The Reward

It’s that time of year again. You know- when we start to get all excited about setting our resolutions and goals, only to feel especially deflated when we can’t achieve the unachievable. Why is that? Well my sneaking suspicion is that we haven’t made the reward worth the work. I’m currently reading an amazingly interesting book called, The Power Of Habit. In it, author Charles Duhigg refers to our habits like loops. You first have the cue, the instigator or signal to your brain for your current habit, then the routine, the way you go about fulfilling your cue, and finally the payoff or reward. One of the BIGGEST New Year’s resolutions are fitness related and one of the BIGGEST disappointments come mid-February when all the steam has gone out of that goal and you are eating Bon Bons while staring at your gym membership card. So how do you retrain habits you ask? Well, according to Duhigg we can’t retrain them but we can create anew, and what better time than a NEW year?

To better understand how habits stick we have to look at the end of the cycle instead of the beginning. Many of us will start a workout on a whim, a new class on the fly, but what makes that guy on the spin bike next to you more committed than your sorry ass? The reward. Finding THE FEELING that makes you feel like it’s all worth it. It’s that feeling that will keep you coming back for more. Ever since 2011 I’ve decided enough with setting goals, and instead with the advice from Chris Brogan have been picking three words for the new year. This year though, I want to take it to another level and focus on that reward of feeling. How do I want to feel when I achieve my goals? My dreams? Focusing on the emotional payoff will get me where I need to be.

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One of my favorite authors and speakers, Danielle LaPorte has tapped into this very thing. In her book, Fire Starter Sessions, she has a killer exercise called finding your Core Desired Feelings. Here’s the simple steps to figuring out how you’d like 2015 to feel:

  • Start by listing concepts, words, feelings, or images.
  • Next study your list and find out what jumps out at you. The goal is to narrow the list down to three.
  • If you’re having trouble look up the definitions which can spark certainty
  • Or go deeper with questions. For example if your word is feeling is confidence you’ll ask “what does confidence feel like?” over and over again until you’re sure. Sometimes you come up with a completely different word that is better defined, like confidence turning into clarity
  • Finally, write each word on a sticky note and try them on for a bit. See which ones stick and which you can toss away

I believe that living your best life is so much more than working hard but also knowing why it is your working!

 

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What the Fuck is Pilates Anyway?

In a conversation with a couple of clients over brunch, I realized how little people know about what Pilates is — even those who actually practice it.

As I took the time to ponder this anomaly, I started wonder what is Pilates anyway?

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There’s the textbook answer: Joe Pilates was an actual man. A boxer, gymnast, movement enthusiast. He was an inventor, an innovator. A man’s man. A beer-drinking, cigar-smoking German. My clients all have that basic knowledge, and maybe some of the New York lineage. “Yes, Romana, she’s the Pilates guru,” but that’s really it. As I sat explaining the roots of Pilates, its foundation, family tree, and my line, I realized that it still doesn’t really explain what it actually is. SO, if Pilates isn’t the people that created it or teach it, what the fuck is Pilates anyway?

 

It might be easiest to start with what Pilates isn’t. It’s not yoga, or ballet-based. It’s not weight training, or just mat work. Pilates falls somewhere between mind/body modalities and cross fit. It’s not extreme or passive. It stretches, strengthens, energizes, relaxes, and heals all at the same time. There’s equipment involved, and while it’s most beneficial if you use it, you don’t have to if you want to do some Pilates.

 

No wonder Pilates is confuIMG_4501sing to most people — even to it’s instructors. We come from all different backgrounds — from dancers to dog trainers — and hold certifications from different schools in over 20 states and 24 international countries. It was Joe’s dream to have a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, in every country. The thing with expansion is that the more hands you have on something the more it morphs and changes, and some say, mutates. Joe used to give each person their own personal workout and then let them loose in the studio nudging and elbowing them into correct form. So whatever Pilates was for the business man that came to the studio, it may not be the same for the ballerina next to him. The definition of Pilates wasn’t the same for him as it was for her.

 

Here’s where the family tree grows branches and spreads it’s seeds across the world, making Joe’s dream come true. Many hands, many amalgamations. But isn’t that what their experience warranted? The industry gets bogged down with arguments and “discussions” on who’s actually teaching the true work of Joe, but really who the heck knows what Joe would do if he were alive today? He would probably be sitting back, sipping a cold one, and laughing at all the money in the bank.

 

 

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Surprise, I’m Not Perfect!

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In business like in life, shit happens to remind you that you are human, fallible, and destructible. The roads of failure and success intertwine. So there is bound to be a little collision here and there. Typically, there’s no celebration or party for our faux pas, but there should be. See, without falling there can be no getting up…and it’s the getting up that makes all the difference.

I have been running my own business now for just over 3 years, and have had more slip-ups than an entire summer on a slip-n-slide. I didn’t go to a college, earn a fancy MBA, or start my business with unlimited capital. No ma’am. My journey into entrepreneurial-ship was purely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants predicament. In my insecurity I did the research, read the books, and joined the business clubs to boost my mastery of business ownership. Being surrounded by fabulous women (some with degrees and success, some without) I quickly learned that no matter how much you hit the books there’s no replacement for being kicked in the ass by your business itself. The first time it happens you feel like the wind has been knocked out of you and that you may just be down for the count, but you get back up and keep on punching.

So if failing is inevitable and mistakes are unpreventable, why don’t we just learn to embrace it? Can you ride the wave of fuck-ups and still bring home a success of a business? When the shit hits the fan and you’re the one that was responsible for throwing it, can you forgive, forget, and move on? Certainly. And the health of your business depends on it.

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  • Reflect, Review, and Redo

In my case, I wasn’t completely aware of my mess up until it was the size of the Sierra Mountain range. By the time I was busted on my goof, it was too late to fix it. While you can’t take back the missteps, you can choose to do better now that you know better. Take the time to reflect on the situation. Can you see what your part in the debacle was? If your mess up included other people take a second to feel what they feel, empathize with how being on the back-end of the blow out must feel. Then, make a plan to do a reboot next time. Learn from your mistakes but never regret. One day you will realize that sometimes the wrong choices bring us to just the right places.

  • Bury the hatchet

In my journey to forgive myself, I have realized the importance of letting myself off the hook. Look, if you’ve done the damage either to yourself and/or to others punching yourself in the gut over it will just well, causes more hurt. Take some time to let bygones be bygones and heal so you can learn and grow. Be careful not to make this one failure bleed into the entirety of your being. Sure, you had a fuck-up on this particular day, in this particular situation, with this particular person. Does it mean you are utterly inept and should just throw in the towel? No way! Step away from the edge and give yourself a big “I’m sorry” hug.

  • Throw a Screw-up Soiree

So once you’ve learned the lesson and then forgave the offender, aka you, it’s time to shake that shit off! Put on some rockin’ tunes and shake your bootie! Treat yourself to a healthy homemade meal. Celebrate that you are SO self-aware, SO sorry that you messed up, and SO sure that you will make mistakes again. The most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people never interpret failure as the last word on the subject. Reward yourself for putting it out there and trying. Next time, and there will be a next time, remember a failure is just a try that didn’t work.

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Three Reasons People Are Afraid To Try Pilates — And Why You Shouldn’t Be

I’m not gonna lie. Pilates is hard. I was a professional dancer before I came to Pilates and I still thought it damn hard when I started. Sure, I had the coordination thing down already but I still had to re-learn how to move the Pilates way and that, my friend, was not easy. From a teaching stand-point, I try to convey this struggle to my clients. They will merely roll their eyes in disbelief and say, “Sure, your teaser looks like you have been doing it since you came out of the womb.” Not the case. When I started taking lessons I couldn’t do a roll-up to save my life because my lower back was locked solid from years of butt-clenching at the ballet barre. I find it particularly irritating to dispel all of the Pilates rumors and try to convince men that there really was a man who created the work and it was not a flouncy ballerina in a tutu. So, if you’ve been interested in trying that thing called Pilates this article is for you. Pilates is a challenge, but anything worth having is always worth working for isn’t it?

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  • Reason #1 – Pilates is just for dancers and women

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the method. To dispel the rumors correctly let me give you a quick history lesson. Joe Pilates was an actual person who was very much a manly man. He was a boxer and a gymnast who smoked cigars and drank beer. There was nothing girly about this German powerhouse. The first studio in the US was opened in NYC, and just happened to be in the same building as two of the biggest dance companies. When dancers heard that Uncle Joe on the 5th floor was helping heal injuries and strengthen weak muscles, they jumped right on that. Dancers became some of his biggest devotees not because the work was dance-like, but instead because they danced better and healed themselves with the work. When your body is your source of income, it is indispensable. In the modern Pilates studio, men may feel intimidated by all the ladies in the house. They shouldn’t. In that very first Pilates studio, business men were sweating it out right next to the dancers under Joe’s watchful eye. Remember, this was the 1920s and most women were home with the babies and didn’t seem concerned with working out. Men dominated the studio and Joe knew just how to work with them since he created the method for himself and well, he is the man.

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  • Reason #2 – I’ll look stupid/awkward/feel embarrassed/or won’t be good at it

Ok, let’s just say that anytime you try to learn a new skill there’s going to be a learning curve. No one jumps on a bike for the first time and pedals away. Sure, some of us pick up certain things faster than others but we’ve all fallen, stumbled, or tripped along the way so you’re not alone. Learning Pilates is no different. It’s something you have NEVER done and it’s NOT like anything else so duh, it’s going to be a challenge. The thing is, it’s not about getting somewhere or reaching some illusive Pilates level. No way, Jose! It’s about the movement, and in that moment, being present with each muscle and sensation. Learning to coordinate those movements together to work your body (the only one you’ll have in this lifetime btw), to its most efficient, healthiest self. Plus, Pilates instructors don’t see all of those so-called missteps. We’re trained to be so focused on what YOU need as the individual and how to give you that. We aren’t really paying attention to nervousness. We just want you to work hard no matter how it looks. So, feel a little awkward. Maybe even be a little embarrassed. But don’t give up because Pilates is one of the BEST things you can do for your self.

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  • Reason #3 – I don’t have the right body type or I’m too old

Joe’s biggest dream was that there would be a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, all over the world. What he didn’t envision, was that only skinny, anorexic-looking women would be doing his method. Nuh uh. He had fantasies of kids doing Pilates in school, elderly men standing tall for the first time in years, and sedentary office workers getting color in their cheeks from finally getting their blood pumping. Pilates is for everyone and every body. It is safe enough for the 80 year old or the injured; it is challenging enough for those pro-dancers and athletes. In archival documents and interviews Joe Pilates never talks about muscles or bones but rather breath and blood. He wasn’t promising flat abs or a perky ass, but optimal health and space for your organs to do their thing without obstacles. Feeling good was waaaay more important than looking it. So, whether you’re a super model or a just the average Joe — Pilates IS right for you!

In short there is really no good reasons not to be doing Pilates, so get over yourself and get into the studio. I promise you’ll thank me. If you’re in New York, schedule your New Client Special here at FORM Pilates USQ here!

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What Is A Cooperative?

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Three years ago I took over a little Pilates studio in Union Square, called Union Square Pilates. I painted the walls, changed the name, and hung some art, and voila- FORM Pilates Union Square was born. I had absolutely no idea how things would evolve, butI wasn’t worried. I knew what I didn’t want- a factory like studio pumping out clients and controlling  what other teachers taught. I was clear on what I DID want- a studio to bring my clients to that was clean, happy, had a wonderful vibe, as well as a place where the Pilates community could come together instead of pushing each other apart.  So like one of my favorite quotes, “I dream because there is no other way I can see it happen” I dreamed big and boom- I saw it happen.

 

I first heard of the concept of a cooperative in the context of the grocery store, the Park Slope Coop. Members agree to work once every month in exchange for discounts on healthy fare. Very cool I thought and that planted a seed. Then through a woman’s networking group I heard about a shared workspace in the city called In Good Company. It was a place female entrepreneurs come to work, meet, and learn. Cut to two years into my owning FORM USQ and it kind of sounded like what I was inadvertently doing- renting out my space so other instructors could build and incubate their businesses under mine. I wanted a place we could be a community, so like they say, “your dream job does not exist you must create it”, and I did.

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The true definition of a cooperative is an autonomous group of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. People have been cooperating since the beginning of time. Tribes were organized as cooperative structures, allocating jobs and resources among each other. Bottom line is that cooperatives are a good thing, but why weren’t there any for Pilates instructors? Why were we being left out?

 

The daunting costs of NYC commercial rent, equipment prices, and the shear need for space to house a proper studio keeps wannabe Pilates soloprenuers from branching out on their own. In a sprawling metropolis like New York my colleagues needed a place to bring their clients and work out of. Notoriously divided, Pilates people can be snotty and pretentious. They can be afraid of sharing and living in a world of lack instead of embracing abundance. I refused to believe that’s all there is. What if you could come as you are, with the type of clients that “get” your style, and build a thriving business without going into a mountain of debt. No reason why not so, after months of building our new structure with my team, the FORM Pilates Cooperative was born.

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At FORM you can join our cooperative at one of two levels. As a Drop-In member who sees less than 10 clients a week but is looking to build, or as a Subscriber who already has a full practice, 15+ clients a week, but wants to maximize their time, profit, and diversify their revenue streams. As their fearless leader, I offer office hours, group coaching, and one-on-one consultations to help supplement the practical training we received in our certifications with business savvy. As a fully functioning Pilates studio, we also receive inquiries from potential clients and match them with their ideal Pilates instructor. The client can continue to shop around and work with several cooperative members or if it’s a match made in heaven, the teacher can take on the client as their own. This approach makes for both happy clients AND teachers.

 

We are excited to be the first Pilates Cooperative in NYC!

Want more info on how our cooperative works or an application to join our team? Email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com today!

 

Guest Post: Beat The Heat With Coconut Water

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The summer heat is kickin’ and so are your legs while trying to stay in beach body shape so you can rock that itsy bitsy bikini. Working out and getting your sweat on during the summer can cause dehydration and overheating. It is super important to make sure your body is hydrated and full of those awesome molecules called electrolytes aka sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and so on. Without getting too scientific, electrolytes are charged particles that help maintain voltage and send electrical impulses between the cells. Think of your body as a battery, your heart, muscles, kidneys and nerves communicate and operate via these electrical impulses. Electrolytes give the charge to keep your battery running. When you exercise and sweat you lose electrolytes, or your charge. Without them you are like a dead battery, 0% on the charge bar.

Coconut water is a great way to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes. Below are a few facts, so study up and stay hydrated.

It’s Juice! That’s right it’s not water, it’s juice that lives inside a coconut. If you were to go to a beautiful tropical island hack open a coconut with a machete you would find liquid inside, that’s the juice. In the big city we just run to the deli and grab a bottle. Look out for added sugars and from concentrate, keep it real.

More Potassium Than a Banana: One small bottle (about 9.5 fl oz) of coconut water can have up to 600mg of potassium, more than a banana which contains around 400mg. Great if you experience leg cramping before, during, after your workout or to recover from one too many margaritas.

No Dyes or Preservatives: Unlike other sports drinks coconut water does not contain any harmful dyes. You won’t see any color in coconut water unless it’s raw and pink. This is simply anti-oxidants interacting with light. If it’s pink it’s good! Be sure your “go to” brand does not contain preservatives, read the label.

Moisturizes: Dermatologists have found that drinking coconut water will hydrate your skin form the inside out without producing excess oil. For even more moisture use a coconut mask – sit back, relax and hydrate.

Beyond Potassium: The tropical juice also contains sodium, magnesium and calcium to help replenish those depleted electrolytes we discussed above.

No, Low, Healthy Fat: If you’re drinking coconut water without the pulp, there’s no fat, if you prefer a little coconut meat you’ll be getting low amounts of fat. Don’t be scared of a little fat, it’s great for your brain and can help settle a queasy dehydrated stomach and give you some energy. If you are afraid of fat choose the no pulp option.

Coconut water will help you stay charged and hydrated through these hot summer months so you can keep on sweating. Remember to drink good ole regular H2O as well, the classic hydrator.

8b23fa_98359f271ca346bd84885bdaecfb4925.jpg_srz_323_293_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzAbbey Matson~Health and Nutrition Counselor

After a decade working in several different industries spanning fashion, mental health, finance and clinical research, I recognized how often general wellness is ignored. We have become accustomed to feeling sub-par and eating anything convenient, regardless of the negative repercussions on our health and life force. I founded Mind to Body Health so I may support others in creating a life that allows the individual to feel well and function at full potential. I work with clients as a Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor to help individuals understand their mind to body connection and determine what works best for their bio-individuality. Contact me today to learn more.

 

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Angilique Campbell

My first thought when meeting the amazingly gorgeous Angilique Campbell was that she was a Nubian Princess in a past life. Statuesque and striking, standing 5’8”, she is a pure joy to be around. She has an air of poise and self-assurance that makes you want to be her and an relaxed nature that makes you want to also be her best friend. Don’t let her beauty and hysterical stories fool you- she will kick your butt Pilates style!

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Angilique started her career in movement teaching group fitness classes that focused on cardio and strength training. During her packed classes her keen eye found that many students had issues with their bodies. Her desire to help address correct and restore them to proper movement led her into Pilates. She started taking Pilates mat and apparatus classes and fell in love. Immediately she felt the benefits of the method and decided to get her certification through Power Pilates.

Angilique’s favorite part of teaching Pilates is the challenge it provides for all fitness levels. She works with professional athletes and dancers helping to improve their game or performance with her rigorous regime (I told you she was a tough cookie). She’s also keen on the fact that Pilates is a perfect fit for rehabbing injuries since it can be modified for those with special needs. She even gets to practice this softer side of Pilates weekly since she also teaches out of a physical therapy office here in Manhattan.

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She enjoys working with the variety of clients but especially with dancers because she also dances. She loves that dancers have a great sense of body awareness but then also need the conditioning outside of classes, rehearsals, and performances. In addition to the dance community, Angilique also loves to work with men. She sees them lifting weights and running but neglecting their core and flexibility training. She gives them exercises to help improve their core strength, increase their flexibility, and show them that Pilates is not just for women! It was created by a man after all…Joseph Pilates!

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When Angilique’s not in the studio she most likely is getting a fierce mani/pedi! Her nails are kinda an obsession and she can name almost any color on the shelf. She takes yoga, ballet, contemporary, and modern classes regularly, sometimes three in one day! She loves a great brunch and is diligently practicing her French with aims to become fluent.

Here’s some fun facts about Ms. Campbell you might not know:

  • She gets her nails done so often that the salon she frequents  gave me her Korean name, Soo Hee
  • She loves cooking and will take classes to learn new recipes and is always experimenting on her own at home
  • She loves animals and often goes to the pet shop just to play with them
  • She had emergency eye surgery this year which prevented her from going blind. She loves going for follow up visits because she has the biggest crush on her surgeon:)
  • She’s fancy like the Iggy Azalea song

Click on the video below to get a taste of the goodness that is Angilique then click here to book with Angilique in our Union Square studio for a sweaty workout or a cure for what ails you.

photos courtesy of  Simon McDermott-Johnson and Nina Robinson

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Claire Danese

If you’ve been at FORM Pilates Union Square lately, then chances are that you’ve noticed our gorgeous Brit ballet dancer, Claire Danese slinking around. How could you not?!?! Personally, I first met Claire almost three years ago in a duet session with my mentor Shari Berkowitz. It was all I could do to keep up with this mother of two, while Shari put us through our paces.  I find that Claire is the perfect mix of strength and grace and is as inspiring to workout next to as it is to take a lesson with.

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Claire got her start as a ballet dancer, and trained at the Royal Ballet School in London. She quickly became a professional and has performed with major ballet companies throughout Europe. Her life as a dancer, led her to a deeper interest in the human body and eventually her Pilates certification from Power Pilates in 2008. Since then, she has developed her interest further focusing on Pilates benefits for the body and its ability to alleviate injuries and chronic conditions. After working at Equinox, Columbus Circle for more than 5 years, she is now focusing on her private clientele. She not only teaches privates but also duets at FORM Pilates. Being a mother has helped her hone the right balance between giving direction and being patient.  (We bet it does Claire!!!)

In alignment with her role as a Pilates instructor, she believes that mind body balance can lead to a healthier life. Claire is an avid runner, who has ran many half marathons and more recently the infamous NYC marathon. She will be running again in the NY Marathon this year, for the charity, NYRR Team for Kids (click here to donate and help Claire meet her goal!). It’s this dedication to exercising that makes for a excellent example for all of her clients. Claire is smart and cross trains year round with Pilates. She finds it elongates the muscles that have been contracted while running and skiing.

But don’t let the accent fool you though, she still likes to have fun.

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Here’s a couple fun nuggets you might not know about Claire:

  • She makes yummy kale chips and granola
  • She likes doing Sudoku (but only when she’s winning)
  • She’s a fan of Formula One car racing (from childhood)
  • She loves art, especially paintings from contemporary artists

When Claire isn’t hitting the slopes with her family she is enjoying her family life at her home in Battery Park with her family. We are lucky enough to have Claire at FORM Pilates Union Square.

Check out the video above to see Claire in action then click here now to view Claire’s schedule and book a session with her today!

New to our studio? Take advantage of our amazing New Client Special (3 Private sessions for $250). Do all three sessions with Claire or try out three different teachers until you find your match. Schedule your sessions today!

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Torn Apart

 

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Last month I had my heart broken. Not broken really, but completely torn apart. It was SO painful that I thought I must have actual tears on my heart. I imagined bleeding, oozing, red and angry wounds. I was beside myself with grief and had actual physical pain in my chest. I was wounded, down for the count and bodily harmed. I laid around like an ICU patient mainlining white wine and tearing through my share of kleenex, willing the suffering to end.

In between episodes of Grey’s Anatomy I got to thinking that this pain I was feeling made sense since my heart, is an actual muscle. Anatomically it’s composed of cardiac muscle and connective tissue that could in theory well, tear. Years ago, back in my dancing days, I suffered a bona-fide hamstring laceration, commonly known as “dancer or yogi butt”. Your hamstring (or the muscle that’s in the back of your upper leg), has two places that it’s muscle fibers become connective tissue that then attach to your bones. The sits bones is one of them, thus the feeling your butt hurts (and it DOES!) when you pull those hamstring muscles. I was in agony and eventually had to stop dancing for the first time in my life. During that time, I was desperate for an end date to my pain and a physical therapist told me my hamstring tear could take up to 12 weeks to heal at least!  I was desperate to heal and get out of pain. I found myself afraid to move, calculating the risk in all my movements including my weekly Pilates practice.

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A big part of my role as a Pilates instructor is to remind people how to move and show them that they can trust their bodies. While I’m NO WHERE qualified enough to be a healer (not enough college, just following what Joe created) I do use my experience, both physically and emotionally to help people heal. One of the hardest things about injury is learning to trust again. Learning to trust that the pain will fade. Learning to trust that your body will and can move again safely. Learning to trust that someone new won’t rip your heart out of your chest and stomp on it. However challenging this is, it is necessary for a full life. A life filled with love and freedom of movement. Joe said, “The mind when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.” Learning to love and move again is the most empowering thing you can do with your life. In this life we must learn to trust our heart and the steps our feet will make.

My recovery from that old dance injury ended up taking a lot longer than 12 weeks. I STILL feel the scar tissue from time to time in my butt. Chances are that if my hamstring took months to heal so will the emotional tears on my heart. There may always be some scarring there but the strength will be greater than ever and most of all- my trust in myself will bloom. You can do anything in the studio or in life if you trust yourself. You’ve got to dance like no one’s watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, and move like anything’s possible.

DEREK REDMOND (GBR) LIES ON THE FLOOR IN AGONY AFTER AN INJURY IN THE 400M

Whether your healing from a physical or emotional injury the teachers at FORM have your back! Come and visit us in our NYC studio and we can teach you how to trust your body again. Get three private sessions for $250. Schedule it today!

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A look back at the breast

Pink ribbons, pink Susan G. Komen kitchenware, and 5 hour energy pink lemonade. The only colors we used to associate with October were orange and black, but now pink (in the best way) has taken over. It is nearly impossible to go anywhere this month and not see a form of breast cancer awareness. Even though we’re still “racing for a cure,” I think it is important to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Did you know that back in Ancient Egypt before 1000 AD, when they observed a form of breast cancer, it was common practice to cauterize the infected tissue? While some form of cauterization may always be used to remove unwanted growths, it was no match for cancer cells. Fortunately, since then we’ve found alternative methods.

Prior to the 19th century, most people did not live long enough to noticeably develop breast cancer. Once improvements were made in sanitation, the increased occurrences of breast cancer began to draw attention. The first successful treatment of breast cancer was achieved by surgeons Jean Louis Petit and Benjamin Bell, who chose to surgically remove lymph nodes, breast tissue, and chest muscle. In the 1880s, another surgeon by the name of Halsted, piggy-backed on that idea and began performing mastectomies. Although most patients had long-term pain after the procedure, the invention of the mastectomy raised the survival rate from 10 percent to 50 percent.

First Mastectomy

This treatment continued until the 1970s, when the removal of just the cancerous tumor (known as a lumpectomy) became more popular. By 1985, research proved that a lumpectomy combined with radiation was just as effective as a mastectomy, without the impingement.

In the past twenty years, researchers have made leaps and bounds. With ongoing studies looking at similarities between not only patient reactions, but also potential risk factors. Since doctors have discovered that the cancer affects the entire body (not just the infected area), treatments have appropriately evolved. This has resulted in chemotherapy, pills, and now even some preemptive treatments to replace any harmful genes. Treatment is more customized than ever before, focusing on the genetic makeup of the individualized patient.

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As it stands, 1 out of 7 women develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Thankfully, diagnosis is not a death sentence like it was in Ancient Egypt. Each patient diagnosed has millions of people indirectly (and some directly) supporting them throughout their treatment. It’s only a matter of time before a cure is found.

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