Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wellness Diva #5: Robin (The Pilates Buff)

I am thrilled to introduce my fifth Wellness Diva: Robin.

Robin is very special to me. Not only is she my cousin, but I call her "the sister I never had." I'd really like to think that Robin IS my big sister :). In April, Robin and I did a girls' weekend in Phoenix. I still can't think of anyone else that I'd rather spend a weekend with consisting of wine, People magazine, beach reads, walks, trips to Starbucks, and great conversations.

What I love most about Robin:

I could go on and on for hours about why I love Robin, but I'll try to keep things (somewhat) succinct...

Robin is one of the most patient people I know. Things that drive the average person nuts don't even seem to phase her. If I could have one ounce of the patience Robin has, I would consider myself blessed. Robin is always so poised and calm. She is kind to everyone around her and has a wonderful presence. Robin is a REALLY good listener - and I mean really good listener...

Robin also has a great sense of humor. Every so often she'll make the wittiest comment and just crack me up. During our last night in Phoenix, Robin and I decided to dip our feet in the hot tub on our way back from dinner (around 11pm). After sitting there for a while, Robin goes: "I just don't understand why the poolside bar isn't open right now."


Last, but not least, Robin is an incredible mother. She is the mom of two beautiful, hilarious, smart, and loving girls. Jillian and Anna are two of my favorite people in the world, and it's no surprise why they are so wonderful. When Jillian and Anna are older, I know they will feel so fortunate to have been raised by such a patient, kind, and dedicated mother like Robin (and, for the record, an incredible Dad - Alan is amazing, but unfortunately didn't fit the "Diva" criteria).

Robin with her family in Jamaica! (L to R: Jillian, Robin, Anna, Alan)


Robin is a very healthy and beautiful person, inside and out. She also has a very balanced approach toward her health. On top of being a full time mom, she makes time for exercise and healthy eating each week. Robin has been practicing Pilates and Hot Yoga for a number of years. She is incredibly talented at both, and I have always admired her dedication!

Let's hear from Robin about Pilates!

1. When did you first start practicing Pilates? What got you started?

I started practicing Pilates at the recommendation of my physical therapist when I was experiencing lower back pain. I started by taking a few private classes so I could get up to speed to join a mat class and I was instantly hooked. Not only did the shape of my body change dramatically, but my lower back pain has never resurfaced in almost 13 years since I started. The only time it ever comes back to haunt me is when I slack on Pilates.

2. How often do you practice Pilates, on average?

I go to a private or group reformer class once a week. I also try and stretch or do mat exercises at home if I can. I try to take Bikrams hot yoga twice a week and incorporate my Pilates technique to get me through the class.

3. How do you feel Pilates contributes to your overall wellness? (mental, physical,
emotional, spiritual, etc)

I love Pilates for many reasons. It makes me feel longer, lighter, taller and toned. The breathing that accompanies the exercises is cleansing. Pilates is known for its abdominal focused work, and although it’s true that it will give you nicely toned abs, Pilates is also very therapeutic to the spine, neck, shoulders etc. It serves to strengthen our weaker muscles like inner thighs and hamstrings while relaxing our dominant muscles like quads, resulting in a leaner, more balanced body. As a former ballet dancer, I find it very therapeutic for various injuries that I’ve had. It also serves to lengthen the spine which can get compressed through our daily grind, sitting at a computer, driving and other high impact sports such as skiing, hiking, running etc.

Robin with Anna (L) and Jillian (R) before their dance recital!

I should also add that I did Pilates through both of my pregnancies which alleviated some back discomfort. Although you wouldn’t want to do a lot of the abdominal compression exercises during pregnancy, there is a lot of arm and leg work and stretching that really helps to keep the swelling and discomfort at bay. And then Pilates was an excellent post partum workout to get back into shape after having a baby!

4. What advice do you have for anyone who might be interested in trying out Pilates for the first time?

Pilates can be a bit overwhelming at first. Give yourself a month, or at least three or four classes to decide if it’s really working for you. Also, Pilates can be expensive. I think having a few privates is worth the expense so that you can really understand the fundamentals and learn how to do them correctly. After that, I recommend finding a teacher that can offer group classes that are less expensive. The mat classes are typically less expensive and beneficial. But it will be well worth your money to try the lessons on the machines (the reformer, Cadillac and chair) when you can afford it to really get the benefit.

5. Anything else you'd like to add?

What’s cool about Pilates is that I am able to carry the technique into all of my other activities. So whether I’m doing yoga, biking, hiking, skiing etc. I use the principles of alignment and breathing to give me more power and less chance of injury. I truly believe that everyone should try Pilates at least once. I plan to practice it for the rest of my life for physical therapy as I get older. My dream is to eventually get trained as an instructor and teach classes to young ballet students. I also would love to help people with injuries.

Thanks, Robin! Just reading this makes me excited to try out Pilates again! :)

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