Your Parents Were Right About Posture

By Jaclyn Forrester

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How many of you had your parents or teachers constantly nagging you to “sit up straight”? Weren’t you always wondering why it even mattered? When you’re young, there are far more exciting things to worry about than the length of your spine, but once sports and activities come into the picture kids innately tend to stand taller, focus on accuracy, and recognize the benefits of being stronger and more flexible. Over time, most of us grow out of daily sports events and into adulthood and jobs that increasingly require us to use technology that encourages our bodies to favor a curved-forward position. As our eyes and head look down at phones and computers, our upper back curves and our shoulders roll forward, shortening the muscles in the front body and elongating the muscles in the back body. The ribcage folds in, no longer needing to provide a strong breath for activities such as running and playing sports. The lower back absorbs pressure, which leads to over 80% of Americans suffering from low back pain. 

Improving posture seems like a solution that is too simple for all these ills, but here we break down a few key effects of poor posture:

BREATH

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Your breath is controlled by your diaphragm, a (very cool) muscle on the underside of your ribcage. As you inhale the diaphragm lowers, giving your lungs the ability to expand. As you exhale, the diaphragm raises, expelling the air out of the lungs. 

With a long spine and supportive posture muscles, your diaphragm is able to lower and raise efficiently. Often we see clients with an exaggerated curve in the thorasic (upper) spine. The ribs attach directly to the spine, and the diaphragm attaches to the ribs. When clients present an exaggerated curve in this segment of the spine, it compresses the diaphragm and it is unable to expand and contract the way it is designed. When the diaphragm can’t work efficiently, it means air is not fully filling or leaving the lungs. 

We are seeing this exaggerated curve more frequently due to the evolution of our technology. You walk through a coffee shop and everyone is curved forward looking at their phone or a laptop. It’s everywhere; and it takes work to step away and see the effects.

FUNCTIONALITY OF MOVEMENT

All movement is supported by the trunk, whether you’re running, playing sports, doing yoga, sitting at your desk, or cooking dinner. The spine, your core and your ribcage are all working cohesively to keep you upright. But staying upright and moving efficiently are two very different things. Joseph Pilates said, “you are only as old as your spine feels”, and we agree. The ability to move freely through your spine, to articulate the vertebrae, to have the muscles on either side of the spine to function evenly decreases discomfort and increases the ability to move efficiently with balance and control. These skills are necessary for sports and, as you age, to keep you from falling!

Ability to articulate 

This is an important skill but why? Think of your spine like a chain between a truck and a trailer. If the chain is supple, it is able to adjust to pulling, pushing, flexing and extending in a variety of directions. Now imagine if the chain is stiff or has a kink in it. Is it going to have the ability to flex, extend, and adjust? Not easily. Your body’s ability to move freely revolves around the mobility of your spine. It’s important to work slowly and efficiently to keep the spine supple. There is also a need to be aware of how your spine feels and moves. In one of my favorite workshops by Jennifer Gianni, she used the term “take inventory” over and over. I have incorporated that term into my sessions and classes since then - “take inventory”. How do you feel today, how do you feel in this exercise, how do you feel through this movement pattern? Everyday can be different, and it’s essential to evaluate that and adjust your workouts and movement patterns around how you feel.

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So how can you improve your posture? The first step is recognizing when you are practicing poor posture; bringing awareness throughout your day and retraining your body. You can create a mental checklist- shoulders round back and down, eye line forward, back of head in line with spine, shoulders stacked over hips. Now, take a few long deep breaths and notice that your body is better able to expand and contract through the ribs. Allow the shoulders and neck to relax. This will likely bring calmness to you as well give your body a better ability to breathe.

The next step is finding balance within the muscles that support good posture. Balance in two primary qualities- even tension, and strength. For example, in order for your shoulders to line up with your earlobe and the crest of your hip bone, the muscles in your chest and in your upper back need even tension. Otherwise one pulls more than the other resulting in your shoulder being pulled forward or back. Similar scenario with strength: if your abdominal muscles are stronger than your back muscles, overtime your abdominals will be overworked and will compensate for the muscles in your back. 

Pilates has long been known for focusing on posture, form, and alignment. Finding a reputable instructor to guide you in this work will help you to recognize when you’re practicing proper form and working through the muscles evenly. Keep an eye on our instagram - we’ll be sharing a few of our favorite posture techniques soon!

Fueling for Pilates

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Hi!  Before we get into how to fuel properly for Pilates, allow me to introduce myself!  I'm Cayla Jablonski, a private practice registered dietitian nutritionist here in Richmond, VA.  My take on nutrition is all about sustainability. To understand what I mean, ask yourself: “does how I eat affect my social life, my health, and/or cause me to fear foods?”  If so, it’s not a sustainable diet! Sustainability in nutrition also means eating in a way that helps the Earth through shopping small, using less plastic, and creating less food waste. My end goal for my clients is for them to have a healthy relationship with food, make Earth friendly choices, and to be able to enjoy ALL the foods - while still reaching their health goals!  

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I fell in love with Pilates when I realized how well it fit with my views on nutrition: it’s an incredibly sustainable workout.  Not only does it strengthen and tone my body, it is something I can do forever thanks to the fact that it doesn’t pound on my knees or put stress on my back. The energy in Pilates is a perfect blend of focus and hard work, which makes it a workout I can’t get enough of. It is definitely something I see myself doing well into my 90s! (Can you tell I’m a positive thinker?)

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So what should you eat before Pilates? Eating properly for a workout can make or break your exercise session. Without proper nutrition, you may not get the results you desire and your performance may be lacking.  Ever been in the middle of cardio and get one of those awful side cramps, or become light-headed/unable to focus in a group class? It probably has something to do with what you ate beforehand (or what you didn’t eat!) Just as there are different types of exercises designed to work different muscle groups, there are different ways to properly fuel your body before and after each type of exercise. 


Before Class

Since Pilates is an exercise that focuses on precision, you don’t have to worry about having enough fuel reserves like you would for a long run.  It is an anaerobic sport, so the main fuel burned is fats, followed by carbohydrates. So eating a light snack that is made up of fats & carbs about an hour before class, or a normal size meal within 3 hours of the class, will allow you to work at your full potential.  Eating will also prevent dizzy spells and the inability to focus because you are hungry, but keeping it light will help you avoid feeling so full that you want to barf while doing a pike on the reformer (yikes!) So what does a light snack look like?



  • Cottage cheese + fresh fruit

  • Small apple or banana + tbsp. of peanut butter

  • String cheese + 6 whole grain crackers 

  • A hand full of nuts + dried fruit

  • Carrot sticks + hummus



After Class

Now that you’ve done more squats than you can count and held a few planks for what feels like forever, it is time to refuel!  This is where I see the biggest blunders. People take on the mentality of “I worked out, so I can eat whatever I want!” and immediately crush a large order of French fries. (Let me be clear - there’s nothing wrong with french fries, but they aren’t going to give you the nutrients you need to recover!) Another blunder is when folks reach for something that sounds healthy, but doesn’t match the workout they just did. One example is the ever trendy juices.  While some cold pressed juices are great choices, most are high in sugar and all of them have taken out the fiber, causing you to be hungrier sooner, which leads to overeating. Choose healthful complex carbs + protein over simple sugars to help replace your energy stores and allow the muscles to recover without cancelling out the hard work you just put in. If you are not able to sit down to have a full meal, another snack will do.

After workout snack ideas:

  • Plain Greek yogurt + 1 tbsp. nut butter + fresh fruit

  • Simple smoothie  (2 cups spinach +1 tbsp. nut butter + ½ small banana + nut milk + 1 tbsp. chocolate or vanilla plant protein)

  • Sweet potato toast + peanut butter + 1/4th banana + cinnamon

  • Hardboiled egg + 1 slice of toast

  • 1 cup edamame

Another note: regardless of whether it’s before, during, or after class, you need to hydrate!  Sticking to good ol’ water will do. Aim to get 84-96oz a day, more if your class is outside in the heat or in a heated studio.

Now that you know how to fuel for your Pilates session, I hope I’ll see you around the Studio soon!




Cayla Jablonski is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist working with individuals here at Niche Pilates Studio on nutrition matters related to preventative care, weight maintenance, GI issues, sports nutrition, diabetes/prediabetes, and food sensitivities. Visit her website www.nutritionpreferred.com or follow her on instagram @nutritionpreferred for more information and helpful tips!

From Dance to Fitness

by Sydney Dale

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Ever look back to see how you got where you are now? I spent 15 years as a dancer - I took classes in Los Angeles and competed on a national level. I loved it, and as I left that world and entered college, I knew I wanted movement to continue to be a part of my life… but I had no idea what that would look like. I had spent all those years in a dance studio, but I quickly realized that I didn’t know much about ‘working out’ in a proper gym setting. I decided group exercise classes were a great place to start for the variety, camaraderie, and relatively low intimidation factor. Within months, I had fallen in love with all things fitness, changed my major to exercise science, and decided to become a certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer.

It was such a natural path – from dance to fitness.

 

The first group fitness format I became certified to teach was Mat Pilates. I was surprised to find that Dance and Pilates share many of the same movements and principles. On my college campus I interacted with plenty of folks who were spending a ton of time at the computer, diligently exercising their brain power. They often highly stressed and not really moving much else. I used my experience with Pilates to help clients, both students and faculty/staff, see that movement is not always about lifting super heavy weights or running on the treadmill.

I became passionate about helping people find efficient and effective movement where mind & body work together, creating the foundations for all other exercise and assisting with everyday activities.

 

I’ve since graduated with my Masters in Exercise Physiology from Virginia Commonwealth University, where I was a graduate assistant at the Recreation Center. Now as a full-time professional, I teach college students the skills and tools necessary to become successful personal trainers and group exercise instructors. I love seeing my students feel the same way I did when I first started to teach classes and clients: empowered through health & fitness coaching and education.

 

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I’ve been with Niche for almost 10 months, and I’ve enjoyed being able to further my skills with an incredible team that shares my fitness passions. I’ve recently started teaching our newest format on the schedule, Sculpt + Core, which combines classical Pilates exercises with more dynamic and fun full-body movement. The class is fast paced, and perfect for any level.

I love teaching Sculpt + Core because it’s so different from other workouts. Many current fitness classes are driven by more is better, faster equals stronger, and unless you're feeling completely exhausted after a workout then no real work has been done. Sculpt + Core is super intentional and focuses on finding strength in control and proper form. I have found that when structuring my own workouts like a Sculpt + Core class, my other favorite exercise modalities improve and benefit from it. I can run at a higher intensity for a longer period of time, my core is more supported when I'm lifting heavy weights, and even my yoga practice feels stronger.

I can't wait to see you in a future class, Niche fam! Happy moving, breathing, and being!

Finding My Niche

By Jaclyn Forrester

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Before we get into the details about how Niche began, let’s start with a little about me! I grew up in the country, surrounded by horses, fields, and long fence lines. My mom ran a horse-boarding barn so that she could stay home with my brother and me, and my first memories are of horses in the alleyway being brushed and saddled. Buck, my pony (who was given to me by my Grandfather before I could even walk), was on his own schedule and would allow me to ride for ONLY as long as he wanted. Since I preferred to ride bareback, he would simply drop his head when he was over it and I would slide right down his neck. I’d scream, and cry and immediately run back to the barn to find someone to help me catch him. For a pony that never wanted to work hard during a ride, he could sure run away from you quickly! 

When I was six we sold the boarding barn and moved to a place that was more quiet and peaceful for my parents. My Dad and cousin constructed what felt like a mile of fence lines, and as I grew older, I’d walk them from one side of the property to the other.

Thinking back, I realize that this was my first brush with some of the core principles of Pilates: balance and coordination.

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Then for Christmas one year my parents gave me sweet Jethro, my very own horse. It was like a fairytale! Jethro and I were best buddies. We jumped, went to shows, went trail riding - I learned the importance of posture and alignment (also important principles of Pilates!) And unlike Buck, he would let me ride bareback for as long as I wanted. He was a dream!

In high school my interest shifted from horses to friends, working out in the high school gym, and going to football games. At 16 I got my first job, working at the front desk for a chiropractor. The primary doctor was Dr. Payne (the irony of his name still makes me laugh!) He was wonderful, intelligent, compassionate with his patients, and willing to teach me. I soaked it up. Going into college, I was certain I would become a chiropractor.

I began my college education at Emory and Henry College, my dad’s alma mater, but I felt that I needed something bigger, so I transferred to Radford University my second year. I entered their Exercise, Sport, Health and Education program, and my professors there inspired me everyday. I took a deep dive into human science and movement - studying cadavers (yikes!), strength training, athletic taping, nutrition analysis, and other juicy materials.

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After college I moved to Richmond. Though I was passionate about my degree, I didn’t know what to do with it. I realized I wasn’t super excited to continue formal education at that time, so becoming a chiropractor was out of the picture. I began searching for a career path that would incorporate my degree. Through my research I found Pilates, and was thrilled that one of the best Pilates trainings and certifications you can study, STOTT Pilates, was right here in Richmond! I called and met Kimber McQueen, owner of Balance Pilates, who hosts the training. After I trained, I began teaching Pilates and strength training at Balance, Hermitage Country Club, Westwood Club, Core Pilates, YMCA and Core Kids Academy-- all at one time! As my experience progressed and positions shifted, I was offered the director role at Westwood.

I knew within a year of being the director that I wanted to open my own studio, and when I stepped down in 2014 that was my sole mission. 

There were trials and tribulations, many attempts to merge, to purchase, to open. Finding a location was MUCH more challenging than I expected. I began in a small space with one reformer, a TRX band and a few props. In that first year I learned, on a very small scale, the ins and outs of running a business. It was a valuable learning experience, but I knew I wanted to offer classes and have a team that inspired me. Being the only instructor was lonely. I wanted to create a community that elevated each other and made a significant difference in people's lives. 

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Finally I found a space. It took a full year, way longer than I expected. But it was perfect! Filled with light and in a cool part of town, and I was confident that between my drive and the energy and location of the space, it would draw the community I was dreaming of. Now I needed a new name. The thesaurus became my go-to. I searched and searched for hours! I narrowed it down to a few options and talked them over with my husband, friends, and Carrie Walters, my logo and brand designer. Unanimously they voted for Niche. Within three months of finding the space, my landlord (who also owns a construction business - convenient!) built the space out, the branding was created, the instructors were hired, the class schedule was set, and on March 26, 2017 the doors opened!!

It was one of the most invigorating and incredible days of my life, and the single most significant achievement of my professional career. 

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Now, a little over two years later, I still pinch myself when I walk in the door. It’s everything I could’ve dreamed of. I love our team; you can’t imagine how dedicated and incredibly talented they are. Our clients are from all walks of life. They come in with goals and previous injuries and they work hard, they achieve their goals, then exceed them, and seeing them each day is truly a joy. They keep us inspired and striving to learn more so we can help them more. The strength of a supportive community is real. Many times I’ve heard people say, “I come in here and feel calm, it just feels good in here.” I’m not personally one for crystals everywhere or gushing about energy vibes, but seriously...there is something special happening at Niche. I truly believe the energy in the space is a direct connection to the love that’s been poured into it, by me, my incredible team, and all of our incredible clients. I’m honored to call it my creation.

What Can My Body Do?

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by Katelyn Temple

Like many people who are active, I grew up with and always maintained a fitness lifestyle that was high impact and high intensity. I always though that more was better, even if that meant ignoring warning signs from your body. Especially with running; my focus was always on the numbers. I needed to be faster, I needed to train more, and I needed to be skinnier. After years of having this mentality I found myself dealing with a constant cycle of injuries as well as an eating disorder. The goal of anything I did was always weight related, and I was consumed by thoughts about my body image. Eventually, the demands I was putting on myself took a toll on both my mind and body.

My last major injury left me unable to do any impact-based exercise, and being sedentary began to trigger past behaviors associated with my eating disorder. Knowing that I needed to do something to keep my body and my mind healthy while I was unable to run, I started taking Reformer classes twice a week at Niche...and I have been hooked ever since.

I fell in love with Pilates when I realized it truly is a mind/body workout. I always left Niche feeling stronger and more confident, and after a few months the physical benefits also became evident. 

For the first time in my life, I found myself able to focus on the awesome things my body is ABLE to do, rather than my perceived flaws.

After 6 months of restricted activity due to nerve damage, I made enough progression in my healing process that I was able to start running again. When I returned to running, I also incorporated Pilates 6 times a week to be sure my alignment was always in check, to regain my strength, and to work on any muscular imbalances. Fast forward to almost a year later and I’m back to trail racing, and for the first time ever, I haven’t needed to see a physical therapist for a full year!

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Practicing Pilates at Niche and joining the team as an Apprentice Instructor has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my overall wellness. I love the environment because everyone focuses on what our bodies CAN do. The focus is never on the need to be doing more, and I’ve never heard anyone make negative comments about their bodies in the studio. I still love running and will continue training to race, but my ultimate passion is now spreading my love for Pilates, along with the message that we should be kind to our minds and bodies...and hopefully I can give someone else the incredible experience I’ve had with Pilates!

Movement Is Medicine

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Hi, I'm Anita! I have been a licensed massage therapist and body worker for the past 8 years, and it's been a tough yet exciting journey with plenty of moments of self-reflection...and making sure that I practice what I preach.

It's so easy to care for other people. I love being able to help my clients with their body pains, weaknesses, and general well-being while also giving them the support to care for themselves. Yet for a long time I rarely made my own aches and pains a priority, much less begin to understand how crucial it is to move my body in healthy, functional ways. 

I'm a person with a body type that's not considered 'conventional'. People with larger bodies are constantly taught to try to take up as little space as possible, and to avoid standing out. So I distanced myself from movement, and I became disconnected from my own body. 

But movement is food; movement is medicine.

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About two years ago, I was super lucky to meet Jaclyn, the owner and founder of Niche, who introduced me to Pilates. I was nervous to try this new form of exercise because I was also just recovering from an injury (due to lack of movement and poor body mechanics while working. Shocker!)

But I was also excited: Pilates is about the mind-body connection (hello, what I practice every single massage session!) while using conscious breathing and encouraging full body awareness during movement. Also, you get to lay down during a workout? Um, hi, yes!

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My Pilates practice changed how I felt in my body over the course of a few months. I now feel stronger, more present, and more confident. I'm also just happier to show love to my body in safe, functional ways; that's very empowering to someone who is considered plus size. After a year of practice, I am now a Pilates Apprentice at the studio, AND I moved my massage practice to Niche too! I've just taught my third Reformer class, and I am a little less afraid every time I teach - because this is my opportunity to help others improve their relationships with their bodies too. 

by Anita Morgan Rigo

Niche Nutrition | Incorporating Alcohol Into a Healthy Lifestyle

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The  Niche Nutrition Series with Registered Dietitian, Cayla Jablonski, kicks off April 3rd at 6pm and will be going on once a month for the next 6 months. The first topic is all about how to incorporate alcohol into a healthy lifestyle.  

There is really nothing better than a cold beer after a day on the river, or a nice glass of wine on the couch after a long day.  Alcohol is the iconic angel vs. devil duo constantly making us feel fantastic but sometimes leaving us with the feeling of regret that all of the healthy strides taken throughout the week were just tossed out the window even after one or two glasses of wine.  Even though we know this is how we will feel, we still choose to take part because it is just so good!  But guess what...

There is a way to keep alcohol in your life without causing havoc on your other healthy habits. Cayla will be going into detail on how our bodies handle alcohol, tips and tricks on keeping intake under control, as well as going over which alcoholic beverages are less destructive. Expect a fun, laid-back night of Cayla approved adult beverages, healthy snacks and nutritious conversations at Niche Pilates Studio.  To top it off, a pilates class comes along with the ticket to be used within 30 days of April 3rd.  

Hyperextension

Hyperextension occurs when there is excessive movement in a joint, causing the joint to open at an angle that is beyond healthy range of motion. Hyperextension is common and makes joints vulnerable to injury. When you are in hyperextension you are causing excess wear and tear on ligaments and tendons and not using the muscles surrounding the joint.

We focus on helping clients understand the difference between “hanging out in their joints” and making the muscles work to stabilize the joint through movement. You will hear a common cue to “keep a soft bend” - whether it is in your wrist, elbows, or knees. This can often feel strange and challenging at first, but creating awareness and focus will help keep you healthier in your joints, and you will build strength in the muscles supporting your joints over time.

Hyperextension in Action | Planks

With Hyperextended Elbows

With Hyperextended Elbows

With Soft Bend in Elbows

With Soft Bend in Elbows

This is one of the benefits of small group classes, at Niche we max out at five clients per class ensuring quality instruction, safety and proper form. We want to help create awareness and empower you with lessons that you can take with you outside of our studio as well! If you have any questions about your alignment - please be sure to ask our qualified instructors.

Finding A Neutral Pelvis

If you have taken a class with us here at at Niche, you have likely heard us cue to find a “neutral pelvis”. We want to work with a neutral pelvis for many reasons:

  • Support stability of the Lumbar Spine

  • Promote function and mobility of the hips

  • Engage and connect with deep core muscles

  • Alleviate and prevent discomfort and pain

But what the heck does it mean, and how does it feel? You can find your neutral pelvis doing the following exercises/techniques:


Posterior Tilt

Posterior Tilt

Neutral Pelvis

Neutral Pelvis

Anterior Tilt

Anterior Tilt

Diamond Shape of Hands

  • Place your hands on your low belly, thumbs and fingers touch other hand. Fingertips towards pubic bone.

  • As you move, you want your hands to remain flat - if you were to place a glass of water on your hands - it would not spill!

  • This can you a useful tool on the reformer during footwork or feel in straps, or at home you can do toe taps or other core exercises on your back.

Pelvic Tilts

  • Start on your back with your feet on the floor, stack knees over ankles, sit bone distance apart.

  • Anterior Tilt: Keeping your hips on the floor start to arch your back - lifting lower back off the floor while keeping core engaged, tailbone is pointing down towards the floor.

  • Posterior Tilt: Then press your lower back into the mat, tailbone starts to point up towards the ceiling.


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Hands on ASIS

  • Moving the pelvis until the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) and the pubic bone are on the same plane and parallel to the ground in supine or perpendicular to the ground in standing or sitting


Now that you have techniques to find your neutral pelvis, here are some common exercises that you can find and focus on maintaining it.

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Squats

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All Fours

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Bridges

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Toe Taps

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Leg Extension

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Long Lever

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Planks

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Prone Work

So what can you do if you cannot find neutral or if you experience pain?

  • Imprint - Press lower back into the mat to find your lower abdominal muscles. Move with control and find the range of motion where lumbar spine does not lift.

  • Physical Support with towel to prop up an excessive lumbar curve (anterior pelvic tilt)

  • Targeted stretch and strengthen.

    • Posterior tilt is often associated with tight hamstrings and psoas and stretched low back and quad.

    • Anterior tilt is often associated with tight hip flexors/quads, stretched hamstrings, lack of glute and lower abdominal engagement.

What's the difference between Pilates and Yoga?

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, yet many customers still confuse the practice with that of yoga. We can expound on and differentiate the two exercises.

Pilates

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The primary pilates principles focus heavily on posture, alignment, core, and breath, providing the foundations for the practice.  

In Pilates, our core incorporates all four abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques and transverse abdominis) muscles surrounding the spine , pelvic floor, and diaphragm. Think of a coke bottle (old school analogy, we vote to change that to a kombucha bottle :)) If the bottom was in front of or behind the top the contents would spill out; if the front or back wall was not supporting the contents, they would fall out. Strength, mobility, and function of the core are essential to our health. While Pilates core work may result in externally defined abs, we are more focused on functional work, such as keeping our organs in place. As we age, have babies, etc, gravity continues to pull, and core work becomes that much more essential.  

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The aim of Pilates is ease of function: good posture, strong core, and a properly functioning diaphragm secure our organs, allow for healthy breathing, and support the spine. Our core houses the central nervous system, necessary for a healthy foundation.

Exercises in Pilates are practiced through repetition.

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Pilates creates strong, lean muscles by using dynamic flexibility as we strengthen the muscles.

Pilates can be applied to any movement, such as golf, horseback riding, skiing, walking, standing, etc.

Yoga

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In a yoga class, we first bring awareness to breath. Yoga aims to calm and align both the body and the mind.

Yoga has a sequence: flow through a series of movements, eventually arriving in a posture, typically a warrior pose, held for three - five breaths.

There is a spiritual component to yoga; Ujjayi breath is used to bring calmness to the body and mind. This is beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety.

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Each yoga class ends with savasana: time to reflect and quiet the mind. Carving out time to find stillness, with the energy of others around you, is calming and invigorating at the same time. Savasana is well known for being a favorite moment in a yoga class.

At Niche, we love and support Pilates and Yoga. Our talented team of instructors focuses on Pilates, though some of our movements are inspired by yoga. Private sessions may incorporate yoga practices, such as yin yoga, for those who need time to stretch and relax.



Beginner Yoga Series with Rachel Knight

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I’m so excited to be leading a beginners yoga series at Niche! It’s such a fun opportunity to learn about the benefits of yoga, understand how postures feel in your body, and get comfortable on your mat. Since it’s a new offering at the studio, I thought I’d dive into a few questions we’ve gotten about the series. Check out my answers below for more information on what the benefits of a beginners series are, what to expect, and the basics of the series.

What is the benefit of a beginners series?

From a purely physical perspective, it’s important to know proper alignment and modifications for your body to prevent injury. What’s great about a beginners series is that students are given a space to learn the language and postures of a yoga class before jumping into a regularly scheduled class. It’s an opportunity to explore what a yoga class is all about, break down postures and have an open space for questions.

Who is this series good for?

Anyone! This series is open to all, but particularly geared to those interested in learning more about the fundamentals of yoga poses, class structure, and practice foundations. If you’ve been curious about coming to yoga, but feel intimidated because you don’t know the poses or what to expect, or feel that you’re not flexible or strong enough, this series is for you!

What can I expect each class?

The classes will be 75 minutes giving us enough time for a short practice, time to break down a series of postures to review alignment and modifications (and to play around so you can feel what works best for your body), and time for all the questions you have. We’ll start class with a short practice to warm up the body and get the mind settled into the space and we’ll end with a meditation and savasana so we can reflect on our time and wind down.

When does the series start?

Monday, September 17 at 6pm. We’ll meet every Monday from 6-7:15pm until October 15.

Do I have to attend the whole series?

Because we are not covering all the postures and alignment in one session, it is beneficial to come to the series as a whole.

How much is it?

$80 for 5, 75-minute sessions.

What’s my next step?

You can sign up through the Events page on our site or through MindBody. If you have additional questions, reach out to the front desk team the next time you’re at the studio or email us at hello@nichefitstudio.com.

See you on your mat!

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Recipe - ChocoMaca Mix

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An exciting part of my job as a nutritionist is creating and adapting recipes to incorporate into clients’ meal plans, such as this ChocoMaca recipe featured here.  I often work with people who are tackling skin, hormonal, or digestive issues, so developing recipes like this that are soothing to the gut, low in sugar, and full of high-powered nutrients is very important.  

I also love recipes that can be adapted in multiple ways.  Even better when they’re made with nutrient-dense ingredients, and I feel like I’m getting a big bang for my food bucks!  This ChocoMaca recipe can be used to make a delicious drink or smoothie, healthy popsicles, a powdered mocha mix to add to coffee, or a base for chia pudding.  However you decide to enjoy it, you will be getting some serious health benefits from these star ingredients…

Collagen Peptides—This sister to gelatin has been all the rage for the last couple years--and for good reason!  First, they’re flavorless, odorless, and don’t gel, making it easy to incorporate them into foods and beverages.  Second, they pack a good dose of protein. Third, and what I think is most important, the amino acids in collagen peptides can provide some amazing benefits.  These include improved sleep, stronger hair and nails, reduced appearance of stretch marks and cellulite, healthier bones and joints, and repair to the lining of the gut.  

Maca Powder—This plant originated in South America, and is known to increase vitality and endurance, improve hormonal imbalances, and decrease anxiety and depression.  

Cacao Powder—Different than traditional cocoa powder, cacao powder is less processed and retains its nutritive qualities.  Cacao powder is extremely high in flavonoids, a particular class of antioxidants, that have been shown to benefit cognition and heart health.  It is also high in magnesium, which is an important mineral in which many people are deficient.

Turmeric—This bright yellow spice is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.  It has been shown to improve cognition, decrease cancer risks, improve heart health, and decrease the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  One of its other major benefits is its ability to improve mood, as it was found to be similarly effective to Prozac in depression patients. When using turmeric, always include a bit of black pepper to increase the assimilation of its major healing ingredient, curcumin.  

Sara’s ChocoMaca Beverage, Mocha Mix, or Chia Pudding Base

  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 20 g collagen peptides, Vital Proteins
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Swerve sweetener or other natural, low-glycemic sweetener
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter, (tahini sunflower or almond)
  • 1 1/2 cups macadamia milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender or blender cup, and blend until smooth.

For a mocha mix: you can combine the first seven (dry ingredients), and triple the quantities. Store it in a mason jar, and add a tablespoon or two to your coffee.  

For popsicles: simply blend all ingredients, minus ice, and freeze in popsicle molds.  

For chia pudding: blend all ingredients except the ice and then add chia seeds. Add 3 tablespoons of seeds per cup of liquid. Stir the mixture well to make sure there's no clumping. Refrigerate for at least two hours for the pudding to set up.

Sara Fields is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. For more information about Sara and her services, visit www.wellnessintentioned.com.  You can also email her at sara@wellnessintentioned.com. As a special bonus, Sara is offering 10% off her services for Niche clients through the end of September!

Recipe - Kale & Lentil Salad

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We love this recipe because it’s easy (we always have cans of legumes on hand just in case we don’t have time to prepare them ahead of time), packed with nutrients from fresh produce, filling from the lentils, and so versatile depending on what is in season or on hand. You can also add some protein or grains for a more substantial meal. 

Ingredients
2 cups Tuscan kale (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
1 15 oz can lentils (drained and rinsed – we used Westbrae Natural Low Sodium Organic Black Lentils)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
1 cup cucumber (diced)
¼ cup olives
2 tbsp parsley
1-2 lemons
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Salt + Pepper to taste

Directions
•    Place kale into a large mixing bowl, drizzle with about 1 tbsp of olive oil, massage kale with hands and let sit a few minutes to soften. 
•    Add lentils, tomatoes, cucumber, olives and parsley to bowl and toss gently. Dress with juice from 1-2 lemons (about 2 tbsp – to taste), and another drizzle of olive oil. 
•    Salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe by Amanda Prince

Electrolytes & the Importance of Hydration

The rules and tips for maintaining proper hydration tend to vary, but we are here to simplify it for you.

There are three primary compartments when it comes to hydration- blood, fluid within the cells and fluid around the cells. Proper hydration requires that fluid remain in all of these compartments and that all of these compartments remain balanced. This balance is maintained by electrolytes: minerals that carry an electric charge when they dissolve in a solution such as water or blood. Sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate are electrolytes which dissolve in blood and are critical for muscle and nerve functionality.

More than water

Water does not come charged with the electrolytes I mentioned above. Electrolyte-rich hydration might sound familiar to you… and it often comes to us in neon colors and exotic flavors. It’s true that Gatorade, Powerade, and Propel are enhanced with electrolytes, but what else are they “enhanced” with? I told you I would keep it simple, so let’s focus on the best way to increase your electrolyte intake, and overall enhance the functionality of your brain, heart, and muscles without sacrificing the authenticity of ingredients in what we consume. 

Recipe - Energy Balls

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We love this recipe because it will make you feel full and provide lasting energy with healthy fats, fiber and protein. It’s also very low in sugar (which is not the case for most commercial balls or bars) but has a sweetness from the coconut, cinnamon and vanilla. 

Ingredients
½ cup pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp protein powder of choice (optional)
3 tbsp coconut manna (butter)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
dash of salt

Directions
Pulse pumpkin seeds to small pieces/flour in a food processor.
Add all other ingredients and blend until well combined as a dough. (Dough may be slightly crumbly, but should have enough moisture to hold. Balls will firm up once chilled in refrigerator.)
Measure out about 1 tbsp portions and roll into balls. Makes ~10 balls. 
Place in sealed container in refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe by Amanda Prince

Recipe - Everyday Smoothie

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We love a smoothie to start the day. This recipe is a mix of veggies and fruit and we promise it tastes delicious! Another versatile recipe – feel free to switch out the nut butter, milk, greens and protein powder. 

Ingredients
1 banana
1 cup frozen cauliflower rice
1 cup frozen blueberries
3-4 large handfuls of spinach
2 tbsp cashew butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
dash of cinnamon
Optional – Protein Powder

Directions
•    Place all ingredients in a blender. 
•    Blend until smooth and enjoy! Serves two.

Recipe by Amanda Prince
 

Meet Cameron Hackett

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Cameron Hackett is curating a special collection exclusively for Niche and we are so excited to debut her work at our First Friday event on August 3! Get to know more about her and hear about her inspiration for the collection below.

"It is no secret that I love color, texture, and design. You can easily see that love expressed through my art and home. I am a very ‘care-free’ painter using big brush strokes and pallet knives to create texture and depth in my art. I am drawn to bright, saturated colors that make a big impression. I have attempted to go neutral several times and it just doesn’t work for me. Color makes me happy and I believe that every home could use some. I was very excited when Niche reached out to me about putting my art in their studio. 

I first heard about Niche from Courtney Moran, a friend and co-worker of mine who is also an instructor at Niche. When Jaclyn presented this great opportunity my first thought was movement and the desire to incorporate movement into my pieces just like the movements made while practicing Pilates. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit the studio and love that the studio is an old row house with great walls, floors, ceilings, etc. I left feeling inspired to create something that would speak to someone who was trying to challenge their body and mind while feeling relaxed, calm, inspired, and happy. Most of the time I begin with my favorite colors and continue layering and tweaking over the course of time. For this specific collection, I began with three light and airy pieces and moved on to create two bold and geometric coordinating pieces. I have a hard time sticking to one style of painting and like to try different things and simply get lost in the process. 

I know art has to speak to you on a personal level and I hope that you may feel inspired by these pieces. If anything else, I hope that the colors bring some sort happiness to someone’s home and encourage them in some way. I am truly humbled to display my art up in Niche’s Studio and I can’t wait to see what First Friday is all about."

Importance of Alignment-Focused Workouts

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As a child growing up, your parents or grandparents may have commented on your posture telling you to “stand up straight,” “don’t slouch,” or “shoulders back!”

Well, that’s half right...neutral body alignment is more than just having good posture.

Neutral body alignment is the natural position of the spine when all 3 curves of the spine—cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower)—are present and in good alignment. Intentionally and mindfully holding your body in this way allows you to move safer and smarter; it promotes ease and may reduce pain, tightness and tension in the larger muscle groups while also decreasing your chance of injury during sitting, standing, working and exercising.

Everyday practice of keeping neutral body alignment (or in your pilates practice you may often hear the term “Neutral Spine”) not only promotes good body mechanics and reduces our chance of injury, however. It also encourages optimal functioning of your body’s major systems, helps with digestion and recent studies have shown that moving with neutral spine has positive effects on the immune system and how you fight disease.

Over time, this practice of checking and being in tune with our natural alignment transcends solely physical health and engages us in a truly holistic experience of health by deepening the connection between the body, the mind and the spirit.

Anita Morgan Rigo                                                                                                           Therapeutic Massage Therapist at Boketto Wellness

Featured Artists

We are so excited to be partnering with Huntley Belle Designs to provide our studio art! Huntley Belle Designs is a unique online boutique for the feminine and stylish southern belle. Created from the hearts of two best friends, Lauren and Liza, and named after their sweet dogs, Huntley and Sadie Belle, HBD is a timeless woman’s guild. We bring together curated and colorful designs in art, jewelry and accessories—because we believe a pretty life is a happy life.

Featured Artists at Niche

Taelor Fisher  Dallas born and bred Taelor Fisher has always been an artist. As a small child, she spent all her free time creating. Though it wasn’t until she was pursuing her degree in Studio Art and Art History that she picked up a paintbrush and things instantly clicked. Taelor finds great inspiration in the natural world, and considers flowers especially stirring. Taelor unexpectedly marries the shapes, colors, and scents of her favorite blooms with expression, and the results are gloriously lush, colorful, and sometimes even charmingly chaotic.  Taelor's pieces at Niche: Tropical 4 and Tropical 6  

Taelor Fisher
Dallas born and bred Taelor Fisher has always been an artist. As a small child, she spent all her free time creating. Though it wasn’t until she was pursuing her degree in Studio Art and Art History that she picked up a paintbrush and things instantly clicked. Taelor finds great inspiration in the natural world, and considers flowers especially stirring. Taelor unexpectedly marries the shapes, colors, and scents of her favorite blooms with expression, and the results are gloriously lush, colorful, and sometimes even charmingly chaotic.

Taelor's pieces at Niche: Tropical 4 and Tropical 6  

Allyson Lemay   Allyson's piece at Niche: Three Tulips

Allyson Lemay

Allyson's piece at Niche: Three Tulips

Anna Vaughn  Anna Vaughn's aesthetic is inspired  by adventure and travel to foreign coastlines as much as it is influenced by art history. A free spirit  at heart, Anna Vaughn has spent time living by the Pacific Ocean in Australia — two years full of camping on  beaches and absorbing Aussie surf culture — before migrating back to her home state of North Carolina to relive her childhood memories of swimming, fishing and boating  in  the Atlantic Ocean.  Anna's pieces at Niche: Days Of Cotton, Orange Blossom, Lemonade, and Vermillion

Anna Vaughn
Anna Vaughn's aesthetic is inspired  by adventure and travel to foreign coastlines as much as it is influenced by art history. A free spirit  at heart, Anna Vaughn has spent time living by the Pacific Ocean in Australia — two years full of camping on  beaches and absorbing Aussie surf culture — before migrating back to her home state of North Carolina to relive her childhood memories of swimming, fishing and boating  in  the Atlantic Ocean.

Anna's pieces at Niche: Days Of Cotton, Orange Blossom, Lemonade, and Vermillion

Inside Look: Bethany Frazier, owner of Maven Made

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On May 4th from 5:30-7 pm we are excited to host a Create a Custom Scent Workshop with Maven Made (sign up here)! In this workshop, Bethany, creator of skincare and wellness line Maven Made, will be providing information, tips and aromatic hands-on experience with herbal, fatty and essential oils. You'll have the chance to create your own custom roll-on blend using her collection of ethically-sourced and organic oils. Used correctly, botanical-based oils make wonderful allies for healing, balancing and nourishing. Your blend can be used to balance the mind, increase energy, aid menstrual cramps or ease hot flashes, promote better sleep, reduce stress or as an aromatic fragrance - the list is limitless. Herbal infused champagne cocktails will be provided.

In addition to hosting Maven Made on May 4th, we were excited to host a Q+A session with Bethany of Maven Made.

What first sparked your interest in developing your own wellness and skincare products?

When I was a child and teens I was always obsessed with beauty products and experimented with the few makeup and beauty products I had. However, it was my long struggle with acne that was the catalyst to open the doors to creating products to nourish my skin and body from botanical ingredients.

When and how did you decide to sell your products?

I realized I had created something pretty amazing when the Facial Serum helped clear my cystic acne. I started selling a small collection of oil serums under the name of Comfort + Joy in early 2014 but that December the line was rebranded with a clearer vision and Maven Made was launched just before the holidays.

What made you decide to go full-time with your business?

There is never a “perfect” time for any life moment, so with that in mind, I decided the new year would be my closest version to the right time so I left my full-time job in January to pursue and grow Maven Made. My wife and I plan to start a family in the next few years so nurturing Maven Made into an abundant business before we dive into mamahood is important.

What has been a rewarding part of owning your own business? What has been a challenge?

Connecting with other artisans, makers and business owners at a local level has been one of the greatest joys of owning a small and woman-owned business. I have developed a heightened respect for goods, art, and services that are formed from independent creators versus the capitalist, chain and big box realm.

A challenge that I have encountered is not getting caught up in the things that don’t serve myself or the business. Whether its my own expectations and being hard on myself (I am a Virgo, this is a theme!) or getting wrapped up in people pleasing others. Over the past year, I’ve really embraced saying no or observing when something doesn’t sit right. Whether turning down a wholesale opportunity with a store that doesn’t align with Maven Made/personal values or just declining from the exhausting cascade of social circles, networking and events. I’m learning that being different and allowing Maven Made to carve its own unique path is its greatest superpower.  

How much of what you create takes “test runs?” In other words, how many mixtures does it take before you make one that you feel is “perfect”?

I make, test and remake a product until it feels right, I listen to my intuition for that answer. If I’m formulating a new product, I’ll sample it to others to get feedback, but everything I make has to come from an authentic place where I feel excited about it. If I don’t, the energy behind that product isn’t vibrating at the same frequency as a product I was thrilled to make. Logistically, formulas take a few times to get to a point where I feel confident for others to use it, however the Facial Serum is the bestseller and it took one formulation and that was it!

Where do you find inspiration behind a new product, a new scent, etc.?

Products are really manifested from discoveries of what interests me. Not what other companies or doing or what is popular. For example, Matcha has been popular for the past few years but I’ve finally discovered the beauty and powers of it. This discover was the basis to launch the newest Matcha Sugar Scrub.

What is an interesting fact about yourself (I know – lame question, but we are interested in knowing more about you!)

I used to be highly addicted to tanning beds, to the point where my skin looked rather leathery! My life was very different than it looks now, many people think I’ve always been this natural wellness advocate or that’s what I’ve been raised around and that just isn’t so. I wore fake nails, caked on MAC makeup and smoked cigarettes. I’m from Texas! I wouldn’t trade any of my past in, it’s provided a beautiful contrast in my life and also allows me to relate to others beyond the wellness realm.

Would you consider yourself a traveler or a homebody?

It truly depends on the season. In the winter, I hibernate but when the weather warms, I’m on the go. I love travel and it has increased over the years. The older I get the more I realize how important travel is to me and also to my business.


If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Okinawa Japan. When I came across this place I had no idea it existed so I was immediately interested. It is a tropical island in Japan - clear waters, traditional Japanese architecture and it is also home to a handful of animals that are found on this island.

This also ties with visiting Dolly Parton at her dinner table. I adore that woman.

Photo cred: @juliet.bryant