week after my wedding so, I had plenty of fitness goals to keep me accountable. I reduced my sugar intake the month or 2 before my wedding. Keep it simple, and make it something you can do consistently. Don’t fret and cut out all carbs. Please. #BreadisLife

A complete list of our vendors. A big THANK YOU to all of them for their hard work:

How to Dress for Winter Running

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I feel like the depths of the cold are just starting to hit me. Can you believe that next week is already Christmas?! This year has just flown by. In the midst of the craziness of the holidays, I encourage everyone to keep on running. I know… it’s cold, and with the wind chill the temperatures outside feel like 0 F. But, it is so vital to keep your fitness up, even through the winter. Like I mentioned in my last post, I encourage everyone to keep on trying new things but, to sustain their running regimes as well.

I was talking to a friend who just was getting into running. She mentioned that it was just so cold and she probably wasn’t wearing the right thing. Last March, I ran a half marathon with a very good friend of mine (it was her first!) who also was getting into outdoor running. She asked the same questions – what do I wear? how much of X do I wear? To the seasoned runners out there, this probably seems like an obvious question but, I remember feeling really lost during my first season of running.

I created an eBook called “The Ultimate Runner’s Guide for Dressing in Any Weather” that will help you figure out what to wear. I’ve included general information about what to buy and where, a checklist for you to figure out exactly what to wear during a specific temperature and a “formula” of how to layer properly. My eBook is completely free, all you have to do is sign up for my email newsletter (I promise, no spam! Just good content).

DOWNLOAD HERE

 

Once you’ve dowloaded the eBook, drop me a DM on my Instagram (@fitwithchristie) or leave a comment on this blog post to let me know what you think!

How to Fit Cross Training into your Spring Marathon Training 

Have you picked your spring Marathon or half marathon already (hello NYC 1/2, Boston, and so much more!) Training for any endurance event is a huge time suck but, fitting in your choice of cross training can have some huge benefits on your finish time, preventing injury and so much more. Pilates specifically has some huge benefits for runners (think hip extension and opening, glute strengthening, strengthening abductors and adductors, ankle mobility, posture and core strength). Pilates is my preferred choice of cross training for many reasons as it is a safe workout and there is almost no risk of injury during the workout.

Although it’s hard fit a Pilates routine once you start running 4-5x a week, it’s totally possible. When I was training for my recent marathon (Chicago 2017), I managed to fit in a Pilates private session once a week, and then mat Pilates and Yoga at least one other time a week. Think of a Pilates class as more than just training your body – you’re also training your mind. Classes and other workouts will help keep you motivated and your body feeling strong.

Here are a few tips on how to fit Pilates into your routine:

  1. Make your training plan fit your lifestyle

If you aren’t training with a coach and are using an online plan, don’t think that they’re all one size fits all. Expect there to be changes and be flexible! You don’t have to do every workout on that exact day. Do try to get in all the workouts with a heavy focus on the long runs. Once you put less pressure on yourself to execute the plan perfectly, you’ll see that there is more room to fit in your Pilates class once a week.

2. Plan ahead

Marathon training takes hard work.. and a lot of planning. Whether it’s nutrition (and figuring out exactly when and what you’re taking on race day) or gear (what shoes are you wearing? body glide? kit?), each week takes planning. Sit down at the start of each week and schedule in your runs and workouts to make sure they happen.

3. Pick one form of cross training

This isn’t the season for you to experiment and figure out what works for you. Hopefully you’ve used your off season to find a form of cross training that really works. For me, I know that Pilates works for so many reasons. It’s my optimal form of cross training. Once you find something that works and see the benefits, stick with it and commit to doing it at least once a week. If you can get two sessions in of cross training- great! But, realistically, life gets in the way.

Should I Take Private or Group Pilates Classes?

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As a Pilates instructor who teaches both group mat, reformer and private Pilates sessions, I get a lot of questions about what the difference is between the group and private lessons. Do I need to do a private if I have XYZ issue? The reality is the biggest difference may be more than just financial. Privates are often 3-4x more expensive than group classes.

Because I get so many questions about this, I decided to break down the pros and cons of taking a group class versus a private session. I will caveat by saying that the group class size makes a huge difference in this so, in this blog post we are assuming a group class is a typical mat Pilates class capped at 15 people. The advantage of some small boutique studios is that you may get a smaller class size but, most people probably have access to a general “mat Pilates” class at a studio, Yoga studio or gym.

A little bit of history behind how Contrology (or Pilates as we know it today) was originally taught: “Contrology” as Joseph Pilates taught it was actually quite inexpensive. Clara and Joe gave each student a personalized workout to do each time they visited the gym. After, the students were expected to memorize the workout (or reference the walls which were covered in photos of Joe doing the exercises). Because each student wasn’t given private, hands on instruction every time they visited, Contrology was quite an affordable method. Think of it more like a gym membership or studio rental where you execute a preset workout than a private, hands on session (as most studios offer).

“A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.”

Group Sessions:

Pros:

-Less $: A group session is significantly less money. In Boston, I see most single group mat classes going for $20-$25. If you buy a pack or membership, you can access classes for as little as $7-10 a class. A group reformer class will set you back $35.

Cons:

-Little to no personal attention: Due to the size of the class, teachers give direction but not instruction. Teachers simply cannot spend the time giving personalized vocal or hands on instruction to any of their students. They teach a simplified version of Pilates to a large class and just pray that you can follow along to the best of your ability. It is extremely difficult to learn “The Work” in this environment

-Access to only 1 apparatus: Mat and reformer classes limit you to being able to use only one piece of Pilates equipment. Pilates is designed to be experienced and used as a system. Unfortunately, only private sessions give you the opportunity to use all the equipment.

-Limited times: Group classes are usually scheduled early in the morning or in the early evening. If you have a particular schedule, you may not be able to make group classes.

Private Sessions:

Pros:

-Personal Instruction: You are given personal, hands on instruction. If you have any injuries or special conditions (back pain, neck pain, pregnancy, breast feeding etc), it is best to avoid group classes as they likely will not be able to accommodate your issues. Group classes are not designed specifically for you but, are usually designed beforehand. It is up to you to modify the class based on your needs. If you are unaware of your needs and are new to working out, it is best to start with a few private sessions.

-Hands on Instruction: One of the most distinctive pieces of classical Pilates is the direct, hands on instruction that guides students into the right positions. A great hands on can transform an exercise for a student and can help them understand The Work at a deeper level. You are only given plenty of hands on instruction during a private session.

-Access to Pilates as a system: I start private sessions on the reformer or mat and then will bring them to other pieces of equipment based on their needs (commonly the high chair, wunda chair, pedi-pull, or ladder barrel). Again, you will really only understand Pilates if you can access all the equipment and understand the connection between all the exercises. Pilates is about developing connections in your body and in your mind.

-Faster results: Because a private session is more specific to you needs and desires, you will improvements much more quickly. Whether your goals are to get stronger or deepen your Pilates practice, you are much more likely to improve in a private setting.

-Flexible scheduling: You are able to schedule a private session by appointment so, you can usually fine the best time that works for you.

Cons

-More $$: Private sessions in Boston average at $90-110 an hour. This is about 4x the price of a group mat class or 3x the price of a group reformer class. Again, if you buy packs, usually you can get the price to as low as $80/hour but, this requires more $ upfront.

I generally recommend private sessions to all students who can swing it. It may seem like a big price to pay upfront but, we promise, that it’s worth it! As a Pilates instructor, it is so much easier to teach Contrology in a private setting with access to a full range of equipment. But, at the end of the day, it depends on your goals.

TL:DR – Should I take group or private Pilates classes? 

Do you just want a workout and form or safety aren’t a priority? Group classes.

Do you truly want to learn Pilates as it was meant to be taught or have specific injuries or issues? Private classes.

The Ideal Running Form (For Max Efficiency + Power)

My inaugural blog post! It’s finally here! The idea behind this blog post stemmed from months of practices with my local running club. In all of our group “cross training” sessions, I found that we were essentially doing Pilates. We were doing “planks”, “hip lifts”, “leg lifts” and so much more. Unfortunately instead of going to the foundation of those exercises, the majority of runners turned to other forms of exercise as cross training- yoga, weights and more. I truly believe that Pilates, at its purest, inherently helps all athletes, and specifically runners, strengthen weakness, adjust imbalances and develop the strong powerhouse you need to run.
In an effort to educate those who may not understand the connection between Pilates and running, I’ve created this post! Hopefully this post will help you connect the dots between running and Pilates. It should help convince you that Pilates is the perfect form of cross training, and should be included every day- whether in a cool down routine or as cross training.
*Disclaimer: I am not putting down other forms of exercise! I think those are necessary as well but, I feel that there is a lack of attention brought to Pilates’ benefits for runners (specifically versus other “ab exercises.”)

There is a lot of talk about the “ideal running form.” Of course, in every body, this looks slightly different but, I’ve chosen a popular elite runner to use as an example. From an anatomical, Pilates and running perspective, I believe these five elements are essential to achieve “ideal running form.”

Jordan Hasay

Coaches and trainers all harp on “having good form.” While this is essential in all exercise (Pilates included!) this is vital in runners as the repetitive motion of running/taking a step is repeated thousands of times throughout one practice. Think about how many steps you might take during a marathon – 20,000? All of your imbalances and weakness will be exacerbated by the constant and high volume of repetition.

  1. Slight Forward Lean

The ideal running position is with a slight forward lean from the head to toe. You don’t want to lean just from the hips (that would be you hinging from the hips, decreasing the angle at your hip flexors, causing unnecessary strain). This natural, slight forward lean lets gravity help you run forwards. Additionally, you can see her core is tight and activated, helping her achieve a neutral spine and tall posture.

How is Pilates connected to this? 

The core work you are doing in Pilates helps you maintain tight abs while you are running. One of the main goals in Pilates is to help your body unconsciously turn your abs on as you are running (or hitting the ball, kicking etc). Our ultimate goal as Pilates instructors is to see you demonstrate “unconscious competence” as a student in everything you do.

  1. Limited Bounce (Staying close to ground)

You want to limit the amount of “air time” you get as you run. This isn’t basketball or volleyball where your “vertical” is directly contributing to your performance. If you are excessively bouncy, you are wasting energy to move upwards instead of forwards. If you think about how long it takes the average person to complete a marathon (26.2 miles, let us estimate about 4 hours), think about all the wasted energy you exerted to move upwards instead of propelling yourself forwards. Additionally, the farther you go up, the less control your muscles will have over your landing. The higher you jump, the more your muscles have to work harder to control you landing. This is a potential contributing factor to shin splints/ankle issues in runners.

How is Pilates connected to this? 
Pilates is a “mind body” exercise method. In Pilates, you ideally learn to effectively control your body’s motions beyond sheer reflex. Instead of letting your running form be what it “naturally” is, you can use the control you learn in Pilates (which is actually called “Contrology”) to help reduce over bouncing.

  1. Relaxed upper body and solid posture

Your arms should be swinging forwards and backwards by your sides. You ideally want to prevent any horizontal movement and overswinging (swinging too far forwards or backwards). Again, this is excessive movement and may be linked to a lack of control over your core. You want relaxed shoulders (away from the ears and wide chest) and to look forwards as you run.

How is Pilates connected to this? 

Look at reason #1! It’s all connected. Your core helps you hold your arms in a comfortable swinging range

  1. Glutes activating 

As you run, your glutes should be fully activating and firing. As you step off your back leg, your glute should be working to move your leg forwards. Instead of depending on the front of your legs (quads etc), you want to focus on the push from the back of your legs (hamstring/glutes) for full power in your stride.

How is Pilates connected to this? 
Pilates is a total body exercise method that heavily incorporates the hamstrings and glutes. Many of my clients comment on much more their hamstrings and glutes are activated than in any other exercise they’ve done. In Pilates, the glutes work to stabilize or move the pelvis and connect with the work of the abs. All Pilates exercises incorporate a strong glute connection.

  1. Not Overstriding

You want to focus on not overstepping. The “general” rule of thumb is not letting your ankle go past your knees. As you can see in the above diagram, her foot falls well before her knees, meaning she is taking smaller, efficient strides.

How is Pilates connected to this? 

If you are appropriately using your glutes and hamstrings, you won’t be overstriding. As you continue your Pilates practice, your range of motion for the flexion and extension of your hips will increase and your hips/glutes will strengthen. If your hips are properly extended, you will have a longer stride without having to bring the ankle beyond the knee. Pilates helps to extend the hips via the work through the glutes. There are TONS of exercises that help with this and I’ve found that this is a big thing that improves early on in a Pilates practice.
I hope that this helped you see the connection between working on your running form and a Pilates practice. With running, there is almost always a direct link to what we work on in Pilates.

Until next time!

Christie