Move of the Day: Heel Grab aka Double Leg Stretch

  
|| HEEL GRAB || aka Double Leg Stretch!

Robert Brace of D28 For Life, taught me one of his dance inspired core workout moves called the Heel Grab. In Pilates, we call this exercise Double Leg Stretch, that is part of the abdominal series also known as the Series of 5. This is a go-to move for toned abs!

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1 — Start by lying supine with the knees into the chest and arms along sides. Curl the head and shoulders off of the mat and engage the abdominal muscles by pulling the belly button in towards the spine.

2 — Inhale to extend the arms back and legs forward on a diagonal, keeping the head and shoulders lifted. Exhale to bend the knees in towards the chest as you grab the heels (or hug the knees).

  
3 — Repeat 8-12 repetitions, 1-3 sets.

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Modifications: If this exercise causes any lower back pain, modify the movement by shortening the range of motion. Have the arms and legs extend towards the ceiling rather than having the legs low and arms behind the head. You can also modify by keeping the legs in a tabletop position or having the knees bent with feet flat on the floor as you move the arms back and forward.

If you have any neck issues, rest your head on a pillow rather than having it lifted or place the hands behind the head for support and just perform the movement of the legs.

Chaturanga Tights by Athleta & Free-to-Be Bra by Lululemon

“Like” Pilates Angel on Facebook and follow me on Instagram @imyourangil to see more of my favorite moves!

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Street Style: Fall in NYC

  
According to Essence Magazine, my look is one of, “19 Fierce Fall Looks to Try.” On a casual Friday in Soho, this look is comfy, chic, and appropriate for teaching my Pilates clients and exploring the city in between.

Although I am very athletic, I have to admit that I do not typically wear workout attire or sneakers outside. However, I have decided that sneakers are cuter than bunions and more practical than heels for walking around NYC. I suppose I will have to look for more patent, animal printed, and studded pairs so I still feel girly lol.

The best part about this look is that it is affordable! All of these pieces are under $100 each. I even bought these cool sunglasses from a street vendor for just $7! See my outfit details below.

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Top: Necessary Clothing

Pants: Zara

Coat: H&M 

Sneakers: Steve Madden

Photo: Hannan Saleh for Essence Magazine

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Healthy Eats: Skinny Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

  
|| PUMPKIN || Pumpkin pie for breakfast?! Yes!!! With Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner, Fall is pumpkin season! Though a traditional pumpkin pie is high in calories and sugar, I made a healthier low calorie version of pumpkin pie as a smoothie. 

Pumpkin is rich in nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin A which promotes eye health, and fiber which contributes to weightloss. The Greek yogurt in this recipe also adds calcium, potassium, protein, and a creamy texture which makes this smoothie taste like you are having desert for breakfast!

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Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup organic pumpkin

– 1 frozen banana

– 1 cup vanilla almond milk

– 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt

– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

– 2 cubes of ice 

Directions:

1 — Blend all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy! (I use my Nutribullet)

Note: For a sweeter flavor, feel free to add a touch of honey or maple syrup. For more protein, add 1-2 scoops of your favorite protein powder. For more spice, you can increase the amount of pumpkin spice and cinnamon, and you can also add nutmeg.

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Move of the Day: Hundred

  
|| HUNDRED || Hundred is my move of the day and is a classical Pilates exercise that helps to tone your abs! Adding a set of 2lb dumbbells makes this move even more challenging for the core, and it will help to create lean, sexy arms too!

Benefits:

• Strengthens and tones the abdominals.

• Warms up the entire body and increases blood flow.

• Tones the arms and upper body.

• Coordinates breath with movement.

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1 — Start by lying supine with arms by the sides holding the dumbbells, and knees into the chest. Engage the abdominals by pulling the belly button in and curl the head and shoulders off the mat.
2 — Extend the legs out to a high diagonal with the heels together and toes apart in a Pilates “V.” Lift the arms above the level of the hips and begin pumping up and down vigorously, as you inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 counts.

3 — Repeat x10 and that makes 100!

4 — Hug the knees into your chest and lower the head and shoulders onto the mat. Move the head from side to side to relax the neck.

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Tips: Keep the body still as you pump the arms by engaging the abdominals throughout the exercise. For more of a challenge, lower the legs closer to the floor, but only as far as you can keep the abdominal engagement without arching the back.

Modifications: If you are a beginner, practice this exercise without dumbbells and start with the legs in a tabletop position, knees bent above the hips and feet lifted as high as the knees. If that is too challenging, you can also perform the exercise with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. 
If you have any neck issues, do this exercise with the head down and use a small pillow or towel for extra support if needed.

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Photo by Sherry Dubash at KZP

Tights by Splits59

“Like” Pilates Angel on Facebook and follow me on Instagram @imyourangil to see more of my favorite moves!

Street Style: Pilates-to-Park

  
An active lifestyle does not have to mean walking around in ugly gym clothes all day! To go from Pilates to a walk in the park, pair a bodysuit like this one from Splits59 with layers appropriate for Fall.

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Bodysuit: Splits59

Top: Necessary Clothing

Shorts: H&M

Jacket: Forever21

Scarf: H&M

Boots: Zara

Photo: Simon McDermott-Johnson

Makeup: Angela Boswell

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“Like” Pilates Angel on Facebook and follow me on Instagram @imyourangil to see more of my street style looks!

Reflection: Balance

  
|| B A L A N C E || Finding balance can be a challenge especially when you live in NYC. There is so much to take in as we walk and run through the city, that we sometimes have to block out the constant noise and chaos to find peace. 

Pilates and yoga help me to find balance amidst the chaos. In these disciplines I focus on my center, my breath, and I take time to be still. Less can indeed be more as my focus allows me to find a much needed balance.

Photo by Masha Creative for Nóli Yoga 2015 Collection http://www.noliyoga.com

“Like” Pilates Angel on Facebook and follow me on Instagram @imyourangil to see how I find balance!