Monthly Archives: February 2013

From hair loss to soreness down there, we help you handle 7 common new-mom complaints. Plus our amazing fat-blasting ab workout.

YOU’VE FINALIZED EVERY DETAIL OF YOUR BIRTHING PLAN, from choosing which CDs will help you relax to deciding whether you want an epidural to ease your pain. But have you thought about how you’ll cope after your baby is born? “New moms often are surprised by how long it takes to heal and feel like themselves again,” says Judy Chang, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “I know I was.” But knowledge is power: Knowing what to expect when you’re no longer pregnant and how to rev up your recovery will help you through this vulnerable__—but mercifully temporary— !–time. And once you’re feeling more like your old self, it may be time to look like her too. That’s where our gentle, progressive workout to strengthen and flatten your abdominal muscles comes in. Here’s our guide to handling some of the most common postpartum body shocks, and, as a bonus, our supper effective ab routine to begin when you’re ready.

By Jacqueline Stenson Workout by Ten Hanson Photography by Ted & Debbie


Why it happens During delivery, the birth canal stretches, then stretches some more. As the baby emerges, your peri-neum—the area between the vagina and the anus—may rear or be cut by the doctor (an episiotomy) to facilitate delivery.

Feel-better advice Apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and swelling, says Allay Murtha, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C. Take a site bath (sit in a tub filled with a fesv inches of warm water) a few times a day, use refrigerated Tucks pads, and try anesthetic sprays containing a numbing agent such as benzocaine (often offered at the hospital and available at drugstores too). Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen also can ease discomfort. While urinating, squirt your perineum with warm water to lessen stinging. When sitting, using a “donut—”– a round cushion with a hole in the middle—can take pressure off this sensitive area.


Why it happens The uterine lining thickens enormously during pregnancy. After delivery, the lining is shed along with a bloody discharge, together known as lochia.

Feel-better advice Bleeding for several days to a few weeks is normal, explains Murtha, but it should stop by your six-week checkup. Wear pads, since tampons raise the risk of infection at this time Consult your doctor if you are soaking a pad or more an hour; this may be a sign of postpartum hemorrhage. Also seek medical attention if the bleeding slows down a few weeks after delivery and then suddenly increases.

What is a diastasis?
Diastasis is a separation of the abdominal muscles that some-times occurs during or after pregnancy. To check for it, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers I to 2 inches above or below your belly button. Lift just your head off the floor, keeping your ab muscles relaxed, and if you feel a vertical separation the width of three fingers or more, that’s a • diastasis. If you feel a large separation, don’t be alarmed. Just remember to draw your navel in toward your spine when• doing any lifting or ab exercises; this will protect your lower back. Also, avoid any large listing movements, which can exacerbate the condition, until the separation has diminished.

0 percenfof new moms eitperience- :a .y.1 . early days “childbirth. “They feel like PMS symptoms—m irritability, crying,” says Victoria Hendrick, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center. This is norrnaL If symptoms are severe and persist for more than a couple of weeks, u may have postpartum depression, a more serious condition that s12 percent to 14 percent of new mothers. Red flags include loss of (west in daily activities, difficulty concentrating, inability to sleep, eating too little or too much, feeling worthless, and having little interest in the baby. Talk with your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Treatments including antidepressant medication, psychotherapy and support groups can help Immensely.


Why it happens A C-section is major surgery that involves cutting through several layers of tissue in the abdomen and spreading the abdominal muscles apart.

Feel-better advice Take your prescribed  pain medicine as directed at the first sign of discomfort— it’s safe, even if you’re nursing. “It is so much easier to prevent pain than it is as catch up with it,” explains Chang. Minimizing discomfort  also will encourage moving about, which can reduce your milk for developing blood clots and relieve post-surgery gas pains.

To get out of bed during the first couple of weeks:Place  your legs over rile edge, allowing gravity to help out:wait a few seconds, then use your arms to push yourself up.(You’ll  become familiar with this technique in your third trimister. ) While the incision heals, keep it clean and dry, and report bleeding, swelling or unusual redness to your doctor.


Why it happens The stress of pregnancy and pushing during delivery can weaken the pelvic floor, allowing urine to “leak”.

Feel-better advice Realize that incontinence is common. but also that it often resolves within six months to a year. If you leak a lot of urine, wear a pad. Avoid caffeine, and to keep your bladder from getting too full, head to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to go.

Kegel exercises can help prevent incontinence by strengthening the pelvic floor, notes certified Pilates instructor Jennifer Gianni, creator of the Fusion Pilaies Post-Pregnancy & C-section Recoray DVD ( Contract the muscles around the vagina as if you’re stopping the flow of urine; hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release. Aim to do 10 to 20 Kegels a few times a day. If incontinence lasts several months, consult your doctor.

postpartum depression



Up to 80 percent of new moms experience “baby blues” in he early days after childbirth. “They feel like PMS symptoms–moodiness,irritability,crying,” says Victoria Hendrick,M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of  California,Los Angeles, Medical Center,This is normal. If symptoms are severe and persist for more than a couple of weeks, you may have postpartum depression, a more serious condition that affects 12 percent to l4 percent of new mothers. Red flags includes the loss of interest in daily activities,difficulty concetration,inability to sleep,eating too little or too much ,feeling worthless, and having interest in the baby, Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms,Treatments including antidepressant medication,psychotherapy and support group can help immidiately.


Why it happens C-section surgery can temporarily slow the bowels, as can the use of narcotic pain relievers such as Vicodin. Women who’ve had vaginal deliveries may become constipated if they hold hack during bowel movements out of fear of pain.

Feel-better advice Eat a fiber-rich diet and drink eight 8- ounce glasses of water a day to keep bowel movements regular. You also can ask your OB-GYN to prescribe stool softeners.

Why it happens When you’re pregnant, your body is in growth mode, and that includes your hair. But those thick tresses will start shedding by six to 16 weeks after childbirth as your hormone levels fluctuate, says Andrea Cambio, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology.

Feel-better advice Rest assured that your hair won’t be clogging the shower drain forever: the shedding ends by six months after you give birth. In the meantime, adding layers or highlights can help your locks look fuller, Cambio says.

Why it happens During pregnancy. constipation and pressure from the uterus on the rectum can cause varicose veins here. So can pushing during delivery.

Feel-better advice Take a site or a tub bath to ease the itching and pain, advises Susan Harvey, M.D., an OB-GYN Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Cold compresses soaked in witch hazel can help decrease swelling and discomfort, as can anti-inflammatory hemorrhoid creams. Try to avoid constipation, since straining also can lead to hemorrhoids.

Exercise from the inside out with these popular mind/ body workout programs. BY MARYANN HAMMERS

Years of sitting behind a desk, frequent travels, and long hours at the computer had taken their toll on Abbas Milani. The director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University suffered from chronic backaches, and nothing he tried — from cortisone to chiropractic — offered relief. When the pain became so severe that the 57-year-old had to frequently lie down to get through the day, he heeded a friend’s recommendation to contact Stanford health educator and Pilates and yoga trainer Shirley Archer.

With its focus on deep breathing and controlled movements, Pilates is generally not the province of hard -driven, high-powered, time-pressed types. But those are exactly the people who can most benefit. “Someone who is bombarded daily newts to create time and space for inner quiet,” says Archer. But Milani was interested in results, not zen like blather. So Archer explained how [‘Hates also strengthens back muscles and boosts flexibility. He gave it a go, and a year later his pain has all but disappeared. But to his amazement,the greatest change is his overall disposition.Gone is the lethargy. My mend has improved. I have a feeling of vitality he marvels.

Milani is among millions of converts turning to mind/body exercises to become physically energized. spiritually balanced, and mentally focused. Pilates participation ls estimated at 10.5 million in the United States — a 500 percent increase over the past tons years, with the number linen Moms sing 20 percent in IC e past year More 150016 million people In the United Stains practice yogi and tai el, shows similar gains.

These exercises teach principles such as Yield and bestrong take the higher path.”Change can be smooth if you are grounded and Flexible:Move from your core.’

Says one expert, “These exercises teach principles such as ‘Yield and he strong.”Take the higher path.’ Change can be smooth if you are grounded and flexible.”Move from your core.”Transitions are a helpful part of our journey.”

‘Transitions are a helpful part of our loam.— says Carolyn Comae, who leads. tia chi workshops at Red Mountain Spa in SL George, Utah. “I taught  fitness classes for 17 years   and have never  felt those empowering life lessons from traditional exercises.”

Here’s an introduction to the most popular  mind/ body programs:


WHAT: Pilates uses systematic, precise, contolled movement, to target the body’s core— abs, back, and hips. “I call Pilates ‘the thinking. persons workout,'” says Lisa Johnson, owner of Studio Elle near Boston  “You concentrate so hard on breathing. choreography, and form that you have to shut down that to-do list in Your brain.
WHY It whittles your middle and flattens your stomach better than crunches, and improves posture, flexibility  agility while also building ,strength.

WHO Less spiritual and meditative than other mind/body exercises, Pilates appeals to Type-A perfectionists and pragmatsis

Johnson says.I rarely say to my client .’Find your Zen But I frequently say, ‘Find your abs!”

HOT SPOTS:  Core Conditioning in los Angeles is a celeb hangout (818-907-00008: Body Endeavors is one  of  Chicago’s original studios (312-702-0028) .the spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn offers a “Pilates for Golfers” Class, (877-289-7354).


 WHAT: Incorporating stretches, postures, meditaion. and breathing, yoga styles range from sivanada a  gentle practice using classic poses, to  (power yoga,). serious workout with constant movement.

 WHY: it Improves flexibility, strength, and balance: promotes relaxation, reduces stress: awl helps control weight. “Yoga drops you into the Zen zone.” says Jonathan Fields. who left a law career to find Sonic Yoga in New York City. Rather than  leaving you drained, it leaves you brimming”

WHO Anyone. interested in overall wellness. “One of the myths is that you need to be flexible, athletic, or out there” Fields says,”but anyone can practice yoga.’

HOT SPOTS: Boundless yoga in Washington. D.C, caters to politicos (202-234-9642), Sting stretches with instructors from Manhattan, divamukti Yoga Center( 212-353-0214) Sonic Yoga in NYC’s Hell, Kitchen Is a favorite of  theater set (212-397-6344), Yobe Studios at the Chesterfield Hotel In Miami, South Beach offers nontraditional classes from Kosher yoga to hip-hop (305-531-6266).


WHAT: An ancient Chinese martial art that includes graceful, flowing self.defense movements, it’s also known as “moving meditation” because participants are completely focused, yet relaxed. “Tai chi is physical in a non•treadmill way.” says Scott Cole, creator of the Discover Toi Chi DVD series. “Moving slowly and deliberately engages all muscles and gives rise to stability and balance.

WHY: It improves concentration, boosts circulation, limbers you up, reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure. Cole says doing tai chi can also enhance ,• ,our sex life.

WHO: Recovering Type As. “Business execs ran learn as much from tai chi principles as they can from the moves themselves,” Cole says. “For example, a stiff, rigid tree breaks under pressure, while a strong, resilient one survives by going with the flow.”

HOT SPOTS: William CC Chen’s martial arts studio in New York (St 2-675-2816): Terence Pang-Yen Dunn, who trained the L.A. Lakers, teaches in Santa Monica (310-8282018).


WHAT: Drawing from principles of each, combos blend strength training or cardio with mind/body exercises — for example, kickboxing with tai chi.

WHY: By incorporating focused breathing, body awareness, and proper posture, your workout becomes more holistic, effective, efficient, and interesting — without taking more time. “But you must work from a

WHO: Someone who wants to try something new or get multiple results from a single session.

HOT SPOTS: KungTh, a martial arts/yoga combo at Allure Pilates Spa in Beverly Hills (310-777.0201); spinning/ power yoga is a hit at ELT. in Bethesda (301-656-0885); Studio Elle, popular with Boston’s elite. offers QuadSpin Pilates, an intense calorierburning cardio WOrkOnt 1817- 975.010


Meditation may not get your heart pumping or your body sweat-ing, and it doesn’t burn many calories. But it belongs in your exercise arsenal.

“Meditation trains your mind just as Pilates or yoga trains the body,” says Shirley Archer, author of Pitotes Fusion: Weh-Being for Body, Mind, and Spirit. “It cultivates inner peace and serenity and improves our ability to approach life from a place of balance and calm.

“A slew of studies have documented mediation’s physiological benefits, including lower blood pressure, slower breath and heart rate, reduced stress, pain relief, and better immune function. Archer offers these tips for getting started:

Solid mind/body foundation. Otherwise, its just another aerobics class,” says Jennifer Gianni, who developed “Pilates Triple Threat,” a blend of yoga, dance, and weight training, at Embodyment Studio in Venice, California (310-581.3822).

1. Set aside a few minutes – the same time every day – for your “mental training session.”

2. Choose a quiet, interruption-free place.

3. Sit with good posture, hands on your thighs or clasped in your lap. Close your eyes and breathe naturally.

4. Begin with breathing exercises: Focus on your breath. Be aware of inhaling and exhaling and the pause between breaths. Feel the texture of the breath traveling through your body, in the nostrils, and into the lungs.

5. You can also meditate by staring at a candle. Focus on the flame, watching it move, grow, and flicker. Observe the colors. Notice the subtleties of the changing flame. 6. Stop when your mind wanders. Gradually build up to longer periods of time. – M.H.

With these new products stay fit and eat right during your pregnancy and then head outdoors with your new baby.


If you can’t get to a prenatal Pilates or yoga class, try Jennifer Gianni’s Fusion Pilates For Pregnancy DVD. The one-hour workout combining Pilates and yoga consists of 25 exercises designed to improve coordination and stability and strengthen the pelvis to prepare for labor. It shows how to perform the moves safely during all trimesters, including modifications for the third trimester. $21.95,

Before you begin

  • Check with your doctor before starting any postpartum exercise program.
  • Watch the entire DVD before you begin the work-out, paying close attention to safety information.
  • Work out in a well-ventilated room, stay hydrated, and wear proper footwear and a supportive bra.
  • If you experience sudden bleeding or dizziness, stop immediately and contact your doctor.

Take it easy

    Gentle exercises help speed up postnatal recovery.

  • Bounce Back Fast! Post Natal Core Conditioning
    The scoop: Filled with restorative moves such as Kegels and belly scooping, the DVD also features an abdominal-strengthening program.
    Why you’ll love it: Helene Byrne, a perinatal-exercise specialist, provides information on reconditioning the muscles most affected by pregnancy and labor.
  • Fusion Pilates for Post Pregnancy & C-section Recovery FUSION PLATES. $22; FUSIONPILATES.COM
    The scoop: This Pilates-based DVD offers postnatal exercises for the first six weeks, plus a low-impact cardio workout to boost strength and stamina after six weeks.

Why you’ll love it: Designed by pre and postnatal exercise expert Jennifer Gianni, it’s packed with information on recovering from either a C-section or a vaginal birth.


Once you’re able to resume regular exercise (usually after your six-week checkup), consider a mom-and-baby workout.

* Mommy Baby Body Builders

The scoop: This full-body strengthening program allows you to incorporate your baby into each exercise. Moves such as baby lifts, the airplane and the Superman make working out feel more like playtime for you and your baby.

Why you’ll love it:The exercises are creative and the outdoor setting serene. Physical therapist Lyda Liu and speech-language pathologist Lindy Shapiro teach fun ways to interact with your baby to boost her motor and communication skills.

* Back in Shape With Baby

The scoop: Ten-, 15-, and 20-minute stretching and strengthening workouts are done alone or with your baby.

Why you’ll love it: Miniworkouts make it easy to fit exercise into your schedule no matter how busy you are. Instructor Amy Burton, an ACE-certified personal trainer, suggests clever tricks you can do to entertain your baby. like clapping your hands while doing cardio side-taps.


When you’re ready to pick up the pace and work your muscles, try a stroller workout.

* Sara Holliday’s Stroller Workout for Moms HOLLIDAY ENTERPRISES. $25; FITBYSARA.COM

The scoop: This audio CD and DVD set offers a challenging 60-minute workout with intervals of power walking and kickboxing. as well as core work and stretching.

Why you’ll love it: You can use it both indoors and out. Instructor Sara Holliday suggests rainy-day modifications such as jogging in place and using your sofa instead of a park bench for dips. Helpful hint: Watch the DVD before going outside.

*  Strollertime 


The scoop: The audio CD guides you through an outdoor power walk, while the DVD demonstrates an indoor toning program.

Why you’ll love it: Perfect for all fitness levels, the audio CD lets you choose either a beginner or an advanced workout. During the video portion, cartoons float across the screen to engage your baby. Bonus material offers safe ways to incorporate your baby into the toning moves.

Teri Hanson is Fit Pregnancy’s fitness editor and the mother of one.

GREAT NEWS We’re debuting our very new postpartum fitness DVD! Strengthen,yone,and lose the baby weight safely and learn more, see “Shape Up with Fit Pregnancy“.
Shape up with Fit Pregnancy!   Our new postpartum-fitness DVD,

Fit Pregnancy: Get Your Body Back After Baby, is an innovative program to help you regain your prepregnimcv shape. Led by pre- and postpartum exercise specialist Jennifer Gianni,” the DVD starts with exercises you can do as early as the day after giving birth. After six weeks, prepare to pump up the intensity—and melt away stubborn pounds—with challenging abdominal exercises, full-body toning and strengthening, and high-energy cardio. Available at–MM

1) Moon walking: Whittles your waistsecond_step1

I first met Pilates instructor Jennifer Gianni at her Venice, California Pilates studio, Embodyment, when she was releasing her newest DVD “Fusion Pilates, Triple Threat.” Known for working with lean and lanky beauties like Hilary Swank and Maria Bellow, Jennifer Gianni Pilates techniques are meant to strengthen as well as lengthen. Here are a few of her favorite moves, perfect for beginning and intermediate Pilates students:

second_step22) Jennifer loves this exercise because of the challenge all keeping both arms and legs long and extended while keeping the torso’s form. Starting on your back, exhale and extend arms and legs to the ceiling. (See photo #1.) Rotate as you breathe in. On the next inhale, scissor the arms and legs, bringing one arm to the outside of the opposite leg. (See photo #2.) Beginners should do one set of 6-8 reps. Intermediates can build to two sets of 6-8 reps.

second_step33) Phoenix in flight: Works on posture …and your booty!

Jennifer likes this exercise because it really opens the front of the chest — and we’re all so hunched most of the time. Best of all, it works the booty!

Starting on your belly with your forehead resting on the floor or towel, bring your arms to your sides (photo #3). Keep the top of the feet on the floor parallel and hip distance apart. inhale to prepare. Exhale and bring the eyes, heart and feet up, keeping the back of the neck long. Melt the front ribs into the back ribs and reach long through the fingertips and toes. On the next exhale, turn your toes out and connect the heels, rotating the arms to the front in a high “V” (see photo #4) and then back to the sides. Stay up if possible, and do 3-4 sets. »

second_step44) Hinging cobra: Works upper body, abs back of legs

You’ll feel your core working on this one. Jennifer loves it because it feels so good to stretch your abs and upper back.
second_step5second_step6Starting on all fours, exhale and press into your hands, lifting your hips up to the ceiling and back into down dog pose (photo #5). The weight should be away from your arms and shoulders — it should be in your legs. Keep your hips up and walk your hands out a little bit more to feel your bad( lengthen. On the next exhale, hinge forward into plank pose. Pull the heart and heels away from each other. Push up and out of the shoulders, making. sure that the shoulder blades are apart. On the next exhale, keeping ‘he arms straight and the toes tucked under, nick the hips down into the floor. Lift your heart to the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders away from the ears (see photo #6). On the next exhale,

8) One legged squat with diagonal arm reach :work almost everything!
HAVE TROUBLE WORKING OUT WHEN TRAVELING? Try a complete personal fitness studio that travels with you. The travel TRAINER fits into a standard 22″ carry-on bag and is a great way for travelers (business and leisure) to maintain an active lifestyle while they’re on the road. It Includes a stability ball with a rapid air pump. a thick yoga/Pilates/multi-purpose mat, a sturdy set of resistance bands and CD with more than 50 beginning to Intermediate exercises. And it all fits in a lightweight mesh shoulder bag!

Jennifer likes this one because of the balance challenges that diagonal exercises have, and because its a great hip strengthener.

Inhale and lift one leg up. Then pull ;up tall on the standing leg. Reach the opposite arm high above the head. (See photo #7.) Exhale and squat (still one-legged), reaching the opposite hand to the pinky toe of the foot that’s on the floor. (See photo #8.) Do 4-6 reps on the same side, then switch.

For more information on Jennifer Gianni’s Fusion Pilates DVD or Embodyment. Studio, go to or contact Embodyment Studio, 720 Hampton Drive, Venice, California 90291; (310) 581-3822.

About the author: Fashion designer and lifestyle expert Mania Matsumoto writes several national and interna-tionalfashion/beaittylbody image columns as well as a daily blog at Mary fat in frequently interviewcd by publications such as U.S. News 62 World Reports, USA Today. Glamour, and more. Her designs have been worn by the likes of Rabin Weigh/ Rerm,Joan Rivers and Maly Hart and have appeared oil Oprah, Extra, The Oscars and Talk Soap.

Try o complete personal fitness studio that travels with you The travelTRAINER fils Into a standard 22″ carry-on bag and Is a great way for travelers (business and leisure) to maintain an active lifestyle while they’re on the road. It includes a stability ball with a rapid air pump, a thick yoga/Pilatesimulti.purpose mat, a sturdy set of resistance bands and CD with more than 50 beginning to Intermediate exercises. And it all fits in a lightweight mesh shoulder bag!


Take a look around you and chances are someone you know has tightened, toned and strengthened his or her body by practicing Pilates. And if you are a practitioner, chances are you’re hooked.

So just what is pilates? Created by Joseph Pilates, his namesake exercises are based on more than 20 years of self study and apprenticeship in yoga. Zen and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens. A former boxer, Joseph Pilates created this workout regimen in the early 1900s, according to the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA — a nonprofit organization dedicated to the traditional teachings of Joseph Pilates and which provides education for instructors).

Pilates, the PMA states, are exercises and movements designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. The method focuses on the concepts of awareness, balance, breath, centering, concentration, control, flowing movement and precision and the goal of traditional Pilates is to uniformly develop the body and mind.

Of course today there are various approaches to Pilates. Regardless of the form you practice, there are ways to improve your performance and your results, with some tips from the pros.

“Pilates is about deceleration, decompression and opposition. With every move you are pulling the body apart to find more length,” says Jennifer Gianni, creator of Fusion Pilates. “Why wouldn’t anyone not want to practice Pilates if they are being taught it correctly? It is an exercise for a healthy body inside and out. Who doesn’t want that? >>


Be patient with your breath and movement.

“Don’t rush it. Your breathing is number one,” says Gianni, who has more than 17 years experience working in physical fitness. Your inhale should fill up your back/side ribs. You should feel the curves of your spine lengthen as you inhale. Your exhale should be slow and steady not forceful, as if your exhale is trying to run a marathon. Give the muscles time to marinate.”

Gianni suggests breathing in and out through the nose because one is able to fill the lower lobes of the lungs more fully with this type of breathing.

img2Pay attention to Your feet

“Your feet are your foundation,” says Gianni. “They affect every-thing above. Always practice a parallel foot — first and fifth metatarsal are on the floor. You have a slight heel swayout. (The big toes are slightly wider than the heels) and both sides of the heel are firmly touching the floor.”

Continue your cardio workouts

Pilates is not a substitute for carclio, says Tracey Mallen, Master Primes Instructor (Rod Isacowitz Body Arts and Science method), host of Fox Fit TV’s The Method Shaw and creator of 3 in I Patented Pregnancy System, a DVD that combines Pilates, yoga and strength training for pre- and post-natal moms.

“For the best results, balance your weekly Pilates workout routine with some kind of activity which elevates the heart rate for at least 20 minutes to burn calories/excess fat.” she says. “This will really help you celebrate the results of all your hard work in Pilates.

– Mallett, who teaches a slightly different approach to Pilates with regard to spine placement during exercise, says to get the most from Pilates. it should be practiced two to three times a week.


Increased lung capacity and circula-tion through deep, healthy breathing.

Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coor-dination — both muscular and mental.

Posture, balance and core strength.

Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time.

Balance and control of the body.

Ouality, not quantity

“Focus on quality of the movement — not how many reps you can do,” says Mallett. -Each rep should count with precise, con-trolled movements working on the smaller muscle groups that often get neglected due to the larger muscles taking over.”

Mallet says it’s best to slow the exercise down and focus on activating all the muscle groups, not allowing momentum to take over.

Practice all day long

Sounds a little silly but what Rose Zahnn, creator of the Pilates Fit DVD and owner of Healthy Habits Pilates Fit Studio in Sacramento, California, means is you can use what you have learned in Pilates throughout the day by paying attention to good posture, abdominal muscle control and breathing during your daily activities.

Pass on pain

If you feel excessive neck, hip and back pain or tension, it’s time to explore a different Pilates method. suggests Trent McEntire, producer of three Pilates videos and creator of the McEntire Workout Method.

Look at you

Joan Breibart. Pilates instructor and president of the Physical Mind Institute, formerly the Institute for the Filmes Method, says it’s best to always practice Pilates in front of a mirror to ensure you are doing moves properly.


When the actress Maria Bello prepares for a role, she draws on her extensive acting training to transform herself into each rich and nuanced character. But to express the physical embodiment of each person she portrays, she turns to Pilates.

It all started two years ago, when Bello’s best pal. actress Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix, Memento), urged her to give Pilates a try to prepare for her role as a police psychologist in Assault on Precinct 13. “I had to lose at least 10 pounds to wear this tiny little dress and look lean,” says the head-turning, tanned blond who looks a decade younger than her 40 years. And I wanted to do it in an efficient and healthy way.” She happened upon Pilates instructor Jennifer Gianni’s studio near her home in Venice, CA, and decided to give her a try.

Gianni, who received her own training nearby at Long Beach Dance Conditioning, immediately sensed tightness in Maria’s body and proceeded with moves to open and release the tension. Focusing on her chest, sacrum and pelvis helped bring the woman, famous for her role as a tough, sexy bar owner in Coyote Ugly, to a place where she could focus on her physical goals. “We had an immediate connection,” says Bello. “Jen’s nature is gentle and nurturing. I can’t be screamed at or be strong-armed.”

Gianni helped her new client to relax during that first session by having her use yoga’s ailayi (“ocean” or “victorious”) breath (see “Breathe the Ujjayi Way,” page 52) rather than classical Pilates breathing, believing it releases more endorphins in the body. Bello almost instantly started to feel her tension lessen as she proceeded through the strengthening sequences. “After the workout I felt much more centered, and my core was tighter,” she says. “I was walking straighter and was more balanced for the rest of the afternoon.”

That first session led to a partnership that continues to this day at thrice-weekly sessions at Angel City Body Kinetics in Marina del Rey, CA.”Whether I need to reshape my body for a role or just stay strong and focused while moving, Pilates helps me attain a balanced life,” says Bello.

Toned and shapely, feminine and strong—rather than scary-skinny as celebrities tend to be these days —Bello maintains a healthy image that mirrors her philosophy. “I trust Jen to create specific workouts to help use achieve the look that I need on the set or off,- she says. “I don’t believe in putting perfect bodies on-screen,” she continues. “In The Cooler I gained 10 pounds, and in World Trade Center I gained 15 pounds to look like a suburban mom. For both roles, Pilates helped rise to get my body physically strong and shapely so I didn’t look flabby But I did get to eat a lot of pasta and fries!”

Conversely, for her latest role as a self-mutilator in Downloading Nancy, Bello is struggling to lose 15 pounds. “While researching the role, I found that many self. mutilators are anorexic, so I wanted to lean out,” she says. “As I get older, though, it’s getting harder and harder to lose weight. I’ve already lost five pounds by eliminating most carbs— –no sugar or flour I’m also seeing an acupuncturist who also treats me with herbs. But I’m concentrating on Pilates now, because once I start on this project I’ll be working 15 to 16 hours a day and won’t have time to practice.”

Even on the road, Bello relies on Pilates to decompress. “I pack Therabands so I can do my strengthening exercises every night. To get my energy and circulation going in the morning, I do handstands against the wall.” In between roles, Bello uses Pilates to regain her focus, strength and peace of mind to meet her off-camera responsibilities, specifically spending time with her five-year-old son, Jackson Blue. “Starting my day with Pilates helps me feel more centered. I like to work out between 9 and noon, when I have the most energy. My favorite move is the Short Spine to open my back,” she says. “It helps me to feel more focused for the day that lies ahead.”

You don’t have to be a Hollywood mom to benefit from a good de-stressing Pilates workout. In fact, we asked Jennifer Gianni to re-create one of Bello’s workout pro-grams just for you. The sequence, which is designed to work from the ground up. has a twofold purpose: to provide relief front simple physical stresses (such as running around in high heels) and to improve your connection to the earth. By alit:ming the feet to release tension first, the rest of your body will follow as the exercises progress upward. As tension is released, the mind and body can more easily focus on balance and strength. And what better role can exercise play than that?


For this series, ujjayi breath (pronounced you-JIE-a) is employed to fully release tension and enhance focus. To perform the ujjayi breath, keep your lips closed and inhale fully through your nose. Hold for a moment at the top of the breath, then exhale fully as you feel the breath glide along the top of the throat. (It should sound like Darth Vader.) Try to slow your breathing to an easy, steady pace.

standing foot roll

By surrendering into the ball and using it like a rolling pin, you release the pressure points in your feet, relieving stress throughout your entire body.
1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and step your right foot about 12 inches forward. Place the ball of the foot on the Sticky Ball with your toes curled over, putting pressure on the ball.
2. Roll the ball to the inside arch of your foot from the big toe to the heel and back again to the arch. Put pressure into the ball.
3. Roll the ball on the center of the foot from the toes to the heel, 3 to 4 times.
4. Roll the ball on the outside arch of the foot, 3 to 4 times. Switch feet and repeat sequence.
MODIFICATION: For balance, hold onto a wall or chair. You can also use a tennis ball.

img2parallel footwork

 light, 2 medium springs This simple sequence connects you to your core by opening your feet, energizing your lower body and strength-ening and shaping your legs.
1. Lie on your back and place the cups of your heels hip-width apart on the footbar, with the toes relaxed and arms at your sides, palms down. Keep your shoulders relaxed against the shoulder pads.
2. Inhale and slowly press the carriage out, keeping the spine aligned.
3. Exhale and slowly release the carriage. Repeat 8 times.

img3turned-out footwork

 light, 2 medium springs

Turning out the feet works the inner.thighs and creates a spiraling action in the hips, knees and ankles while helping to set your Sacrum in place.

1. Lie on your back and place the balls of the feet (with the heels lifted) on each end of the foot bar. Turn out your feet, keeping your knees in line with the second toes.
2. With spine and pelvis in neutral, inhale and fully extend your legs out.
3. Exhale and bend the knees, slowly returning the carriage. Repeat 8 times.

img11hip glides

2 mediums, 1 heavy These work the larger Muscles in the legs, energizing them and preparing them for strengthening. The downward glide strength-ens the hamstrings; the upward glide lengthens the hamstrings.
1. Put your feet in the straps, toes relaxed. Lie down on your back. Keep legs straight, with feet to the ceiling and pelvis in neutral.
2. Keep your feet hip width apart. Inhale as you slowly lower your legs, hamstrings pressing toward the floor.
3. Exhale as you raise your legs, bringing them as high as possible without lifting your tailbone. Pause when your feet are over hips. Repeat 8 times.




2 mediums, 1 heavy

Because the legs stay at a 45-degree angle. much more strength in the core muscles is required to keep the spine and pelvis neutral. This exercise en-courages inner length and gives fast results for toning rear, thighs and legs.
1 . Lie down on your back and place the cups of your heels into the straps. Straighten your legs and lower them to a 45-degree angle.
2. Inhale and open your legs wider than the Reformer frame, heels in line with each other. Slowly bend the left leg as you pull the right leg away. The left ankle should stay in line with the left knee. Keep tension on both straps.
3- Exhale and bring your legs together. Repeat 8 times.
MODIFICATION: If your ribs are popping out, don’t lower your legs as far.



1 light, 1 medium By opening the chest and shoulders, this exercise reverses slouched plane posture after hours of traveling.
1. With the headrest down, lie on your back and place the cups of your heels on the car-riage, keeping the feet hip-width apart.
2. Inhale and, starting with your tailbone, roll your spine up one vertebra at a time, keeping the carriage in. Weight should be between the shoulder blades and on the feet—not on the neck. Ribs are in line with the pelvis. Hold at the top and keep the hips level, then exhale.
3. Inhale and push the carriage into exten-sion while keeping hips up. Exhale and slowly bring the carriage back in. Repeat 3 times and perform 3 sets, resting between each set.
MODIFICATION: If this move is difficult, just roll into a bridge without pushing the carriage.


img112345678bridge with one leg

1 light, 1 medium Along with opening the shoulders, this challenging extension adds a strength element, multitasking as a great tush lifter and back-of-leg toner.
1. Follow instructions 1 and 2 in the previous exercise.
2. Extend your left leg, knees in line with each other, with your right foot on the foot bar to steady you.
3. Inhale, pushing the carriage halfway out with your right foot. Keep the hips level.
4. Exhale and return the carriage. Repeat the extension 3 times, then release your left foot to the footbar and rest. Change legs and repeat 3 times.



pulling straps on the long box

1 light

Opens the heart and stretches chest and shoul-ders to relieve tension; also tones the arms. It’s great for those who spend hours hunched over a computer or driving.
1. Lie on your belly with your chest over the front edge of the box. Press your pelvis into the box and keep your feet hip-width apart. Hold the straps high up, with wrists in line with your fore-arms. Arms should be long and straight.
2. Inhale to prepare. Exhale as hands glide along the outside of the Reformer to the hips. Keep the neck long.
3. Inhale and hold. Using the mid-back, draw shoulders down to open the chest, lifting the heart forward. Exhale and glide hands back to start position. Repeat 6 times.
MODIFICATION: Don’t aim for height; strive for length.

img1123456triceps on the long box

By holding the upper-back extnsion throughout the arm movement, the back extensors come into play while working the triceps and back.
1. Lie on your belly with your chest over the front eclge of the box. Press your pelvis into the box ancl keep your feet hip-width apart. Hold high up on the straps, keeping your elbows bent, wrists in line witb your elbows.
2. Inhale and extend the arms beck, bringing the wrists to the hips. Deng let the elbows flare. Hold .r 5 seconds.
3. Exhale and bring ale arms back start position. Repeat 6 times.
MODIFICATION Perform fewer reps and emphasize the nudity of the movement.


1 light, I medium An overall lengthening exercise tor the entire body: neck, shoulders, side waist, abdominal., hamstrings and calves.

1. Place your hands on the carriage, a bit wider than. shoulder-width apart. feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, heels snug against the pads.

2. Hike your hips up and back, Idling the sitr hones toward the ceiling, keeping the head and neck In line with the spine.

3. Inhale and push the carriage out hinging your legs at the hip joints.

4. Exhale and bring the carriage back in. Reheat 8 times.

MODIFICATION: If your hamstrings are challenged, walk your feet up, away horn the shoulder bloc, If you are losing your form during the push-out, iust perfect the beginning position.



1 light Stretches the sides of the body and adds a detoxification element that massages the internal organs, aiding digestion.

1. Sit in a Z formation, left shin against the shoulder blocks, right shin facing front in line with your shoulders. Put your right hand on the footbar.
2. Inhale and push the carriage away with the right hand and place left arm over your head. Hold and exhale.
3. Inhale and bring the carriage in. Grip the silver pole with the left hand and place the right arm over your head. Exhale and hold.
4. Inhale and wrap your right arm around your head. Rotate your right elbow down toward the carriage. Hold and exhale.
5. Inhale and bring your right elbow to the ceiling and then extend your arm. Exhale and bring your right hand back to the toolbar. Repeat 3 times and change sides.

3) Jennifer Gianni’s Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy
Tapeworm, 2004:
 Features: Pilates, strength moves, stretching, breathing techniques
 Run time: 65 minutes

 Highlights: Led by Pilates Master Trainer Jennifer Gianni. who was in her third trimester during taping, this program features classical Pilates technique with a yoga twist and modifications for all three trimesters. Focusing on the changes your body experiences as pregnancy progresses, this program demonstrates strengthening moves that will prevent common aches and pains and prepare you for labor.
Recommended props: Dowel or broomstick; sturdy stool or armless chair; small rubber ball; pillow; light dumbbells or soup cans; yoga mat, carpet or rug.

Why we like it: Gianni is a gracious instructor, and we especially love the smooth, progressive flow of the exercise sequence and the attention to modifications.

Real mom’s a-Aliment: “I liked the specific exercises this DVD had to offer and the aesthetic look of the video’s location. Gianni seemed very happy and friendly, and that made me feel very comfortable. —ROSELI SINGER. ENCFNO. CALIF.

Our favorite move;
TABLE TOPS Sit on the floor with your knees bent and shoulder- width apart, feet flat on floor and wrists directly under your shoulders. Draw your belly in and raise your chest, keeping your neck long. Inhale. then exhale as you raise your hips even with your knees while straightening your arms; squeeze your thighs and buttocks {shown). Slowly lower your hips to the floor and repeat. Strengthens hips, thighs, bock, arms and ohs: improves posture.

4) Leisa Hart’s FitMarna: Prenatal Workout
Goldhil Entertainment, 2003:
Features: Salsa dance, yoga, labor prep, ab exercises, stretching, relaxation
Run time: 60 minutes

Highlights:This energetic workout is taught by fitness professional Leisa Hart, who was well into her third trimester during the taping. Modifications are demonstrated for all three trimesters, and bonus sections detail labor positions and a self-check for diastasis rec-ti (separation of the abdominal muscles).

Recommended props: Large towel for propping; yoga mat, carpet or rug; yoga strap or long rectangular towel; yoga ball.

Why we like it: Hart is motivating and enthusiastic, and the Latin-tinged music is upbeat. She pays great attention to detail, such as demonstrating specific breathing techniques throughout the workout and reminding you to drink enough water. In fact, she talks as if she were right there in your living room.

Real mom’s comment: “I love salsa dancing. and this DVD is something that I would definitely use and enjoy doing at home. I loved the music—it made me feel sexy, and I had fun with it.”

Our favorite move:
CARDIO SALSA DANCE STEPS Stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart. Take a step to the front with your left foot, rocking onto the foot in a mambo step; sway your hips and wave your arms over your head (shown). Bring your arms back down as you step back onto your left foot and bring your feet together. Repeat with the other foot. A fun cardio move that helps you feel sexy as your belly grows.