White Cloud Pilates Coach in Mid-west mermaid

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

Pilates is the New Black: But What Does Style Have To Do With It?

Pilates has become the new black. We have chair Pilates for seniors – pool Pilates – gym Pilates – some flavor of Pilates is everywhere you look.

Personally, I love all the directions Pilates has taken. It keeps everything interesting and attracts a variety of people to the concept of Pilates. But what happened to simply, “I teach a good Pilates class”?

I take pride in my work as a Pilates educator, I teach a good old reformer class, a trap table class, a barrel class and mat exercise. I had a call the other day and the caller asked me “now do you teach west coast, east coast, classical, or contemporary?” I stammered for a moment and said with conviction “ I teach Pilates” how can I help you?

This lady went on to inform me that she has taken pool Pilates, chair Pilates and sex Pilates (not kidding!). I didn’t know there were so many new Pilates methods out there. Hmmm, maybe I’m teaching too much and not getting out in the real world enough.

Let’s see now – if I lived on the west coast I guess teaching out there, that would make me a west coast teacher. If I lived in NYC, I guess I would be teaching east coast Pilates. Catching my drift here? I just teach Pilates. I hate to brand what I teach into a camp. Maybe when I’m teaching if I stood to the west of my client I could say now I’m teaching a west coast style, and so on. I know there are different styles of Pilates based on where Joe’s devotes settled, but I think we all teach from the same vocabulary.

I remember being in a tour of Gypsy in my dancing days and one of the songs was “You Got to Have a Gimmick”. Pilates doesn’t need a gimmick. I think the exercise is so fascinating that it stands alone. If you can get your clients to carry into life what you just spend an hour teaching them – you have done your job. I’m all about seeing my clients achieve and learn in each class. If I see my clients leave with a sense of lift to their bodies or they have learned about their psoas or their spine, then I have done my job, regardless if I’m east coast, west coast, classical or contemporary – good Pilates is simply good Pilates.

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Core Educated at White Cloud Studios

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Get Your PHD in Core

I’m a Core educator—– I work with people everyday to strengthen their Core or should I say, find their Core, then become educated about it and finally, with this knowledge, put that education into their everyday life.

For many years, dancers have been educated about this area of their body, but it’s just been in the past few years that the fitness industry has jumped on the Core wagon. I think first we need to define the Core – the dictionary explains that the Core is the “central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.” Applying this to your body, your Core consists of muscles that are located deep your back, spine, and pelvis. These muscles coordinate and keep your upper body upwards as you exercise.

Daily I see people walk in to my studios and I wonder – do they have any idea if they found their centre (Core) how much better they would walk into my studio or anywhere else for that matter? I see people with spines that look like they have decompressed them to where there is no length at all. Their heads are forward – pelvis’s tilted either forward or back – knees not tracking over toes – then they tell me their back hurts. It’s all I can do to keep from saying, “I would think so! Look at your posture. I’m amazed you got yourself out of the car and into my studio.”

It’s generally at this time that I picture the first children’s ballet class I ever taught. Picture this. There stood a room full of little girls, dressed in leotards and tights, hair pulled up, pink ballet slippers, smiles on their faces, their mothers in the waiting room, as excited as the children. Yes, there they were; future Prima Ballerinas, bellies and butts sticking out, shoulders up to ears, arms and legs flying all over the room. A ballet teacher’s nightmare. We would gather the children and line them up at the Barre and the first thing we started teaching was alignment. As boring as it was for the, it was a task they had to complete before we could even begin thinking about their future roles in Swan Lake.

Becoming Core alert is simply becoming aware of your spine and where your spine connects to your pelvis. All the muscles in this area help hold your spine up in a nice elongated position. Becoming Core educated is being able to hold your spine up throughout the day, helping you move in a way that initiates from a strong centre.

So here are some hints to help you stay Core educated:

When standing, imagine your body sitting above your hips and legs, not heavy on top of them.

When walking, feel like your spine is filled with air floating up-right from your pelvis, and roll through those feet.

When sitting, sit on top of those sitz (butt) and align your spine upward – your hips should be right on top of the sitz bones – pay attention and adjust yourself if you aren’t aligned.

When driving, sit tall with your shoulders wide, both hands on the steering wheel, and your stomach lightly engaged (read again how to do that in previous blogs).

When picking something up, engage your stomach, bend your knees, and use your legs to pick up, rather then your back.

When bending without lifting, engage your Core and imagine rolling down, one vertebrae at a time, and then back up.

But most importantly, think about how you are using your body. Ask your instructors for help in re-learning how to sit, stand, walk, even push a grocery cart if need be. A great Pilates instructor understands that Pilates should be functional training for your life. If you make the effort to become Core aware, you are steps from getting your PHD in your Core – just like my baby ballet class did, all those years ago.

Pilates or Yoga?

March 13, 2008

Trap Table Work

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

I hate to even begin to draw up a parallel between the Pilates and yoga. They both serve such wonderful purposes. I’m all for people getting in class , be it Pilates or yoga, and getting stronger and healthier.

One of my Instructor students likes to talk about how she never “got” yoga. She couldn’t connect, she couldn’t clear her mind, she didn’t feel stronger in holding the pose, and she certainly didn’t enter a meditative state. And then she had her first Pilates class. The angels sang, the doors blew open to her mind, body and spirit. She found her “thing.” There are many articles written about yoga, Pilates, the comparison and the controversial “Yogalates.” My advice is to find the thing that blows your doors off and do it!

I will offer one piece of advice to yoga practitioners who want to add Pilates to their routine or the reverse. These are different practices that ask your mind and body to behave in a specific way. If you are starting a Pilates program, take a month off yoga and immerse yourself in Pilates. If you are starting a yoga program – keep going to your Pilates classes – just kidding – take a month off Pilates to learn the principles of yoga. Then, integrate both of these incredible studies into your life.

You can visit or web site at http://www.whitecloudstudios.com or stop at any of locations to view a class, Cleveland Heights, Chagrin Falls, Lakewood–216.221.9998

Barrel

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

Spring Training – Have you begun yours?

The professional baseball teams (including the Tribe) are in spring training camps throughout Florida and Arizona, getting ready for another great season. What about you? Have you begun your own spring training?

The newspapers, blogs and of course Craig’s List are all buzzing with every boot camp imaginable – from bridal boot camp, to ballet boot camp, to bikini boot camp and now even Pilates boot camp. I like to approach spring with “spring training” at WCS. We still have early morning classes that you can get into and evening classes. In our Lakewood studio we are starting a super Pilates hero class. This class is an invitation only class for the brave at heart. It is filled with the super star exercises that will put you beyond any boot camp offered in the city.

There is always a private with your favorite coach to do a spring tune-up. Schedule an hour private to work on some specific areas you need to focus on. Or you can always start your weekend off right with one of our early morning Saturday class.

Whatever the case, wherever you live and train – think of this as your rebirth. Take the time to make some goals and create a plan to achieve them. Each day of your life is your chance to let go of unhealthy habits, relationships and thoughts and to embrace and love yourself. I frequently work with moms. And as you know, no matter the age of your children, if you are someone’s mother, you always want the best for them and you love them with your entire being. What I ask those women is this – why aren’t you taking that kind of care of yourself? In other words, consider the person you love most on the planet and then apply that same unconditional love and caring to you.

So spring training for your mind, body and spirit. Go Tribe!

Paulette Blaszak Pilates Golf Expert

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

On our staff at White Cloud Studios we have Paulette Blaszak or resident Golf and Pilates expert I ask her how Pilates benefits golfers here is what she said.

Paulette explains
There are countless ways Pilates helps the golf swing,
the biggest being strength and flexibility in the core
abdominal and lower back muscles. The resulting
benefit for the swing is better posture (which is
key), stamina, and balance. Let’s not forget the
coordination factor, as well as better concentration.
What every golfer desires to do is hit the ball
farther and straighter, because ultimately, this will
lower their score. Getting the maximum club head
speed at point of impact is what causes the ball to
go farther and to achieve this, one has to have the
greatest “coil” possible. What this boils down to is
pelvic stability and upper body flexibility. In the
classic swing, the sequence is: hands – arms –
shoulders – hips – legs. In a perfect world, the
shoulders would rotate 90 degrees with the hip turn
being 22-40 degrees. Most golfers lack the
flexibility to rotate the shoulders enough, so they
compensate by using the arms and lose power and speed,
and are at greater risk for injury in left elbow and
wrist. The Pilates technique can address flexibility
in the neck, shoulders, pecs,lats and thoracic spine
area to improve the differential between shoulders and
hips.

Putting calls upon balance of course, but breath is
crucial also. Do you realize how many people hold
their breath when they focus?! When one putts, it is
a perfect example of core stability with distal
mobility.

Spine Twist is an excellent exercise to help the
golfer attain a more supple body. This can be done
either standing or seated and holding a club
horizontally in front or behind the torso. Remember,
the pelvis doesn’t move- Rotate your torso to the right holding your pelvis and legs still (feel that your spine is spiraling up to the sky) rotate back in to the center. Try to keep both shoulder lever and your golf club as level as possible. Then repeat to the left. All too often golfers will
do their version of this and their ankles and knees
are what is getting warmed up because they rotate the
hips with the torso.

Next Pialtes for Golf Clinic is: March 24, 2008,
7:30-9:30pm at Prana Yoga and Dance in Broadview Hts.
Also May 3, 2008, 11:30-1:30pm at Chagrin Falls
White Cloud Studio, and May 24, 2008, 11:30-1:30pm
at Lakewood White Cloud Studio.

You can find out more information about White Cloud Studios and these golf clinics by calling us 216.221.9998 or visiting or web site at http://www.whitecloudstudios.com

To Do for Blog

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

Making Time for Pilates

More than likely you have children, a job, a house, a spouse, extended family, a hobby or two, and on, and on, and on. Our list goes on forever. Many of these things you wouldn’t trade for the world. But face it – with all of those obligations, our lives often become over-programmed.

You wake up in the morning and your head is swimming as you try to figure out how to give everything on your list attention. You look at your list or desk full of post-its and say, “okay I’ve got a full day to get through this.” But more often then not, we move things over to tomorrow’s list.

What I’m trying to get at is that I understand that it’s hard to set aside one hour for your exercise. But not only is this an hour you can’t simply move to the next day, it is actually, an hour that can carry you through the rest of the day.

Many of my clients schedule their sessions first thing in the morning. I used to think they did this to get it out of the way. One day a client stated, “this is how I want to start my day.” It put a whole new spin on the clients I’m meeting at the studio at six o’clock in the morning. Starting your day off with a Pilates session – just think of it conquering your day ‘one vertebrae at a time’ (yet another Pilates saying).

I always remind my clients to take what you have learned in your session and carry it through your day. You’re driving to make an appointment and all of sudden you notice your sitting up so high on your sitz bones…you get out of the car and you glide so easily…you walk in with such posture. You carry yourself through that errand with such form and function your now impressed with yourself. Now all these things on your “to do list” are so easy to get done. You now have joined the league of super moms or dads, but you’re doing everything with such economy of motion.

But try to think back to life without that Pilates session – how would you have felt? Slow? Sluggish? Poor posture? I don’t want to put words in your mouth – but remember –there’s not much your Pilates instructor misses.

Most studios have early morning classes for their clients. One of my colleagues states that her “CEOs” are her “morning people.” They all want private or semi-private classes and are frequently talking her into meeting them early so they can catch the corporate plane to a meeting. She insists that they will do anything to avoid missing a session and that there has to be a correlation to the fact that these people are so professionally successful and personally committed to their Pilates practice.

I start at 6 am and have been known to come in at 5:30 for that special client in need of his/her session. I’m a morning person so I’m eager to get the day started. I love those clients that start off with Pilates. I see them come in first thing in the morning on the sleepy side, bed hair, and a Latte in hand and it’s off they go into reformer land. I see these clients slowly come alive as we start our foot work. I know as a teacher I’m preparing them for their day.

So the night before when your making your lists put PILATES at the top and you will be thankful.

Pilates Elder Mary Bowen

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

April in Cleveland with Mary Bowen – Bring Your Psyche!

In 1959, Mary Bowen was a young actress/comedienne in New York City. A sufferer of chronic back pain, she read a short article about Joseph Pilates, sought him out, and studied with Pilates, his wife Clara and their assistant Hanna for the next six years.

Mary Bowen has spent 49 years studying Pilates. She became a psychoanalyst in 1971 and began teaching Pilates in 1975. She uniquely combines the two practices in her Pilates Plus Psyche training, assisting clients and instructors in delving deeper into body, mind and spirit.

Mary brings her unique experiences and talents to Cleveland April 25, 26, 27 as the guest of White Cloud Studios.

Join Mary Bowen for a workshop series that includes six hours on the Pilates Body and six hours on the psyche and Pilates. Mary has a unique perspective, an intuitive nature, the timing and sensibility of a comedienne, and a Pilates history rivaled by few.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
Friday, April 25
Reception/Historical overview of Pilates/Q & A with Ms. Bowen.
6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 26: The Pilates Body
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (two hour lunch break)

Sunday, April 27: Pilates Plus Psyche
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (two hour lunch break)

Cost for the reception and workshop is $400 per participant with a limit of 20 students.

Open to the public. Tickets to the Friday night reception only are $50 per person. Reception limited to 50 people..

Mary will be at White Cloud Studios- for more information please call 216.221.9998 or http://www.whitecloudstudios.com

1950’s reformer

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

* Developing your own Pilates practice:

The last of the children have moved out, your mate has finally gotten rid of his/her collection of Elvis memorabilia or maybe you’ve just finally accepted the fact that if you haven’t learned to sew by now, you probably don’t need that “sewing room.” In any event, you have an extra room in your house and you want to turn it into your own private Pilates retreat. 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 http://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.

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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!

Troy McCarty is a teacher with 18 years of experience. He is also the owner of White Cloud Studios in Cleveland, Ohio. You can see his web site at http://www.whitecloudstudios.com.

Breathe baby, breathe!

March 6, 2008

Lateral Breathing

Originally uploaded by troymccarty

Breathing in class is an important factor in your movement vocabulary. Often in our daily regime our breath becomes shallow, we often breathe into the upper part of our chest. One way to see if you do this is to watch yourself take a breath in the mirror. If you see your chest and shoulders rise and fall, you are most likely taking a shallow breath.

In Pilates we want to utilize our entire lung capacity. We want to take the breath down to our lower abdominals, feeling that we are filling our pelvic bowl with air. We also want to let our ribs expand sideways to accommodate more air. When your WCS coaches verbally cue you to breathe laterally this is what we mean. We also will ask a client to let their breath carry them through the movements, and give a cue of filling up your back with air. This cue is particularly effective in the exercises that recruit the front body muscles.

Try sitting in a chair in a neutral spine on top of those sitz bones. Take a towel and wrap it around your waist holding the two ends criss crossed, inhale through your nose and feel the towel ends pull away from each other. Exhale and feel the ends of towel come together. This is lateral breathing. This is one of those things that you can practice outside the studio. In fact, you can even teach your children this breath. It’s calming and centering even when you aren’t practicing Pilates.
Troy McCarty is the owner and director of pilates at White Cloud Studios. White Cloud Studios is Cleveland’s oldest pilates studio. The studios have been in operation for 17 years. Troy also runs the teacher training program.


Troy McCarty with client.  Using the magic circle.  Troy McCarty is a pilates teacher in Cleveland, Ohio with 18 years of experience.  Troy is the owner of White Cloud Studios http://www.whitecloudstudios.com.  Troy also teaches teacher training for new teachers. 

Originally uploaded by troymccarty