MOVE Pilates trainer guiding a client in an exercise

Back pain can make even everyday activities challenging. Learn relatively easy, natural ways to alleviate back pain, many of which can be done from the comfort of your own home.

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.

pilates

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.

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!

“If you are just starting out or coming back to movement from a break or injury, low impact workouts are gentle on your joints. These types of workouts can ease you into the process of getting stronger, while giving your body a chance to build up the load tolerance on your tissues to avoid injury.”

—Elaine Economou

If you’ve made the decision to bring more movement into your life, congratulations! That commitment to yourself is the first step. And it’s a big one. Now it’s time to find the right workout.

Benefits of low impact workouts

Benefits of low-impact workouts include:

  • Strengthening your body
  • Improving flexibility
  • Minimizing your risk of injury
  • Helping you focus on the mind-body connection
  • Improving your form and range of motion when working out

These benefits make low-impact workouts like Pilates a great choice for beginners or people who are returning to exercise after a break.

Elaine Economou‘s latest blog post for popular website Sixty and Me shares how a low impact workout can be a smart choice for beginners. Getting started with a mind-body movement system like Pilates can build strength and minimize your risk of injury.

Read the full blog post on Sixty and Me.

What is the best low impact workout?

The best low impact workout is the one you can commit to for at least a few minutes every day. Pilates is a great example. At MOVE Wellness we’ve seen its impact on clients again and again. Doing things you love regularly and getting outside to walk are also wonderful choices. As you build your commitment you can start increasing the pace and adding in workouts like the one I’ve provided below.

Can you lose weight with low impact exercise?

Low-impact workouts can support weight loss by helping you create a stronger, leaner body.

Low impact workout routine

Try this sequence of low impact movements perfect for beginners. You’ll be on your way to reaching your movement goals in no time!

Learn the essentials when you’re ready for more

Elaine Economou’s new Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates is a 28-day program at MOVE On Demand designed to get you moving safely and keep you on track. Each week Elaine introduces you to the basic principles of Pilates with a consistent warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. And, it comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Watch the trailer to learn more. Support the activities you love to do in life by starting today!


About Elaine Economou

As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies and build strength to support moving well through their unique life. Elaine has created Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates to help people move well and live a life they love – wherever and whenever.

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

What is Pilates breathing?

Pilates breathing is a way of breathing mindfully from your diaphragm in coordination with your movements.

https://youtu.be/tTHqDUoBGzU

How do you breathe when doing Pilates?

You can start Pilates breathing by learning how to use a diaphragmatic breathing technique. You want to optimize a full three-dimensional inhalation without overusing any one set of muscles.

What is diaphragmatic breathing in Pilates?

According to Harvard Health, diaphragmatic breathing is breathing deeply from the diaphragm, which “encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide.”

Why is breathing important in Pilates?

Joseph Pilates said that “The breath shapes the movement and defines its dynamic.”

Some benefits of Pilates breathing include:

  • Improved focus
  • Increased control
  • Abdominal engagement
  • Higher energy levels
  • Better circulation
  • Tension relief
  • Lower blood pressure

How can I start a Pilates breathing practice?

You can start now! Watching our video above is a great first step. We’ll talk you through the basics of Pilates breathing and practice some breathing exercises to get a feel for it.

When you’re ready for more, you may want to look at Elaine Economou’s new program Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates. We know the more you move, the better you feel. Sometimes we need a little push to get started. Movement Essentials is a 28-day program at MOVE On Demand designed to get you moving safely and keep you on track. Each week Elaine introduces you to the basic principles of Pilates with a consistent warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. And, it comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Watch the trailer to learn more. Support the activities you love to do in life by starting today!


About Elaine Economou

As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies and build strength to support moving well through their unique life. Elaine has created Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates to help people move well and live a life they love – wherever and whenever.

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

Pilates is sometimes recommended as a rehabilitative exercise after physical therapy to help avoid re-injury. Physical therapy and Pilates can work together to help build a stronger, more balanced body. 

What is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise system developed by boxer and gymnast Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It uses resistance and your own body weight to stabilize your core and strengthen your body. Pilates exercises can be done on a mat or on specialized equipment.

Pilates focuses on key alignment principles and how the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems work together to reeducate movement patterns. 

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is a form of health care that “aims to ease pain and help you function, move, and live better.” It can be used to relieve pain, improve mobility and balance, or as rehabilitation after illness or injury. (source)

Is Pilates the same as physical therapy?

No. Although Pilates and physical therapy can both help strengthen the body and improve your range of movement, the methodologies behind them and the techniques used are different. 

How do Pilates and physical therapy work together?

Pilates is sometimes recommended as a rehabilitative exercise post-therapy to help further support functional movement and prevent re-injury. There are a number of ways that Pilates and physical therapy complement each other: 

1. Improves coordination, flexibility, and balance

Pilates exercises help lengthen the muscle and improve flexibility, which allows you to achieve a greater range of motion. This helps reduce the risk of re-injury after physical therapy. 

As ability, strength, and coordination increase, your instructor can add complexity and more challenging Pilates exercises to help you keep progressing safely. 

2. Strengthens the pelvic floor

People who have received treatment for issues like urinary incontinence, frequent urination, or pelvic pain through pelvic health physical therapy will find that Pilates is useful in continuing to work and strengthen the deep abs and pelvic floor. 

Pilates for the pelvic floor can release stress, relieve lower back pain, and help improve pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence. Some Pilates studios even offer special prenatal Pilates classes that help strengthen the pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth and to help prevent common delivery issues.

3. Safely builds muscle strength

Pilates is an effective strength training workout for all ages and fitness levels. These types of weight-bearing exercises can be used to safely continue building strength post-therapy.

Pilates and physical therapy in Ann Arbor, MI

MOVE Wellness offers both Pilates and physical therapy services out of our studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Pilates

Our Pilates trainers specialize in working with special populations, including those who are injured. We can even coordinate with other therapists and physicians on your treatment team to provide optimal support. 

Let us know what issues you are working with and we will help you schedule with a trainer that can support you on your fitness journey. With our private Pilates training, you’ll get one-on-one attention and a workout plan customized to your goals.

Physical therapy

MOVE is partnering with physical therapist Melissa Trauger to provide on-site physical therapy services at the studio to pelvic health and orthopedic populations.

Collaborating with area physicians and physical therapists like Melissa is important to providing our clients an excellent continuum of care. Working in partnership with a physical therapist allows us to help to provide manual therapy, assess injuries, and collaborate on movement goals. 

Interested in learning more about these or other services? Contact us today!

Now available at MOVE On Demand

Movement Essentials: Foundations in Pilates is a 28-day program designed to set you on a path to feeling stronger and more confident in your movement. Each week Elaine Economou will introduce you to the foundational principles of Pilates exercises with a warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. The program comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Movement Essentials is the first step in understanding your body and getting to know your own movement patterns. If you are ready to add Pilates to your fitness routine, this program will set you up for long term success. If you are familiar with Pilates, you will expand your knowledge and understanding to deepen your personal practice. You’ll get stronger safely, effectively, and efficiently while building healthy habits and consistency into your fitness routine. All in the comfort of your own home.

Start here if…

What to Expect in the Program:

  • To be challenged by a faster pace
  • Practice using correct form to get the most out of an exercise
  • Movements that support other exercise programs (walking, running, tennis, golf, etc.)
  • Learning how to set a solid movement foundation
  • Working towards a 20-30 second plank
  • Completing the full Pilates hundred
  • Moving the spine in all the planes of motion
Elaine Economou doing Movement Essentials: Gentle Pilates for Everyday Life

What’s included in the full program?

Movement Essentials: Foundations in Pilates includes:

  • A series of introductory topics to deepen your knowledge and set the stage for your personal journey
  • 1 weekly warm up routine—make sure your body is ready for movement each week
  • 2 weekly Pilates classes—customize your journey by doing each class once or twice each week
  • 1 weekly special topics class—including feet, core, fascia, and posture
  • 2 printable calendars—follow along and keep yourself accountable
Elaine Economou doing Movement Essentials: Gentle Pilates for Everyday Life

Are you ready to start moving?

“The consistency and frequency of your workout routine builds positive outcomes.”

—Elaine Economou

Now more than ever, MOVE Wellness offers a complete solution to get you moving and keep you moving. By committing to this 28-day program, you are committing to yourself. Movement Essentials: Foundations in Pilates is now available for the introductory price of $99.99 at MOVE On Demand.