3 Tips To Make Your Holiday Season Healthy and Bright!

_There is no way I could have done that yoga retreat if I hadn't done Pilates the month before. _(3).png

3 Tips To Make Your Holiday Season Healthy and Bright!

1. Just breathe. The holidays can be so stressful. And the first thing "out the window" when stress kicks in is mindful deep breaths. Pause periodically for a moment throughout the day to practice your Pilates breath to fuel your body with energizing O2, check in on places you know you hold tension, and feel your core muscles stretch and engage. Inhale..... Exhale..... Repeat.

2. Squeeze your bum! The holidays are amazing at knocking us off our regular routines and putting us in a bind. Literally. We tend to be less active because of holiday parties, finishing end of the year work, and travel - which almost certainly means we are sitting more. Taking just 5 minutes to do some basic body weight squats or laying down to do some bridges can reignite those powerful gluts on your back side. As a bonus, it will get your blood flowing and automatically wake up those deeper core muscles. Squeeze your bum and it will never let you down!

3. Roll the stress away. No matter plane, train, or automobile traveling can be stressful on the mind and body. We got you - use one of our fascial release balls to roll out your feet or work out a knot in your shoulder. A little bit of rolling can help rehydrate muscles (bright and refreshed), increase mobility (quick like a bunny), and decrease mental and physical stress (jolly as a jelly bean). 


Breast Cancer Awareness Month


It’s October and there’s pink everywhere! Each year it’s amazing the new and creative ways organizations are sparking awareness and inspiring fundraising for breast cancer. At the same time, many women reflect on their own diagnosis and others breathe a tentative sigh of relief while on a path to remission. Additionally, most of us pause to reflect on and honor someone we knew and lost to breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in America their lifetime. The treatment process can be a year or more and there are numerous follow-up visits. As early detection and treatment strategies continue to improve of the 12% of women diagnosed 9.3% will survive the diagnosis based on statistics from the American Cancer Society. That means there are 3.1 million women motivated to live life to the fullest after a serious health scare like breast cancer. 

Unfortunately, the specialists (oncologists and surgeons) that are responsible for saving women’s lives can’t do much to mitigate the plethora of residual issues deterring patients from living that full life during and post treatment. After a lumpectomy and the removal of 8 lymph nodes Christine Walsh Egan, published author of 'The Healthy Girls Guide to Breast Cancer', felt like her surgeon’s recommendations fell short of regaining range of motion in her arm. She credits her hot yoga practice with filling in the gaps clinical recommendations left open. According to Dr. Amy Bleyer, a highly regarded internist in New York City, many of these issues, like those Christine experienced, continue to linger long after someone is in remission. In addition, these issues can vary depending on the path of treatment (ex: biopsy, lumpectomy, mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy, radiation). As a primary care physician Dr. Bleyer often plays the the role of advocate for her patients who are juggling overwhelming amounts of information coming from varying specialists as well as treating residual symptoms from procedures and medications such as insomnia, depression, and fatigue. While supporting her patients through the journey, she is the constant in a whirlwind of treatment strategies. In the midst of it all Dr. Bleyer continually encourages her patients to implement and maintain healthier lifestyle choices including exercise. Her practice focuses on well rounded guidance to “make it harder for patients to get sick and easy to stay well.”

A Personal Story….

Joan B, a client of The Co Pilates, shared her 15 year experience with breast cancer. Joan was on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) which used estrogen to treat early menopause. A routine mammogram revealed that she had precancerous cells and subsequently underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tissue. As a precautionary measure she was taken off of HRT and placed on Tamoxifen, a preventative cancer drug that inhibits estrogen. During that transition in treatment Joan recalls dramatic changes in her body chemistry, like a race car slamming on the brakes and spinning 180 degrees. Noticeable periods of intense exhaustion were especially troubling to Joan because she was already leading a healthy and active lifestyle. One year later a follow-up mammogram unveiled more precancerous cells and Joan underwent a second lumpectomy. For the next five years she remained on Tamoxifen to assist with defending against further cancerous cells. While the extreme shift in medication slowed her down neither lumpectomy inhibited her physically.

Approximately 10 years later in 2015 a sonogram, known to offer better diagnostic capability, uncovered a diagnosis of Stage 1 infiltrating carcinoma. As a result Joan underwent her third lumpectomy, the removal of 4-6 lymph nodes, a series of 34 radiation treatments, and was placed on Letrozole, another preventative cancer drug. Despite periods of fatigue that resigned her to slow down yet again, Joan stayed active with routine walks and daily activity throughout the experience. Due to the residual side effects from Letrozole, including aches and joint stiffness, Dr. Bleyer recommended physical therapy. Joan then advanced to a Pilates program for continued activity and progress.

In reflection, Joan felt that a “more full blown exercise routine would have helped balance the periods of major fatigue.” This is especially true when she considers the benefits of improving cardiovascular capacity and and the calmness she experiences through mindful breathing - a skill she has gained through her Pilates program. With the help of a weekly Pilates regimen Joan has noticed an improved range of motion, increased muscular strength, and very positive evaluations from her breast surgeon.


The Benefits of Exercise

According to the Pink Ribbon Program training "Rehabilitative exercise is an important part of returning to activities of daily living after cancer treatment. Newer research has shown that exercise is not only safe and possible after cancer, but also immediately after diagnosis and during treatments. More than 80 studies looking at the effects of exercise on patients demonstrate that not only is the exercise safe, it also leads to significant improvements in day-to-day functioning, intensity and tolerance of symptoms, fitness, and overall health-related quality of life." An enthusiastic advocate for what exercise can do to add balance and normalcy to an otherwise seemingly uprooted existence, Christine Walsh Egan encourages the women she coaches “to be present in their activity as a way to be present throughout treatment.” 

According to several Cochrane studies data shows exercise can improve symptoms of breast cancer treatments. Dr. Bleyer’s experience with her patients echoes the studies: “Those patients that incorporate physical activity definitely do better in their outcomes from diagnosis.” During her 33 radiation treatments Christine Walsh Eagan continued to train for a half marathon, practiced hot yoga, regular Pilates sessions, and has since joined Crossfit. We were happy to hear that she credits her weekly Pilates class as the keystone that keeps her productive and safe in Crossfit! When Christine is coaching her breast cancer clients she encourages women to be active in whatever way works for their minds and bodies and says at the very least, “just go outside and walk and be in nature.”

As women we have powerful bodies capable of so much. Breast cancer, no matter your level of diagnosis or complexity of treatment, can severely interrupt our connection to that powerful identity. Movement and staying fit in a mindfully is a natural and timeless way of reclaiming that identity. We at the The Co Pilates always feel privileged when our clients allow us to facilitate in that process. Our bodies are what move us through this life and if we aren’t moving, and truly present in that movement, we aren’t truly living. 

If you have a story of how movement and exercise supported you or a loved one through breast cancer treatment we would love to hear about it. 

The Teacher Becomes The Student

Part of our mission at The Co Pilates is to be your go-to nerd! We live to learn and believe that practice as the student improves our ability as the teacher.  Check out some of our biggest takeaways from our most recent workshops. 

"When you think something is lost forever and then you see that it's not - that changes your world.” - client with Multiple Sclerosis

"When you think something is lost forever and then you see that it's not - that changes your world.” - client with Multiple Sclerosis

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society Official Certification for Movement Professionals.         

Key Takeaway: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can present quite differently from client to client. Knowing that a client may fatigue more quickly based on environmental factors such as weather or time of day aids in the efficiency of our programing to achieve rehabilitative goals. Understanding how primary symptoms of the disease, such as muscle weakness or spasticity of the muscles, are intertwined with secondary symptoms such as decreased balance creates a safer and more confident environment in which to work. Boosted confidence leads to increased motivation which ensures the likelihood of longevity in activity - our ultimate goal. 

Goal for Application: When it comes to a disease like MS the mobility of a client is their freedom and connection to wellbeing. It is vital that we comprehend all of the tiny details which make the client's experience of this disease somewhat unpredictable. Our person-centered approach in healing through movement is meant to balance the unpredictability of the disease with the diversity that is the human body.

 “You never really know what you’ll decide to do until its your diagnosis.” - Doreen Puglisi, M.S. 

Pink Ribbon Program - Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist Certification

Key Takeaway: Two clear elements exist in this training. First, the physical exercise protocol with the purpose of addressing varying degrees of injury and immobility related to the procedures and treatment plan. Second, the mental health component must be taken into consideration when working with a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Learning how to speak to clients in more depth about what they are facing with breast cancer was so valuable to my practice. It has inspired an upcoming October newsletter featuring two breast cancer survivors and one of their general practitioners.

Goal for Application: Create awareness of the options available to breast cancer survivors to continue to heal through organized, targeted, and effective movement. Provide support and advancement of health by strategically progressing training (including efficient biomechanics, strength, and flexibility) based on the specific secondary complications that can arise from procedures like mastectomies and breast reconstruction. Be a collaborative partner in the continuum of care needed long after diagnosis to aid the client in recapturing control over their wellbeing.

“I’m so excited to be in a classroom again!” - A teacher on being the student

Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries (FAMI) Workshop

Key Takeaway: The Co Pilates was founded on the idea of collaboration so we felt right at home being immersed in four days of community and team work for the greater good of the people that trust us with their bodies. The overarching goal of this workshop was to facilitate a much needed conversation between healthcare practitioners and wellness/movement professionals regarding the huge gap that exists between these treatment strategies for clients. In addition, it provided the dedicated participants a more detailed understanding of the human body and how it functions. Approximately 60 movement practitioners (Pilates instructors, yoga instructors, massage therapists, and physical therapists) spent four days absorbed in instruction ranging from in-depth reviews of evolutionary anatomy - the days when we had a tail - to the latest developments in orthopedic surgery. We left excited to know that leading doctors in the field of orthopedics and anatomy can work together with movement experts to provide better care and more useful information to their clientele. 

Goal for Application: There are three major goals. First, is the implementation of a new broader language to communicate with clients and their doctors about what we see week-to-week to best inform their doctors. As we tend to see our clients more often than their doctors, a small detail such as noticing a client has lost the hair on their toes can turn into a major clue for a doctor who could more quickly diagnose peripheral artery disease. Second, increased “x-ray” vision for a clearer understanding of a body’s capabilities and setbacks. Thirdly,  detective-like observation and listening allows us to troubleshoot for a solution, and conversely, to identify when to defer to a specialist if necessary for the resolution. 

Pilates is a foundational exercise in practice for over ninety years that continues to be fused with other types of movement. That's a testament to the power of Pilates to achieve results. If you can't tell we love being a resource for your movement and fitness needs - basking in the details is our sweet spot!

From the heart,

Brittany and The Co

Overheard in the studio.....

There was a discussion the other day with a client about elite athletes needing to take care of themselves. The thought was that because they use their bodies for their job, if they get injured their career is at risk; at best interrupted and and at worst over before it starts. True, but..... Which of us "regular folk" can get to work with a broken foot? It's pretty hard to dress yourself if you have a frozen shoulder or a torn rotator cuff. One has to slow down quite a lot in life to make it through the day with crutches. 

Professional athlete or not, a body in proper working order is necessary to be the most successful and productive. If your body is not working efficiently it's very likely you won't either. Pilates is a foundational movement practice that thrives on efficiency. 

Why is efficiency important? Well, let's do a quick check-in. How often do you think about your butt? Not just how it looks in those jeans, but more specifically the muscles working to keep your knees, hips, and back strong and supported. How often do you think about where your head is on your spine? It's typically not top of mind (pun intended) when scrolling through emails or Instagram (though it probably is now, right?). If we are more aware we could have more control over nagging neck pain and headaches, for instance. 

Athletes need efficiency down to the nano-second to excel in their sport. The practice of Pilates is a practice in efficiency by way of awareness. Making a mindful workout a priority reduces stress, reorganizes the body for better function, and focuses the mind to allow you to excel in your life. 

New Year, New Location

Happy New Year! 

It seems each year goes a little faster and feels a little more full of hard work, lots of fun, big events, and inevitably, change. We are so pleased to announce a big change for 2016 that took so much hard work. We have our very own studio!

The Co Pilates has gone into partnership with Rebecca Lubart of Dynamic Body Pilates to bring you a beautiful practice space in the heart of Union Square at 853 Broadway (on the corner of 14th and Broadway). Our Purpose in this move and new collaboration between The Co Pilates and Dynamic Body Pilates is to create a space for mindful movement whether it's rehabilitation, injury prevention, or functional fitness. Most importantly, we are truly looking forward to creating a space in which we can provide the best care and one-on-one service to our clients. 


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What does being healthy mean to you?

What does being healthy mean to you?

Recently, I was asked this question by friend and colleague Andrea Moss, of Moss Wellness, as part of the content for her 8 week online program "Feel Good Everyday". She polled some of her favorite practitioners as part of the content for her program, and we are always so honored when we can partner with the Moss Wellness team. Here's the answer that was sparked by her question.

"For me, I have to move everyday, in some way, to feel good. A big surprise, I know. I don't always have time for the class or the workout I wanted to do. I don't always have the funds to get some passive body work done where someone else is in charge of moving my body. My small specific answers to those obstacles of time and money are a foot roller and moving my ribcage in the morning.

1. Foot roller: Foot health is often overlooked unless we have a broken toe or a sprained ankle. I love rolling my feet out every morning in the bathroom as I get ready, because opening up the tissue on the bottom of your feet is like a nice little foot massage, a calf stretch, and sometimes a bold 'waker upper'. Living in NYC, even if you are at a desk all day you are still mostly navigating the city on your feet. That feeling of 'untangling' your feet before you leave home is a great way to, literally, help you move through your day in a smooth easeful way. 

2. Ribcage: We can get stiff in our middle back or feel heart burn in our upper chest, but how often do we think about the top 3/4 of our torso all the way around as our ribcage, not just the front side of our body or the back side? Thinking about my ribcage all the way around helps me to take larger, deeper, more focused breaths. It also reminds me to take a minute and stretch the sides of my torso and rotate my spine. I feel the best days are the days that I take a mere 5 mins and breath quietly, do a couple of my favorite stretches that involve my ribcage and spine to release physical or mental tensions I may have taken with me to bed. I'm sure to do this before I look at my email or turn on the news as preparation for the day and things that might stress me out. The other really nice thing to remember from a pure anatomical perspective is your heart and your lungs are in there. We need those guys to move too. The tissue that holds them in place inside our chest cavity is intricately connected to the ribcage and the muscles running around it. Put very simply, if we move and stretch our ribcage we are creating more space for movement of our heart and breath. Quite literally and figuratively. 

When you focus on your movement your brain is forced out of autopilot and into a more fully present awareness of what you are doing and the space around you. Most of our daily lives don't naturally incorporate that aspect. For all the reasons above and many more, carving out time to move is a big part of what 'being healthy' means to me." 

August Healer of the Month at Sonic Yoga

Thank you so much to Sonic Yoga for featuring The Co as their "August Healer of the Month"! If you haven't checked out Sonic Yoga please take some time to experience this calming space. Their instructors are intelligent movers and guide you safely into a connected and mindful movement practice. Though Pilates and Yoga are quite different they definitely support each other. Many of the clients at The Co channel what they learn in a Pilates practice to move past the plateau in their yoga practice improving their balance poses, planks, deeper hip openers, and safer spinal extensions. 

A Pilates Instructor and an Orthopedist Have a Chat

I see so many people seeking out Pilates because of back pain. When I sat down with an orthopedist about to begin fellowship in spine surgery, Ashley Rogerson, she informed me that low back pain is the second most common reason people visit their doctor, next to upper respiratory infection. I wanted to share with you some insights from our conversation that highlighted issues I've seen in my 10 years of instructing.

Read the entire conversation and learn more here.

Guest Appearance on The Healthy Photographer

We are so pleased to share our feature on The Healthy Photographer with Sofia Negron. In this video we address some standard issues all photographers and videographers encounter carrying heavy gear during shoots. We give some ideas to enhance awareness, and exercises to increase mobility and strength of the shoulder complex in order to prevent injury. Check out the video and all that The Healthy Photographer as to offer here.

Feature on Finish Line PT!

We are truly excited and honored to be a guest blogger for Finish Line PT. The Co has been referring clients to them with great success for several years. In addition, Brittany has been a patient herself.

We had a chance to collaborate with Sarah and Caroline at Finish Line for this blog and hope it sparks some thought for your next run. Read the full post on how to increase your awareness to improve your run here.