Blues Schmooze

blue-monday

Happy New Year!!! What are your 2015 resolutions? To workout more? To eat better? To get a new job, a new boyfriend, a new life? Oh the pressure. Of a resolution. All this, New Year, New You bullshit stresses us to pull new habits out of our ass like a rabbit out of a hat. Look — don’t get me wrong: I’m all for improvement and betterment of self. Hell, it’s what I do all day between teaching people Pilates and motivating others to create the businesses and lives of their dreams. My issue lies not with the good intention but instead with the peer pressure from society. Such constant nagging to make giant grandiose plans of improvement only lead us down the path of good intentions with no result which only makes you bury your head in shame for giving up just weeks later.

There’s an actual phenomenon, coined by a British doctor for travel firm in hopes of selling vacation packages to Bora Bora and other sunny locales, called Blue Monday. Since its inception in 2005 the concept has been debunked, even by the good doctor himself, but Blue Monday, or the last Monday in January, is supposed to be THE most depressing day of the year. Despite being bogus, it still resonates. This time of year the weather is crap-tacular, the lack of sunshine and vitamin D starts to take it’s toll, you’ve been eating like a bear preparing to hibernate, and you just got your credit card bills from the holiday. Basically, January is one big Christmas hangover.

So, while all of those facts may be true, so many of us still try to make resolutions each year with renewed hope that somehow this year they’ll stick. Years ago I swore off resolutions myself in favor or creating words that set a tone for how I want to feel all year. I find it helpful to keep looking back at them when I feel lost or frustrated by the way my life is muddling along, and use them as redirection back to where I want to be. And while my strategy is good for not setting oneself up for failure with dreaded resolutions or empty goals, it’s not really a roadmap on how to get from New Year hope to real results.
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One of my favorite business strategists, Derek Halpern, just released a series of blogs titled, Be The Exception. Derek’s mother was on welfare, married to a drug addict, and had never been to college. Derek’s grandmother gave his mom a second chance by sending her back to school. Despite the odds his mom turned things around — going to school, working full time, and raising two kids, bringing them up to a comfy middle class existence without drugs and poverty, but she is the exception. How many times have you heard sad stories of people who have had terrible things happen to them, or maybe those terrible things have happened to you, but they just can’t pull themselves up to the challenge. What is it that separates those who rise above and those who just sink lower?

 

Well, desire for change is first and foremost. Hitting bottom with your situation or finally getting fed up enough to do something about it is key. Do you want change bad enough? Change is never the easy road so you have to want it. The first part originates within, second part is the external pressure. How many times have you had a great idea or even a deep dark dream that you choose excitedly to share only to be poo poo-ed by some well meaning friend or family member with a pat on the hand and a little, “When are you going to get a real job?” Same goes for big lifestyle changes like curbing your drinking or choosing kale over Kobe beef. Your peers who want change too but aren’t really willing to work for it. Your change threatens their lack of motivation. They will try to coerce you to stay back down at their level and “Just have just one,” or “come on! you only live once!” Misery loves company.

The thing is that the real hurdle to your dreams and realized resolutions is not the advertising industry, society, circumstances, or even your friends and family, but you. YOU are the biggest obstacle to your dreams. So stop the excuses and get your butt in gear. Want to workout more, just do it. Don’t lament about last week when you ate a whole box of Ho Ho’s with your butt glued to your couch. Today is a new day and a new chance to be the exception to the rule. Get up get moving and walk confidently in the direction of your dreams. The road to being a bad ass is not a straight one without any hills. Climb that shit and remember that anything worth having is worth working for.

 

JAY_SULLIVAN_PHOTOGRAPHER-3613Lindsay Lopez is a dynamic force of nature. Years in tutus and tights paid off with wild success as a dancer and actress. Years in the “biz” taught her that dreams can come true, with plenty of planning and TONS of action to back them up. With a vision of helping her fellow instructors make what they deserve and live a life they love, Lindsay created FORM Pilates Union Square to focus on trainers rather than the clientele. The result was a workspace for teachers who love to teach and clients love to learn. Although Lindsay teachers less and less, she is breathing new life into a stale industry. Her wish is to provide her peers with the business training they so desperately need. As a positive coach and gutsy mentor, Lindsay Lopez is changing the Pilates business for the better.

 

 

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Julia Starobin

If someone knows about a gut busting, head turning, infectious laugh it’s me. I have been accused of being too loud or too boisterous but have ignored it all and kept on cackling. My laugh soulmate is Pilates instructor Julia Starobin. Her joy, smile, and yes, laugh is catchy and instantly joy inducing. Having Julia in the studio is a pleasure because besides joining you in a laugh she’s one hell of a teacher. Here’s Julia’s story:

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Like so many of us Pilates people, Julia was a dancer. Fascinated by movement, she dove headfirst into any exercise class or training method. The dance world was buzzing about Pilates and what a great workout it was so when she stumbled across a studio in her home state of New Jersey, she gave it a whirl. After that, there was no turning back.

For Julia, the most exciting thing about the Pilates method is that it is accessible to everyone. Whomever you are- whether you haven’t worked out a day in your life or you are a professional athlete- Pilates will challenge you. Keeping Julia’s interest is not an easy feat, but Pilates seems to do the trick. She’s crazy about how it consistently challenges her clients, continuing to teach alignment and introduce them to muscles they never knew existed.

Something that I find most exciting about Julia and her teaching style is her myriad of experience. She is a certified yoga and GYROTONICS teacher in addition to Pilates. While she deeply respects the Pilates method, sessions with her are infused with these other modalities. She finds that melding techniques into her client’s lessons makes the work that much more amazing.

When she’s not teaching you can find Julia practicing what she preaches. She’s an avid yogi and continues to take lessons for her self in the GYROTONIC method. She spends lots of time with her family, just across the Hudson, and close friends. In the summer, you can find her basking in the sun at Masten Lake, one of her favorite places to be!

Here’s 5 things people might not know about Julia:

  • She loves Mexican food and Sushi (just not together:)
  • Her mom is also a Pilates instructor
  • She’s yet to meet anyone who can make her laugh like her sister does
  • She REALLY loves what she does
  • You can bribe her to do just about anything for a good cocktail

Find Julia teaching Pilates at FORM, in NYC and for mat classes and yoga classes check her out at various Equinox Fitness Clubs here in the city.

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The Dog Whisperer’s Guide To Fitness

 

Me and the man himself

Me and the man himself

 

Her name was Bella, but we renamed her Frida. Her original family decided they couldn’t keep her so in lieu they dropped her at a horse ranch. All dogs love the outdoors so any four legged friend would love to live on a ranch, right? Wrong. Frida was the opposite of a ranch dog. She was terrified of horses, people, and just about everything. She hid under a porch morning to evening shivering and shaking trying to disappear. It wasn’t long before the ranch owners decided Frida had to go. Things just weren’t working out. A friend of a friend worked part-time with the horses and knew I was looking to adopt a dog. My boyfriend drove his Audi up the winding Hollywood Hills to ranch-land and brought Frida home in the backseat with us.

We noticed right away that she was very damaged. She couldn’t walk a straight line while on a leash, darting and cowering like a PTSD’d casualty of war. Whatever trauma she endured she carried it with her in every situation dodging and weaving away from an invisible enemy. She just needs time to adjust and get comfortable, we thought. We had no idea how serious her wounds were and what was entailed in her healing. A month into her adoption we stupidly took her to a 4th of July party and she lost her shit. A little boy with a giant water gun spooked her and she went for him, drawing blood.

I was devastated. I never had a dog that was aggressive or violent. People’s advice was to put her down or give her away but I believed in her sweet face and searched for other options. A Pilates client of mine who had dogs suggested I reach out to this guy who was known as the “Dog Whisper” who had an unusual way of training dogs with issues. Two weeks later Ceasar Milan showed up to our Venice apartment to assess Frida. Terrified she lunged at him right as he crossed the threshold but he didn’t flinch. “Her problem is not that she’s a ‘bad dog’ but rather that her psyche needs a tune up” he said, “but she’s a red-zone case and won’t get better without help”. She needed to go to his center in a compound tucked away in East LA for doggie misfits, STAT.

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In my work as a Pilates instructor I have lots of opportunity to observe what make people tick. Sure, they’re taking Pilates to improve their posture, get stronger or more flexible, maybe even heal from an injury but what they don’t realize is they also get an attitude adjustment. Our body and psyche are not separate and unconnected. On the contrary. According to my friend and Pilates anthropologist, Benjamin Degenhardt, Joe Pilates was adamant about Contrology’s original trifecta: body, mind, and spirit – not just body. Benjamin tells me that he believed exercises alone won’t do much if you are not present in your practice and don’t bring the willingness to take control of yourself. His idea of mindfulness and spirituality was straightforward: “it is the spirit which builds the body”. We see it everywhere in the Pilates studio. The lack of music to aid in concentration, the specificity of the movements, the use of visual cues bring us into harmony with the whole of us. When we change our mindset we change how we feel inside and out. We literally change our body by focusing our mind on muscle, bone, and breath.

Frida spent 3 weeks at the Dog Psychology Center and when we went to visit her we saw a completely different dog. She was present and bold, with snout and tail lifted high, a doggy smile on her lips. I was amazed to see her playing with other dogs and strutting around without a care in the world. We brought her home with lots of advice from the master- “you have to change your energy to keep her like this. I train humans, and rehabilitate dogs,” he said. We got this I thought.
Turns out it was harder to do the work we had to do. Frida instinctual by nature, was always in the moment, but it was us humans who live with one foot still in the past. See, while behavior may be easy to change, mindset is not. It takes daily practice and determination to “train” the muscle that is our brain. Benjamin says of Joe’s work that “if willpower was a muscle, it’d be the single-most important one in the practice of Joe Pilates’ work”. If Joe was alive today I believe he and Ceasar would be buds. If we want to change and grow we can,we just need to meet the way with the will. We are not slaves to our genius, species, or our mind.

Interested in seeing what your mind can build with your body? Join us for the Pilates goodness in our NYC studio today! Click here for more info!

 

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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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