Blog Archives

The Pilates Magic Ring

The Magic Ring is a portable piece of core exercise equipment invented by Joseph PILATES RING HORZPilates, the creator of the Pilates method of exercise.  Here are 10  important reasons that the Magic Ring used by Pilates practitioners, and anyone who wants a quick and easy way to get strong.

  1. Take it with you on vacation.
  2. Take it to a friend’s house, and practice together.
  3. The ring is very light, and will fit in a suitcase, or carry bag.
  4. The ring is easy to use.  Just squeeze and release while holding the handles.
  5. The ring builds arm, hip, thigh, abs, and back muscles.
  6. The results are powerful.
  7. The ring is affordable.  Prices range from $15.00 and up to around $49.00.
  8. Rings come in 3 resistance levels: light for beginners, medium for intermediate workouts, and strong for an advanced workout.
  9. The ring can be combined with both large and small Pilates equipment, to create more challenging workouts.
  10. The ring is versatile.  Use it in standing, seated, side lying, prone, and supine exercises.

IRENE PORTRAIT picassa blue borderIrene Pastore is a native New Yorker, health and fitness blogger, and personal trainer. Irene owns this website, and writes all the blog posts. For her complete bio, visit the About Page.

Copyright 2016 Irene Pastore and Tour De

Pilates For Kayakers

Criss Cross

MOVE FROM THE TORSO In order to execute movement from the torso, and not the arms, kayakers, and people who engage in rowing sports, need a strong core. Fatigue in the back, shoulders, and neck occur, when core muscles are weak. Unless the core is strengthened, injuries are likely to occur in the shoulders. PILATES MAT TORSO EXERCISES FOR KAYAKERS  Upper torso exercises that strengthen the oblique abdominal muscles. 

  • Obliques Roll Back  
  • Criss Cross Obliques
  • Saw
  • Spine Turn

Upper torso exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles, and oblique abdominals.

  • The Hundred
  • Roll Up
  • Teaser

Upper torso exercises that strengthen the back, hamstrings, and gluteals.

  • Swimming
  • Double Leg Kick

Copyright 2013 Irene Pastore and Blue Moon Personal Training

Giving up on Pilates

Why People Quit Pilates

The Pilates Hundred exercise might be too difficult for beginners.

You’ve tried a group class, and couldn’t do the exercises.  Your neck hurt, and you couldn’t keep your head off the mat.  Your hamstrings are so tight that you couldn’t straighten your legs.  You were out of breath. Everything hurt.  You couldn’t wait for the class to end.

If you had an experience like this, the class you took was much too difficult.  Maybe it was the only one offered at your gym, and you decided to try it.  But now, your never going back.  No wonder you quit.

How To Enjoy Learning Pilates

There’s a better way to begin Pilates.  Here are a few suggestions.

  • Find a Pilates studio, or gym that offers basic classes.  Call the studio, describe your needs.  Find  out whether they teach your fitness level.  
  • Find a Pilates trainer who has a studio, or will visit your home for private instruction.
  • Purchase a beginner level DVD. is a good place to start because of their large inventory.
  • Purchase a Pilates book that illustrates exercise modifications.
  • Find on online membership-based Pilates studio that offers basic classes.
  • When you take classes, be sure to listen carefully to instructions.
  • Don’t overdo it.

When To Hire A Pilates Trainer

Group exercise isn’t for everyone, especially if you’ve been injured, have special needs, or you’ve been sedentary.

Pilates Spine Supporter

The Pilates Spine Supporter is used to modify The Hundred exercise.

A qualified trainer will save you time and money by teaching you correct alignment, and how to modify exercises that are too difficult.  They will take you step-by-step through each exercise according to your ability, and help you avoid injury.

A trainer will demonstrate the use of specialized Pilates equipment, such as the Spine Supporter, and the Pilates band.

The band helps you develop stronger abdominals and neck muscles during the supine Roll-Up, without straining yourself.

The Spine Supporter develops abdominal strength, and reduces tension in your neck during the Double Leg Stretch exercise.

At some point, you might be ready to join a group class.  So, don’t give up.  If you stay with it, you’ll succeed.

 Copyright 2013 Irene Pastore and Blue Moon Personal Training

Muscle Imbalance: Tight Iliopsoas and Weak Gluteals

Psoas and Iliacus Muscles

Opposite Muscles Work Together

Muscles work in opposite pairs.  Ideally both pairs should be equal in strength and flexibility.  

A pair of  muscles has opposite functions.  The iliopsoas and gluteals are opposing muscles.

The iliacus and psoas are two muscles that comprise the iliopsoas, a hip flexor, and low back stabilizer.

The iliopsoas brings your hips forward, while the gluteals bring your hips backward.

To get an idea how these muscles work together, stand up and swing one leg forward and back without bending your knee.

If your iliopsoas becomes excessively tight, your gluteals become lengthened, and can’t do their job.  The imbalance affects the positioning of your pelvis, and the lower portion of your spine.

Pelvic Stabilization Improves Your Posture

When the iliopsoas and gluteals are working properly, they help to stabilize the pelvis and keep it in a neutral position.  That means, your spine is balanced and healthy.  Poor posture develops when the spine is not in neutral.

Why the Iliopsoas Muscle Becomes Tight

Gluteal Muscles

  • Long hours of sitting at the computer, in a car, or watching television.
  • Sleeping in the fetal position (legs drawn up toward chest).
  • Cycling.
  • Running.
  • Neglecting to stretch.

What Happens When Muscles Become Imbalanced

  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Poor sports performance
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Poor Posture such as swayback (flattening of the lower back), hyperlordosis, (excessive arch in lower back), flatback (natural low back curve is flat), and kyphosis (excessive arch in upper spine).

When the iliopsoas overpowers the gluteals, the pelvis is tilted forward increasing the arch in the low back. 

Returning Muscle Balance With Pilates

Human posture is considered healthy when the pelvis is in a neutral position, not tipped forward or back.  From the side, the spine has three gentle curves (cervical/neck, thoracic/upperback, and lumbar/low back).  When viewed from the back, the spinal column appears like a straight line.  A healthy spine is pain-free.

  • Pilates exercises are specific to correcting muscle imbalance, by returning the spine to its normal position.
  • Pilates exercises are performed while maintaining the spine in neutral position.
  • Participants who have difficulty holding the spine in neutral, are given modified exercises to help correct muscle imbalance.
  • Special Pilates props and equipment are used, when participants experience difficulty performing the exercises.

Copyright 2013 Irene Pastore and Blue Moon Personal Training

Correcting Poor Posture with Pilates

This is a photograph of two women in their early twenties.  Both have poor posture.  If it’s not corrected, it will get worse.


What does their body language say about them?  Do they appear confident, heathy, fit, lethargic, dull, or happy?  The way you carry your body, tells the world how you feel about yourself.


Both women have an exaggerated curve in their upper back, their shoulders are rounded forward, their chests are caved in, their abdomens protrude, and their heads are forward and upright.


Postural problems develop from one or more lifestyle habits, such as leaning over a computer terminal,  lack of appropriate exercise, habitual slouching when eating, doing homework, or reading.


Pilates exercise can improve poor posture.  Both women should begin their Pilates exercise routine with basic, modified exercises.

Strengthen the upper back:  Modified Breast Stroke, Modified Swimming on All Fours, Modified Double Leg Kick.

Strengthen the abdominals: Modified Roll-Up With Pilates Band, Single Leg Stretch and Hundred on the Spine Supporter.

Open the chest and the abdominals: Pilates Chest and Abs Stretch on the Stability Ball.

Copyright 2013 Irene Pastore and Blue Moon Personal Training