Change the way you think. Change the way you move. Change the way you feel. – Alito Alessi, DanceAbility
Fitness does not require suffering. I believe movement and exercise should be fun. My intention is to offer support and structure to help each person discover ways of moving that feel good to their body regardless of where they are starting from. I am more interested in what your body can do then what it can not. That is why I do not adhere to a single exercise system but rather look to a variety of systems and styles to determine what moves will suit the people I am working with.
The following principles are a summation of concepts I have extracted from various mind-body exercise and somatic practices that scientific research has shown to have a dramatic impact on the overall well being of the individuals who practice them. These principles set the groundwork for the Happy Body practice that I have developed. Giving myself permission to pull concepts from the many styles of movement I have experienced over the years has given me the ability to develop modifications and variations that strengthen my confidence in teaching to many different fitness levels and physical abilities. These systems include contemporary Pilates, the Franklin Method, Somatics, Body-Mind Centering, Alexander Technique, Anatomy Trains, Fascial Fitness, Material for the Spine, DanceAbility, Gyrokinesis, Flow Movement, and Buti Yoga. I look to these systems to discern movement principles that build the foundation for a well balanced, resilient body that is less injury prone (i.e. strong, stable, flexible and mobile) as well as more articulately prepared for both functional and creative expression. Ultimately what contemporary scientific research shows is that variability is key – move more parts of your body, more ways, more environments, more often – Dr. Perry Nickelston, Stop Chasing Pain.
Happy Body Principles
1. Revive – Self or partner massage with hands on or tools such as foam rollers and massage balls leads to a liquid exchange in the connective tissue, thereby invigorating and regenerating the fascia. By tapping, slapping, brushing, scrubbing, squeezing, wiggling, and fractioning various parts of your body, you literally warm the connective tissue making it less sticky/viscous as well as stimulating various sensory organs in your tissues that communicate with your brain to help you know where your body is in space resulting in more finesse and clarity of movement.
2. Feel – Body awareness and the ability to sense from the inside out is fundamentally important to our daily functioning as well as our dancing. Maintain mindful attention on your body – feel your body as you move – and not only will your body-mind connection improve, your ability to creatively express yourself through movement will become more fully embodied and you will be more adept at moving in relationship to the people around you.
3. Flow – Moving your spine and joints in circles and waves through their fullest range of motion (which is relative to your body) encourages a balance of freedom and stability. Rolling motions through your spine will improve your ability to find flow while simultaneously massaging your internal organs and stimulating fluid production to lubricate your joints.
4. Isolate – Isolating movement in one body part at a time improves your ability to comprehend, smaller, more detail oriented movement. Like articulation, differentiation also improves your potential to flow from one movement to the next, but rather than rolling from one body part to the next sequentially you will get more adept at shifting your attention from one body part to the next in nonsequential movement sequences. In particular, be sure to focus on differentiating your leg from your pelvis to ensure more freedom in your hips and diminish the potential for lower back and knee injury.
5. Spring – Mindful jumping, bouncing and swinging stimulates the elastic storage capacity within the fascia. This in turn manifests an increase in tensile power and potential for rebound along with a decrease in potential for strains and sprains.
6. Stretch – In addition to increasing range of motion, stretching also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in relaxation so we are better able to get centered/neutral. There are two types of stretching – dynamic, ballistic stretching and long-duration, static stretching. We want to incorporate both dynamic and static stretching in a playful and creative way.
A bit more about Pilates…
Though I pull from various mind-body exercise techniques, Pilates is the foundation that I continue to return to. Pilates is a form of exercise that is designed to create elasticity and tone in the muscles and connective tissue. The initial focus of the work is core control and accessing your deep muscles. The style of the program I will develop for you depends on your needs, goals and interests. Workouts vary from quite slow in pace (similar to physical therapy), to very choreographed and dance-like, to strong and athletic based.
Often, because one doesn’t know how to access the deeper musculature that works to stabilize the joints we overuse our stronger superficial muscles and overlook our weaker support structure which could lead to injury. My goal is to teach you how to stretch and release hypertonic muscles and how to wake up and tone sleepy ones.
- improves postural misalignments
- increases core strength, stability and peripheral mobility
- enhances functional fitness, ease of movement
- balances strength & flexibility
- heightens body awareness
- low-impact, easy on the joints
- complements other methods of exercise
- improves performance in sports (golf, skiing, skating etc.)
- improves balance, coordination & circulation
In your first session, expect to feel muscles you didn’t know were there! I will teach you what comprises your core and take you through some basic exercises to help you get a handle on the fundamentals of Pilates. You will do a combination of mat work and equipment work to get a little taste of what is possible and to give me a chance to assess what your body needs.
There are hundreds of different exercises and modifications in the Pilates repertoire so you can’t say I’m not flexible enough, or I need to get in shape before starting Pilates. This is a great way to achieve both!