Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January Fabletics + Pilates update

Fabletics Josie Sweater, Fabletics Salar Legging, Hunter matte black boot

Happy Workout Wednesday! Is that a thing? I think it's a thing, if not, I'm making it a theme today. As per previous months, I wanted to document how the last month of my Pilates certification has been going as well as share my latest picks from Fabletics. This post is going to be a bit photo heavy as I decided to split this post up into two parts - the outfit and then the update. I'm also finding that many people know little to nothing about Pilates in general, so I wanted to share some screen captures from one of my workouts so you can start to get familiar with some of the exercises! Ok first, the outfit.

Now that I've been practice teaching, I've found myself wanting more long sleeved athleisure tops. They're not really practical for working out since I sweat like a cow, but for my practice teaching, I can get chilly in the studio, especially in the winter, so it's nice to have long sleeves. I absolutely loved the back of this sweater. I kind of wish I sized down because it has a very generous fit thanks to the open back, but I still love it regardless. The leggings I already have in a few different colors and they're definitely my favorite. They are true to size and I'm obsessed with this print!

Fabletics Josie Sweater, Fabletics Salar Legging, Hunter matte black boot

I usually workout in my Toesox or just barefoot, so anytime I wear shoes, they're really just to get me from my car to the studio door and back. Function, not fashion. In the warmer months, that usually means I'm wearing one of my Birkenstock-ish looking slides, and in the winter I've been wearing my BZees or my short Uggs. Well, I'm required to wear shoes while I teach, so I've been a little more self-conscious of my shoe choices, specifically when I'm wearing capris. Uggs look ridiculous anyway, but my short Uggs look extra ridiculous when I'm wearing capris. So, I've been wanting some black Hunter boots. They're good to have just as a basic rainboot, but they do also work quite nicely as a Pilates "commuter" shoe.

Fabletics Josie Sweater, Fabletics Salar Legging, Hunter matte black boot

As far as how the certification progress is going - as of the time I am writing this post, I have completed 11 weeks and 107 hours into the program. The entire program is 39 weeks long and requires about 14 hours or so a week of my attention, so while I have a lot under my belt, I'm just about a quarter of my way through it all! That is both encouraging and scary at the same time!

My hours are broken down into lectures, personal workouts, lessons (classes taught by a graduate), observations (me watching a graduate teach), and practice teaching, so let me go ahead and break out my updates in each of those categories.

Pilates Snake on the reformer
Pilates "Snake" on the reformer

Lectures: Thankfully I can watch all of these online, which means I can fit them into my schedule wherever I can and I don't have to worry about having to coordinate with anyone else's schedules but my own! They range from 2-4 hours a week and we have to take a short quiz after watching each section. We have to pass the quiz with a grade of 85% or better, but we get 3 attempts to pass each quiz, which is also nice. The quizzes force us to truly pay attention, take good notes, but without a lot of stress. We should be finished with all of the lectures by the end of February, which is great because that will give me more time to read my textbooks. That is one thing I've struggled to fit into my schedule to date - reading. I will say that I was able to read a lot over the holidays, but that's mainly because I had so much time since I was not in the office. I've started reading at night in bed, which is really the only time I feel like I can do it!

Pilates arabesque on the reformer
Pilates "Arabesque" on the reformer

Personal workoutsThese photos are from a recent personal workout. I definitely make sure to videotape as many personal workouts as I can because watching them back gives me a chance to really see myself and make note of any adjustments or bad habits I am doing. And, as I hear and learn new cues from other instructors either for myself or for other people, it's helpful to grade myself, so to speak, against that newly learned info. I've been doing these self-taught workouts twice a week and I have my good days and bad days when I feel like I am killing it and when I'm struggling. I know that's no different than how everyone is when it comes to working out. I am happy to report that I've started to go back to the gym and get some cardio in also! Nothing crazy, just 45 minutes or so on the elliptical. I think this will definitely help build my endurance and keep me well rounded overall. 

Also, in case you're wondering, I just use my iPhone to record myself. (I have an iPhone 7.) I have this tripod that I use to keep my phone steady. As I'm watching my videos, I will just pause it and take screenshots of images I want to keep or share on social media. Then, I upload my videos after I watch them so I'm not using all my phone memory. Since they're an hour long, the files are quite big! And that's another thing! They take about 4 hours (!!) or so to upload to youtube, so I have my phone preferences set such that my phone never goes to sleep. I start the upload right before I go to bed, turn the screen brightness down to its lowest setting, then turn my phone facedown on my nightstand and let it upload while I'm sleeping. I originally used one of the husband's GoPro type cameras to record, but it was such a pain to transfer files and get them uploaded. The iPhone solution is so much more feasible and convenient, especially for as many videos as I'm recording. The videos I upload are unlisted so no one can search for them, they're just for my own record keeping.

Pilates short box, round back
Pilates "short box series - round" on the reformer

Lessons: I have been doing these about twice a week. Right now, we are only required to do them once a week, but later on the program, we're required to do two hours. So, I figured I would go ahead and introduce this into my schedule sooner rather than later so two lessons end up being a natural part of my weekly calendar. It's also nice because I can accumulate extra hours for those weeks that I'm unable to take any lessons at all due to schedule conflicts. Like for example, I know I will be spending one week in Nashville the first of March, so I really need to be banking some surplus hours now so I don't fall behind when I'm gone! It really is a balancing act with my schedule!

But back to the lessons! They've been invaluable. Each session, I'm consistently learning something new. They're all different - we alternate which apparatus we use whether it's reformer, tower, chair, or just the mat. I've been recording these also, which is great because I realize how quickly I forget what I've learned. During class, I will have all these great breakthroughs but forget about them by the time I workout again. Having these videos to reference helps keep everything more top of mind. 

Pilates elephant on the reformer
Pilates "elephant" on the reformer

Observations: Observation hours are me watching another graduate of the program teach another student or class. Another benefit of me recording my lessons is that when I watch them, I not only learn more about my own strengths and weaknesses, but I can count it as an observation hour. There are also classes I can observe online, which is great from a schedule standpoint. I do want to observe more classes live and in person since there's obviously a huge benefit to being up close, but as of right now, I would say two thirds of my observation hours have been my own recordings or online mainly because that's what I can fit into my current schedule.

Pilates teaser on the long box
Pilates "teaser" on the long box on the reformer

Practice teaching: When I was creating my January schedule, I wanted to make it a point to pool some new clients. I have absolutely no problem teaching the husband's cousin, which is who I've been spending the most of my time with, but it's not realistic to solely rely on her schedule to fill up all my teaching hours. Three classes a week is a lot to ask of someone, much less someone with a full time job and three young kids! And not only that, but obviously the more different types of people I teach, the more it will benefit me, and hopefully all of my clients! There are 7 new people I will have taught by the end of January, and hopefully they all like it enough to let me teach them again! As it stands, one of my coworkers has already sent me a list of dates she would like me to teach her again, which is a big compliment!! I want my practice teaching to be as valuable to my volunteer clients as it is to me!

I mentioned last month that I would have an observed teaching session with my advisor. That means that my advisor watches me as I teach a client, co-teaching where she thinks it's appropriate, and letting me know where I need to improve. It's basically her chance to ensure I'm headed down the right teaching path. This was a huge learning experience for me. HUGE. I learned that my job isn't to make sure the client is doing the exercises in the best way possible. I should not teach everyone like they're all planning to be Pilates certified. My purpose as an instructor is simply to help clients do the exercises in a way that benefits them the most. 

A lot of times I was trying to explain the exercise before they even started moving - I thought telling them ahead of time would be helpful so they know what the end goal is. But the expectations are really to get them moving quickly and with the least amount of words possible. Be concise, be clear. Don't assume they're going to do something wrong before they even do it. Let them move through the exercise in their own way, make note of where they are imbalanced and/or need to make adjustments, but choose the appropriate time to tell them this. Maybe they are so overwhelmed already with learning the choreography for the moment so it makes sense not to throw more info at them and its best to file away your advice for them until the next lesson. If there is a cue you tell them that really resonates with them (i.e. "squeeze your heels together to feel your outer hip muscles engage"), how can you thread that cue through to other exercises? I could go on and on about what I learned about this. I'll admit that I felt like a failure after my observed teaching session. I promise I know that's not the actual case, but it's definitely how it felt at the moment. Looking back though, everything I learned completely made sense. I get it. And I'm working on it!

Pilates control balance on the reformer
Pilates "control balance" on the reformer

As far as big breakthroughs or improvements this month, nothing is coming to mind right off the top of my head, but that's not to say they don't exist. There are a couple of new cues I learned that I really liked - like if I'm holding the roll down bar and squeeze my pinkies around the bar, that really engages my shoulders. I've also done a better job during stomach massage focusing on unrolling my tail so that my hips and pelvis actually push the carriage out, not just my knees and legs. Snake felt really great on the reformer at the Clayton studio last week. They do have a little bit of a different reformer - it feels more proportional in size to my body which helps me feel more in control when I'm doing snake. I also like the cue of thinking of your tail as part of your torso vs. part of your legs and lower body. This helps keep me get organized better during exercises like tower, short spine, and colitis. (Sorry, I know the names of these exercises mean nothing to most of you...)

Pilates mermaid on the reformer
Pilates "mermaid" on the reformer

I started reading "Taking Root to Fly" and it's pretty amazing. It's one of our required reads, and while it's not specific to Pilates, it's so helpful in terms of learning about the human body. That's definitely another thing that I'm wanting to focus on more now - anatomy and how the human body moves. It talks about how the center of gravity naturally runs through your pelvis in front of your sacrum. So if you were looking at your side profile and you had a string hanging at your head all the way down to your feet, this string should create a plum and straight-line starting from your ears which should be over your shoulders which should be over your pelvis which should be over your knees which should be over your ankle joints. Our day to day life activities alter this perfect straight line so your body ends up having to fight gravity leading to overworked as well as underworked muscles. 

For example, I'm a natural tucker. For as long as I can remember, I've always been self conscious of my belly, so I constantly "suck" my belly in causing me to tuck my tail ever so slightly. As a result, I have an overstretched lower back and compressed lower abs. (Well no wonder why my belly button looks like this 😕 instead of this 😮!) Pilates helps correct these kinds of imbalances, if anything by making us more aware that these imbalances exist. I'm only about halfway through the book and I know I will be re-reading it throughout my entire Pilates career.

Pilates short box, open the hip
Pilates "short box series - open the hip" on the reformer

This is such a long post, so I appreciate you letting me use this space to share. It's great to be able to document this journey, and I learn a lot just by putting these posts together. As people are discovering that I'm going through this certification program, I've had plenty of conversations with people who know nothing about Pilates. They don't realize how involved the certification program is. They don't realize that Pilates was an actual person - Joseph Pilates. They picture Pilates to basically be like yoga. They think Pilates equipment looks like scary torture devices. I could go on and on. I'm happy to spread the word and help educate others on what this is all about! If I've piqued your interest and you want to learn even MORE about Pilates, you should read this book. It's a great guide that covers all the basics, including the history of Joseph Pilates himself, and gives you tutorials on some of the core exercises. Over the break, I went to lunch with Jenna who asked me if I was sick of Pilates yet. I am feeling quite the opposite. I wish I had more time to spend learning, working out, teaching. It's great ("great" is such an understatement) to have something I enjoy so much!!

toesox bella grip half toe socks, pilates roll up

And before I go, I should also mention the bit of good news I got earlier this month! Toesox was accepting applications for 2017 influencers. I applied a few weeks ago and received a note just after the holidays that I was selected! I am so honored and excited!!! Being an influencer means that I will be receiving care packages throughout the year with products for me to wear and test, giving them my honest feedback, and posting photos of how I wear my Toesox on social media. I am in such good company! You can see everyone here. Any time I can partner with a brand, big or small, who is already a staple in my life is such a thrill. I don't want to let them down! 

Thanks again for reading and following along!



  1. I'm so happy for you and I want to do pilates so badly because of you. I just know I would enjoy it so much. Please come teach me lol. These pics are so impressive.


  2. This is all so exciting!! Congratulations too! Keep sharing this journey with us.

    And, I loved Fabletics this month. I picked up the half tank and leggings with a bit of pink and white flowers on them for something cheery this time of year. Can't wait to wear them both in the spring though.

  3. I have such a huge amount of respect for Pilates instructors thanks to you allowing us to watch this process through you! I had NO idea it was such an intense training program. I figured it was like being an aerobics instructor where you take a couple of certification classes on the weekend and you're good to go! I'm so impressed with your commitment and progress!
    Gina || On the Daily Express

  4. So inspiring to see you work so hard for something you are passionate about!

  5. This post is so inpspiring! That's so interesting about being a "tucker". I actually looked at my belly button after that comment! You're looking amazing and I'm so happy for you!
    Glass of Glam