Flip ‘Fitness Mindset’, 5 Ways to Love Your Body

Flip fitness mindset

Flip ‘fitness mindset’, what does that mean? Welcome to a topic I could speak about all day. I grew up with ‘fitness mindset’, it set me against my body from an early age. I grew up in the 80’s when exercise became a religion. Aerobics was everywhere and it was all about body sculpting and weight loss. Every afternoon I would race home to follow Jane Fonda on TV, pushing my body to make my abs, butt and arms sore the next day, so I knew I had done a good workout. In this way I would earn my food and be safe in the knowledge that I was on my way to getting smaller.

After leaving school and home, I was searching for new ways to be with my body. I discovered Yoga. I practiced for 2 hours most days and I loved the memorised flow of the routine, the breathing, the surrender to the practice. But I approached it in a similar way to aerobics, to reshape myself, to improve myself, to become different somehow.

My realisation – the moment it changed for me:

It wasn’t until much later that how I really felt about my body smacked me in the face. I was working in a corporate job in a city, I was on the bus on the way to work, looking at facebook on my phone and up popped a photo of myself from high school, it was from the swimming carnival, I was in my swim suit, with my back to the camera facing the pool, about to jump in. I saw my bum, I knew it was my bum, I’d know my bum anywhere.

The thing is, I was so shocked by how slim I was. At the time I felt like I needed to lose weight. I didn’t, but from my view decades later sitting on the bus, I could see that I didn’t like the shape of my body. And from the crowded bus I also knew that no matter how much I deprived myself food or pushed myself to exercise harder, I may lose weight but I would essentially have the same body shape.

This realisation hit me like a ton of bricks. In that moment I realised that I had been hating my body since I could remember. That made me feel sad, because I knew somewhere inside me that my body was a gift but I felt that I had never really even seen her before. I knew in that moment I had to flip my own ‘fitness mindset’ on it’s head to have a relaxed, accepting and happy relationship with my body.

I want to help you do the same. I want to help you get free of ideas that actually hold you back from moving your body and enjoying it. I want to help you flip ‘fitness mindset’ so you can move to nurture yourself instead

It’s exercise…why does mindset matter?

Full disclosure, I teach exercise. The reason why I became a Pilates and movement teacher was to create a place that is free of ‘fitness mindset’ and is based on what I call a ‘move to nurture’ philosophy. I teach to help my clients see their bodies clearly, sometimes for the first time. Once your eyes are open it’s possible to experience your body in new ways.

Moving to nurture yourself is so different than moving to reshape yourself. When you move to nurture yourself, first you accept yourself, your body, as she is today. Exercise and movement can then be an act of self love and self care, and it can become deeply pleasurable and fun.

Moving to reshape yourself is punishing and quickly becomes joyless, which is why so many people struggle to stick to a regular movement routine.

Yes it’s exercise, but how you approach it changes your experience completely!

The Benefits

Research now shows that regular exercise not only helps us live longer, but improves our quality of life more than any other intervention that you can do for your health. If there was a pill that improved your wellness in the same way, that exercise does, it would be the most effective medication you could buy.

Finding ways to remove barriers to movement and exercise helps more people move to nurture themselves.

This is my mission.

‘Fitness mindset’ comes with a few recognisable ideas:

  • 1. No pain, no gain
  • 2. We exercise to improve how our body looks
  • 3. Weight loss being the key motivation for why you would exercise
  • 4. Exercise and movement belongs in a gym or in a Bootcamp class or in a run club. Exercise and movement is somehow separate to the rest of your life. 

A move to nurture philosophy looks more like this:

  1. Pain and discomfort are our teachers
  2. Progress comes from practice
  3. Motivation for exercise comes from how good it makes you feel, we focus on the lifestyle benefits
  4. Exercise and movement is integrated as much as possible into your daily life.

Here is a summary of the key differences to help you flip ‘fitness mindset’ :

Flip 'fitness mindset'

5 Ways to flip ‘fitness mindset’ in your life

Integrate movement into your daily life:

You move everyday. From getting out of bed to getting dressed, getting to work, rummaging around in the fridge, hanging up the washing. See the movement you do everyday as nourishment for your body, any exercise you do is a bonus. The movement you do everyday is your foundation for strength and flexibility. Bringing awareness to your everyday movement gives your body so many more opportunities to benefit. Some of my favourite ways to be aware are:

  • Bringing my attention to where my weight is in my feet.
  • When getting down to a chair or the toilet, use a hip hinge
  • When lifting something from the floor, use a functional squat
  • Explore spinal extension when hanging out the washing

Be pleasure seeking

When ever you are exercising or moving, let pleasure guide you. Bring your attention to what feels good in your body and what doesn’t feel good. Go towards the sensations that feel good. Yes, sometimes our body needs what may feel uncomfortable, however if we are freeing you from ‘fitness mindset’ we start with movement that feels good. This helps your brain make new connections with your body that are infused with joy.

Explore your own breathing mechanics

Learn the difference between a deep breathing pattern and a shallow one. This opens up a deeper level of awareness in your body. Deep breathing allows you to regulate your nervous system and anxiety. Deep breaths give you opportunities in the day to become present, to flood your body with oxygen and strengthen your diaphragm and your pelvic floor.

Cultivate gratitude for your body as she is now

Judgement and gratitude cannot exist in the same space. If you frequently have judgemental thoughts about your body, begin a practice of reframing. If there is a body part you hate on, learn a little more about how that body part supports you to move well. I am happy to help you with this, if you have questions about different body parts and how they support your movement please drop them in the comments. Then practice finding gratitude for your body part. For example I have a long history of hating my bum and thighs, slurs like ‘thunder thighs’ are etched in my brain (accompanied by a slightly shameful nauseous feeling and a memory of a friends mum describing my body in this way when I was about 10). Now I focus on how grateful I am for my legs and bottom, how they move me forward in my life (literally!) and how lucky I am to have them. In this way I replace judgement with gratitude. Try it…..

Practice the compassionate hands meditation

Flip fitness mindset

This is one of my favourite ways to be with my body. Bring your attention to your hands, and the love you give with your hands. Doing laundry, making lunches, giving cuddles, cleaning, changing bed linen, growing flowers, you get the picture. Take a moment to feel the love present in your hands while doing these tiny acts of service everyday. Now bring your hands (and this love) on to your body, at your heart and your belly are good places. Imagine all the love you give out with your hands flowing into your own body filling you up to overflowing.

Welcome to the ‘move to nurture’ journey:

I am so excited you are interested in taking this journey, away from ‘fitness mindset’ towards moving to nurture yourself. Your relationship with your body is your primary relationship. Your body is your only real home. Welcome to a journey of coming home to your body, as she is, each day of the journey and moving to nurture her to feel stronger and more connected to you.

Every body is different. As you try these ideas out remember what worked for me may not work for you. I hope the explorations lead you to the things that do work for you. This is your journey.

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pelvic Floor Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. For more way to move to nurture your body sign up for my weekly newsletter below.

How do I get core strength?

How do I get core strength? is one of the most common questions I get asked. We all know we need it but there is a lot of confusion about what it is and how to get it. If you suffer from low back pain, mid-back pain and tightness, hip or pelvic pain, shoulder pain or neck pain then it is likely you need to work on your core strength. So let’s clear up what it is (and what it isn’t) and look at moves to get you feeling it!

What is core strength?

Core strength is your bodies ability to stabilise your spine whilst you’re moving. Core strength requires several layers of muscles in your torso, coordinating to create just the right amount of pressure for your bones. This pressure and the stability that comes from it keeps your spine, safe, whilst moving.

If one muscle in your core is very much stronger than the others, this can create imbalance. For example, you may be able to do 50 sit ups but struggle with back pain at the end of each day. This is because your rectus abdominis muscle is much stronger than the other layers of abdominal muscles in your torso, and so it takes over and the others don’t get strengthened.

Core strength is as much about coordination as it is about strong muscles. The key to learning to coordinate your core muscles is your breath. Your breath naturally engages all the layers of muscles in your torso. Once you learn to gain awareness of this coordination, you can do this independently of the breath.

Core strength and healthy breathing are intimately connected. To dive deep into the anatomy check out this previous post.

What is not core strength?

Core strength is not the ability to do hundreds of chest lifts or a sit ups. It is not having a six pack of abs. It is not being skinny, and having visible abdominals or ribs.

Core strength is not putting pressure down on your pelvic floor to gain stability. Core strength is not having a belly that is thinner than your hips. It’s not about how much you can lift, although core strength does help you lift. It’s not about how big are well defined your muscles are. Put simply it’s not about how you look.

How to feel your core strength:

So if it’s not about how you look, no wonder it’s a little tricky for people to figure out how to get it. And there are lots of people willing to give you results. You can see, but not necessarily result you can feel in terms of stability.

My favourite way to connect people to their existing core strength is to get them breathing. Taking a good breath in, and then a good long exhale through your mouth, as though you’re blowing out through a straw is a lovely way to feel the natural contraction of your core muscles Towards your centre.

I call this exercise ‘hug the belly.’You are hugging your belly with your breath, and your belly is hugging your bones as you breathe. You can do this exercise lying down, sitting up, kneeling, in four point kneeling or standing up. In fact, it is good to try out this exercise in lots of different positions to feel your core engagement.

Once you’re really comfortable with this hug the belly exercise, then you can try out some of the exercises below to begin to develop more strength and coordination in your core.

Exercises to develop your core strength:

Another gentle exercise that helps with getting all the layers of your core muscles working is called 90:90 breathing. Still essentially a breath exercise, 90:90 breathing gets you to focus on relaxing your deep butt muscles. These deep muscles often grip and get very tight when your core strength is not great. We need to release these muscles to get your core muscles well coordinated.

Once you can feel the ‘hug the belly’ breath and you can do it without gripping your glutes or the front of your legs, then you are ready to practice dead bugs. The dead bug exercise is often where people start however investing time in the last two coordination exercise will make sure your core muscles are working together well and will reduce your likelihood of back tightness or injury.

When you are comfortable with single leg dead bugs you can progress to both legs lifted. Keep the same focus on your breathing to ensure deep core connections.

Feeling the right load:

Getting the load just right, is really important to build core strength. If you are loading your core by doing dead bugs, making sure your mid to lower back is connected to the Matt or the floor is very important. If your mid to lower back is lifting off the floor when you are lifting your legs, then the load for your abdominals is too much and your back has taken over. When this happens you strengthen your back in a dysfunctional way, instead of strengthening your core muscles. 

This is why getting the load, just right matters. Experiment with the dead bug exercise and feel the position of your mid and lower back as you raise one leg and then perhaps another leg as you lower 1 foot to the floor whilst the other leg is supported by the floor or lifted.

Check out the video below that shows this from two angles!


Notice what changes happens in your hips and in your lower back as you change the load of your legs. Keeping your spine aligned is the training that the many layers of muscles in your torso need to get stronger. The bonus of this dead bug approach is that you don’t need to exert your neck to build your torso muscles.

Considerations for larger bodies:

For people with larger bodies, it can feel more difficult to work course strength for a few reasons. One If you carry more body weight, you work harder than someone who is lighter. So this can be a barrier to starting because of the difficulty. 2 the difficulty can be discouraging, especially in the early stages and it can be frustrating to have to go slowly. Really this applies to everyone but especially if you’re in a larger body and not feeling good about that. If this is you well done for knowing you deserve core strength. Take your time go as slowly as you need to. You will work harder than a smaller body will work especially in the beginning. So be kind. You deserve strength and stability.

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pregnancy and Post-natal Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. For more way to move to nurture your body sign up for my weekly newsletter below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

Knee pain? Could it be your feet?

Knee pain is such a common barrier to midlife movement and fitness. If you suffer lack of strength in mid-life, feet are often to blame.

Our feet are the absolute foundation of our movement health. Often as people age and try and stay active, it’s their feet that stops them.

Today we’re going to talk about foot strength and how important it is especially for avoiding knee pain. I want to teach you one exercise to help you build strength in your foot to support your whole body weight.

Alignment – how your feet could contribute to your knee pain

Alignment is essential to understand to help with knee pain. Your knee is the middle child between your foot and your hip. Alignment (or lack of) is usually at the heart of knee pain. Alignment begins in our feet.

If your weight is always slightly on the outside of your feet, then pressure and tension will travel up the outside muscles of your calf to the lateral (outside) of your knee. Over time this will cause wear and tear and eventually pain.

If your arches are flat and your feet roll slightly in then the muscles on the medial (inside) calf will take the load up to the medial knee.

Understanding this connection between your feet, where the weight falls and how this affects your knees is the first step (pardon the pun) in solving your knee pain.

Try this test

First, we’re going to do a little test. Where your weight in your feet? Stand up, bring your feet about hip width apart bring your attention to your feet. I want you to feel where the weight is strongest falling through your feet. So you might notice that your hips are forward and you’ve got quite a lot of weight in your toes. A good way to test this is just to rock forward and back. Be aware of how it feels when the weight is in different parts of your feet. And then just relax and notice where your body relaxes into and how that falls into your feet. If you’ve got a lot of weight in your toes, which most of us will have, then the exercise I’m going to give you will be great for that.

One exercise to strengthen you feet and reduce knee pain

The exercise I’m going to teach you is called short foot. It’s not a new exercise by any means. But I was recently reminded of it and it is a really great one for bringing strength into the foot to support the body weight in alignment.

So what we want to do is have a barefoot and come off weight so you’re sitting down and you’ve got your foot just spread happily on the ground. And then what we want to do is spread the toes as much as you can.

Then I want you to push the heads of the metatarsal so these long bones, we’ve got what we call the ball of the foot that goes from the big toe all the way to the pinky on the other side. We’re pushing all of these, that ball of the foot all through all your toes into the ground and pulling them back towards your heel.

You want your arch to gently lift and leave the toes as relaxed as you can. Now, relax it and try again. You may feel muscles activate right up your leg.

Now you want to try and keep the toes fairly relaxed. I still struggle with this a little bit. We don’t sort of want to see the toes taking over and the ball of the foot lifting off. We want the ball of the foot anchored sliding back towards the heel to engage the arches of the feet. We have three arches in our feet. And this will work the medial one and the transverse one particularly coming across the side. So that’s your short foot and I love doing this unweighted without any load, but it’s great when you come to standing work.

Watch the full video below for the short foot plus other standing exercises to boost your foot strength.

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pregnancy and Post-natal Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. For more way to move to nurture your body sign up for my weekly newsletter below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

The benefits of Pilates for mid-life women

If you are a woman in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, you may be looking for a way to stay fit, healthy, and happy in your midlife years. You may have heard of Pilates, but you may not know what it is or how it can benefit you. Pilates is a low-impact exercise method that strengthens your core, improves your posture, and enhances your well-being. In this blog post, we will explore some of the benefits of Pilates for midlife women and why you should give it a try with Move to Nurture Pilates.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century as a way to improve physical and mental health through controlled and precise movements. Pilates exercises can be done on a mat or on specialized equipment, such as the reformer, the cadillac, or the chair. Pilates focuses on the core muscles that support your spine, pelvis, and hips, but it also trains your whole body as an integrated system. Pilates helps you develop strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and breath awareness.

What are the benefits of Pilates for midlife women?

Pilates has many benefits for women in midlife, especially as they go through hormonal changes and face various challenges in their personal and professional lives. Here are some of the benefits of Pilates for midlife women:

Pilates reduces stress and anxiety

Pilates helps you to breathe better and deeper, which calms your nervous system and reduces stress hormones. Pilates also helps you to focus on the present moment and tune out distractions, which can improve your mood and mental clarity. Pilates helps to “calm the chaos” for midlife women who are often juggling lots of demands (i.e work, family, ageing parents etc). Pilates is time out from the stress and a way to have self-care time to nurture your body, mind, and soul.

Pilates prevents injuries and improves rehabilitation

Pilates is a low-impact exercise that puts minimal stress on your joints, which can prevent or reduce joint pain and inflammation. Pilates also strengthens your core muscles, which can prevent or alleviate back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. Pilates can also help you recover from injuries or surgeries by improving your mobility and function.

Pilates boosts your metabolism and bone density

As you age, your metabolism slows down and your bone density decreases, which can lead to weight gain and osteoporosis. Pilates can help you maintain or increase your muscle mass and bone density by providing resistance training and weight-bearing exercises. Pilates can also help you burn calories and fat by increasing your heart rate and oxygen consumption.

Pilates improves your posture and alignment

Poor posture can cause many problems for midlife women, such as neck pain, headaches, shoulder tension, digestive issues, and poor circulation. Pilates can help you improve your posture and alignment by strengthening your core muscles and teaching you how to move with more awareness and control23. Pilates can also help you look taller, slimmer, and more confident by correcting any imbalances or asymmetries in your body.

Pilates improves your quality of life

Pilates can help you enjoy your midlife years more by improving your physical and mental health, as well as your daily activities. Pilates can help you sleep better by relaxing your body and mind. Pilates can also help you perform better at work or hobbies by increasing your concentration, creativity, and productivity3. Pilates can also help you have more fun by allowing you to try new things or challenge yourself with different levels of difficulty.

Why choose Move to Nurture Pilates?

If you are interested in trying Pilates in Lennox Head, you should try Move to Nurture Pilates studio. Move to Nurture Pilates offers a variety of classes for all levels of experience and fitness goals. You can choose from mat classes or equipment classes using the reformer, tower, wunda chair and barrels. Begin with a private session to assess your body and what your goals are, then choose from regular privates, small group sessions or mat classes with Brigid a Diploma qualified and experienced Pilates teacher, who will guide you through the exercises and tailor them to your needs. Move to Nurture Pilates is a welcoming and friendly place where you can meet other like-minded women, have fun and learn to move well for life.

How to get started with Pilates?

To begin your Pilates journey with Move to Nurture, pick up the phone and call Brigid on 0404459605 to discuss your needs and your goals. Based on what you are looking for Brigid can guide you to the right class for you. Or explore the website at your leisure. The sooner you get moving, the sooner you will be enjoying life more!

Do you want to enjoy walking again?

Do you want to enjoy walking again? We evolved to walk. It is the best exercise we can do for our heart health are cardiovascular fitness, our joints and our muscle strength. Walking does it all and our bodies are made for it. But if you find that after a long walk or even a short walk you get a sore back; You feel like your knees take a pounding; Your feet ache or your neck gets sore. Then you will give up on walking! That is the beginning of the end for your health and your body!

I want to give you five exercises that you can do so that the next time you go for a walk, you will feel better in your body. Each of these videos below will give you some ideas to get started on simple exercise to improve your walking technique. I will also go through common errors and ways to cheat that rob you of the benefits of the exercise .

So here are my top five exercises to improve your walking technique and help you to enjoy walking again.

1. Calf stretch – enjoy walking again

Tight calves can change the way that your feet can move to get the most out of walking lengthen your cars before you go. This stretch is a cracker. If you haven’t tried it before give it ago you will get a really deep stretch in the back of your calf. Maybe even down into the muscles in your feet and it’s a really effective way to stretch your calves.

Best calf stretch ever

2. Muscle rolling

This one is great. If you have tension around your knees when the muscles around our knees are tight they change the way our legs our leg muscles can recruit. Freeing up your knees before you walk can make a real difference to how they how your legs feel at the end.

Muscle rolling for tight knees

3. Prances and push offs

We want to get the feet strong and used to pushing our body weight around. This helps with propulsion the push off from the back leg that pushes us forward into walking. Start with the heel raises and then move into the prances and then go for the push us. These are so affective for building foot strength to get the propulsion we need for walking.

Prances for foot strength
Toe push offs

Glute strength is important for an effective ‘push off’ from your back leg, find out more building glute strength.

4. Hip list and swing

We are travelling up the leg now to the hip. This is where we can work on hip extension or getting the thigh bone behind the pelvis. It’s super important that your pelvis and spine. Stay fairly neutral as your leg travels back. This will stop you getting a sore back when walking.

5. Rib, rotations and arm swings

Walking is a full body activity. Upper body needs to be part of the movement rib rotations, and the swing of our arms are really important to counterbalance what’s happening as we change our weight from one foot to the other freeing up your rib cage shoulders and feeling the swing of your arms is a really nice way to tune yourself to the rhythm of walking.

So that’s my top five exercises from the Pilates repertoire to help you enjoy walking again. Most of these exercises are preparing you to improve your hip extension, getting your thigh bone behind your pelvis without losing your neutral spine. This is the game changer for walking to feel good in your body.

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

5 Tips for Better Balance

Want better balance this year? Good balance makes you unstoppable, no matter your age. Just ask my 85 year old mum who is more stable now than when she was 60. As we age our balance can deteriorate for a number of reasons. This can reduce our body confidence and stop us maintaining and building strength. There are many factors that contribute to the balance system and lots of things to consider when wanting to improve your balance. This article will outline the systems in the body that contribute to good balance and then give you 5 tips for better balance!

What makes good balance?

Having good balance relies on three senses in the body operating well and interacting together, these are:

Visual – what we can see

Proprioception – our perception of where each part of our body is in space

Vestibular – how our head is sitting in space and our head righting response in relation to gravity

When one of these senses is not functioning well or is compromised the others tend to compensate. The sense that tends to suffer most as people age is proprioception. As we move less and take on less physical activity the brain has less input as to where each of joints are in space. The more time we spend sitting, the less we activate the pathways to the brain from each of our joints moving through space.

We begin to rely more and more on the visual system which is intimately linked to the vestibular system via the vestibular ocular reflex or the ability of our eyes to focus as we move our head. The trouble is that our visual system can also deteriorate as we age.

It is easier to stimulate the proprioception system than to repair the visual system. For this reason it is important not to rely too much on the visual system for balance. And that is where targeted movement and exercise can develop proprioception and muscle strength to improve balance. Strength on its’ own is not enough to improve balance, improving proprioception is essential.

How to improve your balance – 4 tips

If we take what we know about the senses of the body that contribute to good balance and combine this with an understanding of body mechanics there are a number of things you can do to improve your balance. Many of these can be done at home and some will require specific equipment and guidance in a Pilates studio.

Tip 1 – Make your feet more pliable

Our feet are our foundation and when you want to improve your balance this is the place to start. We love to overlook our feet (literally!) because they are right under our noses and it is so obvious they are important for our movement. But our feet are often not what we want them to be. Usually our feet spend most of their time in shoes, they lose their agility to cope with different surfaces.

The very act of wearing shoes, makes our feet, weaker. So, to build balance, we start from the foundation. Yes, I want you to kick off your shoes and spend more time barefoot. If this causes you pain you may need to seek some advice and support for this. But generally, spending a little more time each day, bare feet will bring you great benefits for your balance.

This is a great exercise for our feet, that helps bring back some of the suppleness, articulation of the many joints in the feet, and pliability to your feet.

Pilates for balance

Fingers through toes

Bring one foot to the opposite knee and thread your fingers through your toes. This may be quite difficult and painful, so go gently. You can then lift and drop your toes.

Tip 2 – Hip strength

Hip strength is directly related to our feet, when our feet are weak or not able to respond to the terrain, our hips immediately compensate to find and create stability for our body. This results in tight and immobile hips. This is why we started with the feet, the exercises in the feet will then support connection to your hips.

Every step we take is a balance on one foot for a moment. Many of us don’t have the strength to manage this moment very well and so we compensate with all sorts of movements that do no good for your knees and your back.

So this tip strips it all back to a simple movement that will have your standing hip burning (in a good way) to build strength exactly where you need it. This exercise will help you have less pain when walking and make you more stable on different surfaces and will help you prevent falling.

What’s more it’s a super simple way to get really strong in your hips. Try it out below:

Tip 3 – Core muscles

Core muscles strength and coordination is a key part of balance. It is the part that a lot of people focus on to the exclusion of all else. In my approach to balance core strength is just one key part of improving your balance.

When I talk about core muscle strength for balance. I don’t mean a great six pack. What I mean is, being able to activate the very deepest abdominal muscles to stabilise your bones (your skeleton).

Practicing this very deep, stability, doesn’t come from doing a lots and lots of sit ups or ab crunches or exercises that are in a typical gym workout. These smaller stabilising muscles need exactly the right load, and to be in the right position to be activated.

Here is an exercise that will teach you core coordination or how to coordinate your core muscles with your breath. We use the breath, initially to teach the sensation of the core muscles firing. And then as you get more comfortable with that you can do the core firing independently of the breath which is ultimately where you want to be.

This exercises may feel very easy although there is a lot to think about. They’re not the sort of muscles that will give you a deep burn straightaway. This is a more subtle sensation than that. And it is the subtlety that allows you to develop better control of your deep muscles to stabilise your skeleton and improve your balance.

Knee drop

Lying on your back, soles of the feet to the floor, knees bent, neck and head relaxed. Drop on knee out to the side, do not let it drop all the way to the floor. You want to keep your pelvis still while you move the knee. If you feel your pelvis tip as you drop your knee, make the movement smaller until your pelvis can sty still while you drop your knee. Repeat on both sides 15 -20. Go slowly and move with intention and control.

Tip 4 – Neck strength and head alignment

In our current lifestyle we spend a lot of time in front of screens or driving cars. It is very common for people to develop forward head posture, this is where your chin, and head starts to slide forward of your body, and the back of your neck needs to become very strong and often quite tight to stabilize your head.

When people take this into an exercise setting, often they continue to hold this forward head posture. Sometimes they’ll get a sore neck from that, but often they are trying to strengthen their neck. To reverse forward head posture we need to strengthen the front of the neck, the deep cervical flexors, in the front of the neck, rather than the sternocleidomastoids that attach the back of the skull to the sternum and collarbones at the front.

Strengthening the front of the neck will re-align your head over your spine, it will take some of the pressure off your upper back and shoulders. This will mean you won’t have the weight of your head pulling you forward and making it more difficult to balance.

Here is an exercise to strengthen the cervical flexors at the front of your neck and some cues or ways to remember about how you are holding your head throughout the day.

Pilates for balance

The head hover

Lie on your back, soles of the feet on the floor and knees bent, head and neck relaxed. Bring one hand to the top pf the back of your head and grab your hair (if you have it!). Pull the top of your head gently with your hand as you tuck your chin, tuck it as deeply as you can. Begin to gently hover your head only about an inch off the floor on each exhale, keep tucking your chin as deeply as you can. The back of your neck should feel relaxed, the front of your neck should feel like it is working. If you get tight and sore in the back of the neck STOP. Do about 8-10.

Now challenge your balance!

Once you have explored some of the exercises from each of the steps above, you can challenge your balance. Start by standing on one leg, if this is easy close your eyes. If this is easy come into a deep squat and come on to one leg and close your eyes! Let me know how you go!

Having a work out designed for you is the best way to improve your balance quickly. If you have tried other things and you are ready to try an approach tailored to you, sign up below or call me on the number at the bottom of the page.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

4 Moves for daytime tiredness

Daytime tiredness

Is daytime tiredness a regular part of your day? No matter how much sleep you get you still have moments in your day when you just feel like you could keel over into a nap! It’s something my clients tell me about and I have developed some moves that help them to get energised when daytime tiredness strikes.

When the energy in your body gets very low, attending to your breath is the best way to jumpstart your energy levels. Shallow breathing can leave you in a heightened state (focused on deadlines anyone?) and drain your system quickly. Or if your ribcage is locked up and not moving much this can clamp down on your lungs. The less air in, the less oxygen gets carried around your body, the less energy you will have.

My 4 moves to solve daytime tiredness are all about your rib cage mobility, freeing up your lungs and finding some joy in your body too!

Elbow Breathing

This short series feels so good on the rib cage, neck and shoulders! Restoring movement in these areas, especially after hours of sitting at a computer. You will feel relaxed and energised after this movement flow.

Pilates Lennox Head

Cat stretch including legs

Getting your whole body moving is a great way to get energised. Gentle, breath-ful, moves like this will release any tension around your spine, freeing you to move through your day with more ease.

Rib mobility and back breathing

Rib mobility and back breathing is such a great series to know. You can do this in bed in the morning to maintain your deep breathing pattern and set you up for an energetic day.

Full squat breathing

This move is great to do if you feel your breathing becoming shallow (shoulders rise on the inhale, don’t feel you can take a deep breath). Also great for ankles, hips and pelvic floor.

Nip tiredness with these moves

By moving to nurture yourself, you can nip daytime tiredness before it takes hold. Choose one of these moves each day and notice how much energy you can regain with these targeted exercises.

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pregnancy and Post-natal Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online.

What to do when your body feels sore

Why does your body feel sore?

If your body feels sore most days, you are where a lot of my clients begin. As we get older there are a lot of different reasons why we experience pain in our bodies. Injuries, arthritis and inflammation can all play a part in regular aches and pain.

The way you move (or not) every day is a huge factor when dealing with daily pain. In this blog I will explore common daily aches and pains and give you some quick movement fixes for these. Being in relationship with our bodies is a big shift when dealing with pain. Responding with just the right stretch, pressure or exercise can dissolve pain or make it more bearable.

We often have very similar aches and pains and so there a few ‘go to’ moves that will be effective for most people. Let me know how you go with these in the comments below.

Regular aches and pain

Many of us sit down for hours and hours every day, and wonder why our body feels sore! A common pain complaint is deep butt pain or tail bone pain. The cause of this originates in too much sitting but also is found in posture that is commonly called ‘mum posture’, think of a tired mum standing at the park slumped in her shoulders hanging forward with her butt tucked under. The truth is that it’s not just mums that suffer from this posture. Men and women of all ages have it from hours and hours of sitting.

Butt and tailbone pain

A quick fix for the deep butt ache can be found in the humble tennis ball. Now you might have a super hard ball with spikes and special prongs on it (??) but the humble tennis ball in my opinion is the best. It’s not too hard and not too soft and it’s about the right size.

To relieve deep butt and tailbone pain, I suggest three exercises:

  • 1) Place the tennis ball between your tail bone (bottom of your spine) and your sits bone (bones you sit on). Never on a bone, in the squishy bit between these bones. This will bring pressure into the back of your pelvic floor. Now lie down on the ball, let your legs be long and breathe, for as long as you can entertain yourself down there. Then change sides.
  • 2)Lying flat on your back, knees up , feet flat on the floor, place the ball under one buttock to the outside of the bony bits, then drop the same leg out to the side. This will bring pressure into your deep hip rotators. you can then lift your opposite hip off the floor to get more pressure into the side you are working on. Then change sides.
  • 3) Now we need to lengthen the muscles so we do a glute stretch. I like the classic floor based glute stretch (see below) because it gives you lots of support for your lower back. Lying flat on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor, bring one ankle to your opposite knee, then draw the bottom leg to your chest as you push your inside knee away from you. Keep the back of your hips on the floor.

Back pain and tightness

Back pain and tightness is often caused by lack of core connection and strength. Your core muscles are responsible for keeping your spine safe, when the core is weak or not responding the para-spinals (muscles along the sides of your spine) take over. If this pattern goes on for many years it can result in degeneration of the vertebrae and damage to the spinal discs causing nerve damage and pain.

To encourage your core to function better and give your para-spinals a break try Hands and knees breathing outlined below. Don’t be fooled by the small movement into thinking this is easy. It’s one of the best toners of the low abdominals you will find.

Releasing your psoas is a wonderful gift to sore tight back. Check out my blog post “What you need to know about your Psoas” for more information on the benefits of this. This relaxation exercise is so good for relieving back pain! Allow your ribs to relax into the space provided, this can take 5 or 10 minutes to get the most out of this position. You will feel greater ease and pain relief after doing this.

Neck pain

Neck pain is so common! The habit of sitting for hours looking at screens sets a pattern of forward head posture that the body just gets used to. In terms of a quick fix for the pain I love this neck relaxation (see below). Supporting the cervical curve (natural curve of your neck) and bringing your focus to relaxing your neck into the towel is so effective for tight, sore neck muscles.

Finding the roots of your neck – this exercise is good for strengthening your neck and improving your resting neck posture. I call it ‘ finding the roots of your neck’ because it should wake you up to the area between your shoulder blades that is so important for a happy neck.

These are common complaints when my body feels sore, and for my clients as well. These moves help me (and my clients) on a regular basis to avoid and reduce pain. Knowing what your body needs when it is giving you pain signals is so empowering!

Try out these moves when your body feels sore, whether it be a tight, sore neck, back pain or deep butt pain, move to nurture yourself and see what happens!

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pregnancy and Post-natal Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online.

4 tips for your summer routine

Why love a summer routine?

Summer routine is something we can learn from the flowers. In fact all living things respond subtly to the seasons and that’s what a summer routine supports you to do. I teach movement and Pilates in Lennox Head, Ballina and Byron Bay, helping women connect with and love the bodies they have.

We are more like flowers than kettles. As women, we respond to hours of daylight, temperature and hydration, just like the flowers, we are intimately linked to our environment. Part of being healthy is acknowledging this. We are not machines (hooray)!

How summer changes us

Summer changes us every year. Shifting our sleep patterns and affecting our energy levels. Understanding how the season affects you helps you know what your summer routine needs to be.

More daylight hours

Earlier sunrise and later sunsets is a feature of Summer. If you have daylight savings time this will give you more daylight at the end of the day. Making the best use of this extra daylight is at the heart of a good summer routine.

The heat is on

Summer is when the heat is on! This can make getting out in the middle of the day more difficult, so the longer mornings and afternoons become even more important.

If you live in sub-tropical or tropical places Summer comes with humidity. Increased sweat and fluid loss means hydration becomes more important.

Later nights

Winding down after later evening activities can be a challenge during summer. This shift to later bedtimes can result in an accumulated tiredness towards the end of the season.

What is your routine?

My what? Yes I’m asking you. Everybody has a routine, even if you don’t think you do. You do. Your routine is the things you do each day without thinking. Get up, toilet, make tea etc.

To make a new routine you need to know what your current routine is and how you want to change it. So, write down the things you do automatically every morning and every evening.

Have a look at your list, are there any changes you want to make for Summer?

Insert your new Summer habits into your routine and get the most out of the season.

My suggestions for new Summer habits

Earlier to bed

This is an important one for me. I live in NSW so daylight savings means I need to go to bed an hour earlier to not want to wake up an hour later! Getting out into the daylight in the early morning helps me make the most of Summer. I feel alive and well rested with this adjustment to my routine.

Hydration, hydration, hydration

Whether your summer is wet or dry, staying hydrated is more important in the heat. Reduce stress on your body simply by drinking plenty of H20 every day. Carry a water bottle with you. Refill it or your glass as soon as they are empty.

Move a little every day

Well, this one isn’t really just for Summer, but the challenges are different in Summer. Heat can be a real deterrent to exercise and movement. Getting out in the early morning and the late afternoon is the best solution for this.

Commit to something new

With the change of season it’s fun to try something new. New experiences keep life feeling fresh! If you are regular at Pilates and movement try a new activity that your movement practice will support you into such as Stand up paddle boarding or Dragon boat racing. If you don’t have a movement practice now is a great time to start!

4 Tips for changing your routine

  1. Keep your shifts to your routine small – the suggestions in this blog are a great way to start
  2. Integrate one change at a time – get one thing happening before starting the next
  3. Have an accountability partner – grab a friend and work out your changes together, then support each other.
  4. Choose changes that make you smile – we all know what we ‘should’ do but if you choose a change that you are genuinely curious or excited about it’s more likely to stick.

As we move into Summer remember, you are just like a flower and flowers respond to the environment around them. Treating yourself like an organism not a machine is a great reason to reset your routine for summer.

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pregnancy and Post-natal Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online.

Why do an annual reflection?

An annual reflection is …

when you take some time to look back on the decisions and choices you have made over the last year and reflect on whether or not they are taking you towards what you truly want.

Does life ever feel like it’s dragging you through a bush backwards? The demands of everyday take up so much time, it’s the best you can do to get through to the end of the week to your well earned glass of chilled bubbly!

Imagine if you knew what your priorities are

Imagine, you said ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to things based on YOUR priorities. The coming of the new year is a great opportunity to take some time to get some clarity on your own priorities. One of the best ways to do this is to look back.

If you are stuck in overwhelm, it can be hard to see what your true priorities are. If you are not feeling inspired by life and like everything is a chore you may not know where to start. That is why looking back is so valuable, your past experiences are a gold mine of information for you.

That’s why you need to do an annual reflection.

What is an annual reflection

An annual reflection

An annual reflection is taking time to take stock of where you are compared to twelve months ago. Acknowledging what has gone well and what hasn’t. What you want more of and what you want less of. This process of pausing to reflect has a lot fo power in it because:

  • It takes the focus off ‘doing” so you can think
  • Remembering where you were at 12 months ago will bring back the actions you took
  • Reflecting on what went well and what didn’t helps make the path ahead clearer
  • You acknowledge the good in life so it can expand!

Looking backwards to look forwards

If you haven’t done an annual reflection before you may it may feel odd to make time to look back. If you are chasing big dreams you want to be looking forward right? But looking back can give us so much information on what we love and what we don’t. Looking back allows us to really celebrate our wins and acknowledge how far we have come. Looking back reminds us that we are in charge of the choices we make and it gives us a chance to make different choices in the future.

Consider your body an equal player in your reflection

Reflecting is a mental exercise but it can also involve you body! Considering your body an equal player in the your reflection will give you more information. Make sure you set up for your reflection in a comfortable space where you can be present with your body. It’s important to be able to move your body as you work through your reflection so you can notice different feelings in your body as you reflect on different aspects of your life.

Reflect on different areas of your life

I forget what movie it is but I remember a story about a mid-life woman moving to a falling down Italian villa and setting about restoring it on her own, with the help of some hunky neighbours of course! Her lesson through the movie is to “Live spherically”, to not focus just one part of life but to tend to all the aspects of life that make it worth living. Work but not just work, family but not just family, health but not just health.

What about goals?

It helps to have an understanding of your goals to help clarify your reflection, although sometimes your reflection can clarify your goals.

For example: I had a goal to have X face to face clients by a certain date. In my quarterly reflection I noticed that I had loved the online teaching I had done. So I shifted my goals to accomodate more of what I was enjoying!

Regular reflection helps you to shift your goals rather than feel bad about not meeting an arbitrary goal that doesn’t really fit what you want anymore.

If goals are a stretch try values

Believe it or not goal setting doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes the pressure of a goal can feel too much and end up pushing us into overwhelm rather than empowerment. If this feels like you, try zeroing in on values instead.

Articulating what you VALUE in your life is a great ‘North Star’ so you know where you are heading. You can articulate values in lots of different ways. To simplify this process I like to focus on what I value in life and let that be my guide.

I value time with my family, financial independence, connecting with nature, my body wisdom.

These values have underpinned the life I have created with my movement business. Values can provide that high level guidance around where to put your time and energy, what choices are right for you.

It’s good to narrow your values down to 3-5 for now.

Tips for a great annual reflection

Make a special time and place:

To do an annual reflection set aside time when you won’t be disturbed for 40-60 minutes, choose a place that is free from distraction where you can get comfortable. Remember your body is an equal player in your reflection so she needs to be comfortable. Equip yourself with some pens and paper and get writing.

Look back to look forwards:

Begin by remembering your aspirations for 2022. What were your hopes? Your goals? Maybe you wrote them down. If not cast your mind back to recall what was on your mind this time last year, what were you hoping the new year would bring? Get as specific as you can.

November is a great time to reflect:

November really is a great time to reflect on the year. Before the silly season gets in full swing. Making time in November means that come January I already know what I need to be choosing in the new year to take me towards my values and my goals.

Be sure to celebrate the past:

Acknowledging your achievements is one of the most important parts of an annual reflection. Even if what you achieved wasn’t part of your plan. You may have dealt with an unforeseen adversity, you may have suffered a loss. Give yourself credit for what you have weathered as well as what has gone well.

Step through a series of questions:

Ask yourself a series of questions. For example ask; What do I want more of in my life, what do I want less of? Or ask; What makes me genuinely happy? How can I spend more time doing that?

Get some specific actions steps:

Once you worked through your questions be sure to narrow down a few practical steps or actions in a list to guide you into the new year. These actions should focus on the very next steps you need to take to move towards your goals or values.

Schedule in your next reflection:

If you enjoyed the process schedule in a monthly or quarterly reflection to check in on your progress and let that give you more information on what you want more of and what you want less of.

If you are in the Northern Rivers area I am leading an event for Sourdough Business Women on 23 November incorporating movement, guided reflection, healthy food and connection with other local women. Tickets available now.

Pilates Lennox Head

I am Brigid Pearse a Diploma certified Pilates instructor, Pregnancy and Post-natal Exercise Specialist, an ex-dancer and a mum. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay, Ballina and online.