Relax your back on a foam roller



I recently spent some time teaching private Pilates sessions at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The population skews older with the average being in their 60s.  Part of my protocol is to gather information about health conditions and medications.

Whether your are an instructor or client – do not skip this part.

As I discovered, most of my Sarasota clients were taking multiple medications.  Some people were a little reluctant to reveal all but when I explained this informs what kind of exercises we should and perhaps shouldn’t do, they were more forthcoming. For example, I noticed an osteoporosis drug listed on a form but the client didn’t tell me she had the condition. This was really important to know because many Pilates moves involve putting some load on the spine in the “flexed” or forward position – which is generally not advised for those with osteoporosis or osteopenia.


advanced extension exercise performed on the Allegro 2 courtesy Balanced Body

Most exercises in Pilates ARE in a flexed position. When you’re working with the equipment, the springs put even more load on the spine.  But if your instructor knows what’s appropriate for your condition, you’ll have a wealth of “extension” exercise in your future that help your condition and make you feel better, stronger, more energized.

I tell my clients who in post rehab to ask their physical therapists for three exercises they should do and three exercises they should not do. Have your PT write it down and you give it your instructor.  It’s golden information.

If you have a low bone density and are taking a mat class, don’t roll on your spine as in “rolling like a ball”.  A well-qualified instructor will instead offer you other options such as balancing in the position and working the opposite forces where your arms and legs connect. You can also work the position by remaining in static ball position without wrapping your arms around your legs.  Both versions are challenging.  But if you don’t tell your instructor, that person can’t offer you an alternative.

As instructors, it’s up to us to stay informed on the most common chronic conditions and how to meet client needs with what we offer.  Knowing the exercises is only the beginning.  How to apply them to meet specific needs is a sophisticated, savvy skill requiring lifelong practice and continuing education. It’s a smart way to market too because it communicates an understanding that goes above and beyond common offerings.

Pilates for Buff Bones® is a unique, Pilates-based workout that uses bone-strengthening techniques while focusing on alignment and balance. It targets the rear-side of the body, giving the butt, hips, arms and back a terrific workout. This inclusive one-hour class is adaptable and challenging for people of all levels, and is also safe for those with osteoporosis.

Experienced instructors may also design their own classes that target special populations and conditions. That’s the beauty and magic of Pilates.  It meets you where you and takes you where you want to go.  As always, ask about the instructors experience and education.  Seek those who have at least 500 hours or training and several years of teaching clients – preferably some with your condition.

Jovanka JoAnn Milivojevic


Want to get fitter? Hire a Personal Trainer – UCLA Study Proves it.


When I first started in the fitness business more than 10 years ago, someone said to me, “personal trainers are just babysitters for people who don’t know how to work out.”

Oh yeah?  Tell that to professional athletes and Olympic champions who rely on their trainers for inspiration, motivation, and fitness

courtesy balanced body

courtesy balanced body

know-how. And now those who have invested their hard earned cash into personal trainers can rest assured – with well qualified trainers – you will see better results.  But don’t just take my word for it.

A groundbreaking new study from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine reveals that personal trainers can have a dramatic impact on fitness levels.

Here’s how self-directed exercisers compared to those coached by personal trainers:

• Increased their lean body mass by 3.3 pounds, while self-trained group saw no change.
• Increased muscle strength by 42% vs. 19% in self-trained group.
• Increased muscle power by 10% vs. 0.1% in self-trained group.
• Increased VO2 Max by 6% vs. a 3% decrease in self-trained group.

Pilates is taught on the mat in group classes and as a private, personal training experience.  If you want to get the greatest return on your investment in time.  Do it one-on-one. If you want to avoid injuries, get inspired, and realize more of your own potential – hire an fitness expert to help you.

Of course, you want someone that’s well qualified because sadly, a personal training and Pilates certification can be earned in a weekend. So look beyond certification acronyms. True pros earn the equivalent of a master’s degree and continue to earn education credits to maintain their credentials. They should have some people skills as well as educational background. Don’t be shy, ask about their experience and their background. They too, should ask you some key questions.  To learn more about what to look for, what to ask, and what they should ask you click here

Anyone can bark out orders. I recently read about someone who felt ill, stupid and embarrassed after a session. Um, just no.  A professional will design a program that fits your needs, challenges you and also inspires you to believe in yourself.




Pilates Benefits: A Return to Life


What is Pilates and how will it benefit you?  I get that question a lot.  In short, it meets you where you are right now and takes you further than you can imagine. Need more strength?  Balance? Muscle? Coordination?  You’ll get it. Pilates is a way to more fully realize your potential.


the hundreds on the Pilates reformer

Recently, WebMD showcased a handful moves that are great for beginners. The post is well illustrated and accurately explained. Pilates can be done on a mat or machines, just be sure to find a well-qualified instructor.  

Pilates benefits every body at just about any time. Some hospitals and physical therapists integrate Pilates into their fitness programs to help patients with rehab and other health related issues. For example, Pilates works the pelvic floor and is quite helpful for women who have or want to help prevent pelvic floor disorders.

Pilates is a natural next step after physical therapy. Many Pilates instructors will work with PTs to ensure that you continue to strengthen safely post rehab. Muscles move bones. When muscles are developed and maintained correctly they’ll help keep those bones (and the rest of your body) properly aligned.

The medical community is finally promoting exercise as medicine.  And Pilates is an excellent healing modality as well as way to have fun discovering all that your body is capable of. It works if you work it



stroke took her movement away Pilates brought it back

Pilates can transform a life in many ways. Joseph Pilates promoted his system as a holy trinity — rejuvinating the mind, body and spirit. Indeed you will feel refreshed, re-energized, and realigned after your Pilates sessions. Get inspired by these stories featured at the Pilates Method Alliance’s Pilates is Health website.

For me, Pilates took away the debilitating pain of sciatica and brought me into a whole new world of healing for myself and helping others.

Got a Pilates story?  Share it here.







Meditation Reduces Inflammation New Study Shows


A new study reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation.  The study looked the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators. Researchers compared them to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities.

After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn leads to faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

The researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators after mindfulness practice.

Meditation Reprograms Your Mind

Each week I attend a Friday meditation class with the amazing Nancy Floy at the Heartwood Center in Evanston.  I attend to be in community with people of like mind and to create new neural pathways.  And I really need them. My thoughts get so stuck in a groove … an endless loop of drama going around and around like the proverbial broken record.  Those grooves are the neural pathways, and with meditation, we can form new ones so our thoughts can more easily slip onto another track. Easier said then done. But with practice it is possible.  Like putting money in the bank, regular meditation has cumulative effects.  In times of great stress and challenge, you can call upon this practice to more quickly bring relief. Having just gone through a deeply challenging situation, I was grateful to have this community and this practice.  What had previously taken months to bounce back from now took a few weeks.  Priceless.

Meditation by Many Names

Not falling prey to habitual patterns of mind is among the many benefits of meditation.  You can also pray, focus on your breathing, laugh or simply say affirmations that help you calm down your system.  You can do it anywhere, anytime, and it’s free.  Among my favorite teachers are Pema Chordon, Thich Nhat Hanh, and of course the Dali Lama, now on Twitter.

Have some favorite mindfulness practices or benefits in your life?  Please share here.




Pilates certifications can be snagged in a weekend or take several years and hundreds of hours to earn. I invested two years studying for my comprehensive certification which also included an apprentice program. I delved deeply into anatomy, biomechanics and how to work with injuries and limitations. It’s a fascinating and endless journey.

Ten years later, I am still teaching and still continuing to learn.

What to look for in a Pilates Instructor

Well-qualified instructors earn the equivalent of a Master’s degree.  For high quality instruction, look for:

  • Minimum of 300 training hours
  • Comprehensive and mat certifications
  • Several years of teaching
  • Ask about specialties. Some instructors focus on populations such as seniors, pre/post natal, back pain, rehab or high performance athletes.

Like yoga, Pilates has evolved through time. Today, there are a iStock_000008154512XSmallvariety of styles but core development is fundamental to them all. Among the most well-known trademarked brands are: Stott, Power Pilates, Balanced Body, Core Dynamics, PhysicalMind, Polestar, and Romana’s Pilates. But a trademark doesn’t necessarily ensure quality instruction.

“Anyone can take a list of exercises and teach them,” says Chicago-based Vered Arbel of Elements in Motion, “how you analyze and fit the exercises to the needs of the person requires anatomical and biomechanical knowledge. Really look for that.”

And it takes years of experience to assess a client’s need physically and emotionally. Clients have come to me with great stress, migraines and injuries.  I must create each session on the spot to meet the client’s needs on that day.  Fortunately I have been well-trained and joyfully continue my education. That gives me a deep repertoire of skills and tools from which to build each session.

Find Your Ideal Pilates Studio

A web search will result in lots of choices and can reveal a lot about a  place.  What’s the vibe?  Warm and welcoming?  Super intense high energy?  Look at the pictures and the language.  Do they communicate well?  What do the instructors say about themselves? Look for client testimonials and consult Yelp.

Do you want super private experience with no one else in the space? Many instructors have home studios where that kind of privacy is more possible.

When you speak to someone, ask questions that relate to what you are looking for (general fitness, weight loss, balance, flexibility etc).  Good instructors will ask you questions too.  That will reveal their level of experience and care about new clients.  Know that most studios are small businesses and you may have to leave a voice message. Don’t let that put you off. Leave a message. They should of course call you back in a timely manner.

Questions instructors  should ask you include:

  • What do you do for exercise now?
  • What attracts you to Pilates?
  • What are your fitness goals?
  • Any injuries?
  • Medical conditions?

Taking a mat class is an inexpensive way to check out a studio and discover if the place simply feels right to you. Also, many studios offer discounted rates for first time clients.

Benefits of Well-qualified Pilates Instructors

Fitness and counteracting the stresses of everyday life are among the main benefits of any exercise discipline.  Ultimately, Pilates can reduce stress, increase energy and help you feel at ease in your own skin. You’ll feel more balanced, flexible and lighter. Well worth the search for a quality instructor whose personality and experience matches your needs.

Reach out to me with any questions or comments about your search.  I’d be happy to offer what I know.




We date online why not diet online?  More than one of my clients have credited various apps for helping them drop a few pounds, improve their food choices and get fitter faster.  And now Greatest Loser guru Jillian Michaels throws down another challenge by partnering with Dietbetter.

This online dieting site just might work for you.

Dietbet is a four-week social dieting challenge. According to the company 96% percent of DietBetters lose weight, with an average of over six pounds in four weeks. You could drop those pounds and pick up some cash in the process.

Michaels’ DietBet starts on September 24 and runs through October 21.

The rules for The Jillian Michaels DietBet are simple. Players all bet $30 into the pot to begin. Everyone who loses four percent of their starting weight over the course of the four-week game splits the pot equally at the end. Dietbet is not winner-take-all; everyone who reaches the finish line is a winner and receives an equal share of the pot. To validate weight loss, players submit multiple photos of themselves on their scales to DietBet’s human referees.

Find DietBet on Facebook and Twitter. An iPhone mobile app is also available.

Good luck and let us know how you do!




If you love Greek style yogurt chances are you’ve enjoyed Chobani.  According to the CEO, they’ve voluntarily recalled products due to a type of mold commonly found in yogurts that don’t have preservatives.

The problem affected about 5% of it’s product and is reported to be solved now.

If you purchased yogurt with the code 16-012, Best By: 9/11/2013 – 10/7/ 2013, toss it. To get replacements or refunds,  contact their Customer Loyalty Team at  or call 877-847-6181 between the hours of 9am and 5pm EST.

Chobani 6 oz. cups – all flavors
Chobani 16 oz. tubs – all flavors
Chobani 32 oz. tubs – all flavors
Chobani 3.5 oz. cups – all flavors
Chobani Bite™ 3.5 oz. cups – all flavors
Chobani Flip™ 5.3 oz. containers – all flavors
Chobani Champions® cups 3.5 oz. – all flavors
Chobani Champions® tubes 2.25 oz., 8, 16 and 36 count – all flavors

The mold caused the packaging to swell and some customers had said that it tasted fizzy or had an alcohol overtone.   The company started pulling the products from the self last week. The potentially affected products were distributed from their Twin Falls, Idaho facility.

In short, it’s best not to eat yogurt or any other product if the packaging is torn, punctured, or swelling. You just never know what contaminants natural or otherwise may lurk inside.




It’s the dog days of August so don’t forget to take good care of your beloved furry legged pal.  Keep plenty of fresh water around and take note of these recommendations from BluePearl Veterinary Partners:

  • Avoid physical activity during the heat of the day; keep exercise to the cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Spray your pet down with room temperature or cool water, but never OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAice water. Ice cold water causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin and heat can’t escape the body properly, which actually makes heat exhaustion symptoms worse.
  • Make sure pets are kept inside of air-conditioned spaces to avoid excess exposure to heat.
  • When walking or jogging with your pet, try to avoid asphalt as your pet’s paw pads can burn. Instead, stick to concrete, dirt or grass, as those surfaces are less hot.
  • Never leave your pet in a car unattended, even with the air conditioning running. If the air conditioning fails, your pet could easily over-heat in as little as a few minutes.
  • Don’t give sports drinks or electrolyte supplements to pets. Dogs cool off by panting and they do not sweat like people. Supplements like sports drinks can actually harm animals and make pets sick.

Most importantly, be familiar with your pet and know when they aren’t acting right. Lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and dark red gums are all signs of heat related distress. If your pet is panting uncontrollably or collapses, take the animal to your veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinary hospital immediately.




It’s peach time in the Midwest!  Pluck them fresh off the trees, buy at your local farmers’ markets or in the grocery store.  Your freshest bet is to go local.  Michigan is known for its cherries, blueberries and apples but peaches were the first locally commercial crop.  Click here for a list of where you can find peaches fresh off the farm.


  1. Avoid rock hard peaches, they were picked too early and peaches don’t get sweeter in time
  2. Look for smooth unwrinkled skin with no blemishes or brown spots
  3. Leave at room temp for a couple of days to soften then store in fridge
  4. Peaches will keep in fridge for 3-5 days 

Can them, freeze them, grill them, eat them fresh.  Peaches are a good source of potassium, vitamins A & C, and only about 70 calories.  Here are eleven recipes from the New York Times, including one for that all-time favorite, peach cobbler.

Got a favorite peach recipe?  Share it here!