AM Pilates Studio

Located in Las Vegas, NV USA 702-339-2809

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DIY (Do It Yourself) Stretching and Strengthening Routine!

AM Pilates & Posture:
Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine

*For your safety, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

 Tips For getting the most from your routine:

1. Warm Up 5-10 minutes before this stretching routine.

  •  Brisk Walk or Jog (treadmill or neighborhood)
  •  Jumping jacks, march in place
  •  Jog up and down the stairs
  •  Stationary Bike
  •  Dance! (This is probably the quickest way to warm up because your moving your whole body and keeping it guessing)
  •  A Warm Shower will also suffice IF you don’t have another option.

 2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds

 How to Breath:

A. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)

  • Back of the ribs should expand
  • Allow the chest to rise,
  • The front of the ribs should drop down by keeping the belly softly back
  • (This is Pilates breathing-allowing for continuous engagement of the abs.)

B. Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs of the air like deflating a balloon

  • Back of the ribs should close in
  • Belly sinks back further

3. Engage Abdominals (Belly to the Spine) primarily before and during movement from one position to the other. Remain aware of Belly to the Spine throughout stretches and exercises.

4. Use an oppositional pull through the stretch. Like a rubber band needs to be pulled in opposite directions to stretch, our muscles get the most stretch when we use opposition. Ex: In the Hamstring stretch, pull your leg toward your chest as you reach your hip to the ground.

5. Relax into the stretch. Stretch far enough that you can feel it, but not to the point of pain! These stretches should feel good. If you can’t relax into the stretch, you are going too far!

1. Lower Body Stretches Laying on your Back (Supine) on a Mat or Hard surface

1.1 Knee to Chest

1.1 Knee to Chest

7 Stretches

1.1- Knee to Chest

· Stretches Hips, Glutes (butt muscles), and Lower back preparing body for lower body stretches
· Start both knees bent, feet flat on floor


1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands
2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor as you pull knee in closer
3) Repeat with other leg
4) Engaging Abdominals, slowly bring both knees into your chest and hug the knees. You can come into a contraction bringing the head and shoulders up to open the spine.

1.2- Twist Stretch

1.2 Twist Stretch

1.2 Twist Stretch

· Stretches low back and sides of the low back, Hips, Chest

· Start with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands

2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor
3) Take opposite hand of knee that is up and gently pull knee across the body.
4) Engage Abdominals to return and repeat on the other side

*The following 3 stretches are to be done with a Resistance Band or belt around the foot

1.3 Hamstrings

1.3 Hamstrings Step 1

1.3 Hamstrings Step 3 Parallel

1.3 Hamstrings Step 2

1.3 Hamstrings Step 2 45 degrees

1.3 Hamstrings Step 3

1.3 Hamstrings Step 1 Midline

· Stretches back of legs (4 muscles)
· Opposite leg bent or straight (try both)
· Do both Active (moving) and static (still) stretching

1) Midline (towards middle of body)
2) 45 ° (Out)
3) Leg Parallel (straight towards you)

1.4- Adductors
· Stretches inner thighs (3 muscles)
· Opposite Leg Bent or Straight (try both) remembering to reach down (rubber band) with the opposite hip

1.4 Adductors

1.4 Adductors

1) Leg out to side of body as far as you can go to feel the stretch

2) Engage Abdominals (belly to the spine) before moving leg to next stretch

1.5- IT Band

1.5 IT Band

1.5 IT Band

· Stretches Glutes (3 butt muscles) and IT (Iliotibial) tract or band on the outside of the thigh. May also feel back of knee or hamstrings during this stretch
· Opposite leg straight

1) Leg across the body, allowing foot to turn in (sickle)
2) Reach hip of the leg being stretched in the opposite direction (rubber band). Hip should be off of the floor.

1.6 Piriformis Step 2

1.6 Piriformis Step 2

1.6 Glute Step 3

1.6 Glute Step 3

1.6- Piriformis and Glutes (no resistance band)
· Stretches your buttocks
· Opposite leg bent, starting with foot on floor
· Piriformis – one of six rotators in the hip and the only one connected to the pelvis; is commonly one culprit to back pain and/or tightness

1) Fold leg over opposite thigh placing ankle over thigh allowing knee to open.
2) Gently Press knee with same hand as leg being stretched (Piriformis stretch)
3) Gently Pull knee towards you (Glute stretch)

1.7 – Quadriceps (no resistance band)
· Stretches thigh muscles in front of leg
· Lay on your side with bottom leg bent for leverage and arm placed where comfortable for support

1.7 Quads

1.7 Quads

1) Engage Abs and gently bring top knee in towards you and grab foot with hand
2) Keeping abs engaged, Gently pull foot behind you pressing top hip slightly forward. Should be no pain in the knee
3) Repeat for other leg

2. Spine Stretches and Strengtheners (On Hands and Knees)

All 4s

All 4s

*If being on your hands bothers your wrists, you can modify each exercise by coming down to the forearms for a rest or resting in child’s pose (sitting back on heals).

2.1- Cat Stretch
· Stretches the spine
· On All 4s (Hands and Knees)
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders (just so that chest is not squished)
· Move through ‘mad cat’ and ‘happy cat’ 5-10 times

1) Engage Abs (Belly to the Spine)
2) Push into hands rounding back into the sky (mad cat)

Cat Stretch-Mad Cat

Cat Stretch-Mad Cat

2.1 Cat Stretch-Happy Cat

2.1 Cat Stretch-Happy Cat

3) Arch middle of the back opening the chest (happy cat)

2.2- Wag the Tail (no pic yet)

· Creates lateral movement in the spine
· On All 4s
· Hands in line with shoulders

1) Keeping spine in neutral position (natural without arching or rounding) move tail (butt) side to side
2) Add Head bringing head to tail side to side

2.3- Oppositional Balance

2.3 Oppositional Balance

2.3 Oppositional Balance

· Strengthens spinal muscles and abdominals
· On all 4s
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders
· Keep focus to the floor (keeps head in line with spine)
· 4-6 times on each side

1) Slide opposite hand and foot along the floor away from the body continuing to lift arm and leg off the floor, reaching in opposite directions. Keep arm and leg in line with body (don’t lift too high)
2) Keep reaching for 5-10 seconds
3) Engage the abs and slowly come back to all 4s and repeat on other arm and leg

2.4- Plank to Push-Ups

2.4 Plank/Push-Up Position

2.4 Plank/Push-Up Position

· Super Core Strengthener
· Start on all 4s
· Up onto balls of feet for push-up position, reaching heals back
· Belly to Spine
· Make sure hands are in line with the shoulders
· Keep energy pushing through shoulders and and reaching through heals (think of it as an active position, not a pose)
· Body should make a plank position (no bumps)

1) Hold Plank position for as long as possible up to one minute (come to forearms to perform this exercise if the wrists are in pain)
2) Go into Child’s Pose to Rest (Sitting on heels, head and chest down.)
3) Push-Ups-10 each

  • 1-Classic (wide)
  • 2-Diamond with the hands (elbows down to diagonal)
  • 3-Pilates Push-Up (hands under shoulders, fingers pointing forward, elbows straight back)
    2.5 Child's Pose 1

    2.5 Child’s Pose 2

    2.5 Child's Pose 2

    2.5 Child’s Pose 1

2.5 Child’s Pose

1) Relax back into sitting on heals, resting forehead on mat, arms out.

2) Turn head and place arms by your side. Breath and relax. Change the head.

This concludes AM Pilates & Posture’s basic stretching and strengthening routine. This routine is gentle enough to do every day!

For questions or to make an appointment please email:

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any new exercise or stretching routine with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Cardio Happy: 5 Ways without Hitting the Gym

How Much Cardio Do We Really Need?

The American Heart Association Recommends the following

Trampoline Cardio Fun

Trampoline Cardio Fun

For Overall Cardiovascular Health:

At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes

At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week

Who Has Time for That??

But what if you really can’t find that solid 30 minutes a day? Or just don’t want to?

  • According to the AHA, 10-15 minute increments are just as beneficial as 30 straight minutes.
  • But don’t disregard activities that take less then 10 minutes. Something is better then nothing!

Why Should We??

In my last post, I touched on the release of the feel good chemicals during cardio, and it’s ability to decrease depressive symptoms. Below are a few more of the benefits we receive. Click here to see a full list of cardiovascular exercise health and wellness benefits from the American Heart Association.

  • Increased Energy
  • Sound Sleep
  • Reduced Stress
  • Curbed Appetite
  • Better Self-Image
  • Increased Physical Strength
  • Creates Healthy Habits for Life

What To Do? 5 Ideas

Below is a list of activities that will get your heart pumping without taking time from your already busy schedule.
In my last post I gave you one idea: Park Far from the Entrance (safety permitting)!

Here are 5 more ideas:

1.Take the stairs – and use your legs.

  • Make sure your whole foot is on the step and put your weight primarily on the heel.
  • This gets your legs working most efficiently and is a great glute (booty) toner and strengthener.

2. Clean your own house – I work up a serious sweat when I vacuum, sweep and mop! And I am using my core muscles as I move.

3. Play with the kids – When I go to the park with my son, I bring a book with the intent of letting him play while I get some reading done. That never happens, at least not for long. He gets me up and moving,

  • climbing, chasing, sliding; and the added benefit is the nurturing of our relationship.
Me and the fam at Flipin' Out Trampoline park. Pic taken on the floor of the bounce house.

Me and the fam at Flipin’ Out Trampoline park. Pic taken on the floor of the bounce house.

At home we will

  • get on the floor and wrestle (just as I am writing this, my son walks in and asks if I want to fight with him. Time for my afternoon session of cardio!)

Too hot for the park?

  • The new indoor trampoline parks are super fun and a major workout!!

4. Take a Walk on your Lunch Break– If it’s too hot outside, like it is in Vegas right now,

  • go to the nearest mall,
  • or if your building is big enough, take a tour, and take the stairs!!

5. Have a Dance Party 

  • In your living room with or without kids, put on some music and dance, dance, dance! You will probably feel silly at first, but it may be so much fun you’ll wonder why you never danced in your living room before!
  • At the office?? During your 10-15 minute breaks, turn up the music and get out of your chair! It is sure to put a positive spin to your day. (Ask the boss first.)
My husband walking the dogs; his happy cardio.

My husband walking the dogs; his happy cardio.

Tips When Cardioing (Not really a word, but thought it to be fitting)

Thank You again for taking the time to read this blog! I hope it is helpful! You can contact me at!

Happy Cardioing!!

Alison B. Marsh


The American Heart Association

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Farewell to Miss Saggy Saggerson

Loss of muscle mass can begin in sedentary women (that is, women who don’t move much) as young as the age of 25!

The Muscle lost is replaced with fat, and because fat is not supported by muscle, we get sagging in areas we want tight.

Loss of elasticity in the skin is also a culprit for droopy drawers, and bat wings.

You can reverse the problem of sagging with strength training, replacing muscle with fat.

And did you know muscle weighs more then fat?
So don’t obsess over the scale. Instead, make a goal of getting your waist measurement below 35 inches, NOT a goal of fitting into your high school jeans!

I have a 28 inch waist, never given birth to children, and still can’t fit into my high school jeans!

Our bodies just change with age. And in high school we aren’t even full grown yet, as some may think!
That’s why they have a Junior AND Misses Department! I can’t even fit my leg into a pair of Junior jeans anymore!

Back to saying goodbye to Miss Saggy Saggerson…
Strength training and proper posture are the answer to getting rid of the sagging butt, arms, and tummy!

Please call me if you need some toning time!
We’ll get you toned up, and standing tall and slim! 702-339-2809.
Happy to give you a complementary consultation.

In the meantime, stand up tall, pull your belly to your spine, and get your booty in line!

Alison Marsh-AM Pilates & Posture

Dr. Caroline Apovian, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine

Brad Schoenfeld, lecturer in exercise science at Lehman College in NY