Dance Fitness Special Event Classes Starting this Week

Dance Fitness classes in a variety of styles now offered at SOMA Movement Studio. Image courtesy of Visceral Movement.

SOMA Movement Studio is excited to introduce three new dance fitness classes to our repertoire of mind-body fitness instruction. Ally Davis, founder and director of a new Connecticut dance company, Visceral Movement, will be offering Zen Dance (Dance and Yoga-Inspired Fusion), Hip Hop Cardio & Choreography, and Bringin’ Sexy Back- Burlesque Dance Fitness! Each class offers a unique dance fitness workout that’s easy to follow and doesn’t feel like a workout!

Ally’s classes blend various contemporary dance styles with popular fitness styles as well as more classical dance forms like Modern, Ballet, and Jazz. Foundational moves are combined to create dance routines that are accessible to the novice while simultaneously building choreography that will challenge even the seasoned dancer. “I created classes that I would want to take, classes I simply couldn’t find anywhere around me in Connecticut.” said Ally Davis. “The classes for the summer session at SOMA’s beautiful studio are designed mostly with women in mind. I wanted to help ladies to feel sexy & more confident in their own bodies; who want to enjoy their workout & feel empowered by it!”

All three dance fitness classes are meant to be fun for participants of all ages and abilities. The beauty of dance is that you are able adjust the intensity by modifying the moves to fit your body's needs. SOMA Movement Studio’s wonderfully supportive environment is filled with people that are there to help support and inspire you. Check out the class descriptions and try out each class!

ZEN DANCE
New to dance or Yoga? Used to dance growing up and miss it? This class is for you! Explore a blend of dance, inspired by Classical Ballet and Modern, with Yoga-inspired postures and sequences. Open to all levels, this class is designed to accommodate anyone who attends; both the dancer and non-dancer. Class combines dance movement with both gentle and aerobic Yoga sequences in a non-competitive environment. The class will include floor-work, sitting, standing, traveling, and barre exercises. Let go of the stresses of life, release some tension and get free, refresh and renew your mind in good company! Yoga mats provided, or bring your own.

Learn choreographed dance routines just like in music videos while getting a great cardio workout at the same time! Image courtesy of Visceral Movement.

HIP HOP CARDIO & CHOREOGRAPHY
Have you ever wanted to move like dancers in a music video? Do you crave a fun, new workout that doesn't feel like a workout? Hip Hop Cardio & Choreography will be the highlight of your week! Class starts with easy-to-follow Hip Hop warm-ups, using isolations, undulations, and steps that lead up to a final choreographed piece. Hip Hop or street sneakers are a must for every class, and we thank you for ensuring they are a different pair than the shoes you arrive to class in to help keep our beautiful studio clean!

BRINGIN' SEXY BACK - BURLESQUE DANCE FITNESS, Bringin’ Sexy Back Burlesque is an open-level class designed to wake up hips, shoulders, spine, and anything else you might want to move with intention and freedom. Music will be diverse including Blues, Jazz, Postmodern Jukebox, Hip Hop, as well as contemporary popular music. Movements will range from body rolls, isolations, and gestures, to choreography and coordination exercises that will challenge your mind and body. Explore both vintage and Neo-Burlesque dance styles Feel free to go barefoot for most of class, but be sure to bring a pair of cute shoes with any size heel for a seated chair routine! Any other props we use will be provided for you. Burlesque is a workout that doesn’t feel like one!

Visit the Visceral Movement Dance Company website!

Studio HIGHLIGHTS: Going Wireless

Technology moves forward so quickly. Gone are the days of my awesome, giant, silver colored CD boom box that I rocked out with of most of the 90s. I've been connecting our WiFi network, our HiFi network, wireless SONOS stereo system, computers, networking printers, iPads, Spotify, robotic vacuums, even a wireless scale that analyzes your body composition (more on that in another post). It's amazing how much I can control from my smart phone phone.  

Our digital check in station where clients sign into classes when they arrive in the studio. This frees up our instructors so they can spend more time with clients and less time doing paperwork.

Our digital check in station where clients sign into classes when they arrive in the studio. This frees up our instructors so they can spend more time with clients and less time doing paperwork.

As you enter the studio there is an iPad check in station for students to check in if they preregistered for class or to add yourself to the class if you are walking in. Just a click of a button and you're checked in! Very convenient both for student and instructor so the instructor. The instructor can spend more time and attention getting their students set up and ready for class, rather than doing paper work on the computer.

Our music is both wireless and limitless. Each of our studios are equipped with high quality SONOS HiFi stereo systems that communicate with both our computers and smartphones so instructors can play music either from their personal playlists, or utilize our Spotify account where they have access to millions of songs. There is music available that suits anyone's taste.

One of our SONOS speakers, piping in awesome beats to keep you motivated during class!   

One of our SONOS speakers, piping in awesome beats to keep you motivated during class!

 

Our public WiFi network is now active and available for clients to utilize if they are waiting for a class or need WiFi for whatever reason. The network is called SOMA-Surfs and the password is posted in our studio. The password will be changed intermittently to keep our network efficient for our clients.

We would also like to welcome the two newest members of the SOMA Movement Team. Gizmo and Zoomba, our two iRobot Robotic vacuums who work tirelessly each night to keep our studio floors spick and span.  Gizmo is a dark and handsome robot. Zoomba is a sleek, white robot.

We'll keep updating our studios with more technology to make our clients' and instructors' experiences more seamless and enjoyable. 

Studio Highlight: Trapeze Table Group Classes Starting Now!

Joseph Pilates working out on his bednasium, the precursor to the Cadillac/Trapeze Table. The Cadillac evolved from the bednasium with the addition of taller posts and overhead, horizontal bars. The Trapeze table was nicknamed the Cadillac because of its versatility being used for everything from precision rehabilitation to high level athletic training.

Joseph Pilates working out on his bednasium, the precursor to the Cadillac/Trapeze Table. The Cadillac evolved from the bednasium with the addition of taller posts and overhead, horizontal bars. The Trapeze table was nicknamed the Cadillac because of its versatility being used for everything from precision rehabilitation to high level athletic training.

Pilates’ first invention was called the bednasium. During and shortly after World War I, Joseph Pilates was interned with other German citizens in a British prison camp. He worked as a rehabilitation nurse and took the bedsprings from mattresses and attached them to the headboard and footboards of the bed frames of bedridden soldiers and taught those injured soldiers to do rehabilitation exercises using the springs as resistance. Legend has it, that no soldiers died on his ward while he worked with them.

One of SOMA's Pilates Reformers converted into a Tower Unit. The Tower unit plus the elevated mat below it approximate half a Trapeze table. The Tower unit has a push through bar just like the Trapeze Table and additional springs can be attached for arms and legs. However, as the Tower Unit does not have overhead, horizontal bars, it lacks the versatility to suspend the body as the Trapeze Table does.

One of SOMA's Pilates Reformers converted into a Tower Unit. The Tower unit plus the elevated mat below it approximate half a Trapeze table. The Tower unit has a push through bar just like the Trapeze Table and additional springs can be attached for arms and legs. However, as the Tower Unit does not have overhead, horizontal bars, it lacks the versatility to suspend the body as the Trapeze Table does.

The bednasium evolved to become the Trapeze Table consisting of four vertical posts at the corners of a firm, raised mat/mattress as well as two horizontal, overhead poles. The Trapeze Table developed the nickname, the “Cadillac,” as Pilates felt that the Trapeze Table, like the car it’s named after, had all the bells and whistles you could possibly want in an apparatus. There are so many elements to the machine: leg springs, arm springs, fuzzy loops to hang from, a push-through bar to stretch you out, and even a trapeze. This versatile piece of equipment can be used for everything from precision rehabilitation to high level athletic training where the overhead poles are used to simulate to suspend parts of the body and even to do inversions. The Trapeze table lends itself well to doing asymmetric exercises as one’s limbs are attached independently to springs rather than the predominantly symmetric exercises performed on the Reformer.

Many studios offer what are called “Tower classes,” where a Cadillac is simulated by doing exercises with springs attached to a vertical frame on a reformer or a frame attached directly to a wall. These classes are wonderful, but do not approach the variety and versatility of using a full Cadillac as Towers lack the overhead horizontal poles and the namesake Trapeze bar. See the pictures to see the difference between the tower and the full Trapeze table.

SOMA Movement Studio's group Trapeze Tables in our Equipment Gym. Notice the white, fuzzy hanging straps that can be used to suspend the entire body as well as the spring loaded trapeze bars that hang from the overhead, horizontal poles. Tower units are not able to replicate Cadillac exercises that use the overhead, horizontal poles.

SOMA Movement Studio's group Trapeze Tables in our Equipment Gym. Notice the white, fuzzy hanging straps that can be used to suspend the entire body as well as the spring loaded trapeze bars that hang from the overhead, horizontal poles. Tower units are not able to replicate Cadillac exercises that use the overhead, horizontal poles.

SOMA Movement Studio offers two levels of Cadillac Classes. The Beginner/Intermediate class introduces students to the Cadillac, principles of muscle isolation, spine articulation, and how to utilize being partially suspended from the horizontal, overhead poles to maximize activation of stabilizer muscles in the entire body. The Intermediate/Advanced classes increase challenge as the exercises become more airborne and with less support from springs. Upper body strength and core stability are emphasized. Instructor permission is necessary to attend the Intermediate/Advanced Cadillac class.

Equipment Highlight: Stability Chair

A view of the Pilates Wunda Chairs, also known as Stability Chairs in the SOMA Movement Studio Equipment Gym. We offer both group and private training using this versatile piece of equipment.

A view of the Pilates Wunda Chairs, also known as Stability Chairs in the SOMA Movement Studio Equipment Gym. We offer both group and private training using this versatile piece of equipment.

This is an awesome piece of equipment that adds more upright exercises to your Pilates repertoire. While exercises on the Stability chair run the full gamut from rehab to beginner to advanced, it's no secret that Joe Pilates' exercise chair has more than its share of challenging exercises. The stability chair, also known as the Wunda Chair (pronounced Vun-Dah) or low chair (yes, there was also a high chair), has a much smaller footprint which leaves you mostly hanging out in space, having to support your body weight against gravity with minimal support from its spring loaded pedal.

A bit about the history of this versatile piece of equipment. The Wunda chair was originally designed as a home exercise machine for New York City apartments. Early designs actually converted from a chair you could sit on, complete with cushions and trim, to a Wunda chair you could exercise with.

Joe Pilates demonstrating some of the beginner to intermediate exercises on his Wunda chair. Exercises are more upright so they require more balance, coordination and strength than some of the more supported exercises done on the Reformer, Mat or Cadillac/Trapeze Table.

Joe Pilates demonstrating some of the beginner to intermediate exercises on his Wunda chair. Exercises are more upright so they require more balance, coordination and strength than some of the more supported exercises done on the Reformer, Mat or Cadillac/Trapeze Table.

The basic idea of the chair is that there is a seat with a spring loaded pedal in the place where your legs would normally go. This pedal  can be depressed with either your legs or arms to provide resistance or support, depending on the exercise. Additionally, there are optional handles that can be mounted to the sides of the chair for either support during beginner exercises, or to hold your body suspended in air for advanced exercises. Pilates’ background in gymnastics is reflected in some of the chair exercises. Men often prefer this apparatus because of its emphasis on upper-body strength.

What is it like to exercise on the Stability/Wunda chair? Most exercises are done either sitting or standing so gone is the luxury of laying down on Reformer, Mat, or Cadillac. To perform the intermediate and advanced exercises you need good upper-body strength, scapular and pelvic stability, and good control of your core. The upright position of exercises which are great for functional and athletic training.

At SOMA we have a bunch of these wonderful apparatus available for both private and group training. Click on the interactive, three dimensional picture for a closer look at our Stability/Wunda chairs.....Or for an even more up close and personal experience, come into the studio for a free demo!

Welcome Kristen to our SOMA Movement Team

We are excited to announce that Kristen is joining our team of movement instructors here are SOMA Movement Studio! She's been teaching Classical Pilates, both on the mat and on equipment for years. She graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2001 with a BA in Dance. Upon graduation Kristen moved to Las Vegas, NV and performed in such renowned shows as Illusions and Beyond and Legends in Concert. She is a Classically trained and certified Pilates instructor and you can now register for her Reformer classes as well as private sessions with Kristen starting next week. See our online Class Scheduler to register for classes with Krisen.

Reclaiming Your Body: More On the Tabula Rasa

Since The Valley Press article came out earlier this week, I've had a couple people ask me to explain more about SOMA Movement Studio's unique approach to exercise (click here for more on our Philosophy & Mission). Our primary goal at SOMA is to teach people how to move more freely and comfortably; fitness then becomes more enjoyable and exercise comes naturally. 

There is nothing magical about our studio. We don't wave a wand and make fitness easy. If your neck and shoulders are chronically tight and sore, and you walk into one of our Pilates classes for the first time off the street, guess what. You'll be doing Pilates with a tight neck and shoulders. What does make our studio different, is our approach to preparing our clients for exercise. This is what we call re-discovering you're body's tabula rasa state of being.

Tabula rasa is a Latin phrase that literally means blank tablet or blank slate. The concept of the tabula rasa refers to the idea that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception. This concept dates back to the Greek Philosopher Aristotle, however, it is the English philosopher John Locke's interpretation of the tabula rasa from the 1600s that SOMA uses as an analogy to our initial approach to movement. 

In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that at birth the (human) mind is a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. Have you ever watched a healthy, two-year old child run? They have perfect posture, are free of muscle tension, flexible, and move without hesitation. Then as we grow we are introduced to stress, deadlines, early mornings and late nights, unhealthy habits, computers, cell phones, the list goes on. Gradually, the our shoulders round in towards the chest, the head moves forward, the pelvis tucks while the lower back becomes rigid, and our breathing becomes shallow. We begin to avoid certain activities and become complacent with our new state of being. The slate is no longer blank. Evolution now looks like this:

SOMA Movement Studio believes that it is possible to rediscover the freedom of movement we once had as children. We offer movement classes, called Hanna Somatic Movement or Hanna Somatic Re-education, that are focused on identifying the underlying, reflexive muscle activation patterns that interfere our body's ability to move freely. 

A somatic muscle (also known as skeletal muscle), i.e. muscle that moves you (as opposed to the smooth muscle of the vicera or blood vessels), has no internal controls. It simply does what the nervous system (for simplicity's sake, lets say the brain) tells it to do.  A muscle that is cut off from the nervous system is flaccid and loose. Restore input from the nervous system, and the muscle regains tone. A "tight" muscle is one that is simply receiving inappropriate input from the nervous system and so its "tone" is too high. The problem lies in the control center (brain) not in the muscle itself.

So, in order to efficiently address the problem of tight muscles, we must relearn how to control our muscles by consciously overriding these subconscious muscle activation patterns. The mind body connection becomes more of a "how the brain controls the body" connection. Muscles are relaxed through conscious intention rather than by stretching, massaging, or other muscle-centric approaches that only produce fleeting results.  In Hanna Somatic Movement jargon, these subconscious muscle holding patterns are referred to as Somatic Motor Amnesia. So in pictorial terms, our goal at SOMA Movement Studio becomes:

EvolutionSOMA.jpg

So how do you figure out where to start at SOMA Movement Studio? We recommend you start with a Pre-Pilates Introductory Class/Movement Orientation session and then go from there..... Our instructors are always available for advice and clients are encouraged to sample each of the movement regimens that we offer. In general, if you can move freely and comfortably, go ahead and take the more athletically focused classes. If you find you have a restriction or just want to develop better body awareness, try adding Hanna Somatic Movement or Pre-Pilates to the mix. Our classes are designed to be complementary rather than sequential so you can take them in any order at anytime. 

Hump Day Class: Matwork + Barrel Classes on Wednesdays

The Arc Barrel which of all the barrel Joe Pialtes designed for use in his exercise system, has the gentlest curve.

The Arc Barrel which of all the barrel Joe Pialtes designed for use in his exercise system, has the gentlest curve.

We've added another class to our weekly schedule. Wednesday mornings from 10:00 - 11 am and Wednesday evenings from 5:00 - 6:00 pm we are hosting a beginning Matwork Pilates class which is enhanced with Barrel! We have both Arc Barrels shown in the pictures below as well as their bigger sibling, the Spine Corrector (sometimes referred to as the Hump Barrel) with its steeper curve available for use during the class.

Barrels are wonderful tools in Matwork Pilates as they add variety as well as more options for exercise modification. They can make exercises easier or more challenging depending on how they are used. They can support you when you need a little extra help or challenge your balance to get your stabilizer muscles to kick in just that much more. Wanna experience what I am talking about? Come by on a Wednesday evening from 5:00 - 6:00 pm, right before Jackie's Gentle Yoga Class at 6:15 pm.

Here is the class description:

This beginner level, 50 minute workout incorporates both mat exercises and exercises on the barrel. Most of the exercises are done with the Arc barrel, the gentlest of the barrels that Joe Pilates designed for his method of exercise, though some exercises may be done on the Spine Corrector which has a steeper curve. Exercises on the barrel will help to open up the chest, shoulders, and work the abdominals and hips in a way that only the barrel can. The barrel will support and assist your body as well as to open and stretch your spine long. Leave class feeling more balanced, open, and flexible!

New Reformer Class Added This Saturday, May 14.

We've added another Essential Reformer class starting this Saturday at 10:15 - 11:15 am. Essential level Reformer classes are beginner level Reformer class. Class begins with a concise warm up, followed by a series of exercises targeting the core, legs, arms, posture and back. Emphasis is placed on form and quality of movement rather than repetitions. We recommend that you take a Pre-Pilates Orientation/Introductory class prior to taking your first refomer class to learn the basic principles of the Pilates system of exercise, become aquainted with the Reformer, and familiar with the cueing (Pilates Lingo) used in our studio.

.....So if you did not get a chance to sign up for the 11:30 class before it sold out, you have a second chance. Hope to see you there!

New Evening and Saturday Jumpboard Reformer Classes

We've received several requests for more evening classes and we listened! We have a brand new class, Jumpboard Reformer Group Class, starting on Mondays from 7-8 pm, Tuesdays 5-6 pm, and Saturdays 10:15-11:15 am and continuing every week afterwards. More schedule updates coming in June.....in the meantime, here is the description of the Jumpboard Reformer class.

The Jumpboard is a fun way to incorporate some cardio and plyometrics into your Pilates routine. The Jumpboard is an attachment that converts a Reformer into a horizontal jumping machine. It attaches to the front of the Reformer where the footbar is. While lying with your back on the carriage you can adjust the spring tension and jump on the board as if it were the floor. The spring tension takes gravity out of the equation, so it feels like you’re jumping on the moon. Jumping on a Refomer is fun, weightless, and graceful. What's not to love?

Jumping takes an incredible amount of core strength and is also a great way to get your body accustomed to plyometrics without having to jump on hard surfaces. The American Council on Exercise advises that forces sustained from jumping onto hard surfaces might equal up to seven times your body weight. In contrast, the jumping on the Jumpboard is done from a horizontal position, which allows you to perform the movements with minimal joint stress.

Pink Ribbon Program Training for Rehabilitation and Pilates Professionals at SOMA Movement Studio

The SOMA Movement Studio at Farmington Valley Physical Therapy is now an official instructor training center for the Pink Ribbon Program, a system of Pilates based exercises specifically designed for post-operative breast cancer recovery. The exercises help lengthen and strengthen the shoulder, chest, back and abdominal muscles, allowing women to regain full range of motion to those areas affected by breast cancer surgery.

The Pink Ribbon Program, founded by Doreen Puglisi, MS, was created to help meet the goals of the breast cancer survivor. These major areas of concern typically include body image, frozen shoulder, and/or range of motion, depression and anxiety.

This post-rehabilitation protocol is appropriate for any breast cancer survivor, whether their surgery was eight weeks ago or ten years ago. Over 1000 breast cancer survivors have used this exercise protocol to aid in surgery recovery.

Summary of the Six Week Exercise Program

  • Begins six weeks post-operatively, encompassing post op weeks 6-12
  • There are three phases of the Pink Ribbon Program, each phase lasts two weeks
  • Progression from one phase to the next is individually based
  • Classes/sessions are attended two to three times a week for most reliable results
  • The client generally can resume mainstream activities after completion of the six week Pink Ribbon Program

Benefits of the Pink Ribbon Program

  • Prevent and reduce cancer related fatigue
  • Increase muscle mass, strength and endurance
  • Increase in daily functional activities
  • Increase in physical activities
  • Assist in lymphedema management
  • Increase shoulder range of motion following breast cancer surgery, especially with lymph node dissection

The Pink Ribbon Program training is open to physical therapists, occupational therapists, Pilates instructors, lymphedema treatment specialists, and nurses. After completion of the Pink Ribbon Training Program, the practicioner can refer to themselves as a Post Operative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist (BCES).

Post Operative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist
The Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist (BCES) is a professional qualified to assess, design, and implement individual fitness programs for those diagnosed with cancer. The BCES has an advanced understanding of the cancer treatment progressions from diagnosis to treatment, recovery, prevention of lymphedema, and contraindications.

Please sign up for our newsletter to be alerted of when the next Pink Ribbon Program Training for Professionals is scheduled at SOMA Movement Center and Farmington Valley Physical Therapy.

Equipment Highlight: Pilates Reformer

There is probably no piece of Pilates equipment more famous than the Pilates reformer. The Reformer evolved after the Cadillac, utilizing spring resistance like in the Cadillac, but also incorporating a moving base to increase the range and variety of exercises available.

Invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates, the reformer is a bed-like frame with a flat, padded platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs that provide resistance for exercises. The carriage is moved against the resistance of the springs either by pushing on a footbar at the end of the carriage, or pulling on ropes emanating from the head of the reformer. Exercises can be done lying down, sitting, standing, pulling the straps, pushing the footbar, perched on the footbar, perched on the shoulder blocks, with additional equipment, upside down, sideways and all kinds of variations thereof.

SOMA Movement studio has contemporary reformers, meaning that these reformers have been updated from Pilates' original designs to accommodate modern style exercises and accessories. Click on the interactive, 3-D picture on the left for a closer look at one of our Reformers with Vertical frame. For example, many contemporary reformers are longer than Pilates' original design in part due to the invention of the Jumpboard, an attachment that goes onto the foot of the reformer that allows the user to perform plyometric exercises, with much less impact on the user's body. Click and drag on the interactive 3-D photograph to the left of this text to get a closer look at one of our Reformers with Vertical Frame.

SOMA Movement Studio's reformers are all equiped with vertical frames, the large frame at the head of the reformer that springs, ropes, and bars can be suspended from. The vertical frames serve to vary the type and difficulty of exercises. Reformers are large pieces of equipment; the reformers at Soma Movement Studio are about 8 feet long, over 2 feet wide, and the vertical frames stand about 7 feet tall.