Amy SmileyAmy Smiley, Age 62

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU

I spent most of my life in California, with a short stint in Sweden in the 1970s. My degrees are in Chemical Engineering and I worked in the biotech industry once I got out of graduate school. I loved working in such a new field at the time. As the family grew, I decided to quit my paid job and stay home with the children. As time went on I realized I needed a creative outlet and took up Plein air painting (with the same fantastic friend who introduced me to Teresa’s classes!). After my family and friends, I love the outdoors, science, gardening, and art.

WHEN DID YOU BEGIN SESSIONS WITH TERESA?

I started classes with Teresa in 2012 and have continued with them ever since. Teresa’s Pilates classes are a priority for me because of the physical and mental benefits they provide. I have celiac disease, which causes any number of inflammatory problems and Teresa’s classes are essential to my ability to manage those issues. When something has to fall off my plate it won’t be Teresa’s class!

 

WHAT MOVEMENT OR PRINCIPLE HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST?

I’d like to choose just one movement or body dynamic principle that I learned from Teresa that has helped me but there are too many!  From ribs down to soup bowl to lifting your toes…I am always learning something new, even ten years later.  I think, for myself, as I continue to become more body aware, I continue to learn in each class.  And, as new issues develop as the years march on, I discover new fixes for them.  Everything that I have learned from Teresa applies not only in class but in other activities and my daily movement.  Not to mention that Teresa is so gracious with her time whenever anyone has a question about alignment or movement difficulties.  She always takes time to answer any questions and I learn from my questions and those of others.  What a fantastic tool!

 

Amy Smiley Testimonial for Aging Strong Pilates

WHAT WERE THE EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC ON YOUR MOVEMENT PRACTICE?

At the beginning of the pandemic, I dropped the gym and in-person classes.  Although we stayed active, I really missed the benefit and connection of group exercise classes.  I worried about how well I would maintain mobility and strength without the motivation and guidance that Teresa provides.  When Teresa opened her remote classes I jumped right in and was so grateful! Now that some degree of normalcy is returning, having the option of in-person and virtual classes is even better than before.

I absolutely love the energy and camaraderie in the in-person classes.  They are a tonic for the soul.  I can’t think of a single class where I haven’t had a good laugh for one reason or another.  I missed that tremendously until in-person became available again.  But it’s also great to have access to the class online if I can’t make it in person and to have the videos afterward.

 

A pain in the neck can be an annoying problem. I taught 2 techniques to “free up your neck in my FB Live in our Private Aging Strong Pilates Facebook community.      Watch it here!    (If you haven’t joined our group, you will need to join the group in order to watch.     (Don’t worry — no spam)    

In the meantime, try these tips for a healthy neck

1. Chin Tuck

When you drive, use the headrest to stretch the back of your neck out as pictured. Think of pressing the base of your head into the headrest, and that will drop your chin and stretch the muscles at the back of your neck.  When pushing the base of your head back, you’ll experience a stretch behind your neck. This is a great exercise for correcting forward head syndrome, which is rampant in our society.

2. Know which way is up

Grasp a good-sized clump of hair at the crown of your head and gently pull back and up, allowing your chin to angle downward in a relaxed way. When pulling the tuft of hair from the crown of your head, your head will align, the chin will drop slightly, and you’ll feel a stretch behind your neck. People often make the mistake of thinking that standing tall involves lifting the chin. Know which way is up!

3. Keep the spine aligned

a) When sleeping on your side at night, use a pillow that supports correct alignment with the rest of your spine. You don’t want your head tilted up or flopped down off your spine.
(b) When bending, such as to pick something up, do not lead with your chin, as this encourages a forward head position.
Keep your head in alignment with your spine, as seen below.
The feedback of the dowel promotes ideal positioning.

4. Check your foundation


The root of many neck problems is in the pelvis, the foundation for your entire spine.
(a) Sit with your Sitz bones pointed straight down, not tucked under.
(b) Stand with your soup in the imaginary pelvic bowl, neither spilling behind you (a tucked position) nor spilling in front (a swayback). Your ribs are relaxed, not collapsed. 

 

5. Roll your shoulders back and down

Periodically throughout the day, and as preparation for driving and keyboarding, roll your shoulders and let them settle back and down into a healthy position. Having your shoulders back and down helps your trapezius muscle keep a healthy length, which helps your neck.

 

6. Use your muscles and spare your joints

(a) When walking, engage your buttock (gluteal) muscles to soften your landing. You don’t want your neck (or any of your weight-bearing structures) to experience an earthquake with every step you take. Bonus: making every step a rep will give you a well-toned behind and will make your walk more graceful.

(b) If you are jogging or riding in a bumpy bus, imagine you are carrying a significant weight on your head and push up against it with the crown of your head. You will be engaging your longus colli muscle and sparing your neck discs and nerves from unnecessary wear and tear.

 

I teach you two techniques with a towel to liberate your neck in this video here!    You’ll need to join the Aging Strong Pilates private community to view.

Picture of Teresa's hybrid Pilates classIn Pilates, you’ll often gain optimal results from an exercise when you make your movements smaller rather than larger.  You’ll also gain more when you focus on the principles of Pilates: Concentration, Control, Centering, Breath, Precision, and Flow. It’s this attention to detail that makes Pilates a Mind-Body Practice.

As with most things in life, “less is more.”  We live in a world where we drink from coffee cups large enough to fill our gas tanks, we eat muffins capable of feeding a family of four, fast food orders are supersized, and Costco supplies us with enough peanut butter to last for years.

Bigger is not always better.

According to Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, “Thanks in part to the pandemic, many people’s exercise priorities have shifted from intense, calorie-burning workouts to activities that also foster a mind-body connection.”

Is Pilates as Good as Everyone Says?

The strength and flexibility workout is having a moment.

What can — and can’t — it do for us?     Enjoy this recent illuminating NYTimes article.

  • How do I view your offerings and register?
    • 2 ways to get there. Go directly to www.BoneSmartPilates.as.me or go to my website BoneSmartPilates.com and navigate to Group Virtual Classes from the “Classes” pull-down tab. That will redirect you to BoneSmartPilates.as.me which is my landing page for registering.
    • From there you can see all the different categories of classes and register for what you want.
  • What classes do you offer?
    • Currently, I offer a 1 hr Standing Strong Pilates class that includes both weight-bearing and mat work. In addition, I teach the following 30 min classes: Foam Roller Release, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), Bootie Barre, Superpowers (strength training with hand weights), and Restorative Pilates
  • Who is the target audience of your classes?
    • Typically those of you 50 and above that want to age strong, be challenged, and be safe.  All classes are designed by a licensed PT with bone safety and bone-building in mind.
  • What if I can’t make a class that I registered for?  
    • Just email me (teresa@pilateswithteresa.com) and I’ll send you the recording preferably before the class occurs so I make sure I record it.
  • Can I just register and receive the recording?
    • If you take the class live, the recording is an additional cost (1/2 the price of class) If you’re not taking the class live, you’re entitled to the recording with no additional charge
  • Can I get a consultation on what classes are appropriate for me?
  • What’s my best value in signing up for classes?
    • There are 2 options: The following option at $180 saves you $20 over purchasing single classes and you can mix and match 30-minute and 60-minute classes The 10-20 class group pass
    • This option at $95 saves you $5 over purchasing single classes and you can also mix and match 30-minute and 60-minute classes. The 5-10 class group pass
  • If I purchase a Discount Bundle of Virtual Classes am I limited to one type of class?
    • No, you are free to mix and match any 30-minute or 60-minute class until your credit is used up.
  • Might my Discount Bundle of Virtual Classes expire on me before I can use them?
    • I build in a 6-month expiration for all bundles which is typically ample to take your classes. If you run out of time I’ll always extend your pass. My goal is to help you experience the physical and mental benefits of a consistent movement practice.

  • Do I have to be seen on video when I take class?
    • No,  you can keep your camera off. If I can see you, I do make a point of offering both general and specific cues and corrections in a safe environment with no judgment.
  • Do the recordings show all the participants?
    • No, the recordings I send to those who request only have presenter view so you’ll just see me demonstrating.
  • Must I have prior Pilates experience?
    • The classes are mixed level-beginners are always welcome.
  • What classes can you just sign up for 1 class at a time and not a whole series?
    • My Sunday Standing Strong Pilates and all my 30-minute class offerings can be purchased one at a time.  In the fall and spring, I offer a Tuesday morning hybrid (in-person and virtual) series that requires a purchase commitment for the whole series. The class builds incrementally each week on the previous class. Everyone automatically receives a recording with the hybrid class so if you miss it, you can take the class at your convenience, and if you took it live you can repeat it.
  • Any hints for navigating the online registration process?
    • Definitely, create an account with a password and always “log-in” when you register for classes.  That makes it easy to see your upcoming classes and view how much you have left in your account.
    • View the following video tutorials if you need a little extra help

It’s easy to assume that someone frail won’t have the strength to lift weights. I ask you to remember that adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”  This is true of your muscles and bones. Contrary to what you might think, lifting weights for weak bones is a good thing!

yes you should lift weights if you have osteoporosis

What are the Key Points?

It’s all about proper dosage (weight amount and reps) as well as proper alignment and breathing. Everyone, no matter your age, can benefit significantly from resistance training.

  • Research references strengthening your back muscles (spine extensors) to strengthen bone and prevent spinal fractures. (1)
  • Research also points to the effectiveness of squats for building hip bone mineral density. The key is to emphasize rapid initiation of the concentric portion of the squat.(1) This will build power.
  • This concept can be generalized to most strength training moves (think biceps strengthening-quick on the concentric (bending) portion and slow on the eccentric (lengthening) portion.

On a side note, I recommend wearing foot coverings when lifting weights (like tennis shoes). This will protect your feet should a weight slip out of your hands.

 

lifting weights safely with osteoporosisWhat are the Benefits of Weight Training?

Weight training, more than any other exercise, can help strengthen your muscles and bones, maintain and improve posture, hone your balance, reduce pain, and prevent osteoporosis-related falls and fractures.

And as you become stronger, you’ll notice the aches and pains associated with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis often begin to subside. My clients and patients often report that they feel considerably better and stronger over time, once they’ve added a few weights into their daily routine.

 

 

 

Why does Lifting Weights Work?

Bone mass decreases as we age, so lifting weights can help strengthen the bones and restore lost mass or help minimize loss. (2)  When the tendons of muscles pull on their attached bone, it stimulates bone to grow. You actually want your bones to weigh more because heavier bones are less subject to the brittleness and fractures associated with osteoporosis.

The other benefit with weight training is that the stronger your leg and hip muscles are, the more stable and steady you’ll be. If you do happen to trip, you might catch yourself with your hands.  Strong arm and core muscles can help decelerate your fall, mitigating injury to your knees or hips.

Those with osteoporosis should focus on exercises to strengthen the back, hips and wrists since, according to the Mayo Clinic, these are the areas most damaged by bone loss and at greatest risk for fracture.

 

How often should you weight train?

Resistance training should be done optimally two or three times per week. Each session should include exercises to strengthen the hips and legs, trunk and arm muscles, and each exercise should be performed at least eight to 10 times.

 

I teach a twice-weekly strength training class called “Superpowers”. It’s a 30-minute time-efficient strength training class using 2 sets of hand weights, one light and one heavier set based on your current fitness level. All levels are welcome and movements are carefully designed to be spine safe, bone safe and bone-building!

 

Join me every Monday at 9 am and Friday at 11:30 am Pacific Time on Zoom for Superpowers and level up your muscle and bone health.

Register here: https://bonesmartpilates.as.me/Superpowers

 

References

  1. Sinaki et al. Stronger Back Muscles Reduce Vertebral Fractures, Bone Vol. 30, No. 6 June 2002:836–841
  2. Mosti MP, Kaehler N, Stunes AK, Hoff J, Syversen U. Maximal strength training in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Oct;27(10):2879-86. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318280d4e2. PMID: 23287836.
  3. Zamoscinska M, Faber IR, BĂĽsch D. Do Older Adults With Reduced Bone Mineral Density Benefit From Strength Training? A Critically Appraised Topic. J Sport Rehabil. 2019 Dec 12;29(6):833-840. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2019-0170. PMID: 31835241.

Click here to sign up for classes.   

Virtual Class Schedule Change:

Starting Monday, May 16, 2022, we’re replacing our Monday Standing Strong Pilates class with two 30-minute choices.

Superpowers at 9 am PST and our NEW Restorative Pilates at 9:30 am PST. This gives you the option to do just one or both workouts.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a map of my virtual class offerings with brief descriptions so you know what to expect.   

Standing Strong Pilates

Research cites the importance of weight-bearing exercise to build both muscle and bone. About half of this class is done standing, emphasizing strength and balance. The second half includes bone and spine safe Matwork. Exercises are done on your back, side, belly, and all 4’s to maximize your strength in all body orientations.

 

What you’ll need: An inflatable core ball, a long resistance band, ½ tennis ball, and a myofascial release ball aka purple pickle.

 

 

 

 

Superpowers

Designed for the active ager, this 30-minute Strength Training class uses both hand weights and body weight. We’ll target upper and lower body strength with core and posture underscored. Everyone works at their own level to stay effective and safe.

What You’ll Need: 2 sets of weights (or cans/water bottles, Lighter weights are typically 1-3 lbs. Heavier would be roughly 5-10 lbs.

For optimal strength results, it’s suggested you take this strength class twice a week.

 

 

 

NEW Restorative Pilates

Incorporating standing and matwork, the focus of this class is on gentle strengthening exercises and movements that promote mobile flexible bodies. This 30 min flow class will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the day.

What You’ll Need: Pilates inflatable core ball and a long resistance band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Active Aging Bootie Barre

Strong glutes are more than pure aesthetics. They help keep your back pain-free.

This 30 min. low impact class will Improve your hip, leg, glut, and core strength. (no ballet barre or dance background needed)

Build endurance to enjoy your daily activities with ease.

What You’ll Need: a chair, an inflatable core ball, and at times, a resistance band or loop. Bone safe, spine safe!

 

 

 

 

Foam Roller Release Class

The perfect antidote to prolonged sitting, tight muscles, and accumulated stress.

Focus: Knead out knots and promote a fluid, flexible body.

What You’ll Need: Foam roller 6 in diameter by 36 in long.  All exercises are bone safe. Calming low-intensity class.

 

 

 

 

 

HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training

Burn fat and boost your strength and cardiovascular fitness with this fun Dance inspired 30-minute HIIT class. Modifications are given so you can work at your own pace.

Added perk, this class builds neural connections boosting your brainpower. We string together movements that challenge your memory and coordination.

What You’ll Need: Tennis shoes, a water bottle and a sense of fun.

 

 

 

 

Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that alleviates tightness and trigger points (aka muscle knots) by using your body’s weight against a foam roller. The benefits are many.

 

 

BENEFITS OF FOAM ROLLING:
  • Increases blood flow and elasticity of muscle tissue, joints, and fascia, the body’s connective tissue, which helps with mobility and overall well-being.
  • Reduces inflammation that occurs during the muscle repair process.
  • Helps injury prevention by maintaining muscle length and alleviating tension and tightness.
  • Releases tension promoting relaxation.
FOAM ROLLING PRO-TIP: 

Click to view the video. If you are new to the Aging Strong Pilates Facebook Community, you will have to join the group to see the video.

For all the moves, you’ll want to stop wherever it feels tight or tender. Breathe allowing the pressure and stillness to create a release. You’ll note the benefit immediately. When you experience that release, inhale, and then as you exhale, slowly roll your way to another tight spot and repeat.

DEMONSTRATIONS:

Want to see some demonstrations of key roller exercises? Watch the video on our Aging Strong Pilates private FB page where I demonstrate effective techniques to melt away your stress and your knots. You can also ask your questions there. I moderate daily.

 

HOW ELSE CAN YOU USE THE ROLLER?

The foam roller is not just for relieving knots and tension. It can also be used to increase the challenge to certain muscles and improve your postural stabilizers which are important for balance.

Imagine lying on your back with bent knees, the soles of your feet on a roller that’s perpendicular to your body.  Doing bridging this way increases the challenge to the muscles in the back of your legs because your feet are on an unstable surface that, without adequate hamstring firing, will roll away from you.

Here’s another scenario:

Lying vertically on the roller with your head to your buttocks supported by the roller- similar to the photo on top, knees bent, feet and fingertips on the floor.  Challenge your postural stabilizers by marching in place – lifting and lowering one bent knee. Notice how your balance systems kick into high gear to keep you from falling off the roller.

YOUTUBE FOR ROLLER AND MORE

My Youtube channel “BoneSmart Pilates” has many free videos that support your movement practice. Check out this one which includes 6 Great Foam Roller Exercises to Start Your Day!

 

We are bombarded through media, with anti-aging approaches like botox, plastic surgery, facial creams, and expensive supplements.  I personally think the concept of anti-aging is BS.  We are all aging every day.  If you actually stop aging, you are …dead.   I prefer to age, embracing every wrinkle as a testament to the privilege of still being here and with it, hopefully, some added wisdom on top.  Now how we age is a choice.  Everyone makes the choices that feel right for them but I want to share with you an additional approach you can add, that works from the “inside out”.

MOVEMENT HELPS

Did you know that Pilates can make you look and feel younger?  This is all without expensive creams, needles, or surgery.  The only side effects? Improved flexibility, balance, strength, and posture! Exercise also improves your skin and complexion. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. We lose about 1% of our leg strength and about ½ a percent of our bone density yearly after we hit 50.  Pilates slows down the muscle and bone loss that occurs with aging.

3 WAYS TO CONNECT and AGE STRONG

Do you prefer to be guided in your movement practice with skill and a keen eye toward the active ager?

The local Aging Strong Pilates® class that I teach in Los Altos, CA,  my DVD series AGING STRONG Pilates® and my Zoom Virtual Classes all focus on those areas at risk of decline as we age. Those areas include the hips and legs (to keep us strong, mobile, and doing what we love), the spine (to prevent slouching/hyperkyphosis), and balance (to prevent falls).

TIPS TO FINDING A TRAINED PILATES TEACHER

If you want to find a Pilates teacher local to you, search for one that is certified through the Pilates Method Alliance  (is an NCPT-Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher) and who has the skills to customize a program to your abilities. If you have certain challenges like osteopenia, osteoporosis, herniated discs, stenosis, joint replacements (the list goes on) your instructor should be aware of the movement contraindications for each diagnosis and be able to create a program that keeps you challenged yet safe.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Remember- 1x a week is helpful but consistency is key in the Aging Strong formula. Improvement is dose-responsive. The more classes you take, the stronger, more balanced, and agile you’ll be. If you can’t get to more than one class, make sure your instructor gives you an individualized home exercise program designed specifically for you. (and try my DVDs if you haven’t already)

I believe in interspersing Pilates with the other movement activities in your life that bring you joy. For example,  I love dancing, hiking, and walking my dog Chip.

Please share in the comments section below, what movement activities raise your spirits and your core temperature!

 

 

 

Written by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, Licensed PT and NCPT (Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher

Creator of the BoneSmart Pilates® Method and acclaimed DVD series

Pilates Studio owner since 1998 melding PT and Pilates in her Mountain View, CA private practice.

Ambassador for American Bone Health

Learn more at www.BoneSmartPilates.com

Getting yourself up and moving in the morning isn’t always easy. You might find that on some days, you wake up feeling achy and full of tension. This could be caused by inactivity the previous day, having worked on a laptop for long uninterrupted periods of time, overdoing a particular activity, or maybe just from sleeping in a weird position.

Please accept this holiday gift of the Fab 5 Morning Stretches to help release tension, relieve achiness, and get you moving with ease in the morning.

Inspired by nature, research, and my own body’s morning crankiness, I’m sharing what I found works well. By all means, add any of your favorite stretches in if you have the time.

I curated this list to ensure efficiency (short and sweet), effectiveness, and achievability.

 

You’ll notice in the video I mention pandiculation. Besides being a cool sounding word, it is an integral part of our sleep wake cycle.

 

According to Walusinski (2006), Pandiculation is the involuntary stretching of the soft tissues, which occurs in most animal species and is associated with transitions between cyclic biological behaviors, especially the sleep-wake rhythm.

 

Yawning is considered a special case of pandiculation that affects the musculature of the mouth, respiratory system and upper spine (Baenninger, 1997).

 

Yawning is probably one of the best ways to stretch in the morning.  That’s why I incorporated a yawn in two of my Fab 5 Stretches. It’s easy to stimulate a yawn, except when you’re filming yourself!

 

Here’s what’s working and stretching during a yawn. When you examine it closely, it’s a pretty comprehensive list!

  • Lungs – Yawning sucks in an increased load of air to boost the oxygen circulating in your body instantly kick starting your energy and vitality.
  • Eyes – When you yawn it’s amazing, your eyes squeeze shut, contracting the circular muscles around them moisten your eyeballs so when you open them your vision brightens sending a jolt to that region of your brain that deals with consciousness, self-reflection, memory retrieval and alertness!
  • Mouth – yawning stretches your mouth open, your nostrils flare and stretch all your facial muscles including your palate, lips, forehead, chin all from the inside out.
  • Ears – remarkably you’re also stretching your ears inside and out when you yawn.
  • Neck – The act of yawning causes you to involuntarily tilt your head back. This opens your throat effectively stretching the front and back of your neck.
  • Torso – When you draw in that breath, your diaphragm expands, your ribcage widens 3 dimensionally, your back arches so all your vertebrae get a wake up nudge, you trigger those large back muscles, your tummy stretches waking up your stomach, and these movements start to massage your liver, your intestines and your bladder!

 

If you think in terms of kinetic energy, a yawn stretches your body like a rubber band. All the connective tissue pulls, then you release. Your body stretches to its “end feel”, innately knowing that’s as far as it can go without causing harm. It’s arguably the safest stretch you can do!  It’s like nature’s little adrenaline shot to help wake you up.

 

So, yawn your way to a great day!

 

Happy Hands and Feet Exercise Cheat Sheet

View the Video for details

 

HANDS

Roll Back and Forth with

  • Palm Up
  • Knife Edge
  • Palm Down

Squeeze and Release

 

FEET

Roll Back and Forth Lightly

Press and Roll Deeply

In and Out (inversion/eversion)

Squeeze and lift

 

 

Have you found navigating my online booking system challenging?
I created these short video tutorials to make everything easy peasy, crystal clear!
  1. First view the “Overview for All” before clicking the video for the category of class that interests you.
  2. Bookmark my scheduling home page BoneSmartPilates.as.me for easy access
  3. If you prefer using mobile devices, download the free app “Acuity Scheduling Client” from the App store. My sisters find it easy to navigate.
  4. Always Log In whenever you’re on the site. If  you haven’t created an account you can Create an Account Here