A Dancer Finds Strength: Emily Jones’ Path to Pilates

I love getting an opportunity to highlight teachers! And to find out more about what got them teaching Pilates and what makes them tick. Below is a conversation I had with Blue Sparrow Pilates instructor Emily Jones.

H: When and how did you first learn about Pilates?
E: My Pilates practice began somewhat on accident as a teenager. As part of ballet and modern dance classes, my teachers would incorporate some Pilates Matwork exercises for conditioning. At the time I didn’t know I was doing Pilates, but I did know that the exercises we did helped me feel stronger and more aware of my body while dancing.

H: What was it that made you realize you wanted to teach Pilates?
In 2009 I began taking equipment classes, which brought a whole new understanding to the Matwork exercises I previously knew. After just a few months of classes I decided I wanted to become a Pilates instructor.

H: Why did you choose STOTT PILATES? And where did you train?
E: After researching the various options I chose STOTT PILATES® because of the contemporary and comprehensive approach to the traditional Pilates method. I took the STOTT PILATES® Matwork and Reformer courses at Pacific Northwest Pilates in Portland, Oregon.

H: What did you like most about your training?
E: I loved the nuanced anatomical approach to movement. Being able to apply the information I learned to my dancing helped me move with more ease and efficiency.

H: What brought you to San Francisco?

E: In 2010 I moved to San Francisco to study dance at the San Francisco Conservatory of dance. While in San Francisco I came across Blue Sparrow Pilates and became an apprentice instructor. In 2011 I certified in Level 1 STOTT PILATES® Mat and Reformer.

H: What is the best part about teaching Pilates?
E: Daily I am inspired to deepen my understanding of movement and broaden the way I articulate this information to clients. It’s exciting to watch clients gain a better understanding of their own body and feel more at ease while moving. Teaching Pilates to a wide range of people, from athletes to those recovering from injury, allows endless learning opportunity. I am continually excited about growing as an instructor.  I enjoy being able to share this passion with others. I look forward to continuing to watch familiar faces grow stronger and more confident in their bodies as well as introducing Pilates to new people.

H: What are your next goals?
E: Currently I am completely the STOTT PILATES® advanced level courses and I plan to become fully certified.

H: Do you still love Pilates?
E: YES! Pilates helps me maintain balance in my body and stay injury free. I am currently dancing with multiple San Francisco based dance companies and Pilates is an essential part of my training.

Check out Emily’s beautiful demonstration of the Pilates Reformer:


Blast Your Bod with CORE


CORE is a complete blast- you will have fun and work your butt-off!

We’ve started teaching an Instructor Course for CORE, so here’s an overview of what clients can expect from it.

What is CORE?
CORE is an interval training class. It’s based on resistence, endurance, or muscular endurance. So, we’ll perform higher repetition, with not as much resistence as you would for a power workout. But it’s a longer duration so you should get to faitigue by the time you finish each segment.

The Format
We will start with a dynamic warm-up that will get your joints moving and increase your core temperature.

Then we will have three different work intervals. Each interval will have three exercises within them. We will do them first a little more slowly and take an active recovery at the end of that. Then do the second two intervals in a row with a little more speed and challenge.

These exercises will work the entire body for a balanced, full body workout.

We will finish with a quick cool down.

During the entire class I want clients to listen to their body and go at their own pace. And most importantly– have fun!

Exercise Reduces Cognitive Decline


lAs we age our memory decline. New research shows that performing regular aerobic and resistance training can reduce cognitive impairment. The researchers concluded that endurance training, weight training, and aerobic training has different benefits to memory. So if you want a robust brain, both resistance and aerobic exercise are best. But the big message is exercise will reduce the brain’s decline.

Read the Full Article “A Brain Boost From Exercise” by Gretchen Reynolds

What’s the Deal with Muscle Cramps?


CrampsIf you frequently get muscle cramps when you exercise or in the middle of the night, dehydration is a likely cause. If you don’t have enough fluids, your body will lose electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium. Deficient electrolytes causes muscle spasms. Drinking fluids that have electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Vitaminwater, can help.

But you don’t have to rely on expensive sports drinks to get a healthy dose of electrolytes. My favorite electrolyte beverage is a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in water. And besides getting electrolytes from drinks, I also I like to add a splash apple cider vinegar to veggies or salads. What’s so special about apple cider vinegar versus other vinegar? It’s not pasteurized which means it keeps the nutrients of apples such as potassium, calcium, pectin and acetic acid.

Read the full article “Mystery Muscle Cramps” by Nancy Matsumoto

A Spark

Cycling Open Road

L'etaupe du California 2013It’s just a spark but its enough to keep me going.

Last Sunday I rode in L’Etape du California, a stage of the professional cycling tour of California that is opened up for non-professionals to ride. This year the course was from Livermore to Mount Diablo. 91-miles with almost 11,000 feet of climbing. A big day for even the best riders.

This year my regular ride buddies decided not to enter. Riding with friends helps spur me along when I want to give up, which happens for me in every big ride. I was worried about that urge to give up, but I was determined to do the ride solo.

Looking around at the starting line I got nervous. Last year there were upwards of eight hundred riders; this year less than 200 of which maybe twenty women. All the other riders all looked road hardened and serious. Gulp.

I determined my goal needed to be staying in the middle of the group. I know from reading about cycling that riding in the main field, or peloton, can save as much as 40% of one’s energy when compared to riding alone. So I wanted to not be dropped by the group. To do this, I would need to ride much faster and smarter than in previous races.

Shortly after the race began, the riders formed pacelines with their teams and clubs. Pacelines are when one rider follows an inch or two behind the other, hopping right on one another’s back tire. This way riders can cooperate and draft each other to ride at high speeds. The rider in front does a greater share of the work in maintaining the pace, then drops to the back when tired and a new rider leads. That strategy worked pretty well for me until the first real climb: a 10-15% grade for several miles.

By about 50 miles into the ride I was alone in the desert, in full sun, with the temperature approaching 90-degrees. A defining moment. I knew I could quit. The next water stop was only 10 miles away. I could say ‘Well, I tried. Better luck next year.’ But I didn’t quit. There was a little spark inside me that told me to carry on. It was just a spark, but it was enough. My spark kept me riding for another 4 hours to complete my ride in a total of 8 hours and 39 minutes.

During the ride, I kept reminding myself how lucky I was to be able to try, to be healthy enough to push my body and mind, to be able to “dig into my suitcase of courage,” as they say in cycling.

The fun is really in expanding how I know myself. Doing something when I don’t know whether or not I can. Attitude is the foundation that drives behavior, and behavior creates meaning. Meaning is necessary for high performance in all aspects of life.

Every day is an opportunity to change, to grow, to create meaning and purpose. Where can your spark take you? What can your spark help you achieve?

Ride on. Right on!