How is Pilates good for you?

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Pilates was originally designed to treat injured and bedridden soldiers in World War I. Although it was developed for clinical and rehabilitation purposes, it has become extremely popular with dancers, gymnasts and celebrities seeking the long and lean-muscled look. Today the Pilates method is widely practised for both its rehabilitation as well as its body conditioning and fitness benefits.

Pilates is an innovative mind-body exercise developed by Joseph Pilates. Blending eastern exercise philosophies with western fitness science, Pilates is a holistic discipline that improves physiological fitness and enhances psychological wellness. It combines the mental focus and specific breathing of yoga and Chinese martial arts with the physicality of gymnastics and other sports movements – creating an entirely new training regime that accentuates controlled grace in power and flowing beauty in movement.

Pilates is effective in rehabilitative and clinical therapy because of its strong focus on good posture, efficient movement and strengthening of proper musculature. With better body awareness through Pilates, one’s motor control and precision in movement can be improved. This results in better, more productive and efficient muscle functions during the workout. The benefits of this mind-body control and synergy can then be applied in all other areas of daily life.

Regular practice of Pilates will also ensure improved balance, coordination and circulation as well as increased core strength, flexibility and mobility. The emphasis on controlled, low-impact movements and correct breathing helps to ease pain, stiffness and rigid joints. Pilates is especially useful for persons suffering from chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, back, hips and knees; issues with postural and biomechanical problems; concerns with sports conditioning and injury prevention.

While weight training exercises tend to build short, bulky muscles, Pilates creates long, lean muscles. It is especially important in the strengthening of the ‘core’ muscles that stabilize and hold you up – giving you better posture to do your daily routine, creating a strong centre so that you can perform all tasks with ease and balance, and ensuring that you move your body correctly to avoid aches and pain. This core stabilization of the body also realigns the body to prevent any muscular imbalances. Pilates teaches you to connect your brain with your body, making all movement and exercises you do more efficient and effective.

Pilates can be physically challenging and keeps your heart pumping in the target zone so you burn more calories in less time. At intermediate and advanced levels, you will be able to move rapidly through the exercises without losing proper form, and your stronger core will take you from one exercise to the next with precision and control. For optimal fitness results, incorporate the principles of Pilates into your regular workout routine to combine form with function, add depth and proficiency towards an intensely beneficial workout each time.

Several benefits of Pilates rehabilitation and physiotherapy include improved postural issues; easy on the joints – low impact in nature; improved balance, coordination and circulation; increased mind-body awareness; enhanced functional fitness and ease of everyday movement.

All Pilates exercises are scientifically-based, gentle and restorative, and can be modified to meet the needs of each individual. Pilates was also designed as a mind-body regime that reduces stress and anxiety through consistent practice.

Call PowerMoves Pilates in the Park for your body makeover today!

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PowerMoves wins the Best Pilates Studio category in the EXPAT LIVING Reader Awards 2011.

For the last three months of 2011, Expat Living invited its readers to go online to vote for their favourite things in Singapore. Such categories as Best Dry Cleaner and Best Fitness Club to Favourite Airline and Favourite Medical Facility were included. Because readers use our services and know us well, they are in the best position to judge and vote.

Thank you for your votes! We are the favourite choice in the category of Best Pilates Studio in Singapore. It is an honour to win. We will continue to serve you and give you our best in the world of Pilates and in the name of fitness, friendship and fun.

Happy New Year to you and may all you wish for, dream of, work towards come true for you this fabulous 2012!

From all your friends at PowerMoves Pilates in the Park
xoxoxo

‘Tis the holiday season!

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PowerMoves’ tips on Living Well:

• Engage in something physical; my favourites are Pilates and Dance.
• Indulge in fruits and vegetables; the more colourful, the better.
• Turn in before midnight; the sleep time before midnight is deeper and more rejuvenating.
• Reach out and hug someone you love; get in touch with your inner self and bring joy to the other.
• Laugh often; this keeps you feeling youthful and happy.

PowerMoves’ tips on Fine Entertaining:

• Music; it is mood-making. Playing different types of music shifts the mood of your guests as the party progresses.
• Candles and flowers; they are ambient to cheer-making. Be careful that the scents do not clash with the aroma of the food.
• Fragrance; they do wonders for merry-making. Opt for fresh and flirty, intoxicating and intellectual, brash and breezy or whatever is your theme for the event.
• Conversation; it lends itself to charm-making. Find your way to touch base with every one of your guests and leave them with a wit and warmth that linger long after the party is over.
• Your smile; the winning accessory to every party-making.

Happy Christmas and a wonderful new year to one and all : )
From your friends at PowerMoves Pilates in the Park;
Studio locations at Bishan Park, Dempsey Hill and Rochester Park

PowerMoves’ Pilates in the Park opens at Rochester Park

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The home-grown fitness brand, PowerMoves, recently opened its third Pilates studio in the leafy enclave of Rochester Park. The move meets the growing demand for low-impact therapeutic exercise, while filling the void for a clinical Pilates practice in the new total healthcare centre situated in the exclusive neighbourhood of Rochester Park.

This charming new studio remains true to the unique Pilates in the Park concept pioneered and owned by PowerMoves. From the opening of its first studio in Bishan Park, followed by a second at Dempsey Hill, this oneness with nature has always distinguished PowerMoves from its competitors. All three studios are tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, enveloped in lush rainforest, and housed in environmentally friendly buildings that feature an abundant use of natural materials.

In particular, the Rochester Park studio is set in a sprawling black and white bungalow that blends in seamlessly with its neighbours in this heritage-rich little pocket of old Singapore. Like its predecessors, it boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows that invite the sunlight in while keeping the heat out.

At the new Rochester Park studio, the clinical focus is supported by two resident physiotherapists cum Pilates instructors. For clients with specific muscular or skeletal problems, they are able to customise therapeutic Pilates workouts that are informed by their medical training.

When asked to explain the growing popularity of Pilates, Founder and CEO of PowerMoves, Ms Claudel Kuek, said: “Pilates is growing more popular as our lifestyles become more sedentary, resulting in back problems and poor posture. This is compounded by the fact that our population has begun to age sharply.”

Physiotherapists, chiropractors, orthopaedists and all fitness professionals recommend strength-and-flexibility Pilates exercises on entering middle age, since it improves flexibility and staves off the stiffness commonly associated with an ageing body. Pilates specifically works on the core muscles to protect the spine, build bone density and add muscle mass – which in turn speeds up the metabolic rate. In short, it fulfils every woman’s fitness wish list as she enters her 40s and moves into her golden years. Of course that’s not to say that Pilates doesn’t benefit the male physique – it does. Indeed, PowerMoves boasts a number of high-profile celebrity couples among its clientele.

With the opening of the third PowerMoves studio at Rochester Park, fitness-conscious individuals residing in almost every part of Singapore are able to find a PowerMoves Pilates in the Park close to home. An hourly session is not just an investment in graceful ageing, it’s a therapeutic workout for the mind, body and soul, and a retreat to nature.

And here’s a final little sweetener. All three PowerMoves’ Pilates in the Park studios are surrounded by excellent watering holes and superb eateries. So when you’ve worked out and worked up an appetite, you can indulge in moderation knowing you’ve earned the right to do so guilt-free.

Enjoy PowerMoves’ Pilates in the Park, in every sense!

Written by Suzanne Lauridsen
for PowerMoves Pilates in the Park 🙂

Singapore Pilates Mat Exercises for Runners

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Runners usually exhibit great strength in their legs but may have issues with tightness in the hips, with lower back or knee pains, and/or problems with balance. Pilates exercises help runners improve on their core strength allowing them better posture while maintaining the balance in the muscles of the back and hips. Pilates also teaches runners proper breath control which help to increases their stamina and endurance.

The chosen exercises herein are beneficial to the runner because they challenge the core and emphasize the neutral positioning of the pelvis and hips. They also help correct postural imbalances, create flexibility and stretch the lower body.

For all exercises, remember to draw your shoulders down towards your hips and far from your ears, and keep your abdominal muscles engaged while long in the waist.

  • Side Lying Kick (stabilize hips, strengthen hip flexors, abdominals and back extensors)

Lie on one side leaning on the elbow of the lower arm with hands behind your head. Stabilise the bottom leg on the floor and hold the top leg at hip height. Minimise the rocking of your trunk by engaging your abdominal muscles. As you exhale, swing the top leg as far forward as possible with a flexed foot. On your inhale, swing the top leg as far back as possible while pointing your foot and elongating your leg. Keep your pelvis neutral and quiet throughout as you repeat the back-and-forth swing 12 times.

  • Leg circles (stabilize hips, stretch hamstrings, control hip flexors and lengthen hip abductors)

Lie on your back with arms out in a T-position. Legs are together, straight and slightly pointed. Exhale as you bend one leg in toward your chest and straighten it upward, perpendicular to the floor, foot flexed. Keep other leg and pelvis on the mat quiet and stable. Inhale as you circle the raised leg inward past the centre of your body, then down and around. Make your circle only as big as you can without moving your hips and pelvis. Exhale on the next circle, alternating the breathing on each circle. Repeat 10 times before switching to the other leg.

  • Swimming (thoracic extension, stabilize hips and strengthen back extensors)

Lie face down on mat with legs and arms. Inhale as you slowly lift right arm and left leg off mat as high as you can (extending fully your arms and legs away from each other in opposite directions). Hold for one count and then lower to start as you exhale. Repeat on opposite side and work up to 12 reps on each side.

  • Saw (strengthen back extensors, lengthen hamstrings and develop flexibility in rotation and flexion)

Sit upright with straight legs opened slightly beyond shoulder-width, feet flexed. Arms are in T-position reaching far out to the opposite sides. Inhale as you rotate your torso to face the side of room. Keep pelvis anchored as you move the arms and head with the trunk. On the exhale, reach forward long over the leg, left hand extending past small toe of right leg. Inhale to extend farther deepening the stretch of hanstrings and lower back. Exhale to pull yourself back up to sitting tall, rotate back to centre starting position and repeat to the other side. Work up to 6 reps on each side.

  • The Roll-Up (lengthen lower back muscles, articulate vertebrae and strengthen the core muscles)

Lie back with legs straight and arms extended overhead (but not touching the floor). Pull belly button in toward your spine. Exhale as you bring arms overhead and lift shoulder blades off the mat, curling all the way up until arms are parallel to legs. Exhale again as you slowly uncurl back to start. Do this 8 times.

  • Single Leg Kick (stabilize hips, strengthen back extensors and stretch hamstrings)

Lie prone engaging abdominal muscles, lift the chest and extend the back. Your legs are in a straight line behind you, lifted off the mat. Place your elbows directly under the shoulders, your lower arms parallel to each other. On the exhale, bend the right leg and pulse it twice. As you straighten the right leg, bend the left leg to pulse twice on the next exhale. Repeat the pulses while alternating legs working up to 10 sets of pulses each leg.

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10 Tips to Looking and Feeling your Best

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1. Maintain Good Posture

Keep your neck long, your shoulders squarely down and back, your waist long, and your buttock muscles engaged. Having good posture throughout the day is important in maintaining your body’s equilibrium. Good posture gives you proper joint and muscle alignment and also improves your mobility and stability. It increases your breathing capacity and your body’s overall balance and symmetry.

2. Exercise

Commit yourself to small amounts of exercise at least thrice a week. Throw in a cardio workout that you consider fun. Turn up the music indoors and dance while doing your chores. Try brisk-walking in your favourite park or swimming a few laps before the mid-afternoon crash. Step up to moving more no matter what your choice.

3. Build up your abdominal muscles

Contract your abdominal muscles, lifting them in and up your spine. This creates a strong foundation built to withstand the weight of your body and the tasks of everyday living.

4. Strengthen your core

This is vital to achieve ideal alignment of your back and spine that results in a stronger, pain-free back, a more perfect posture and a more elongated you. It makes you appear younger, taller and lighter!

5. Do Pilates

Pilates exercises are great for strengthening and tightening your abdominal muscles. After 3 weeks of working on your abs with the following moves (tips 6, 7, 8), you will be pleased to find that your clothes fit you better around the waist, your stomach is more taut, you become more conscious of the way you hold yourself, and you look and feel wonderful.

6. The Hundred

Lie back with arms by your sides, legs extended in a table-top position. Pull belly button in toward the spine as you lift your shoulder blades off the mat bringing your chin to chest. While in this position, pulse your arms up and down for 100 counts (inhaling for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts).

7. Criss Cross

Lie back with your knees bent, fingers laced behind your head. Lift your shoulder blades off the mat and exhale to twist your right shoulder toward your left knee as you extend right leg out. Pause at the inhale and then exhale to twist to the other side. Work up to 15 reps on each side.

8. Plank

Lie face down with your legs extended, forearms resting on the mat shoulder-width apart, hands in fists. Tighten your abs, tuck toes under and lift your hips off the mat so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing normally and then lower to start. Rest before repeating 3 more times.

9. Maintain proper form

When doing your Pilates exercises, focus on doing the moves slowly and with a lot of control. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, your neck and chest relaxed. It is always more effective to do a few good moves than many haphazard ones.

10. You Are What You Eat

You are what you eat – cut back on sweets, fast food and anything deep-fried! Splurge on vegetables and fruits instead. Whole grains and lean protein are great too. Remember that proportion is key; take everything in moderation.

Hollywood celebrities are falling head over heels for Pilates — with a strong following from the likes of Madonna, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone, Sandra Bullock, Gwenyth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Uma Thurman, Kate Hudson, Joan Collins, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant, Reese Witherspoon, Pippa Middleton — because Pilates works as your only anti-aging exercise form!

Sharing our best with you,
PowerMoves Pilates Singapore 🙂

Gym vs Pilates in Singapore

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Question:
I am already working out in a gym. Should I also be incorporating Pilates into my regular workout? Does it help me lose weight and how does it complement my regular gym regime?

Answer:
Pilates is important to do because it strengthens your ‘core’ muscles, the stabilizing muscles. The very muscles that hold you up.. giving you better posture to do your daily routine in, creating a strong centre in you so that you perform all tasks with ease and balance, ensuring that you live a pain-free existence because you are moving your body correctly. Pilates creates long, lean muscles in you while regular weight-training exercises builds short, bulky muscles. Pilates teaches you to connect your brain with your body, making all exercises you do more efficient and more effective.

Gym work can cause injuries while you are busy performing the reps and the routines without paying attention to good form, without being armed with the principles of correct movement and correct breathing. Investing in a series of Pilates fundamental classes will ensure that you learn the principles underlying how the body should be moving for optimal function and proper execution.. ruling out all eventuality of pain, injury or mishap.

Pilates can be challenging so that your heart is pumping in the target zone and you burn more calories in less time. This is however usually in the Intermediate classes of Pilates, for by then you would have developed strong awareness in moving rapidly through the exercises without losing proper form and you would have built a strong core that will take you from one exercise to the next with precision and control. No haphazard movements are allowed in Pilates.

The Pilates workout engages you both mentally and physically. Using Pilates principles learnt into your regular workout routine also enhances your regular gym regime because Pilates combines form with function, adds depth and proficiency, makes the difference between good and great! 🙂

Excitedly making the world a better place through Pilates,
PowerMoves Pilates in the Park

Tell your friends – PILATES IS A WALK IN THE PARK

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The last time I exerted myself was more than a month ago, and all I did was go for a short walk at a nearby park. As you can see, I don’t like to exercise – no aching muscles, no panting, no pain, thank you very much. But I feel no trepidation as I head for my first Pilates Fundamentals class at PowerMoves, a boutique Pilates studio in Bishan Park. How hard could it be? Though I don’t know much about this fitness technique, I’ve heard that it involves stretching and muscle control, which I think I’m perfectly capable of handling. Besides, the studio sits adjacent to Aramsa ~ The Garden Spa, and resembles a cosy beach bungalow with resort-like wood decor and lush green landscaping. Seems more like a walk in the park than a workout.


Before the class, I had a short chat with PowerMoves director Claudel Kuek, a lithe and graceful 45-year-old who is also one of the studio’s eight Pilates instructors. She explained the benefits of Pilates, which is a series of continuous exercises based on the six principles of breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision and flow.

Besides improving coordination and flexibility, Pilates also tones and tightens typical problem areas like the abdominals, arms and thighs. Due to its emphasis on the quality of its movements rather than the number of repetitions, you are supposed to leave feeling invigorated rather than exhausted.

An accomplished ballerina, Claudel tells me it was only after she became a mother in her 30s that she discovered Pilates and was won over by its elegant and fluid dance-like movements, which made her so much fitter and stronger. Ah, I am feeling more confident already. That is, until I step into the studio and spot a series of complicated-looking bench-like machines called Reformers. Sensing my apprehension, Claudel assures me that beginners start off on floor mats and, if they choose to, can then progress to the Reformers after a few sessions. For this evening’s hour-long session, there is just me and another woman, led by our Filipino instructor Eric Samonte, who boasts a lean, mean machine of a body. Pilates classes here are kept small, with a maximum of six students to an instructor, so students are closely supervised to minimise the risk of injury.

We start off with basic stretches to loosen up. As each step is introduced, we perform a few repetitions before moving on to the next. Our individual body movements are then combined to form a flowing sequence resembling a choreographed dance.

So far, so good. I get plenty of attention from Eric, who hovers over us to ensure each position is executed correctly. I also like that the poses can be adjusted to a person’s comfort zone or to accommodate those recovering from an injury.

It’s been a long day at work, but right now, I feel as if I’m exercising in my very own private villa in a secluded resort, thanks to the personalised attention, soothing ambient music, and the view of a lush tropical garden outside the floor-to-ceiling glass wall.

Soon, I’m perspiring in the cool air-conditioned comfort – I’m breathing harder and my heart is pumping faster too. Deep in restful concentration, I lose count of the number of poses we are put through. As the class progresses, the movements become more challenging and ache-inducing – from bending over to touch our toes, we are made to lift our shoulders and legs from a lying position.

Some of the moves employ the Magic Circle, a steering wheel-like exercise aid that measures 35cm in diameter, and which provides added resistance to strengthen and tone specific parts of the body, depending on whether it’s pressed between the palms, the ankles or the thighs. Squeeze, release, squeeze, release… Using the wheel, I find, also helps to regulate my breathing, which I tend to neglect.

As someone who has always deemed exercise a necessary pain, I am pleasantly surprised at the fun I am having while getting a good workout, although I must admit that bending and stretching my stiff body wasn’t as easy as I thought. My abdominal and calf muscles are starting to protest, and my joints are creaking a little.

But it sure feels good. I catch my reflection in the studio mirror – I look much calmer; nothing like a harried journalist with a backlog of deadlines. As I swing out of the studio doors after the session, my steps feel lighter and my posture is more upright, just like a dancer’s. The feel-good effects lasted for the next few days – and there was no trace of muscle pain or exhaustion.

Am I game for a few more sessions? Intuitively, my body tells me that Pilates will now be my perfect respite from daily chores and routine; the best stress relief answer to work and what-knots.. Much like the perfect walk in the park.

By Cindy Wee


PowerMoves Pilates Listens…

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Thank you for sending in your fitness queries to us. We will address your issues here on our pilates blog or directly to you should you request for privacy. Always happy to be at your service! 🙂

Q: What kind of equipment should I invest in if I want to set up a home gym in my four-room flat? What are the things I should look out for when purchasing them and how should I maintain them? I would like to own minimal pieces of equipment but be able to work out various parts of the body.

– Khal

A: Do consider light to medium hand-held weights or strap-on weights. These help to challenge your body during your regular workout routine. Also beneficial are the latest apparati like the magic circle (flex ring), the foam roller, the flex band and the fit ball. All very affordable, easy to store away, and gives you that extra oomph for whichever parts of your body you are working on that needs taking it up a few notches.

Q: Does working out during different parts of the day make any difference? I read that it is better to exercise in the morning than at night but being a working mum, I find it more convenient to workout at the end of the day after I tuck the kids in to bed than to wake up at 5.30am for a jog.

– Mary F.

A: Training at different times of the day does not make much of a difference physically. However, training in the mornings is preferred to late in the day because we find that people who train in the morning skip fewer workouts and have less difficulty making healthy food choices during the day. Deciding to train in the morning also means that you choose the healthy option of sleeping early, waking up on time and eating a decent breakfast. This in turn builds good habits, which leads to long-term success. That being said, anytime of the day is a good time to workout, as long as it fits nicely into your busy schedule and you can make it a fixture in your daily routine.

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PowerMoves Rewards the Strongest, Most Flexible Characters in the World – Mums – with Bodies to Match!

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Home-grown powerhouse Pilates brand, PowerMoves, is honouring mothers from 3-15 May with a FREE Pilates-in-the-Park Matwork session. Founder and Managing Director of PowerMoves, Ms Claudel Kuek, herself a mother of two, believes it’s only fitting that women of strong character and flexible attitudes should be equipped with strong, flexible bodies to match.

Pilates itself has emerged as the technique of choice among discerning and sophisticated fitness enthusiasts. Its low-impact, highly effective form of exercise has garnered a growing following, with legions of fans worldwide including Hollywood celebrities, expecting mothers and even agile grandmothers.

A matwork session is an hour-long workout on a padded mat, using nothing more than one’s own body weight and strength, and the laws of gravity. The disarmingly simple mat empowers individuals with variety and grace, and offers a wealth of fitness and wellness benefits including increased strength and enhanced flexibility.
Regular practitioners of Pilates Matwork can expect to enjoy improved coordination, posture and balance, relief from aches and pains, increased bone mass and muscle mass, improved circulation and breathing, and of course the ultimate trophy of a toned and sculpted body. It’s also the perfect low-impact form of pre-natal and post-menopausal exercise, and has been successfully incorporated into rehabilitation programmes after serious injury.

Mothers who wish to hone their bodies to match their characters should call PowerMoves at 6455 2221 and ask for the Mother’s Day Matwork Offer. You’ll be one of no more than eight ladies in the session, and you can take your pick of two beautiful locations at PowerMoves’ parklands studios in Bishan Park 2 and Dempsey Hill

Here’s to Mums – strong and flexible in nature, and, if PowerMoves has its way, soon to be buff, fit and fabulous! Happy Mother’s Day in honour of all Mothers out there! 🙂