Client Spotlight:  Rosemary

I love my sessions at Pilates Northwest!  From the moment I walk in I appreciate the welcoming, professional environment in this quiet, smaller space. I have had the privilege of working with four of the instructors at the studio, each of whom is highly trained and effective in addressing my individual needs. I always come away feeling more integrated, open and strong.

I called the studio a year ago seeking help with back pain I was experiencing while learning to play the cello.  Louise, the owner, spoke with me for some time, really listening. That first call with Louise opened the door to an amazing year of personal discovery, healing and growth.

I began working with Tonya who is a former ballet dancer and Pilates instructor for over twenty years.  With her wealth of experience, knowledge of the body and gentle manner, Tonya has been a perfect fit!  I work with her privately six times a month.  Between sessions I do exercises at home which complement and reinforce my work in the studio.  I learn every week because each lesson builds on the one before.  I am becoming more and more conscious of my body alignment and can feel how all the parts work together to make an integrated whole. A year later, I feel more energized, move easier and look better than I have in years!

I have also become aware of patterns that have caused pain in my back and abdomen, affecting my cello playing. Now, when I have pain, I can feel that I have shortened and twisted my torso, right shoulder and upper body. By practicing in the studio, I am now able to untwist myself and experience relief.  Over time, my cello playing has become more enjoyable, physically and musically. What a gift!

The people at Pilates Northwest go above and beyond! Last June, a big dog ran into me at the Magnuson Dog Park.  I fell and broke my leg.  Tonya met with my physical therapist several times and together, they worked out a treatment regimen.  I am so grateful and impressed with that level of care.  I worked hard at the exercises and recovered so fast.  Today, I am stronger and more confident walking than before the accident.  I’m even going to the dog park again!

I now feel that Pilates is one of the most important parts of my life.  The work is life-giving, empowering and energizing.  I will continue to participate in Pilates because the work itself brings me great joy and enables me to be more alive in the world.

Pilates Northwest’s Top 5

TOP 5 Reasons We Love Pilates

  1. It Helps Increase Flexibility: By using a unique system of lengthening muscles while also strengthening, Pilates helps create long, lean, more flexible muscles and fascia with increased range of motion potential. This helps reduce injury from shortened, overly tight, poorly aligned muscles.
  2. It Focuses on Strengthening while Toning: Pilates improves muscular strength and tone without increasing bulk. Strong, functional muscles help the body avoid injury, perform everyday tasks, and helps keep posture upright.
  3. Its Movements Enhance Joint Function: By improving strength and flexibility while moving in a more optimal alignment during your sessions, joint alignment can dramatically improve thereby improving the overall function of the body. This added joint balance and fluidity helps you move with more ease.
  4. It focuses on Improving PostureBy learning optimal postural alignment and building more strength in your core, Pilates helps improve your posture, adds to your sense of where you are in space and educates you about your natural postural inclinations.   Aligned posture reduces aches and pains.
  5. It Teaches Body Awareness: It helps you relax, be present and be mindful. Being aware of your movement patterns, breathing and posture can improve coordination, balance and add to your quality of life.

If you would like to learn more about Pilates Northwest, schedule a tour of our studio and chat with us.


Pilates and Reversing “Computer Posture”

Practicing Pilates helps many things from core strength, to long lean muscles and a streamlined midsection with lifted, tall posture.  But as an increasingly large portion of our population spends hours and hours each day on computers and devices from phones to tablets, there’s a specific postural problem emerging.  I’ve heard it called “text neck”, “slumpy computer spine” and “question mark posture”.  I’m sure there are many words for this collapsed, flexed, downward gazing, rounded, hunched over position people get into and stay in for hours on end.

The Beginning of an Antidote

Put simply, the antidote to this postural problem involves performing a combination of movements in other planes (extension, rotation, lateral bending or flexion, side to side shifting/translation).  This sounds easy, to simply move in the opposite way.  However, the longer our postural positions get familiarized in our bodies, the more likely our connective tissue / fascial system will start to fixate into that familiar shape.  Fascia will hold us where we spend the most time, hence the importance to alter positions, get moving and release some of the more stubborn connective tissue patterns using Pilates and myofascial manipulation methods.

Here’s a game plan that occurs in Pilates lessons.  The intention is to restore posture while gaining strength, length and alignment:

Access and Develop the Postural Supporting Structures

Pilates fundamentals focus on spine position.  We educate and teach our clients where our natural, neutral postural alignment is.  Development of the deep core supporting structures like the transversus abdominus, deep spinal stabilizers and other supporting structures is our starting place.  Without this fundamental base support, some of these movements in other planes are quite difficult to perform.  We use the breath and teach movement patterns that access and develop the body’s natural postural support system.


An awareness of where the body is in space and what is happening via a feeling state is especially beneficial.  As the client gains awareness in their Pilates sessions, overall awareness will occur away from the sessions as well.  Part of body awareness and positional awareness for computer and device users is to troubleshoot postural positions while using computers.  We can discuss and practice how to sit, where the keyboard could be optimally, head position, arm reach, chairs and lumbar spine support, the position of the legs and feet with connection to the floor, and alike.  With this new knowledge and the beginning of deep core support, new methods and strategies can be created to provide spinal balance when sitting at the computer, texting or reading.

Finally, when combining this base support with awareness under the guidance of a certified Pilates instructor we can come up with movement patterns to “undo” the havoc of sustained forward flexion, likely from looking downward and slumping in a chair for hours on end.

Try Pilates with us here at Pilates Northwest.  Your back and neck will thank you and it will even be fun!







Pilates and Posture: Get Tall, Long and Upright!

Most of you have seen or heard terms like “text neck”, “sway back”, “forward head posture” and alike.  We could go on and on.  There are so many terms out there for misaligned posture, but what is proper alignment and how do we get it by doing Pilates?

First, let’s define upright optimal posture.  Counter to intuition, it’s not just “chest up, shoulders back, suck in the belly” while standing.  While these cues have been heard by most of us, they don’t provide good posture nor do they help improve postural alignment.

Postural alignment starts when there is structural balance and integrity through the pelvic girdle.  You may call the pelvic girdle the “hips” or “back” but the entire complex of all of the pelvic bones is what we, at Pilates Northwest, are calling the “girdle”.  The relationship of the pelvic girdle to the areas below (legs to feet) and above (spine through head) is what we look at when assessing posture and alignment during your sessions.  Not only are we looking at the tilt of the pelvis (forward tilt or anterior tilt, backward tilt or posterior tilt), but we are also looking at the pelvic girdle’s relationship to itself.  Since the pelvis has joints (sacroiliac joint, lumbosacral joint, pubic symphysis), it is possible and quite common for one side of the pelvis to do something different from the other side, a kind of imbalance that can improve with regular Pilates sessions.

Without getting into complex anatomy, the principle here is interesting:  Thorough movement, cues, education, stretching, releasing and strengthening, we can better pelvic girdle alignment.  Thus starts the postural improvement.

As Pilates sessions continue over time, we are working toward helping you have a more aligned, optimal relationship with gravity; an uprightness that is effortless; a lift; a feeling of lightness and ease.  We are working toward aligning several bony landmarks that are evidenced in the standing posture:

Postural Alignment from Top to Bottom, Facing Sideways, Bony Landmarks:

1.  Mid Ear

2.  Mid Shoulder

3.  Mid Hip (Greater Trochanter)

4.  Mid Outer Knee

3.  Mid Ankle Bone (Lateral Malleolus)

If we dropped a plumb line through those points, we would have aligned posture if that plumb line bisected each segment somewhat equally.  Ideally we would also like a lack of compression forces through the spine and other joints for ease of movement.

We’re not looking for perfect posture here at Pilates Northwest, we’re trying for improvement.  We’re not looking for a held, stiffened uprightness from contracting muscles, we’re looking for increased freedom and aliveness.    We talk and educate about the posture related to real life activities, from sitting at a computer to sitting in a kayak to driving positions.

Posture is just one part of the Pilates process.  Please send this article to a friend who could benefit from this unique form of exercise.  We work with all ages and all fitness and experience levels.  The staff here at Pilates Northwest is fully certified, experienced and friendly.

Let the postural progress begin!

How can Pilates help as you age?

With age, bodily functions change. There is typically a decrease in muscle mass and the nervous system and muscular systems function less optimally. The heart rate can decline with age along with the ability to take in and use oxygen.

These changes, along with hormonal changes, can lead to a reduction in metabolism, the degree at which the resting body uses fat and other sources to make fuel. Body fat can increase.

Pilates is a safe fitness practice that can help counter many of the negative effects of aging. By improving the body’s function, Pilates helps you maintain a good quality of life and the ability to perform daily activities.

This is accomplished by improvements in the following areas:

  • Flexibility: Pilates promotes flexibility and increases range of motion. This helps reduce injury from shortened, overly tight muscles. Pilates sessions incorporate safe stretching combined with resistance work.
  • Strength and Tone: Pilates improves muscular strength and tone without increasing bulk.  Practicing Pilates leads to long, lean, and strong muscles. Strong muscles help the body avoid injury and help you continue to perform everyday tasks like lifting and carrying objects, vacuuming, and getting up from a seated position.
  • Function of Joints: Strength and flexibility with Pilates are paired with joint alignment to better the overall function of the body. This helps function and fitness and helps you stay younger feeling and more active for a longer period of time. Functional joints with strong, supple muscles helps decrease the chance for injury due to overuse and accidents.
  • Body Awareness: Pilates helps you relax, be present and be mindful. Being aware of how you move and where the joints and limbs are in space offers benefits in improved coordination and balance.

At Pilates Northwest, we call our seniors “The Over-60 Crowd”. They are dedicated, strong and young for their age. They move well – better than when they started – and feel rejuvenation after their sessions.

The Benefits of Pilates during Pregnancy

There are many benefits of Pilates during your pregnancy. The right exercise program can help alleviate pain that you may begin to feel in your back or your joints during your pregnancy. Pilates will help you gain awareness of your changing posture and by strengthening your body you can be better prepared for your delivery.

We recommend discontinuing impactful, high intensity exercise programs during pregnancy. Since Pilates can be adjusted for you, your pregnancy and your trimester, it’s a great choice. During pregnancy, we believe in increasing strength and rejuvenation since the body is going through many changes and pregnant women often feel periods of low energy. Our pregnancy Pilates sessions here at Pilates Northwest focus on different aspects as your shape changes and as your baby grows. For instance, we have workouts designed for you without lying on your back after mid pregnancy. There are postural exercises designed with low back support in mind. And there are specific exercises designed to keep muscles strong for delivery. We check in with you and adapt the session accordingly.

Getting started in Pilates while Pregnant is easy!

If you are searching for a Seattle Pilates studio while you are pregnant, consider working with us at Pilates Northwest. Our experienced, professional instructors tailor our Pilates programs to each client so you can be sure you’re embarking on a fitness regimen that is appropriate during your pregnancy. We also have Seattle Pilates instructors here on staff who specialize in Pilates for pregnant women, so you can take advantage of their years of experience.

No experience is necessary. We do ask for your doctor’s authorization to exercise. When you have the green light from your doctor, leave the rest to us. Pilates is fun, rejuvenating, effective and a great choice while pregnant.

Can plus size and overweight people do Pilates?

At Pilates Northwest, we have clients of all shapes and sizes. We have younger, older, injured, fit, beginners and advanced. They all get what they need here. We adapt Pilates to their needs.

For overweight people, determining what exercise modality is best has several considerations. As body fat significantly increases, range of motion, speed and agility typically decreases. We keep these things in mind. We won’t ask your body to do something it is not ready for. We will not start you too quickly. We will honor where you are and ask you where you want to go. We’ve seen strong athletes with too much body fat here. We’ve seen clients who are overweight and new to exercise. There is a perfect program for every person here at Pilates Northwest. Together, we figure it out.

We have commercial equipment here that can accommodate all shapes and sizes, both women and men. We like to teach holistically based on the clients goals, objectives and any limitations that may exist.

When working with overweight people, we work without overly compressing the abdomen. We do not overstress knees and we look at knee alignment and function. We keep clear communication about how exercises are feeling and write chart notes in each session to keep session logs. We want you to feel more lengthened, get stronger, feel taller, more streamlined, and functioning better after your session. We progress clients according to function, education and their feedback. If a slower day is needed, that’s what will happen. If you want to go, go go, then we can do that. All with safety in mind. Pilates is highly adaptable if the studio is adaptable. Our opinion is that we are all different. We all need something and we have the skill set to figure out what will benefit each person. Pilates Northwest is an adaptable studio teaching individualized sessions.

Among the significant benefits of Pilates for plus size and overweight people is that it increases the strength and coordination of the muscles of the core of the body – those that support the spine and organs. When the core is strong, alignment and posture improve, relieving stress on the joints and muscles. This is one of the reasons Pilates is often recommended for back pain and knee pain. Increased flexibility, muscle tone, and balance are nothing to scoff at either.

If you are at all concerned about your size with regard to Pilates equipment like the Reformer, Tower or Chair, don’t be. Professional Pilates equipment is built for all body types. We’re talking heavy-duty wood, metal, strong springs, commercial straps. At Pilates Northwest we have commercial equipment made by Balanced Body® and Stott®. The equipment is well made and of the highest professional grade.

Can Pilates help back pain?

At Pilates Northwest, we see a lot of clients with back pain – from low back pain, pain around the shoulder blades, pain in the upper trapezius muscles, to pain in the rib areas and mid back – we’ve seen it all. In today’s computer-based, high stress society, we get a lot of people who come in with the goal of lessening their back pain. Practicing Pilates is a great way to do this. For those with severe back pain, consulting with your physician if often the first step. We want to be sure there are no contraindications to exercise before working with you. Once you have the green light, we are ready!

Pilates principles are consistent with exercise programs that promote back health. In particular, most hospital-based back health programs look like Pilates programs. Learning neutral alignment of the spine (where the curves of the spine are healthy and optimal) and strengthening the deep core postural muscles that support this alignment are vital skills for the back pain patient.

Patients with pain stemming from lack of strength and poor spinal alignment are particularly likely to benefit from a Pilates exercise program.  Postural alignment and body asymmetry can be altered. This improvement can drastically improve the wear and tear resulting from uneven stresses on the intervertebral joints and discs.

Pilates improves overall deep strength, flexibility, and function of the muscles of the hip and shoulder girdle. Fluidity and supported movement through these joints helps prevent unnecessary torque on the vertebral column.

At Pilates Northwest, we like to ask questions. We have worked in conjunction with other health professionals. We like teamwork and often times improving back pain takes communication between different parties. We strive to help our clients increase their strength, fluidity, suppleness and alignment. We see that a strong, more aligned and functional back is a happier back. We listen to our clients and take session notes. We treat each person differently and provide highly personalized sessions.

Can Pilates help with weight loss?

Weight loss is one of the key reasons why people embark on a new exercise routine. If you want to enhance your outward appearance, however, weight loss is just one component. You also need to strengthen and tone the muscles throughout your body — creating a strong, toned foundation as the fat layers come off.

Pilates was not first intended to be primarily a fat loss method. We have heard our clients say that their proportions change along with their posture. Their whole look changes and this positive change helps with motivation for healthier food and lifestyle choices. As we all know, with fat loss or weight loss, there is not a quick fix. It is often dependent on a combination of genetic history, age, body type, food choices and exercise choices. Our forte here at Pilates Northwest is the ability to adapt and add a cardiovascular fat burning component to your Pilates sessions, revving up your system into a fat burning mode while strengthening and streamlining your physique

While the Pilates method on its own can lead to weight loss, we can also incorporate commercial rebounders into your exercise routine along with the Pilates Jump Board. By adding a cardiovascular component to your exercise routine, your weight loss can progress more rapidly, letting you see the results of your Pilates exercise program sooner.

The Pilates instructors at Pilates Northwest are among the most experienced Pilates instructors that you’ll find with years of teaching the Pilates method under their belts. They can tailor your Pilates routine to your current fitness level, letting you gradually increase the difficulty of your workout.

Pilates for seniors

Pilates is appropriate for seniors.

We have a large population of seniors at Pilates Northwest.   We’ve affectionately called them the “over 60 crowd” although a few clients extend decades beyond this affectionate title as octogenarians!   Here at Pilates Northwest we have had continuing education courses teaching us possible differences as people age – differences in potential bone density, posture, alignment, flexibility, movement capability. We have older clients who are super fit, flexible and strong who can rival the 30 year olds and we have those who need slow, deliberate focused attention in their workouts. Many have pain and movement limitations. They all love Pilates and they all receive very different sessions from our instructors here at Pilates Northwest.

Seniors are Consistent here at Pilates Northwest

We think of Pilates for our older clients here as an exploration of where they currently are and where they would like to go in their fitness routine. It may be they want to be able to sit in a chair and have the strength to get back up. Our seniors are very consistent with their Pilates practices. They are hard workers, whatever that means to their particular need. They come back week after week and spend their focused time working on their function, posture and staying as vital, upright and limber as possible.

In a recent article by Linda Carroll for NBC News, seniors and younger folks were asked to stand up while seated on the floor without using hands, knees of elbows for assistance as a test for future longevity. This is harder than one may think. In Pilates here at Pilates Northwest, we have a conversation about daily life tasks (gardening, picking things up from the floor, sitting then standing, walking up and down stairs, or even hiking 20 miles! There’s something for every older person here, tailored for you.