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Eden Pilates Is Evolving

June 16, 2015


To all our clients,

On September 2, 2015 Eden Pilates the studio will become Body Mason! It is time for me to pass the torch to Emma-Kate and I am honoured that  my passion and dedication spent building Eden Pilates will now have a new champion.

Eden Pilates will not cease to exist, I am continuing on under this name and will focus on in home sessions and my own exciting projects; of which you will be informed.  (READ MORE on this journey)

Body Mason will continue to provide you with the same top service, instructors  and innovative classes that are sure to be a hallmark within the Pilates community.  Two evolutions.

As you can imagine, change over is always a stressful time, however we are working diligently to ensure that this transition will be as seamless as possible. Your support, understanding and patience over the next couple of months will be appreciated.

What Does This Mean For You?

  • Nothing will change: our instructors will carry on as normal, your classes will be uninterrupted.

What can I expect ?

  • Business as usual.  Body Mason will be in full swing September 2, 2015.
  • Emma-Kate will be starting her Body Mason accounts, as of September 2, 2015,  with a new Mind Body online scheduling-booking account.  This means all current packages with Eden Pilates will expire August 26th, 2015.
  • Commencing June 16 2015,  you can purchase smaller class packages  at the same per class rate.

Your support and understanding as we go through this exciting positive change  is greatly appreciated.   Emma-Kate and I are looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead for both of us.  It is both scary and thrilling.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call or email us.   We sincerely want to hear from you.  You make this studio what it is and are very important to us.

(Get Your Sneak Peak of Body Mason here)


The Evolution Of A Brand

June 16, 2015

The Evolution of a BrandOn September 2nd 2015, Eden Pilates (the studio) will transfer ownership and be under the brand Body Mason.  It’s time for me to explore new adventures. My vision has evolved personally and professionally.

There are so many things I want to accomplish in this life.  Learning never stops.  In order to get my small boutique studio on the Blog TO Best Pilates in Toronto list in under 5 years, it has required all of my heart and soul.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  That is what business takes sometimes.  I am proud of what we built and I feel honoured to have met and worked with the people I have.

However, this last year has highlighted how precious life is and how quickly time passes.  If you try to accomplish everything, you risk accomplishing nothing.  The future of my brand Eden Pilates is mobile and digital.  This new direction will allow me the privilege of pursuing projects at my own pace, and the opportunity to forge new business alliances that owning a studio myself would have otherwise prevented.

It is my hope to see Posture Academy® brought into an online course format.  And my current brainchild, temporarily titled “The Fascia Project” (name t.b.d), a full body myofascial integration program fusing Pilates, Yoga, Dance and Strength Training (to be available via download or stream), will begin development in the fall in workshop format at partnering studios around the city (debuting at Body Mason).

I am exploring some wonderfully exciting new dimensions in mind body fitness and in order to have the time and creative energy to pursue them I cannot be consumed with day-to-day business operations.

With this new found clarity, I am passing the torch to my operations manager, Emma-Kate Millar.

This is not the end, this is a new beginning.

Stay tuned…


The Crunch: 5 ‘Get Specific’ Tips to Get Better Results

April 16, 2015


What is the most effective core exercise?  It is easy to be bombarded with the “best core workout” claims but in the end effective core work comes down to the specifics of how you are performing the exercise more than the exercise itself. Choose an exercise, perform it with precision and control and that will stand a much better chance of giving you the results you are after. [clickToTweet tweet=”Choose an exercise, perform it with precision and control @edenpilates #pilates #workout” quote=”Choose an exercise, perform it with precision and control!”]

So with this in mind.  Here are a few tips on how to do a safer, more effective abdominal curl.

Get Your Position Right  If you are keeping your feet on the ground keep your pelvis neutral, meaning keep a natural space behind your lower back.  This is smaller than you might think.  It involves the bottom 5 vertebrae of your spine and no more than that.  In order to make sure your haven’t exaggerated your neutral position make sure you feel the bottom back of your rib cage staying gently connected with the mat at all times.  Elbows in line with your temples, not forced open.  Performing the exercise with good alignment helps to ensure the right muscles are working and that those muscles are working as effectively as possible.  You will get better results, faster!

Activate The Inside First.  Before beginning your curl think of lifting up from the base of your pelvis while simultaneously sinking just above your pubic bone.  This action “turns on” your pelvic floor (kegels) and transversus (deepest layer of abdominal) muscles .  These muscles work together to play a large role in stabilizing your spine so activating and strengthening them  improves back pain and helps to prevent injury.  It is also the combo action of the pelvic floor and transversus that work to shrink your waistline and flatten your stomach because they contract inward when used properly. They don’t always activate automatically though!  Most people need to engage them before the movement begins to ensure they are working at all!

Let the Abs Lead Let your abdominal muscles be what carry you through the movement.  Think of them being what pull your head and shoulders off the mat and what resists as you lower back to it.  Try not to use you neck or your legs to assist the movement.  Keep the exercise isolated to abs alone.  This retrains muscles that shouldn’t work, to relax and keeps the work where it needs to be (in your core).  Isolating the abs by trying to let go of anything else that wants to assist forces your abdominal muscles to work as hard as they can so you are getting the most out of each rep thereby making your workout much more effective.

Use Your Breath to Lead You Deeper  Start your breath out a moment before you move.  Your exhale helps your core activate.  Follow this flow: 1. Breath leads to abs 2. abs lead to movement  While you are flexed up use a deep inhale to challenge your abs further.  Think of the bottom of your rib cage opening 3 dimensionally as you stay flexed up and keep your abs working (not popping out).  Breathing in while you stay flexed up teaches your abs to stay engaged while you breathe.  Your body learns how to keep the abs strong at all times even when you aren’t thinking about it.  Consistent abdominal support is integral to lower back pain recovery and injury prevention and  feeling like your stomach is strong day-to-day feels fantastic.

Pay Attention to ‘the How’  Work slowly and methodically.  Don’t let momentum carry you from one rep to the next. Remember it’s not just about using your abs it’s HOW you are using them that really counts.  Think of contracting inward and flattening them as you workout not just contracting them any way they want to.  Training your abs to flatten during the exercise, not push out, works your core right down to the deepest of abdominal layers.  Working your muscles this way consistently is what will give you the results you are after.

Following these simple steps will help you get the most out of every rep you do.


What is Pilates and Why Should I Be Doing It?

April 7, 2015


Joseph Pilates originally developed his unique system of exercises in the 1920’s. Self-educated in various health disciplines, he came to see that a new method was needed that would balance the body, strengthen the core and contribute to mental and physical health in a holistic way. Since its humble beginnings and hand-built bedspring prototypes, Pilates has been developed and refined into a sophisticated, science-based series of floor exercises and state-of-the-art resistance equipment.

Pilates is a full body exercise and rebalancing technique that focuses on the core being the center and guiding point of all movement. It is a great workout, but that is only the beginning! With Pilates, exercise becomes a body metamorphosis program; retraining your body to move from its centre and in complete balance. Moving from the centre is vitally important in exercise as it creates an equilibrium that allows all limbs and muscles to be utilized in balance, resulting in a stronger, pain-free body.

During a Pilates workout, attention is placed on the connection between breath and movement, and because of this it is often compared to Yoga. Although the two disciplines do share certain aspects of their philosophies and work well together as adjuncts, considering Pilates and Yoga to be one and the same would be inaccurate. The Pilates exercise system favours movement and the building of long lean muscle, whereas Yoga focuses on held postures and the passive stretching of the body. In fact, Pilates is generally considered to bridge the gap between Yoga and conventional Strength Training. While bicep curls, triceps extensions and leg presses are integral parts of our movement vocabulary, Pilates’ spring resistance equipment and the completely unique system of isometric exercises puts that training in a completely different light. Pilates works to develop a strong yet flexible body with movements that utilize lengthening muscle contractions – not muscle bulking.

Talented Pilates instructors are also able to customize classes to individual needs, not only appealing to all different types of fitness enthusiasts, but proving highly valuable in rehabilitation therapy. In short, whatever your fitness level, your specific limitations or requirements, or simply what type of exercise you prefer, Pilates is for you.

Pilates is exercise that inspires people to achieve levels of personal health that redefine traditional ideas of fitness. It utilizes six key principles designed to strengthen coordination, alignment, and balance for well-rounded achievements in health. Concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing are all areas of focus prepared to fortify one’s physical and mental health as one unified entity. In order to achieve our potential as healthy human beings, we must also look introspectively into the strengths we garner throughout our everyday lives. Pilates helps unify these inner and outer forces to develop fitness as a lifestyle, instead of simply an activity you feel obligated to perform. An experienced, detail oriented instructor can help guide you in mastering control over all aspects of your body and in doing so, conditioning your ability to find internal strengths you never even knew you were capable of.

Not only is it an exercise system that can help you get stronger and lose weight, it can make unexpected changes in your everyday life.  Clients find that their common aches and pains melt away, that they have the confidence to walk to work, or take the stairs, or train for a marathon; they generally discover sources of strength and vitality they were previously unaware of.

peace of mind

self motivation

team spirit

strive for balance

fight for greatness

growth as an individual

faith that you can achieve anything you desire

need for adventure

liberated spirit

How to Get Rid of Cellulite, An Easy Fix!

February 12, 2015

Untitled design (2)In the past we were told that cellulite was caused by trapped toxins or excess fat storage, but now studies show that sitting is partly to blame. Think about how much sitting you do in a day. Six to eight hours is normal for most people. Our bodies are not meant to be still. The low back takes on the compression forces of the upper body, and tension develops in the deep stabilizing muscles and fascia.   When we stand up we are stiff. We become more susceptible to unexpected injury (like when your low back “goes out” when sneezing or bending to pick up a pencil).

Sudden chronic pain is what we call it in the MELT Method®.

The tissue just under the skin, the superficial fascia, is like a sponge in that when it’s hydrated it moves easily and cushions the joints in the body. When it’s been compressed or pulled for long periods  (ie. sitting) this tissue gets dehydrated and the fat cells within it multiply and fill in the spaces, creating the lumpy look we know as cellulite.

Drinking water is a great thing to do, as well as getting a good massage regularly. Getting up and moving or doing gentle stretches for a few minutes every half hour or so helps on many levels. But  adding in some MELT Method® self treatment does wonders.

MELT Method® works to break down and smooth out the pockets of cellulite. by creating more lubrication in the fascia.  Cellulite becomes unstuck and breaks down as the fascia becomes more movable.  The Melt Method is perfect to get the legs looking spectacular!! Plus you feel better inside and out. Everyone with stubborn cellulite would benefit from a simple technique for the back of the thighs we call “the compression sequence”.  It seems funny, compression to reverse the effects of compression!  It’s a simple move on the soft foam roller that manipulates the tissue and gets the fluid moving again. Read more in a great article on the MELT Method® main site.

Come and learn about it at Eden Pilates on Friday February 20, 6-7:30pm.

Sign Up Now!


3 Reasons Why Pilates in a Gym is Not As Good As In a Studio

January 19, 2015

Heather short spine- gym vs studioIs Pilates at my gym as good as Pilates in a studio?  Want an honest answer?

Very likely not!  Here’s why:

1. Class Quality: Class sizes in gyms are generally not limited and the number of participants can get rather large.  Pilates is very technical and requires a lot of correction (especially at first).  Smaller class sizes mean participants get more of the instructor’s attention.  Studio based classes are usually much smaller than gyms (our group classes are maxed at 6 people for example).  Also, the way Pilates classes in a gym are set up make it extremely difficult to control who is taking the class and what Pilates experience they have.  People come and go all the time. The result of this is that you constantly have brand new and experienced participants in the same class. This can get very frustrating for everyone.  The instructor has two choices, the first one being to cater to the experienced people and hope that the new participants pick the technique up along the way.  While regular participants would be happy with this all this means is that no one actually learns how to do Pilates properly because no one ever starts from square one.   There is a lot of technique that goes in to this workout and in order to get the maximum benefit you need to start slowly and master the basics.  Mastering the basics requires learning them in the first place. The instructor could also choose to cater to the newest participants with an ongoing good basic class but this leaves regular attendees board and unchallenged very quickly.  At an actual Pilates studio you will have the option of taking whatever class is appropriate to your ability level. Everyone is happy!

2. Instructor Experience and Competency: What’s the better deal – traveling to teach one class or traveling to teach 4 or 5 in a row? Pilates instructors begin their careers teaching whatever classes are available to them.  They quickly realize it is more worth their time to work in a studio that can offer them a full shift of classes as opposed to one class at a time.  They make more money faster.  Studio work is where it’s at for instructors.  Because of this, studios have their choice of instructors and can pick the most talented ones to work for them.  Studios can provide more teaching hours in a shorter space of time, giving instructors to opportunity to compile teaching experience much faster.  There is also the question of training.  Studios for the most part are very strict about who they hire and what certification they have.  There is a wide range of certification programs out there that allow people to claim they are Pilates instructors.  Some are only a weekend long!  These quick training programs tend to appeal to trainers with other specialties who are looking to add to their skill set.  If you want to be an instructor that truly specializes in Pilates you take a certification program that is almost a year in length, requires over 200 practise teaching and observation hours and has a 5 hour written and practical exam. These are the instructors Pilates studios hire.  The result?  Studios hire better trained people and have the facility develop more talented, experienced instructors.

3.  Equipment: Pilates classes offered in gyms are usually just mat based.  Many people have no idea that there are massive pieces of spring resistance equipment (the Reformer, Stability Chair, Cadillac) that participants use at specialty studios.  While every once in a while you will find a gym with reformers available they usually charge an additional fee to use them and they are likely are not stocked with all the complimentary props and additional equipment you will find at a top rated, well established Pilates studio.  This is what we do!  This is what we specialize in!  Pilates equipment greatly enhances your pilates experience and you are missing out if you don’t have it available to you.

Join us soon!



Did You Know That There Are Two Types of Belly Fat?

January 17, 2015

belly fat picDid you know that not all body fat is created equal? AND – not all abdominal fat is the same. In the belly there are 2 main types of fat – fat that builds just under the skin and fat that forms on and around the abdominal organs. Why is this important?

The fat that forms deep within the abdomen is more dangerous to your overall well being. It is associated with diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. The good new is – fat buried deep in the abdomen is the easiest fat to loose! It is most responsive to diet & lifestyle changes that help to shed fat cells and build lean muscle.

Want to learn more about how to tackle the belly bulge?!

Come join me for a FREE info session on “Sugar Belly”  on Monday March 2nd at 7pm at Eden Pilates. SIGN UP

  • Learn about the different types of body fat and why different people store fat in different places.
  • Learn about how to use Pilates to shed that deep abdominal weight.
  • Learn dietary tools to compliment you Pilates workout and aid in the building and maintenance of lean muscle.
  • Understand how balancing your blood sugar, increasing your blood flow and reducing inflammation all help to firm the tummy.
  • Take home specific tips on foods & natural medicines that will help you achieve results!

What Will I Learn in My First Pilates Class?

January 15, 2015

What will i learn picThis is a question we get asked a lot actually.  My answer is always the same: don’t expect to get a really challenging workout in your first few sessions. If your asking yourself, “What if I have never done Pilates before?” Not to worry, your first class is all about learning the basics and how to set up and safely use your reformer.

The most important thing you will learn in your first Pilates class is how to breathe properly.  In Pilates we like to breathe in to the back of the ribcage.  We think of expanding the ribs three dimensionally and using the breath to stretch the ribs away from one another.  This allows the breath to go lower into the body, the diaphragm to release and also works to keep the tension out of the neck and shoulders.

This way of breathing also helps you to activate your core muscles more effectively.  There are four different layers of abdominals, the deepest of which is the Transversus (or the T.A as we may refer to it in class).  Its fibres run sideways around your mid section and when it contacts it acts like a corset of strength, pulling everything inward gently.  In your first class your will also learning how to breathe in while keeping your abdominals engaged at the same time.  This helps your T.A become involved in the process.  Very important.

You will then move on to the reformer.  A large, pretty fantastic piece of spring resistance equipment that you may or may not have heard about.  Don’t let it intimidate you!  You’ll love it I promise!  We take things step by step.  In your first  class you learn how to customize the machine to your height and leg length by adjusting what we call the “stopper” and “gear bar” in to a place that is right for you.  You will take the time to try the machine in a few different ways to get acquainted with it.  You may try some leg work lying on your back pushing off the foot bar. You may put the straps in your hands and work your arms!  Nothing to crazy but it will feel great.

Before you know it your hour will be over and you will be ready to learn more.

Make sure you visit our online schedule to see when our next GroundWork class (our intro class option) is being held and please join us!

The MELT Method®: A Self-Treatment System to Reduce Chronic Pain and Lessen the Negative Effects of Aging

January 13, 2015

melt pic editedFour years ago a dance teacher suggested I investigate the MELT Method® on YouTube. I liked what I saw. It was a video called, “Ten Minute Low Back Pain Relief”. It’s no longer there. Sue Hitzmann, creator of The MELT Method, was doing interesting things on a specialized foam roller. With it under her hips, her knees to the sky, she put her hands on her knees and rocked her pelvis front and back, then put one foot down on the floor and hugged the other knee, then switched. She took the roller out and reassessed: her back was loose and relaxed.

I was intrigued.

I went to the website and decided to order the Hand and Foot Treatment Kit“. The kit is comprised a number of different little balls (each a slightly different size and firmness), all of them fitting in to the palm of your hand. You begin using the “large” soft ball under your feet.  The first few times we suggest using just the “large” soft ball to get your feet used to the pressure. When you feel ready for more intensity, we add in the large firm ball for a few sessions, then add in the small soft then the small firm balls.  You follow a simple routine, all created by Sue.  First, we start with position point pressing to bring fluid and mobility to the joints.  We then manipulate and condition the connective tissue with “shearing” and “rinsing” (hard to explain, you’ll have to come to my workshops 😉 all with the purpose of getting fluid moving through the whole body.   Connective tissue surrounds everything, every bone, joint, nerve, muscle, and organ, so when it’s hydrated everything has more cushion or glide-ability so it can function better, with ease, which means there is less compensation and less chance of injury.  MELT hydrates the connective tissue by manipulating it either like a sponge or an elastic. You know when you try to use a dry sponge and not much happens? What do you do? You put it under water and squeeze it repeatedly in different ways to get clean water in there and it becomes more effective. And when you create tension in an elastic, it’s a two directional tension, it dries out a bit as does the connective tissue, which has a nice fill effect when you release it. So with both techniques, compression and length, the tissue gets manipulated for a short amount of time, and the fluid gets to flow easier in a specific direction.
The hand and foot treatment kit is a simple tool to help make your hands and feet feel fantastic, especially after a long walk or painting the dining room. But it does even more than that, it affects the whole body in subtle way. For example I started standing taller, I started sleeping through the night, my skin looked better, my balance got better, and I had more confidence and patience.  The routine with the hands also includes decompressing the knuckles and gliding and shearing on the forearm, both great for helping with arthritis, carpal tunnel, and tennis elbow.  This is only one example however of a technique that has been developed to work on  every area of the body!  Don’t get me started on what we do with the MELT rollers! 😉

I quickly became devoted to the MELT Method because of the changes I saw in my own body and am now the most highly certified MELT practitioner in all of the GTA.

Please join me for my upcoming workshop “Hydrate and Lengthen”  Friday January 16th, 6pm-7:30pm at Eden Pilates, let me teach you how to feel fantastic! Sign Up Here

Embrace Your Curves: Proper Postural Alignment = Better Body Mechanics

January 8, 2015

In order to achieve optimal muscle balance and body biomechanics all exercise positions should be looked at through the lense of proper postural alignment.  Today Friday Fit Tip?  Embrace Your Curves!  Work with the natural curvature and inclinations of the spine and your muscles will be more effective and more balanced.  Optimal muscle activation and whole body balance prevents chronic pain and injury.

As a Pilates specialist with a focus on muscle balance and postural health it has been interesting over the years to see what many people’s interpretation of good posture is.   Many people think that good posture means having a straight spine.  When in fact, the spine it is meant to be made up of gentle and equal curves.  If you were looking at yourself from the side what your ideally want to see is this: head over shoulders, shoulders over chest, chest over hips, hips over knees, knees straight and centred over the whole foot.  The line that forms through the centre of these structures is referred to as the Plumb Line.  Within this architectural framework you want to see an “S” like curve of the spine stemming from the pelvis up to the base of the skull.  When movement is introduced into the picture this static guideline becomes challenging.  Think of it as base station however, the place you are aiming to begin from, and return to between reps.  Within the exercise repetitions themselves your positioning should be  inspired by this alignment and by the natural movements of the spine. Do this and your body will work in a more optimal way.

This has gotten lost in translation in a lot of ways in the fitness industry.  Take for example your basic abdominal crunch: where are you looking when you do this?  The ceiling?  A lot of people do! What you want to try to do is follow the natural curvature of the spine.  Meaning that in your crunch as you flex the spine to come up of the ground your neck should flex as well. When you look at the ceiling what you are in fact doing is the reverse: extending the neck while your thoracic vertebrae (ribcage) are rounding to create the abdominal movement. Think of equal and matching movements in the spine at all times.  Try looking at your knees instead of the ceiling without letting your chin chin push forward in space.  A good guideline for this is the image of holding an egg between the chin and chest.  You don’t want to let the egg go as you crunch but you also don’t want to break it!

This simple change in positioning takes the work from your upper trapezius and neck extensors (muscle groups that shouldn’t be involved at all) and allows the deep neck flexors to engage.  This is also an important tip for people who spend a lot of time on a computer!  The “computer slouch”  causes your head to push forward in space, forcing your upper traps and neck extensors to over work.  This offsets the balance of strength in the neck forcing the neck flexors into a constantly elongated and weakened state.  By thinking about your spine’s positioning in your fitness routine you are ensuring that the right muscles do the work. Check out this Ted Talk.  I like the way Angelo Poli physically demonstrates the way the body tries to correct postural issues by compounding postural problems. He exercises he gives however are only effective if you know how to maintain good alignment while doing them (as with any exercise).