Your Own Pilates Retreat
by Troy McCarty
So you would like a room to work on your Pilates exercises and have some meditative space too. Super – but what next?
Try to make your Pilates room a soothing color. My personal Pilates room is lavender. It’s filled with natural sunlight. I keep this room as inviting and calm as possible. It’s a place where I go to communicate with my body. It’s a time where I do a bit of life editing and always walk out of filled with great energy.
What about music? I personally love music in the background when I work out, but remember to keep your focus. I listen to something that doesn’t have big tempo or style changes. In this fashion, the music doesn’t really set or disrupt my pace. You want your awareness to be on your body – the music should float in and out of your consciousness.
So the setting is right, but what exercises will you perform? My first suggestion is to schedule some private mat work with your favorite instructor. Ask them to audio tape it or at least give you a “cheat sheet.” This is someone who knows your body, how and when you cheat and what modifications need to be made to certain exercises to keep you safe and working hard. If that’s not a good option for you, go to www.balancedbody.com. They offer a great variety of DVD titles – start with a beginner video and see how it goes. Watch the video a few times before you try it – make sure you understand the exercises and even consider going slower than the video instructor to start – to make sure you’re focusing on your form.
What about equipment? Start with a comfortable mat. There are many great mats out on the market. I would recommend one that is not too cushy so you can feel your spine and pelvic placement. I like the four-fold mats sold by Balanced Body. They can be great for mimicking some reformer foot work and offer stability as well. I also keep a medium sized playground ball, a magic circle (ring), a 55 cm fit ball and a towel handy..
Now you’ve been doing your own mat work, attending your reformer classes and feeling like you need more. You are determined to make the big leap and purchase a reformer. First, let us set some ground rules. The reason you have had tremendous results (physically and mentally) from your reformer classes is because you have an expert guiding and watching your every move – spotting things in your movement and your body and communicating the information back to you. You don’t have to think about what to do next, you simply have to follow cues and do the work as instructed. I have seen many clients with incredible intentions purchase a reformer and then 8 months later admit it’s become a clothing rack. Unless you are planning to attend a comprehensive reformer certification class, apprentice in a studio and then teach for a while, you really shouldn’t be managing your own reformer workouts. In other words, if you feel you will benefit from practicing on your own reformer – terrific. But remember that this will not replace regular, bi-weekly instruction from a certified instructor. If you are still interested in a reformer, there are many good ones on the market, Peak and Balance Body are the two I like the most. I would purchase a wooden reformer. The wood is so sturdy and smooth – it is probably similar to what you’re working on in your studio. Just make sure to buy your reformer from a reputable company – this is about safety and yours shouldn’t be compromised. If you have children, keep your Pilates room locked once you add your reformer – again, think safety.
There are many teachers that will make house visits. It would be a good idea to hire a coach to periodically come in and watch you work at home. They can focus on what habits you’re practicing (good and bad) in your own environment.
I love my own little studio in my home. I normally teach about 8 hours a day, but make certain to squeeze a good hour in daily at my home studio. It’s my own little oasis. I have trees right out side of my window often frequented by many birds, and a pond just a ways back. Hearing my soft classical music, the birds chirping, and the water feature trickling into the pond – it’s almost an hour-long vacation each day!
Guest Contributor-Troy McCarty
About Troy-McCarty- the owner and director of White Cloud Studios encountered the world of Pilates while working as a professional dancer in New York City in 1988 and has been doing Pilates ever since.
Troy moved to Cleveland 1995 and opened Cleveland’s first Pilates Studio, the White Cloud Studio in Lakewood. Now with two to other studios in Chagrin Falls and Cleveland Heights, White Cloud has been changing bodies in Cleveland for 8 years. Troy McCarty’s White Cloud Studios were the first to introduce Pilates to the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Cavaliers and to the Cleveland San Jose Ballet. Because of his expertise, Troy McCarty is a regular fitness consultant to Channel 5 and appears frequently on other stations.