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There is a lot of focus on the Pilates breathing technique in our sessions, and I’d like to explain why we practice it, and how it can also help you relieve stress.

The Pilates breath can also be referred to as Lateral Thoracic Breathing. The focus on the movement in the rib cage can help you close and compact your core muscles on your outward breath, which in turn helps your body use the core muscles much better to support your posture.

We also talk about the engagement of the core muscles, and it’s important that we physically switch them on. You can imagine that your core is a cube – you have stomach muscles at the front and sides, pelvic floor at the bottom, your back muscles at the back and your diaphragm at the top. When you breathe out, the diaphragm lowers. The breathing technique that we practice is that when the diaphragm lowers, the rib cage closes, the pelvic floor lifts and the stomach muscles engage. This can take a while to feel more natural, but keep practicing and you’ll get there!!

The idea is that you always Exhale on the Effort – so you breathe out on the toughest part of the exercise. As you take on that tougher movement, the core muscles support and stabilise. Even when you are working a different area of the body, for example arms or legs, a stronger and tighter core will help you perform the exercise better, and help you avoid putting stress on your back.

There is an element of stress relief with the Pilates breath too. The focus on a longer outward breath is practised widely as a calming technique. From experience, I can vouch that when I start to feel overwhelmed I can place my hands on my ribs and take a few deep breaths, and that can help me focus.

The next time you start to feel stress levels rise, see if you can take a few Pilates breaths to help ground yourself. It could just be some deep breaths without the core engagement, or you could take the time to add that in. See how you feel – and don’t feel silly if you are around other people. I do this often in supermarket queues!

Aside from all the physical benefits of regular Pilates practice, Pilates can also have a huge impact on mental health.

As an instructor, I have seen and felt the physical benefits of Pilates and love how much stronger I have become over many years of practice. I also hugely enjoy seeing my clients improve over time. The first effect seems to be improvement in muscle tone and flexibility, and then over time it becomes apparent how much Pilates can help you find a clearer mind, inner serenity, and calm focus.

In the busy world that we are in, which doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, I feel that Pilates practice is not just a good idea, but an essential. When else in our day do we take 2 whole minutes to stand still and focus on our posture, feel our inward and outward breath, or take note of how our body feels in each moment?

When Pilates brings you ‘into the moment’, and you take the time to focus on these details, this can be classed as mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a technique that can help you calm your mind, particularly if you have a lot to think about.

I try to talk as openly as I can about my mental health, and as someone who lives with anxiety I find Pilates and Mindfulness practice have a huge impact on my day-to-day calmness. Admittedly, some days I feel like I don’t have the time to be calm, or I feel too impatient for the practice, but regardless, I try to do it. It also means that not every practice is perfect (far from it!!), but I always have the sense of accomplishment once I’ve completed it.

In your next class, see if you can take note of how your body feels in each exercise. When you lie down for your stretch, see if you can take note of how your mat supports you, and how your body feels when you take that full body stretch.

I hope this has helped you, if you have any experiences to share then I would love to hear them! Please do let me know by dropping me a message, or writing a post in the K Fit Fam Facebook Group.

Every time I get a bit scared I always come back to this quote.

I devote a lot of my time to developing my online course, which has absolutely no guarantee that it’ll be successful. This has been extra work for the last few months at the risk of it not being the outcome that I’m hoping for.

But even if the project fails, I know I won’t regret it.

There’s always the fear that something could go wrong, but you never know unless you try.

Even if your fear does come true, I’m sure there’s a positive that you can take along the way that may even point you in new directions.

Another great saying – my little sister is my bestest friend in the whole world, and whenever we have big decision to make we always ask ‘What Would Pocahontas Do?’ Let me tell you (and any Disney fan would know), she’d take the winding river instead of the straight and narrow path, and it doesn’t matter where it ends. Feel free to giggle, we have a laugh about it too but it makes so much sense, right?

I want to promote fitness and exercise to be enjoyable and effective for all, and the importance of a healthy mind and confidence.

Whatever it is you want to do, don’t regret not doing it. Of course I can put this in a view of exercise – whether you want to drop a dress size, or run a marathon, but it works for EVERYTHING. Whether you want to travel the world, get a promotion, or even quit your job to build a business around something you’re passionate about (speaking from experience ), don’t regret not doing it.

And by the way, I’ve NEVER heard anyone say they regret their workout.

I get asked about core strength a lot, and I think extra care and knowledge about core strength could change people’s quality of life!

There are so many benefits that you can steal by incorporating core exercises into your lifestyle. I’ve hand-picked a few which I feel are the most desired;

  • Better posture
  • Reduced back pain
  • Flatter stomach
  • Tightens and tones your abs
  • Improved balance and stability
  • Improves your overall control

Core exercises after child birth can give so many extra benefits too such as strengthening the pelvic floor and improving pelvic control, and rebuilding the tummy muscles and finding your core engagement again.

Building core strength will take time, but with a long list of benefits like this that impact your day-to-day life, would you say it’s worth it?

I certainly would!

If you’ve worked your core this week – give it a little pat and belly rub well done!!

We all have different motives which make us exercise. We may want to feel fitter, see visible results, or even gain strength to help your body recover from something. Some people exercise simply to have time to themselves and for the enjoyment of it – that is FINE! However, if you do want to start getting results, it is important to set GOALS.

I was always taught that your goal needs to be SMART;
Specific – be sure of what you want.
Measureable – make sure there is a way of knowing when you’ve reached your goal.
Attainable – make sure this goal is realistic to you – you want to be able to reach it!
Relevant – is the goal definitely relevant to you? Do you want to run a marathon or would you rather have better overall cardio fitness?
Timely – SET A DEADLINE. You are more likely to take action with a date to complete your goal by.

Your goals can either be short, medium or long term; I’d go for one of each. Grab a pen and paper and write yours down now. What do you want to achieve? Once you’ve decided, tell someone about it. Saying it out loud means you’re more likely to go ahead and work towards it.

Thanks for reading 🙂 Katrina

I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on how I used to be and how exercise has helped me develop into who I am today. When I was training for my Musical Theatre degree my confidence was completely shattered. Over the course of 3 years I went from the over-confident girl at the front of the dance class to barely even making it to the lesson and finding any reason to talk myself out of it. The tough competitive environment broke me, and as someone who had spent their life wanting to be a dancer I found myself completely lost.

Then…Zumba entered my life!! One of my best friends started up a class and as a supportive friend I went along to it. It didn’t take me very long to realise that THIS was the answer. The combination of dance and exercise was so uplifting, and as you looked around the room everyone’s faces were beaming! The atmosphere was electric. No competition, just a group of people in one room whooping and shaking the calories away, and most importantly ENJOYING themselves.

This is the main ethos I carry into all my fitness classes. Exercise should be enjoyable, elevating and effective, and you get to carry that good feeling with you after you’ve exercised too.

In the 5 years, 4 months and 21 days that I’ve ran my fitness classes I’ve never ever had a day where I’ve had to push myself to get to class. I’m counting down the seconds til I get to go, trainers on and keys in hand!! I owe a lot to exercise for getting my confidence back, not only do I feel great I get to help others feel that good too.

I can happily say that I carry confidence with me once again if you’re ever having a down day don’t forget to brush yourself off, put on your most fabulous fitness outfit and blow those cobwebs away!

Time to get up, put your game face on and get active!!

One of the reasons I am addicted to #exercise (group classes in particular) is the electric atmosphere that bounces off everyone and the fact that I get to FEEL GOOD for what I’ve done.

Not only does exercise give you copious physical benefits, it releases your feel-good hormone which can make you feel happier, more confident and energised.

Feeling tired and low on energy?
Do you need some ‘me’ time?
Need a pick-me-up?

Exercise is the answer 😉

Hi everyone!!

I’ve had a couple of questions about back positions when you are completing an exercise lying on the floor, which made me think it would be beneficial for all if I post out a quick explanation for all to read.  If you are unsure of how it should feel or if you have ever experienced discomfort after floor exercises (particularly core exercises) then please read on…

It is crucial to get your back positioning correct when completing exercises, as failure to do so can lead to an ineffective exercise which can leave pain and discomfort.  The strength of your core can also determine how stable your spine is.  For this reason, I beg you to never EVER look at what other people are doing, and just focus on exercising to the level your body is comfortable with.  It is important to respect your body and that includes its limits.

I am going to explain 2 back positions to you – neutral spine and imprinted spine – and how/when each position should be used.  If you stick to these rules, you should be able to complete effective floor exercises.


Neutral Spine

Lie on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, knees pointing to the sky.  Hands on hips, tilt your hips as far forwards as possible, then as far backwards as possible.  Continue to do so but with each hip swing lose some momentum so you should gradually find a middle point between both extremities.  This, my friend, is a neutral spine position.

You should strive to maintain neutral spine when completing any exercises where at least one foot stays in contact with the ground.  Your lower back may not fully be in contact with the floor – this is fine.  A very small window should be present – you should be able to put 2 fingers max between your lower back and the floor.


Imprinted Spine

Lie on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, knees pointing to the sky.  From here, push your lower back into the ground so that you should feel your whole back in contact with the floor.  Imagine you are lying in the sand, and when you get up you want to see the whole imprint of your back in the sand.  This is imprinted spine.

Once you have safely found your imprinted spine, you can then lift your feet off the floor as this is where you must use this position.  It is crucial that if at any point you lose your imprinted spine, bring your feet back down.  This is particularly important during exercises where the aim is to have your feet millimetres away from the floor – if your back is lifting then don’t take your legs so low.  Again, remember not to look at what anyone else is doing, and just listen to your body.  Let’s face it; it’s a complete waste of time to do these exercises with incorrect technique.  Just take your body to its own limit, focus on your technique, and in time as you start to feel the benefits you will be able to push your body further.

If you have any questions or if you want some 1:1 help with finding either spine positions then please come and talk to me.  I will always have a few minutes for you (and I love talking about this stuff!!).  Remember your spine is extremely important, and we want it to be as mobile as possible for as long as possible.  Don’t slip into bad habits – take the time to correct yourself!!

Thanks for reading!!  Katrina 🙂  xx

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