Online Pilates Classes in Victoria, BC Near You - Norah Myers

March 3, 2022
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What’s my biggest pet peeve as an instructor, aside from when you don’t listen to me?

Great question – I would love to tell you.

It’s when you think you have to do every exercise perfectly and you beat yourself up when you can’t do something.

You don’t come to Pilates to do every exercise perfectly. You come to Pilates because you want to feel better, whether you want to manage pain, rehab an injury, or get some exercise. Perfection is not the point of Pilates, and you shouldn’t leave class feeling worse than when you walked in.

My client finished class by saying, ‘I’m a perfectionist,’ and she’d spent the whole class frustrated and mad at herself when her foam roller slipped a little sideways, when I had to explain things a couple of times, and when she couldn’t get every exercise perfect right away. I understand why she beat herself up, but it’s counterproductive and unnecessary. I don’t judge her, so why should she judge herself?

Here are five ways you can shut out the noise in your head during your Pilates class and stop beating yourself up.

Breathe

It always comes back to the breath, the foundation of Pilates. In through the nose, out through pursed lips like you’re blowing through a straw. Take big breaths and feel your ribcage expanding. Let the breath relax you. Coordinate your breath with your movement. When you focus on what you’re doing at the moment, you can stop the endless hamster wheel that might be telling you you’re not enough or reminding you to pick up curry paste from the grocery store on your way home.

Count

Count the reps as you do them to keep the rhythm and pace going. This helps you to ground yourself back to the movement and stop overthinking. Your Pilates instructor might lose count because she’s doing a correction or modification, and she’ll ask, ‘What count are we on?’ or say something like, ‘Just two more,’ when she isn’t counting at all. Counting fills the space and helps you stay present in class.

Be precise, not persnickety

Pilates is about deliberate movement, but I would prefer to keep the flow of class going rather than be too nitpicky. I get you moving and then we clean up the exercises as we go so that you do the work correctly while still getting a good workout in. Just today, I forgot to cue lifting the ankles in Stomach Massage, so we had to clean up my mistake, but then we laughed and moved on. Don’t dwell on the small mishaps. As long as you’re safe, comfortable, and you haven’t injured yourself, you’re okay.

Take it seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously

My favourite classes are the ones where I get everyone laughing. I love classes that are fun, where we all giggle like imbeciles. Those are the classes I most look forward to and love teaching. That’s why I love my career – I like to make other people happy. If you can’t laugh at yourself in Pilates class, when can you? Take the work seriously, but take a moment to laugh at yourself.

Leave it at the studio

When you’re done for the day, leave any mess-ups at the studio. Take note of what you need to keep in mind for next class. Then, forgive yourself and let it go. I’m the kind of person who holds grudges for a long time, who has a hard time letting go of things, especially in work. I used to spend weeks and months beating myself up over mistakes at my job. Now, as an instructor, I learn from my mistakes and I get on with the next class. If I held on to every screw up, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. I wouldn’t give myself room or permission to learn and grow as an instructor.

Failure is natural, unavoidable, consistent, and useful. It’s the only way that we make progress. Don’t hold yourself to a standard that’s so impossible that you are unable to move forward. Get yourself out of your straightjacket, laugh at your mistakes, and sign up for your next class.


February 21, 2022
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Last spring, I bought myself an Apple Watch SE (after watching Emily Cooper close her rings in Emily In Paris). I bought it because of the one thing Pilates doesn’t provide: a cardio workout. I wanted to use the watch to stay accountable to getting cardio in every day, whether that meant taking the stairs, going for a walk, going for a swim, or just turning up Billie Eilish and dancing around my apartment in my underwear (spoiler alert: I did all of those things, especially the dancing to Billie).

I’ve used the watch for nearly a year now and, many times I’ve found myself wondering if it was worth it, especially when I accidentally erased four months of data, proof of weeks and weeks of hard work. After that data was wiped and I couldn’t get it back, I nearly sold the watch. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue using it. Now, I’m glad that I kept it and that I wear it every day, especially since I’ve recently moved to a new city and I wanted to track my patterns of exercise, especially since, with the milder climate, I can walk a lot more. Being in British Columbia inspires me to be healthier.

I would say the watch is worth it if you need the accountability to work out every day, even if just for fifteen minutes. I definitely haven’t spent much time exploring all the watch’s features, and I’m sure that I could do a lot more with it, but I’d like to break down the pros and cons, from my own experience.

Cons

You can feel bad when you don’t close your rings

Sometimes you just don’t feel like working out and, personally, I feel bad if I want to miss a day of exercise. I took my watch off last year while I recovered from surgery and was literally banned from exercise, and I took it more personally than I should have. It’s okay to have a rest day.

It sometimes doesn’t count your ‘stand’ hour, even when you’ve been on your feet

A few months ago, at the hairdresser, she and I both received notifications from our watches that it was time to stand up and move around a little, which the watch reminds you to do every hour that you wear it so that you don’t sit around for five hours straight. It made sense for me, since I’d been plonked in her chair, but she’d been standing the whole time while she coloured my hair. A few weeks later, it didn’t count my ‘stand’ hour when I’d been on my feet teaching Pilates for an hour.

You end up constantly talking about your Apple Watch and driving your family members bonkers

Pretty self explanatory.

Pros

You get more exercise

Last summer, because I wore the watch, I swam for at least thirty minutes every day at the cabin. My mum was amazed at how I’d put on my bathing suit every single afternoon, run down to the dock, and jump in the lake, swimming until all my rings had closed.

You don’t stay sedentary for six straight hours

We all love a good scroll through TikTok until we find the funny video that we watch fifteen times in a row, but it’s good to make sure you move every once in a while, even if it’s just to get another cup of tea.

You challenge yourself

Last summer, while swimming every day, I pushed myself to stay in the water for longer, burn more calories, and swim to different places. I’d spent years swimming the same beat over and over again, sometimes twice a day. With the watch on, I swam to other places and challenged myself to outdo my calorie count from the previous day. I definitely wouldn’t be as strong as I am now if the watch hadn’t forced me to work out every day.

Is the Apple Watch SE worth it?

Yes.

What do you think?


February 3, 2022
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It makes me really sad that these kinds of questions – ‘Is Pilates for weight loss?’ and ‘Will Pilates help me lose weight?’ – are amongst the most common things that people search for when they want to know more about Pilates. Your health is so much more than your weight, and weight loss shouldn’t be the main reason that you exercise, especially at this time, in the middle of a pandemic, when we need to focus far more on our mental health and our emotional wellbeing than on the numbers we see on the scale.

Joe Wicks said it best: exercise for your mental health first, and the weight will come off when it’s not your primary goal. We should exercise to feel well and to manage things like depression, anxiety, and fatigue, rather than focusing on our weight. Weight loss shouldn’t be the main reason why we lace up our running shoes or put on our swim cap.

In the past twelve years, I have been every size from 109 pounds to 164 pounds, and I was just as unhappy at my smallest weight than I was at my heaviest weight. Even if you do lose weight and manage to keep it off, it won’t necessarily make you any happier. What will make you happier is exercising regularly for your mental health, because exercise helps you manage your stress and sleep better. It’s also a way to be social during Covid time – there’s no better way to see friends right now than by going for a long walk, a run, or a bike ride.

If you can’t lose weight with Pilates, what actually helps you lose weight? Doing cardio exercise and strength training, staying hydrated, managing your stress, sleeping well, and eating healthy.

If Pilates doesn’t help you lose weight, what does it do?

Injury rehab

Most people start Pilates at the recommendation of their physiotherapist. The physio takes care of the acute pain and then the Pilates teacher helps with the chronic pain. Clients who have been coming to Pilates for twenty years typically start classes to rehab an injury, like knee or hip pain, and then stay on and use it as a form of exercise.

Pain management

I’ve helped clients manage pain from arthritis, whiplash, and rotator cuff injuries. It also helps with discomfort from sitting all day, and even the soreness and tiredness you can experience when pregnant. Many clients with fibromyalgia, who can have pain from something as simple as doing laundry, find that Pilates doesn’t cause them pain. It helps to manage their pain and it boosts their energy.

Strength

I came into Pilates with no ab muscles and no bum muscles, and flabby arms and weak hands from having no upper body strength. Now, my arms and hands are much stronger, and I have way better balance, strength, and body confidence because, for the first time ever, my obliques and glutes actually kick in to support me.

Balance

I have had only two falls in the snow since December 2019 and, in the winter, I used to fall every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Pilates also makes your balance better because you can catch yourself when you slip or stumble and prevent falls. It improves your reaction time and reflexes.

Aren’t all these things more important than losing weight?


February 2, 2022
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Covid has meant that so many surgeries have been delayed, so many of us might be waiting for knee and hip replacements. It can be frustrating and debilitating to wait for a long time, and when the surgeries keep getting pushed back or canceled.

If you’re waiting for a hip or knee replacement, what can you do in the meantime?

Pilates exercises at home or in the studio.

We work with lots of clients after they’ve had their surgeries – you can resume activity eight weeks after major surgery – but you can also do exercises and stretches before your surgery to manage your pain and discomfort.

Getting into the habit of exercising before your surgery will make it easier to resume stretching and exercises when you’ve come out of surgery.

When I was first training to teach Pilates, my hairdresser told me he’d had a double knee replacement. He did his exercises religiously, and he said that it was the only way that he’d been able to resume working in the hair salon.

You can use a prop like a mini stability ball to manage hip discomfort by sitting on it for 90 seconds at a time. Sitting on the stability ball also helps to relax a tight pelvic floor. You can relieve hip pain (and strengthen your glutes too) by doing mat stretches like heel squeeze prone.

Everything is interconnected. Knee pain and issues are, 95% of the time, issues with the ankles or the bum. So, when you do exercises to manage knee issues, don’t neglect the ankles and the glutes. When you’re in the studio with me and you have knee aches, I go right to the tush and the ankles to help with the knees.

One of my clients who has arthritic hips had a flat pancake bum when she started Pilates (which is why she had arthritic hips in the first place). We worked a lot to build her glute strength and wake up the sleepiness in her bum, and it drastically helped the chronic pain in her hips.

Don’t wait until after your surgery to stretch and exercise. Get into the habit now, especially if your surgery is pushed or you’re not sure when it’ll happen. It’s one of the best ways to feel better while you wait for your surgery.


January 28, 2022
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Pilates is one of the best ways to manage cerebral palsy. How does it actually affect your body and make it easier to live every day with a lifelong disability?

Strength

We work on muscle tone and strength, which also helps balance, mobility, flexibility, and reflexes. I have a much faster reaction time now when I stumble or slip and I can often catch myself before I fall down. My abs, bum, arms, and legs are far stronger and more toned. I can see my strong abs, and my arms aren’t as flabby as they used to be. My clothes fit differently, and I’m not as bloated or uncomfortable after a meal. Using props and the pull down bar also help with grip strength and hand dexterity because you have to hold the props correctly to use them.

Stiffness

We open the jammed hips, release the tight back line and relax the achy shoulders. Releasing and relaxing the hips also helps a tight and tonic pelvic floor. Having cerebral palsy means the body is always stiff to a certain extent, and regular Pilates is one of the best ways to manage it.

Tiredness

Having cerebral palsy can be exhausting. You burn so much energy just trying to do normal things like walk somewhere to get groceries or take the dog for a run in the park. Just getting out of bed and having a shower can be tiring. Pilates is great for a boost of energy. It’s good exercise, but it doesn’t deplete you.

Posture

One of the biggest ways Pilates helps cerebral palsy is posture correction. This goes for every client with any kind of concern. Clients who come in with their shoulders up by their ears (we call them earrings) leave standing straighter and carrying themselves with more confidence. One year of Pilates led to a complete transformation in my posture: my pelvis untwisted and the huge curve in my lower back was much less noticeable.

Balance

Balance is often a huge challenge with cerebral palsy, whether it’s getting over a snow bank, stepping off a curb, sitting on a bar stool, or using an escalator. Once we work on strengthening the abs and the tush, the balance significantly improves and the back pain diminishes. Strong abs and a strong bum are essential for good balance, and we use lots of props to challenge the balance and make it better.

What challenges do you have with cerebral palsy?


January 19, 2022
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If You’ve Got Back Pain From Yoga, Try This

Wanna know a secret that shouldn’t be a secret?

Yoga instructors do Pilates to manage pain they think they aren’t supposed to have. They come in with back pain because their practice often emphasises stretching over strength.

What makes that pain go away?

Core strength, oblique strength, and glute strength.

If you’ve got weak abs and a sleepy tush, your back takes all the responsibility that your bum and obliques should be taking.

Making your bum and abs stronger helps to manage that pain.

If you teach yoga, don’t be embarrassed about any pain you might feel or injuries you might have.

Pilates teachers cross-train all the time and, in order to be able to do more advanced exercises, they need to incorporate strength training.

Doing other forms of movement means that you’re mature enough to leave your ego at the door and do what your body needs.

You aren’t less of a yoga teacher if you do something other than yoga.

My massage therapist told me that she wouldn’t be able to do her job if she didn’t get massages, do Pilates and yoga, and go for regular acupuncture treatments.

I complement Pilates with lots of walking.

My Pilates mentor regularly uses the elliptical machine, does step classes, and gets runs in.

Isn’t doing the same thing all the time kind of boring?

Why not switch things up with other forms of movement that you love?

I switched from bikram to vinyasa yoga in 2013 because the flow is different and because the order of the exercises varies from class to class – it’s not the same thing in the same order every time (though there’s no issue with that if it’s something you enjoy and can sustain).

All I’m trying to say is: if you teach yoga and do yoga regularly, and you have aches and pains because of it, try strength training or Pilates to help your core connection, kick in your abs, and wake up your sleepy bum.

There’s no reason to be ashamed of doing something other than the form of movement that you teach.


January 5, 2022
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I recently wrote a post on Instagram that, unlike other posts, which usually get shared three or four times, was shared over thirty times.

The post was about how the Pilates industry needs more instructors who have disabilities.

Many instructors shared the post to their stories, and I had lots of positive and supportive comments thanking me for shining a light on this issue.

A few of my clients, who have been working with me for over two years, have told me that they won’t work with anyone else because I don’t intimidate them. The fact that they can see that I have a disability and I can both do and teach Pilates helps them realize that they can do it too.

If you’re thinking about a new career, and you’ve been doing Pilates for a while, consider becoming a Pilates instructor, especially if you have a disability.

We need more people of colour, more members of the LGBT+ community, and more people with disabilities in all areas of the wellness industry: yoga, massage therapy, kickboxing, personal training, cycling, and Pilates. The more representation and inclusivity we have with instructors, the more people might be inclined to try Pilates.

So many people say to me, ‘I would do Pilates but…’ and they tell me they’re inflexible, or that they can’t touch their toes, or that they don’t have the time. When my doctor first asked me to try Pilates classes, I made the same assumption: that I wouldn’t be able to do it because I am the most inflexible person in the world. I thought it was only for people who were already flexible, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have treated so many clients who are inflexible, whether it’s from stiffness, surgery, or a sedentary lifestyle, and Pilates has helped them become more flexible. Pilates is what makes you flexible when you’re not.

More inclusivity and representation in the wellness industry can help people see that their size, fitness level, or disability are not barriers to entry. I am plus-size myself, have a disability, and have taught many clients of size and treated all sorts of disabilities and conditions. I recently helped a client who has burning mouth syndrome and one who is diabetic, and several of my longtime clients use Pilates to manage their arthritis.

I spent several months teaching chair-based Pilates classes for adults with intellectual disabilities, and I helped them to manage their discomfort and pain, easing the tension from their necks, shoulders, and hips with simple stretches they could do while seated. Pilates is endlessly adaptable.

How do you become a Pilates teacher?

  1. Look up Pilates in your city, and find an instructor trainer (IT) who can mentor you.
  2. Take the classes and workshops that teach you how to teach Pilates.
  3. Use your disability, difference of gender expression, or size as the way in, the thing that makes you different from others, the strength that can make clients relate to you.
  4. Teach as many different kinds of clients as you can, and challenge yourself to continually learn new exercises and stretches, especially with props like flex bands and stability balls. It keeps the work interesting and is one of the best ways to address immediate concerns.

There are times when I wish I could do some of the exercises that I can’t do. Sometimes, when I see more experienced instructors teaching, I feel inadequate and small. Some days, I wish I were thinner and prettier. But then I remember that my disability serves a purpose for others, and that my work as an instructor has never really been about me. It’s about the people I want to serve, and the people that my disability allows me to reach.

Clients tell me that I am calm, patient, caring, and thoughtful, and I attribute that to the mentorship I have received and the kind of instructor I want to be. I want clients to look forward to classes with me, and to believe that Pilates is within their capability, that they can use it to feel comfortable, relaxed, happy, and pain-free.

I was just saying to a client recently, ‘I wish this had been my first career.’ I wish I had trained to be an instructor when I was eighteen, right out of high school, but I am so grateful that I have this career now. It’s the perfect job for me, and I will be so happy when other people with disabilities train to be instructors.

We need representation in the industry.