MOVE Pilates trainer guiding a client in an exercise

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We are excited to offer the opportunity to become a GYROTONIC® Level One trainer at MOVE Wellness. This profound and wise system will help you and your clients enjoy moving to get strong and mobile while supporting all the systems of the body. This post will give you all the information you need to know about doing your Gyrotonic training at MOVE.

Gyrotonic classes are designed to take the body beyond its current limitations. People come out of a Gyrotonic class with increased freedom of movement, greater strength and more agility. Gyrotonic exercises are adapted to fit anyone’s ability, from those recovering from injury or living with a disability to elite athletes.

For Pilates teachers, this system enhances what you already know and provides a depth of knowledge of how all the systems of the body work together. It is organized with more fluid movements and sequences that encourage proper biomechanics, breathing and the decompression of the joints of the spine and whole body. The training is a bit more experiential and differs from most Pilates courses. 

The steps in the program are outlined below. There is also a link to the official website page where they spell out very specific requirements at each level of training. 

Step 1) Training Pre-Requisites:

Students must take Gyrotonic private sessions or classes before they enroll in the course. We want you to be familiar with all of the Level 1 material before you go to Pre-Training. If that is not possible, there is an option to add three days to the Pre-Training Course. This would have to be coordinated in advance. 

Location: MOVE Wellness or another GT studio with a certified instructor

Dates: Individualized

Cost: Individualized

Step 2) Pre-Training Course:

This is a 6 day course that can be done in 6 consecutive days OR two 3-day segments within 60 days of each other. Typically we do this course over two weekends or three if the extended pre-training is necessary. We meet 9-12 and 2-5pm.

Because we will coordinate this once we know who is interested in the course, we can plan time to do weekly classes leading up to the pre-training OR add the 3-day extension. This will be taught by Pre-Trainer Elaine Economou. 

Location: MOVE Wellness

Dates: Two weekend format 3/8-10 and 4/5-7 

Cost: 1,050 for two weekends/$1575 for three weekends

Studio Fee: $250 for two weekends/$375 for three weekends

Course hours are:

9-12 morning

12-2 break

2-5 afternoon

Step 3) Foundation Course:

The Foundation Course must be taken between one week and three months of the end of the Pre-Training course. Each day there are five hours of training with a mandatory two hour break in the middle. We typically meet 9-12 and 2-5pm. This will be a 12-day course taught by Master Trainer Donna Place. 

Logistics: The course runs for 6 days with day 7 off and then 6 more days. The purpose and description of the course is below which is cut and pasted from the website.

Location: MOVE Wellness

Dates: May 12-24 (day off on 5/18)

Cost: $2,100

Studio Fee: $500 

(The course fee is paid to MT Donna Place (@Donna-Place-3) on or before the first day of the course and the studio fee is paid to MOVE at the time of registration. 

Course hours are:

9-12 morning

12-2 break

2-5 afternoon

Foundation Course Purpose

To provide a more in-depth understanding of the Gyrotonic Level 1 curriculum and provide students with the specific skills and techniques needed to teach these exercises to clients. During this course, a Gyrotonic Master Trainer introduces the teaching techniques and principles underlying the Gyrotonic Level 1 exercise syllabus and introduces the complete Gyrotonic, Level 1 exercise curriculum.

In this program students learn to design and teach a progressive sequence of Gyrotonic Level 1  classes on the Gyrotonic Pulley Tower. The 195 hour program is composed of four sequential courses. 

General Notes

  • Students typically begin teaching the Gyrotonic Method in the role of apprentice within 3 months after beginning the program. 
  • It takes approximately 1 year to complete the full program and to become a fully qualified Gyrotonic Trainer.
  • Gyrotonic Trainers are eligible to register for Gyrotonic specialized courses and Gyrotonic specialized equipment courses.
  • Gyrotonic Trainers attend at least one continuing education course every two years in order to expand their skill set and maintain their  trademark license.

Why Do My Gyrotonic Training at MOVE?

  • Experience an in-depth exploration of Gyrotonic principles and level 1 movement sequences under the direction of a skilled Gyrotonic Master Trainer
  • Learn to professionally teach the Gyrotonic Level 1 exercise sequences on the Gyrotonic Pulley Tower
  • Gyrotonic level 1 Trainers have access to specialized Gyrotonic teacher training courses including specialized equipment courses.

Step 4) Apprentice teaching and Apprentice Review Course

Once students successfully complete the Gyrotonic Level 1 Foundation Course, they are considered a Gyrotonic Apprentice. At this stage the Gyrotonic Level 1 Apprenticeship period begins and students can begin teaching the Gyrotonic level 1 exercises they have learned in the role of Gyrotonic Level 1 Apprentice. The apprenticeship license is valid for 1 year. During the one year apprenticeship period, students will finish the Gyrotonic Level 1 Apprenticeship Review Course, complete practice teaching hours, and the Gyrotonic Final Certificate Course. Students must spend a minimum of six months in personal practice and practice teaching before they are eligible to attend the final certificate course. 

The apprenticeship period lasts a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year. During the apprenticeship period, students are required to complete 60 “teaching client” hours and a minimum of 30 supervised Apprenticeship Review Course hours. Apprentices complete their supervised apprenticeship review course hours under the guidance and supervision of a Gyrotonic Master Trainer either in the form of a six day Gyrotonic Apprenticeship Course or by re-taking the Gyrotonic Foundation Course. 

For the Gyrotonic Training at MOVE, we will offer a six day Gyrotonic Apprenticeship Course with Donna Place 

Location: MOVE Wellness

Dates: November/December 2024 TBD with cohort

Cost: $1,050

Studio Fee: $300

(The course fee is paid to MT Donna Place on or before the first day of the course and the studio fee is paid to MOVE at the time of registration) 

Course hours are:

9-12 morning

12-2 break

2-5 afternoon

Step 5) Certification Course

The purpose of this course is two fold. It is an education course and it is also a practical assessment of students’ teaching skills and their understanding of the Gyrotonic Level 1 curriculum. To successfully complete this course, Apprentices must physically execute and demonstrate a proficient understanding of the exercises and principles in the Gyrotonic Level 1 Foundation Course syllabus. Additionally, Apprentices must apply the appropriate verbal cues and physical guidance to a moving person according to the Gyrotonic Level 1 Foundation Course manual.

*Please note, this course is not offered at MOVE Wellness. You can look online and find courses in the US and other countries. Washington DC is a popular place for students to take their final certification.

Location: Your choice (see Gyrotonic website)

Dates: Your choice

Cost: $525

Studio Fee: determined by the host studio


We hope you’ll consider doing your Gyrotonic Training at MOVE. Email us with any questions or to enroll!

We are so excited to share our new six-week Pilates program, “MOVE Well in Midlife” with you. MOVE Co-Founder, Elaine Economou, has created this program to help women in midlife (ages 45-65) safely and efficiently build strength and mobility, learn mindfulness tools to relieve stress, and to be a part of a community of women with a shared experience of this time of life. 

Our MOVE Well in Midlife Program allows you to join a small cohort of women and incorporates a daily, customized movement approach with additional coaching support. The goal of this program is to help you understand how to care for your unique body with an eye toward aging well and getting as strong as you want to live the life you love. Read on to learn about the program details.


I. Challenges Faced by Women in Midlife

Midlife is a time of change for women and is often accompanied by certain challenges. Some common issues women in midlife experience include:

  • Surprising aches and pains
  • Worries about bone health and aging posture
  • Concerns about maintaining and practicing balance
  • Struggles with incontinence
  • Confusion about what exercises are safe and appropriate 

We often think that aging is accompanied by a decline in health with certain unavoidable changes in our bodies, but this is not the case. It is true that midlife is a time of change in your body but by incorporating consistent and focused movement practices, you can make sure you’re building and maintaining strength and stability in your body. In addition to having a strong body, research suggests healthy lifestyle changes during midlife may also prevent illness from occurring later in life (site). Our team at MOVE feels passionately that midlife does not need to be a time of fear and anxiety, but rather a call to action to take ownership of your body and provide it with the tools it needs to support you.

II. The Program: A Solution to Midlife Challenges

The truth is that it is possible to keep doing all the things that you love as you age. The MOVE Well in Midlife Program is designed to directly address challenges of midlife. With slow and steady attention to your physical health, mobility and strength, the principles of Pilates and the GYROTONIC Expansion System will help you move well and feel your best. 

Here’s how:

  • By moving consistently and building strength, you’ll notice fewer aches and pains
  • Your daily movement practice will also bring mobility and ease to your joints and spine
  • You’ll have personalized exercises that are designed for your unique body that you can incorporate at home to keep your momentum going on days you don’t have a full class
  • Your workouts are also designed to maintain healthy bone density 
  • You’ll also spend time on breathwork geared towards mitigating stress, supporting healthy digestion, and strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor 

And remember, you’ll be surrounded by a supportive community of women. As a group, you’ll build connection and community while you learn to care for your unique body.

Pilates Instructor Training schedule

III. What’s Included in the Program?

The MOVE Well in Midlife Program is organized into the following: 

  • (2) one on one coaching sessions 
  • (2) in-studio classes per week
  • (1) at-home virtual workout per week
  • (1) personalized homework exercise routine (to be done on non-class days)

Overall, the MOVE Well in Midlife Program is a custom-designed program for women in their late 40s, 50s and 60s. You’ll have two weekly in-studio classes and one weekly virtual class. These workouts will be Pilates or GYROTONIC-based movements. You’ll focus on low impact training and also incorporate certain props to help you get the most out of each workout. Each workout has been created from scratch by Elaine specifically for women in midlife, so you’ll know each exercise is targeted just for you. 

Finally, as movement experts we know that consistent participation and practice at home and in the studio is going to allow you to see clear progress and strength gains over the six weeks of the program. In addition, you’ll exit the program with new (or renewed!) exercises habits that will carry forward into your daily routine.

IV. Get Lifestyle Support in Your Coaching Sessions

In addition to classes, you’ll also have two coaching sessions as well as weekly accountability check-ins. You’ll have one coaching session before the program begins and one mid-program session. These two sessions will allow you to establish where you are at the start of the program as well as how you’re feeling and progressing mid-program. The coaching sessions will also provide you with information to look back and reflect on. 

In your initial coaching session, we will check in on the pillars of well-being including stress management, sleep, and nutrition and provide you with resources to support you in these areas if you are interested. Your mid-program call will give us a chance to work together to be sure you are getting the support you need and the most out of the program.

You’ll also have weekly accountability check-ins after your at-home workouts. We know it’s not always easy to workout at home without the accountability of having to show up to a studio at a set time. That’s why we’ve incorporated these mini check-ins. You’ll be expected to confirm you’ve completed your at home class and this will help make sure you’re completing all portions of the program. Research shows that setting goals and following up with a plan for where and when to exercise helps assure that you’ll actually end up following through on your workout (site). The MOVE Well in Midlife Program does all of the planning for you, all you need to do is show up.

V. Benefits of Enrolling in the MOVE Well in Midlife Program

We’ve already touched on many benefits of the program but to recap, you can expect:

  • Improved pelvic floor health and decreased risk of incontinence
  • Improved balance and coordination, meaning your risk of having a fall is also reduced 
  • Strengthened core muscles, which can improve posture 
  • Increased flexibility, reducing joint stiffness and improving range of motion
  • Enhanced cardiovascular fitness, improving overall heart health

To review, the MOVE Well in Midlife Program includes three weekly classes, two in-person and one virtual, plus customized, daily movement homework for you to do on non-class days. You’ll also have two coaching sessions and weekly, accountability check-ins so you’re able to stay on track as well as monitor and measure your progress throughout the program.

The program will directly address common challenges in midlife and you’ll leave feeling confident about your movement practice with a clear plan post-program on how to maintain your achievements during the program. As we’ve noted above, midlife is an important time where it’s critical to prioritize self-care and health to create a strong and healthy body that will support you as you age. Our program is meant to encourage women in midlife to take control of their wellbeing with the support and guidance of our team of movement experts.

Interested in joining? The program is limited to six participants so don’t wait to enroll!

Learn more and sign up here.

Three immune-boosting foods for winter colds

Michigan winters are tough. The temptation to hibernate kicks in as temperatures drop and the days become shorter and darker. Less sunlight means less natural Vitamin D which helps keep our immune systems strong. Researchers are finding that cold temperatures may allow certain viruses to survive and spread more easily. Winter can also be a time of elevated stress as many of us are also juggling an array of holiday commitments with friends. Lots of travel, late nights, and a host of holiday treats can add to our stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, your immune system doesn’t function as well when you’re constantly in a state of “fight or flight”. During these tough times, our bodies need every little bit of help to fight cold and flu symptoms, and certain foods can really help us out. Here are three of my favorite foods to eat when I’m sick.

1. Bone Broth or Soup to Help Boost Your Immune System

We’ve all been told to have chicken soup when we’re feeling under the weather. Enter bone broth, chicken soup’s groovy cousin. Bone broth is similar to chicken broth with the notable difference being that to make bone broth, the meat is simmered for longer amounts of time so the bones actually break down into the liquid and the collagen releases into the broth. That rich collagen broth is generally pretty easy on your stomach while still providing the nourishment of a light meal. Broths are high in vitamins and minerals and are a great way to stay hydrated when water doesn’t sound so appealing. I know when I’m sick, eating something savory and slightly salty tends to taste better. Hot broth can also act as a nice decongestant and ease chills. 

Foods to eat when sick: Broth simmering on stove

When I was working as a caterer, I would usher in winter for clients with big batches of bone broth for them to have at the ready. Testing and sipping the broth as it simmered on the stovetop for hours became a beloved and indulgent habit for me during dark, cold days. I even had some fun experimenting with “bone broth latte” recipes. 

Homemade Bone Broth

Making bone broth from scratch is simple and I encourage everyone to give it a try. Grab a whole bone-in chicken or a couple hearty bone-in chicken breasts (Argus Farmstop is a great place to go to get local, free-range chicken), place them in a large pot with a little apple cider vinegar and whatever aromatics you enjoy (bay leaf, onion, garlic, carrot) and simmer away for at least six hours.

Slow cookers are great for bone broth, but not necessary. If you feel like going a more traditional route, most bone broth recipes call for chicken backs and chicken feet, which will give you a super collagen-rich broth. Here’s a classic bone broth recipe. When I make broth, I always make an extra large batch and freeze individual containers to have on hand. Similar to broth and stock you might find in the store, bone broth is a great liquid to cook with if you want to give your rice or quinoa a big nutritional boost. 

Jars of bone broth to eat when sick

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are some fantastic mineral-rich, vegetable-based broth recipes on the internet like this one that contains wakame seaweed and mushrooms. Seaweed contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals that can supplement your diet. Mushrooms contain Vitamin D which is great for your immune system. Wakame is a good source of omega-3s and several vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. 

And remember to have fun and experiment with ingredients! Throw some mushrooms and seaweed in your chicken broth. Use beef bones instead of chicken. Add slices of ginger, lemongrass and lemon to your mineral broth. Recipes are an opportunity to be creative. Start with what you have at home and what sounds good to you and go from there.

Chicken Soup to eat when sick

2. Spiced Lemonade to Soothe That Sore Throat

Sipping a warm citrus and clove drink reminds me of my mom. When I was feeling under the weather or she was feeling inspired, she’d whip this wonderful tonic together for us both. I still have the original paper copy of the recipe my mom found in Real Simple magazine. I’ve adapted it below by substituting honey for the white sugar and freshly squeezed juice for the store-bought carton. The not-so-secret ingredient that makes this recipe special is clove. That warm and slightly spicy note is what makes the drink unique. 

Spiced Lemonade to drink when sick

This tea has several ingredients that help us feel better when we’re sick. Honey has soothing, anti-cough properties as well as being antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Local raw honey is best, and we’ve got lots to choose from here in Michigan. Just be sure your tea is not too hot when you add the honey as the heat can destroy the beneficial antioxidants. Adding a big squeeze of lemon adds vitamin C and the ginger helps relieve nausea and reduces inflammation. 

Enjoying a warm cup of tea can be a calming and comforting ritual that helps you forget you’re under the weather. Take a moment to let the warm steam waft up to your nose and inhale the spicy scents with a nice deep breath. Hopefully for a moment you feel like you’re getting a big warm hug from a loved one — I know that’s where this drink takes me.

Spiced Lemonade Recipe

Spiced Lemonade Recipe

  • ½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup lemon Juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup honey (add more or less depending on your preference)
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves 
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Add all the ingredients, except the honey, to a small sauce pot and bring to just barely a simmer. Heat on very low for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add in the honey to taste. This recipe makes enough for one large mug. You can also double or quadruple this recipe to make a bigger batch. Store it in the fridge and then you have it on hand to heat up quickly and sip throughout the day.

3. Banana Oat Smoothie

I love smoothies. Let me say it again: I LOVE smoothies! When I first joined MOVE, it was as the smoothie and juice bar manager. At my previous job at Juicy Kitchen, I had a smoothie named after me – the Rachel’s Breakfast smoothie (if you find yourself at the cafe, give it a try!). And the first blog post I wrote for MOVE was about… you guessed it… smoothies. They pack a ton of nutrients and are easy to drink on-the-go. They’re also an easy and enjoyable way to consume super healthy good-for-you ingredients like kale, spinach, flax and chia seeds because you can add natural sweeteners like fruits and honey to make it taste great. 

Are smoothies good when you’re sick?

Whether you’re feeling a cold come on or are already in the throes of one, smoothies are a great low-maintenance, immune-boosting meal option. Something cold is always a welcome relief on your throat when it’s scratchy and irritated. When I was sick as a kid, my go-to relief food was vanilla ice cream. Luckily, as I got older, I figured out that a good smoothie can also satisfy a sweet tooth while providing the nutrients missing in my ice cream sundaes. 

Banana Oat Smoothie to eat when sick

Are bananas good for when you’re sick?

Bananas and oats are good sources of soluble fiber, which are ideal for illnesses that affect your digestive system. Bananas are also relatively bland and easy to tolerate when your appetite is low and oats can help decrease inflammation in the gut. The below smoothie recipe is a little milder in flavor, which is typically better when we’re not feeling well.

Banana Oat Smoothie Recipe

  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • 2-3 cubes ice
  • 1 cup plant-based milk (almond and coconut work well)
  • ¼ cup organic rolled oats
  • 1 medjool date or 1 tsp honey
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Splash of water, to thin, if needed

Throw all of the ingredients, minus the water, into a high-powered blender and blend away! If your smoothie is looking too thick, add a little bit of water until it starts blending smoothly. One fun trick to try is making little oat ice cubes by taking a tablespoon of oats and putting it in an ice cube tray that you then top with water. You can make 2-3 oat ice cubes for your smoothie and they’ll make your drink extra thick and creamy.

Oats Frozen in Ice

What should you not eat when sick?

While some foods like nutrient-rich bone broth are great when you have a cold or flu, other foods can make your symptoms feel worse. When you’re sick it’s best to avoid food and drinks that are hard on your stomach, including caffeinated drinks, alcohol, greasy foods, and sugary food or drinks.

Staying Healthy in the Winter

Beyond banana smoothies, bone broth and comforting cups of tea, the most important thing to remember about winter wellness is that it requires a comprehensive approach. In addition to making smart choices with what you eat and drink, don’t forget to move and mend your body to compensate for those dark, cold days. 

To combat potential Vitamin D deficiencies, make sure to get out on those rare sunny days and enjoy a long walk, or just sit on your patio like a cat with your face to the sun for a few minutes. You might also consider purchasing a SAD lamp and/or talking to your doctor or nutritionist about whether or not you might need to take a Vitamin D supplement until more regular sun returns. 

Moving your body during the winter is also key. If you normally enjoy outdoor exercise but can’t do it during cold, icy days, try adding an additional movement class to your weekly schedule or supplementing your daily routine at home with meditation, Pilates mat work, or GYROTONIC®️.

Looking for more health and wellness tips?

Check out other posts on our MOVE blog or subscribe to our newsletter.

Rachel Cook Studio Manager at the Desk

About Rachel Cook

Our Marketing Coordinator Rachel, came to Ann Arbor from Grosse Pointe to attend the University of Michigan as an Art History and Anthropology major. With a longtime passion for food and nutrition, Rachel joined the Juicy Kitchen team in 2012 and work as manager of the restaurant. In 2017, she started her own food business, Raw Materials, making healthy, ready to eat meals and desserts. While selling her meals directly to clients and at Argus Farmstop and Roos Roast, she found her way to MOVE Wellness as the Juice and Smoothie Bar manager. Rachel found the culture and environment at MOVE to be welcoming and full of learning opportunities. She gradually added to her responsibilities at the studio and came on full-time in 2018. In her free time, Rachel loves to try new things in the kitchen, keep up with her exuberant husky, and she’s always on the lookout for new trails to explore.

Ann Arbor Holiday Gift Giving Guide

ANN ARBOR AREA 2023 HOLIDAY GIFT-GUIDE Our 2023 Local Ann Arbor Holiday Gift Guide is here! We’re feeling so much gratitude for our local community — the MOVE community and beyond. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a “Curated Community Gift Guide” to make it easy for you to shop locally this season. We […]

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS… Our 2022 Local Gift Guide is here! We’re feeling so much gratitude for our local community—our MOVE community and beyond. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a “Curated Community Gift Guide” to make it easy for you to shop locally this season. We are HUGE fans of all […]

Please join us for an

Open Studio Event

to preview the 2024 MOVE Pilates Instructor Training Program

November 5, 2023
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Join our expert team of instructor trainers for a preview of the 2024 MOVE Pilates Instructor Training Program. Our interactive information session will give you the opportunity to decide if our program is right for you. 

  • Hear from our instructor trainers and former students who have successfully launched Pilates careers.
  • Discover the innovative fitness that began with Joseph Pilates himself.
  • Walk-through what to expect in our progressive and comprehensive Pilates education.
  • Learn about how we’ve updated our program with adaptable in-person and online components.
  • Tour our light-filled studio and explore our Balanced Body Reformers.
  • Bring your questions and join the conversation — our goal is to support you every step of the way. 
  • Join a 20-30 minute Pilates mat class (all levels welcome).

Take the first step toward a marketable movement career as a Pilates instructor. Whether you’re looking for a full-time career or a part-time complement to your current professional or educational goals, this is a great time to pursue a new passion!

Interested but can’t attend these dates?

Let’s chat another time! You can schedule a free 1:1 consultation with our program director. Just fill out this simple form and we’ll reach out to schedule a date.

Quick links:

In the age of home workouts, we’ve come to realize the many perks of creating a space and routine at home that complements your in-studio practice. But for many of us, working out at home just doesn’t have the same draw as going into a beautiful, fully-equipped and expertly-staffed studio.

We get it! We look forward to hopping on the Pilates Reformer or Gyrotonic Tower just as much as the next person. Plus, we love the accountability of coming in to see our favorite trainer on a set schedule. We know it can be tough to keep up motivation and consistency when exercising solely at home. 

But who says you can’t have the best of both worlds?

In this blog, MOVE Trainer, Jane Sheets shares her 3 Essential Exercise Props: the foam roller, resistance bands and light hand weights. All three of these props and the suggestions below can be used to level up your home fitness routine. Jane’s favorite three props are easily purchased online or at your local fitness store. Also, each prop has a wide range of applications (that means the prop possibilities are endless!). Read on as Jane unwraps her prop insights, pro-tips, and creative exercise ideas.

And don’t forget to leave us a comment below – share your experiments and, if you’re already a prop enthusiast, let us know how incorporating props has enhanced the effectiveness of your home workouts.

The Benefits of Using Exercise Props

While Pilates, the Gyrotonic Expansion System®, and Barre all provide challenging workouts without props (we’re looking at you Pilates teaser and Barre squats!), after you get the basics down and start looking to add another layer of difficulty, it can be beneficial to add in small props to your routine.

So what’s the lowdown on props?

Well, props add variety and versatility to exercises. Jane says,

“We can use props for many different reasons: to increase challenge, to help with mobility and balance, and to make an exercise more accessible OR more challenging. We can also use props to highlight a specific aspect of an exercise and encourage enhanced muscle engagement.”

Jane also notes that props can even channel the vibes of high-tech equipment, like the Pilates Reformer, right in your living room. So let’s dive in and learn how.

Exercise Equipment: The Foam Roller: Unleashing Muscular Recovery and Flexibility

What is a Foam Roller and What Are Its Benefits?

A foam roller is a cylindrical tool made of – you guessed it – foam, typically used in fitness routines for self-myofascial release, also known as self-massage. By applying pressure to specific muscle groups, the foam roller helps release tension and improve blood flow, which can lead to increased flexibility, reduced soreness, and overall enhanced muscle function. 

Foam rolling is commonly used as a recovery technique in fitness routines to enhance mobility and optimize workout performance. However, as you’ll see below Jane also loves to get creative with the foam roller to use it for stability work as well as core strengthening. In general, we recommend you purchase the soft or medium hardness rollers. Some companies also make half foam rollers which are flat on one side and curved on the other. This style is still just as useful and is perfect for those who need a slightly more stable surface.

Foam Roller Exercises

Beginner Exercise: Arm Circles

Set your foam roller down lengthwise along your mat and lie on top of it on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Make sure you feel stable and grounded with the entire length of your spine, head, and neck resting on the foam roller. From there, slowly begin your arm circles, taking care to keep your abs engaged as your body adjusts to the added instability of the foam roller. The video below will show you arm circles without the foam roller as a guide for the foundation of the movement.

Intermediate Exercise: Back Extension

Start by laying on your stomach and either hold the foam roller or place it under your arms. From there, move through your back extension letting your arms gently move the roller and your spine lifts. Back extension is great for strengthening the entire back chain. As with the first exercise, the foam roller provides great feedback and helps your body build both stability and strength. The video below will show you exactly what to do!

Advanced Exercise: Hip Rolls

Level up by placing the foam roller under your feet in hip rolls. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat resting on the foam roller. Engage your glutes and core as you slowly roll up one vertebrae at a time into your hip bridge. Roll back down slowly and repeat for a few repetitions. In the video below, Jane does a fun variation for added hamstring and glute challenges.

Fitness Equipment: The Resistance Band: Adding Resistance and Strength to Your Workout

Resistance bands are highly portable and versatile props. They also have the added bonus of being compact, making them perfect to tuck into your suitcase when you’re traveling. With its elastic properties and various levels of resistance, you can control how much intensity you’re adding, making resistance bands indispensable companions for both beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts.

Advantages of Using Resistance Bands

Jane points out that these unassuming bands can help you feel greater muscle engagement, as well as build muscle flexibility and strength. Resistance band exercises effectively target and activate specific muscle groups, promoting gradual and balanced strengthening. They also provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion, which can lead to improved muscle tone and definition.

Jane notes that it’s nice to have a couple different tensions of bands and for everyone to also consider purchasing the loop style band for leg work. In the exercises below, Jane highlights three different ways resistance bands can be useful: to offer support in a movement, to encourage a greater range of motion, and as added resistance to an exercise.

Resistance Band Exercises

Beginner Exercise: Chest Stretch

Using a light or medium tension band, hold the band with your arms straight out in front of you. Pull your arms to your sides, bending your elbows, and lift your sternum/chest slightly into the band as it stretches. Focus on the movement coming from your shoulder blades and sternum, rather than your lower back. Try repeating 4-6 times. This movement will both stretch your chest and improve mobility.

Intermediate Exercise: Leg Circles

To get started, hook the band around the ball/arch of your foot, just like Jane in the video below. While gripping each end of the band in one hand, begin to circle your leg. When used in leg circles, the resistance band offers support and enhanced control of your leg as it moves. For many this allows the movement to feel more accessible and easeful.

Advanced Exercise: Banded Squats 

This is where the loop-style band is useful but you can also securely tie a standard resistance band to create your own ad hoc loop. You can choose what feels most comfortable but either place the band around your thighs or calves. From there do your squats. Using the band here not only adds resistance but it can also help to activate abductors and glutes which will help you get the most out of the movement.

Workout Equipment: Light Hand Weights: Elevating Your Home Strength Training

The Benefits of Light Hand Weights

Light hand weights (1-3 pounds max!) introduce an element of external resistance (i.e. weight), intensifying home workouts to stimulate muscle growth and enhance strength. By adding weights into your repertoire, basic exercises can become more challenging. Anyone who has taken Jane’s virtual Barre class knows that 1-2 pound hand weights are more than enough to feel the burn after rounds of bicep curls and tricep extensions. Besides enhancing muscle definition, incorporating light hand weights can also increase caloric output during your workout.

Light Hand Weight Exercises

Beginner Exercise: “Reformer” Arm Work 

We love to mimic some of the arm exercises from our reformer repertoire at home using weights.  For example– “offering” from the front rowing reformer series. Sit with your legs crossed or out in front of you (whichever feels most comfortable and allows you to sit upright). Have your elbows flexed at 90 degrees by sides, palms up and holding the hand weights. Then, extend your arms forward, keeping palms upward.

Take a breath in and as you do open your arms to the sides, maintaining the grip and upward palms. Exhale and return your arms forward. Lastly, inhale to flex the elbows to return to the starting position. The breathing in this movement helps you keep a nice intentional pace, but don’t worry if your inhales and exhales don’t match up, just move slowly with good form.

Intermediate Exercise: Roll-Up With Weights

See the video below for basic guidance on how to do a roll-up without weights. You’ll simply add in the weights by holding one in each hand as you perform your roll down. The weights will actually offer you some assistance as you roll up off of the mat. As you roll back down, the added weight will help you articulate your spine slowly which is great not only for spinal mobility but also core engagement and strength.

Advanced Exercise: Bicep Curls in Half Roll Back 

Adding weighted bicep curls or other arm work to your c-curve/half roll back: Adding arm work while holding the c-curve/roll back means that you stay in this challenging position while having to work your biceps/arms, increasing abdominal work and challenging co-ordination. Watch the video below and then give it a try yourself!

Creating a Balanced Home Routine with Fitness Gear

Want more guidance on how to incorporate these fitness props at home? At MOVE Wellness, we’re all about seizing the power of virtual movement to supplement your in-studio routine. Our favorite online options include our free Youtube channel, our dynamic livestream classes, and our ever-accessible on-demand workouts and guided programs.

Virtual options are functional and effective because they offer flexibility for scheduling (you set the schedule however you want!) and are also a low, or even no-cost, option for classes meaning you can supplement an in-person practice without a big impact on your health or your monthly budget. But perhaps most importantly, our virtual options allow you to have a class-based format guided by our fabulous instructors. This means, Jane and our other instructors plan a great workout for you and all you have to do is show up ready to move!

Here’s a sample workout schedule that incorporates all three props into your weekly routine:

Just getting started in your fitness journey? We’d recommend scheduling your Introductory Private Session with us. This 50 minute movement session will take you through a great workout individualized to your unique body and goals.

Jane’s Final Tips for Success

  • Always warm up your body before moving into more demanding movements. When you do take on a challenge, listen to your body and avoid overexertion. 
  • Make sure you have the basics down of any movement before adding in a prop. We love to add in props for greater creativity and fun, but only as our bodies are ready. Having time one-on-one or in a small group class setting where a trainer has their eyes on your form and is offering corrections when needed will help you build the body awareness you need for a great solo practice. 
  • Know that growth takes time and consistency. Keep up with your weekly practice and know that you’re building the foundation for greater strength.

Incorporating the foam roller, resistance bands, and hand weights into your home fitness routine offers an abundance of advantages. To recap just a few, Jane reminded us that even though we often think of the foam roller as a tool for muscle recovery and flexibility, it can also be a great way to challenge balance and stability. She taught us how resistance bands amplify resistance training with their adaptable tension, helping to sculpt and really home in on targeted muscle engagement. Last but not least, Jane showed us how to add in hand weights to infuse your workouts with heightened intensity and take strength-building to the next level.

Ready to dive in? We encourage you to experiment with these props and feel the benefits for yourself. MOVE offers numerous virtual class options that incorporate these great tools into your workout routine. From our livestream classes (check out our FREE trial if you haven’t yet!) to our Youtube Channel there are workouts for all experience levels and schedules. 

We’d love to hear your experiences and your favorite exercises using props. Comment below!