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Flat Belly Pilates is making things easier for you by delivering fitness classes at the time and location you need in the Atlanta, GA area.

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The Flat Belly Pilates blog is filled with helpful health and fitness information, practice tips and tutorials.

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A Yogi's Guide to Pilates

Flat Belly Pilates

A Yogi's Guide to Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are both mind-body practices that will improve your strength, balance and flexibility so what can yogis gain from practicing Pilates too?

There are many benefits of practicing Pilates that include: 
Improved your strength and flexibility
Greater stability
Improved posture and balance
Increased well-being and state of mind
Improved core strength
Increased flexibility, balance and posture
Reduced stress
Alleviated back pain
Convenient exercise regimen
Flattened belly and toned body! 

So, where do you begin? I’ve laid it all out for you in this guide with tips to help you prepare for and get the most out of your first (or next) Pilates session. This guide includes a Pilates routine for yogis who want to practice on their own and get studio results. I have compiled some of my favorite exercises for you and described step-by-step instructions with color illustrations for beginner and intermediate poses along with helpful modifications and challenging progressions so you can use this guide as you advance in your practice. You’ll also find helpful tips for safe and consistent practice. This book also includes a glossary that answers all your burning questions about Pilates. Who was Joseph Pilates? What is Contrology? What does my instructor mean when she says “grape space”? What is tabletop position? You’ll find all the answers here. 

The information in this guide allows you to learn at your own pace, practice comfortably in your home, tailor the poses to your individual needs, enjoy the many benefits that come from Pilates and get that flat belly! 

Here’s what you’ll get when you purchase this guide: 
Challenging belly-flattening routine
Easy-to-read, step-by-step instructions
More than 50 color illustrations
Guidance on proper Pilates form
Helpful modifications
Challenging progressions as you advance in your practice
Practice tips for creating a Pilates studio in your home
Pilates Glossary

How to Survive Your First (or Next) Pilates Class

Flat Belly Pilates

How to Survive Your Next Pilates Class

Understandably, there can be some anxiety around your first Pilates session. Don't worry. We've laid it all out for you in this how-to text with FAQs from new clients and helpful tips to help you prepare for and get the most out of your first (or next) Pilates session. Click the button below to download "How to Survive Your First Pilates Class" and 10-minute workout.


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How to Prepare for Your First Pilates Session

Flat Belly Pilates

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New to Pilates? Keep reading to find out exactly what you need to know for your first session.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
During your Pilates practice, you should wear activewear that feels comfortable and allows you to move easily such as a tank top and a pair of leggings.

WHAT DO I NEED?
You’ll need a great “sticky” mat for practice. A sticky mat is an exercise mat with non- stick grip that prevents you from sliding during practice. These roll-up mats are also available with extra padding for individuals who have back issues or prefer more cushion during rolling exercises. For your appointment with Flat Belly Pilates, we make it as easy as possible for you and will provide you with everything that you need including a mat and any other equipment that will be used during your session. All you have to do is show up.

WHAT'S A PILATES SESSION LIKE?
During your session, your instructor will guide you through a series of 20-25 poses with verbal cues and physical adjustments. During your sessions, feel free to speak up and ask questions like “Where should I feel the work?” or “How can I relieve the tension in my neck?” You should never feel strain or pain in any pose. If you feel an exercise is too strenuous, ask your instructor for a modification. She should have multiple options that are safe and effective.

SHOULD I TALK TO MY INSTRUCTOR ABOUT MY HEALTH?
Do you have an injury or a physical condition such as pregnancy, high blood pressure or recent surgery that might affect your ability to practice? You may feel that those issues are private but your teacher needs to know to guide you through a session safely by offering modifications to avoid putting stress on the affected area.

HOW MANY TIMES PER WEEK SHOULD I PRACTICE PILATES?
Two to three times per week is recommended. When practiced consistently, benefits of Pilates may include a refreshing mind-body workout, development of strong core muscles, improved posture, increased flexibility, and decreased stress.

WHAT IF I NEED TO RESCHEDULE?
In honor of your time and your instructor’s, please be on time and ready to workout at the time of the appointment. If you need to reschedule an appointment with Flat Belly Pilates, please do so within 48 hours to prevent the loss of your deposit.


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What You Need to Know about Pilates Now

Flat Belly Pilates

image.jpeg

New to Pilates? Keep reading to find out what the buzz is all about!

WHAT IS PILATES?
Pilates is a form of exercise that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. He called his method Contrology which refers to the way the exercises encourage the use of the mind to control the muscles. These exercises focus on awareness of breath, alignment of the spine, and strength of the core postural muscles.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PILATES?
There are many benefits to Pilates that may include improved core strength; increased flexibility and strength; and improved posture, balance and stability; flatten belly and toned body; and increased well-being and state of mind.

IS PILATES JUST FOR WOMEN?
Did you know that Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates for men? When he first opened his New York studio, many of his clients were men who were boxers, wrestlers and other athletes of varying disciplines. Despite its slow, careful movements, Pilates isn’t just for women. Many men including professional athletes benefit from practicing Pilates. It is a challenging workout that emphasizes the importance of core stability, strength, balance and flexibility to prevent injury and improve athletic performance. Many men will be surprised at how sore they are after a Pilates session. Pilates is one of the most challenging and rewarding workouts given how it can transform your body.

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Pilates is not suited for everyone. Before practicing Pilates, discuss your medical history and fitness goals with your physician so that you can make an informed decision about your health.
If you choose to practice Pilates, remember these tips for practicing safely.

First, breath is an important part of your Pilates practice. It involves inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Full inhalations and exhalations are important because they aid in movement control during difficult abdominal exercises. Avoid holding your breath at any point during your workout. As you inhale, breathe in slowly and allow the air to fill the upper part of your chest to your ribs to your lower back. Take care to inhale without allowing your chest or shoulders to rise. As you exhale, let go of the breath with control. You can also try to practice this breathing exercise off the mat when you have a moment while driving in traffic, working at your desk or taking the dog for a walk.

Many beginners unknowingly limit their breathing when they become tense in their upper body and face. Shoulder and facial tension can limit complete exhalations, preventing you from expelling carbon dioxide. You'll be less efficient and tire much faster. Holding your breath can also raise blood pressure and, as a result, you may feel lightheaded or even pass out.

Never hold your breath in any pose. Be aware of how you are breathing throughout your practice and use it as a guide. Are you holding your breath? Can you hear your breath as you breathe in and out completely? Are you inhaling and exhaling at the appropriate times? Relax your shoulders and face and try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Be sure to use full inhalations and exhalations to aid movement control as you move through challenging poses. Breathe out as you exert effort and breathe in when the pose is less challenging. If you feel your breath become jagged, that's your cue to back off and try a modification. Ask your instructor for a modification if you feel a pose is too strenuous. She should have multiple options that are safe and effective.

Second, neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when the body is in proper alignment. To find neutral spine, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body. Inhale and as you exhale push every back bone into the mat. Inhale and as you exhale and arch your back allowing for enough room to place your hands under your back. Again, exhale and imprint every bone into the mat. Inhale and arch your back. You will find neutral spine somewhere between these poses. When you’re in neutral spine, there will be only enough space for a grape or two or three fingers in the hollow space (also known as the “grape space”) under your lower back. Try to maintain neutral spine throughout your practice.

Third, the powerhouse primarily consists of your core postural muscles including your abdominal and back muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body. Inhale and allow your belly button to drop towards your spine. Then, pull in your abdominal muscles and breathe normally. Your powerhouse should always be pulled in and up, in this way, like you’re trying to pull on a tight pair of jeans.

Finally, move only in a range of motion that you can control. For example, if you find that it is difficult to make large circles during the One Leg Circle exercise, try drawing small circles the size of a dinner plate on the ceiling.

You should never feel strain or pain in any pose. If you feel an exercise is too strenuous, ask your Pilates instructor for a modification. She should have several options for safe and effective practice.

That’s it! Follow these tips for safe and effective Pilates practice. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to Flat Belly Pilates by commenting below or connecting on Twitter or Instagram.


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#AskFBP: Help! My legs fall asleep when sitting cross legged.

Flat Belly Pilates

HELP! MY LEGS FALL ASLEEP WHEN SITTING CROSS LEGGED. 

I would recommend a few yoga poses but begin with a warmup or after your usual workout. You may like to try Half Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Runner's Lunge/Lizard and Garland Pose (Malasana) for more open hips. Try to hold the poses without fidgeting. Work up to holding it for five breaths (about 60 seconds). Progress takes patience and time.

#AskFBP: Can you recommend a non-slip mat?

Flat Belly Pilates

CAN YOU RECOMMEND A NON-SLIP MAT?

At a recent yoga conference, I had the opportunity to try Zebra flooring and I was really impressed. It is larger than a yoga mat, looks like regular flooring but has tons of cushion underneath. If you're looking for a more mobile yoga mat that provides cushion and won't slip, try Manduka's pro mat. I have their lite version. 

#AskFBP: I need serious help with my hamstrings. Where do I start?

Flat Belly Pilates

I NEED SERIOUS HELP WITH MY HAMSTRINGS. WHERE DO I START?

Try Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana) and Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Feel free to bend your knees during these poses. Keep your abs engaged. With every inhale, lengthen your spine and reach the crown of your head forward. With every exhale, fold a bit deeper. 

You may also like to try Half Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Triangle (Trikonasana) and Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana) for your hamstrings. 

Progress takes patience and time. Be humble enough to respect the process, practice frequently and you will make progress. Stay the course.


Got a question? Post a comment below, pop over to Twitter or Instagram, or send a quick note to Flat Belly Pilates.

3 Tips to Improve Your Fitness Now

Flat Belly Pilates

Improve your fitness now

Recently someone asked me what was my best fitness tip and that got me thinking. Narrowing it down to just one piece of advice was difficult so I'm sharing three tips with you.

PREPARE

Being well-prepared will prevent you from being at the mercy of your surroundings. Having a plan for possible pitfalls will make it easier to stick with your healthy habits and fitness routine. As the saying goes, "failing to plan is preparing to fail."

Grab a copy of Press Play Pilates to maintain your fitness routine anywhere in the world.

PRACTICE

There is no magic pill, just practice, patience and progress. Remember, it's called "practice" for a reason. Never rush or force the process and be humble enough to practice frequently to get to where you want to be. Focus on foundational poses as it will help to train your body and mind as you advance in your practice. You’ll also lay a solid foundation, build strength and increase flexibility for more advanced poses.

Get a chaturanga checkup and build a solid foundation as you advance in your practice.

MEET THE NEIGHBORS

Meet the neighbors. Social networks have a great influence on your healthy (and unhealthy) lifestyle habits. Meet a few like-minded folks who will support your healthy habits and motivate you to be your best. 

Connect with Flat Belly Pilates on Instagram and Twitter.


What's your best fitness tip? Share it in the comments below!

Comeback Kid

Flat Belly Pilates

There are many reasons why you may take time off from your practice but, when you’re ready, how do you make a safe return to the mat? Take a look at the reasons below before you step on the mat.

Reason #1: Loss of motivation

If you've lost your motivation, treat yourself to new pair of leggings or attend a fun workshop to reignite your passion with like-minded peers and prevent burnout.

Reason #2: Injury

Return with caution. After getting the okay from your physician, alternate practice and rest days. Use pain as a guide. Take it easy and if you feel pain, back off. This approach will keep you from quickly sidelining yourself again.

Reason #3: Recent birth

After you receive clearance from your physician, return to the mat and focus on hip and, pelvic floor and core-strengthening exercises.

Reason #4: Weight gain

Acknowledge the weight gain but don’t dwell on it. Use the weight as an opportunity for change, eat a nutrient-rich diet and practice often.

Five Things Guys Need to Know About Pilates Now

Flat Belly Pilates

Here are five things guys need to know about Pilates right now.

1. Pilates was developed by a man for men. It was designed by Joseph Pilates, a former boxer and gymnast to rehabilitate wounded internees during World War I. When Joseph Pilates first opened his New York studio, many of his clients were boxers, wrestlers and other athletes of varying disciplines. Despite its subtle, careful movements, Pilates isn’t just for women. Many men including professional athletes benefit from practicing Pilates.

2. It’s a challenging workout that emphasizes the importance of core stability, strength, balance and flexibility to prevent injury and improve athletic performance. Many men will be surprised how sore they are after a Pilates session.

3. Pilates is great for developing smaller, supporting muscles that are often neglected in daily life and weightlifting. Developing these areas increases strength, flexibility and range of motion. Many men who have tight shoulders, backs, hips and hamstrings will find welcome relief in these areas.

4. You’ll never skip leg day. Pilates is a full-body workout that will work everything from the top of your head to your tips of your toes.

5. With consistent practice, the benefits of Pilates include increased strength and flexibility, improved posture and balance, an overall toned body, and reduced stress. 

Flat Belly Pilates offers private classes and tailors each session to the client’s individual needs. During your session, your instructor will guide you through a series of 20-25 poses with verbal cues and physical adjustments specifically for your needs whether you are a beginner who wants an introduction to the practice, someone hoping to learn new poses at your own pace, or and advanced student seeking to develop their skills.

Since many men have tight shoulder, backs, hips and legs, we take time to properly warm up the body. The first part of the session is spent warming up in preparation for the deep stretching, strengthening and balancing poses where clients are encouraged to work up a sweat and find their edge. As they advance in their practice, clients are challenged with various Pilates equipment including weighted balls, fitness rings and resistance bands so that they continue to make progress towards their fitness goals.

New to Pilates? Find out how to survive your first (or next) Pilates class with this free guide!

Flat Belly Pilates offers 50-minute private Pilates and yoga sessions for individuals, duets and groups. Sessions start at $70. Session packages of five and ten classes are also available.


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5 Essential Tips As You Advance in Your Practice

Flat Belly Pilates

1. Talk to your instructor

If you have an injury or a physical condition such as a pregnancy, high blood pressure or recent surgery that might affect your ability to practice, let your instructor know. You may feel that those issues are private ones but your teacher needs to know in order to guide you through a session safely and appropriately. Your instructor can provide advice for you and pose modifications to avoid putting stress on the affected area. It's important to let your teacher know what's going on with you for safe, effective practice. Also, whether or not you are injured or just tired and/or stiff, skip poses you cannot or should not do.

2. Focus on foundational poses

Focus on foundational poses as it will help to train your body and mind as you advance in your practice. You’ll also lay a solid foundation, build strength and increase flexibility for more advanced poses.

3. Practice frequently

Our bodies change from day to day for many reasons and we must work with your body where it is today. Remember, it's called "practice" for a reason. Never rush or force the process and be humble enough to practice frequently to get to where you want to be. When things become difficult, focus on your breath and remember your practice on the mat is practice for your life off the mat. That is where the real challenge begins! Focus on your breath and you will feel more at peace on and off your mat.

4. Take you rest days seriously

Rest days are just as important as your practice days because they assist in healing and preventing injury so take them seriously. They are great days to focus on meditation or reading more about Pilates and yoga.

5. Have fun

It’s only exercise! The more seriously you take it, the more ridiculous it becomes. Instead, have fun with it and enjoy yourself.


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7 Tips for Safe and Effective Pilates Practice

Flat Belly Pilates

Pilates is a mind-body exercise that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. He called his method Contrology which refers to the way the exercises encourage the use of the mind to control the muscles. This program focuses on awareness of breath, alignment of the spine, and strength of the core postural muscles. When practiced regularly, benefits of Pilates may include a refreshing mind-body workout, decreased stress, development of strong core muscles, improved posture and strength, and increased flexibility and agility.

If you choose to practice Pilates, remember these tips for practicing safely. 

  1. Consult your physician. Pilates is not suited for everyone. Before engaging in these exercises, please discuss your medical history and fitness goals with your physician so that you can make an informed decision about your health. 
  2. Prepare. During your Pilates practice, you should wear activewear that feels comfortable and allows you to move easily. You’ll also need a great “sticky” mat for practice. A sticky mat is an exercise mat with non-stick grip that prevents you from sliding during practice. These roll-up mats are also available with extra padding for individuals who have back issues or prefer more cushion during rolling exercises. 
  3. Breath is an important part of your Pilates practice. It involves inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Full inhalations and exhalations are important because they aid in movement control during difficult abdominal exercises. Avoid holding your breath at any point during your workout. As you inhale, breathe in slowly and allow the air to fill the upper part of your chest to your ribs to your lower back. Take care to inhale without allowing your chest or shoulders to rise. As you exhale, let go of the breath with control. You can also try to practice this breathing exercise off the mat when you have a moment while driving in traffic, working at your desk or taking the dog for a walk. 
  4. Neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when the body is in proper alignment. To find neutral spine, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body. Inhale and as you exhale push every back bone into the mat. Inhale and as you exhale and arch your back allowing for enough room to place your hands under your back. Again, exhale and imprint every bone into the mat. Inhale and arch your back. You will find neutral spine somewhere between these poses. When you’re in neutral spine, there will be only enough space for a grape or two or three fingers in the hollow space (also known as the “grape space”) under your lower back. Try to maintain neutral spine throughout your practice.
  5. The powerhouse primarily consists of your core postural muscles including your abdominal and back muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body. Inhale and allow your belly button to drop towards your spine. Then, pull in your abdominal muscles and breathe normally. Your powerhouse should always be pulled in and up, in this way, like you’re trying to pull on a tight pair of jeans.
  6. Move only in a range of motion that you can control. For example, if you find that it is difficult to make large circles during the One Leg Circle exercise, try drawing small circles the size of a dinner plate on the ceiling.
  7. You should never feel strain or pain in any pose. If you feel an exercise is too strenuous, ask your Pilates instructor for a modification. She should have several options for safe and effective practice.

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4 Genius Hacks For A Healthier Week

Flat Belly Pilates

Here’s a list of four hacks for a healthier week.

  1. Is your exercise routine feeling staid? Try these five ways to get a flat belly that are better than sit-ups. You’ll wish you knew about them sooner. Plus, see the new Flat Belly Pilates tutorials!

  2. What do you need to know for your first Pilates session? Find out how to survive it.

  3. Conquer the most challenging Pilates poses with one small change in your practice.

  4. Did you know that Pilates was developed for men? Here are a few other reasons why your boyfriend should try Pilates. It isn't just for women.

Got other questions about Pilates and yoga? Drop us a line and we’ll answer it in a future post.


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