Traction isn’t always a bad thing!


What do you think of when you think of traction?  The first thing that immediately pops in my head is someone lying in a hospital bed with their legs being held up in the air in traction.  Traction can be used in a variety of medical conditions usually to take pressure off a joint or area of the body so it can heal properly.  By gently pulling on the body using a force the muscles are lengthened and the joints effected are decompressed. Did you know that the Pilates method uses the idea of traction to help students align their body and decompress their joints?

Lengthening and decompressing the spine and body as a whole is one of the main goals of the Pilates work.  By learning how to engage your core muscles you can learn how to create a support system for your bones that actually decompresses your skeletal system and leaves your body feeling long, tall, and working most efficiently.  An easy example of this is to think of your seated posture. 

In the Pilates work we often focus on how you can use your muscles to get out of that slouchy, rounded forward posture (that many of us do day in and day out!)  Many exercises will teach you how to sit tall on your sitting bones, use your core muscles to align your rib cage over your pelvis and lengthen your neck muscles to bring your head in line over your shoulders.

There are times when the Pilates equipment acts as a force that can help you create more traction and decompression in your body.  One of my favorite exercises on the Cadillac is something called the half hang.  The half hang consists of carefully putting your feet into straps that hang from the Cadillac so that you hips are slightly suspended over the mat.  This is an amazing way to allow the muscles in your legs, hip and back relax while letting the joints of the legs, hips and spine decompress.

Another favorite “traction” exercise of mine is called Long Spine on the reformer.  You put your feet into straps that are attached to the carriage and springs and use the resistance to create a pull or traction that helps you find articulation through your spine while also decompressing the space in between each vertabrae.  The design of the equipment allows you to find a sense of support and traction while still working your body in a balanced uniform way. (it feels amazing!)

The idea of decompressing your body during your exercises is one of the reason Pilates leaves you feeling so amazing! Even though the exercises can seem like a lot of work, they are done in a way that leaves your body feeling better when it gets done working versus worse.

Want to learn more about Pilates as an exercise program and how you can lengthen and decompress your body?  Contact us today (email us at to schedule a complimentary private session to try it out!!

Is your posture starting to look like your grandma’s?

Do you ever look at a picture of yourself and think, “Wow, my posture is horrible!”  Or maybe…my posture is starting to look like that of my grandmothers?   Over time if we do nothing about a rounded, hunched posture…our body will continue to move into that posture. 

Unfortunately that posture leaves our body feeling stuck, achy, not able to move freely, inhibits our ability to balance and often just plain causes pain!


In this #LiveBetter workshop, Pilates teacher and Physical Therapist Shelley Mockler will teach you how to do movements and exercises that will help you reverse that hunchback posture! Shelley’s Build a Better Swan workshop could also be called Learn to Reverse Hunchback Posture Workshop!

If you have osteoporosis/osteopenia swan and extension exercises can be a great way to strengthen your back and core muscles safely and help you improve your posture!

The tools you’ll learn in this workshop will help you immediately whether you are brand new to Pilates or if you’ve been practicing for years

Here’s just a few of the things you’ll walk away with:

  • Learn why doing extension exercises (we call this the swan in Pilates) is so important to feeling great in your body.
  • Learn why Pilates extension exercises are much more effective than exercises traditionally done in other fitness modalities.
  • Learn where you should and shouldn’t be “feeling” these types of exercises.
  • Learn how to maximize your practice time by doing your exercises in a way that maximizes the benefits.

If you have questions about whether you should do this workshop — please call us at 319-665-2499. Register for this online workshop here!

The absolute secret to Pilates success!

I’ve been teaching Pilates for a long time and in that time I have gotten to observe a lot of different people and different bodies who come to Pilates and give it a try.  On a daily basis I get to hear from clients about how their Pilates practice has changed their life,made them stronger, helped them get rid of pain and allows them to move better in their daily life so that they can live the life they dream of.  Many talk about how Pilates makes them happier and keeps their body feeling happier.  

I also see lots of people who are super excited to try it, enjoy it and can really see how it could benefit their life and then give it up.  So what’s the key to being a Pilates success?  How can you get what those happy people have, those people are feeling amazing in their body? It might be simpler than you think.  The secret is patience and persistence.

Joseph Pilates said,”Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

I couldn’t agree more!  So what does it mean to be patient and persistent when it comes to your Pilates practice?  I really think it comes down to showing up and not giving up.  We live in what I like to call a “quick fix” world.  Society has convinced us that you can buy a solution to any problem you have.  We’re spoiled by the convenience of being able to walk into a store or click a button online and have just about anything we want almost instantaneously. But  so many things in life can’t be bought or obtained quickly…our health, our happiness, learning a new sport or discipline in your body, learning new eating habits, friendships and relationships.  The key to success in any of these arenas is consistent positive action taken over time.  And when I say time I don’t mean the “6 weeks to a skinny you program” kind of time…I mean years  (yep…years).

Think of that friend or two in your life who you can’t imagine doing life without.  Did your friendship with them just happen overnight?  How long have you known them? How many life experiences have you shared with them and what do you do on a regular basis to connect with them?  Are you or were you an athlete at some point in your life?  How many practices did you attend? How many games did you win (and lose)?  How long did you play that sport before you were feeling pretty accomplished in it?  Do you have someone in your life who you admire because you feel like they are in great shape and they really take care of their body?  My guess is if you ask them they have made a commitment in their life to make movement part of their life…they probably have a routine that they’ve been following…probably for years!

I can tell you first hand from my own life and from the clients I get to work with on a daily basis…the key to feeling good in your body, to getting results from your Pilates practice (or any movement practice) is consistency over time.  Adding more movement into your life is not a hard thing to do, but as easy as it is to do….it’s just as easy not to do.  Adding 5-10 minutes of Pilates based exercises to your day is pretty doable for everybody and I guarantee that if you did that for 3 months, 6 months, or a year…you would feel an amazing difference in your body and your life.  Taking even just one Pilates class per week over a year would change how your body feels when you look back a year from now.

When I observe those clients who have really embraced movement as part of their life, the ones who feel and see results from their movement practice on a daily basis I see a lot of the same characteristics, traits and habits.

Here’s just a few:

  1. Movement is not an option.  Clients who are committed don’t give themselves the option of not doing it, even on the days when it would be just as easy not to do it.
  2. They come back after being sick, taking a break, etc.  Everyone has stuff in their life and it’s pretty unrealistic to think that you would never miss your workouts or movement time, but the big difference between the successful and unsuccessful is they stick with it.  If you sleep in and miss your workout, you get back to it the next day. Went on vacation and lounged on the beach for 2 weeks.. then you come back and get back into the routine.  Had a few months where you were consumed with taking care of a loved one or maybe even something as tragic as a death of someone you loved…they come back and keep moving.
  3. They create a routine or schedule.  Movement time is in the calendar, it’s as regular as eating lunch or brushing your teeth…again it’s not optional.
  4. They enjoy the process. They know that movement and exercise time for their body is not a quick fix for anything.  They are able to see the big picture of health and happiness.  They realize that their consistent habits will add up over time to things much bigger than fitting into their skinny jeans.. things like living longer, feeling good in their body so they can take amazing vacations or keeping up with their kids or grandkids…
  5. They surround themselves with like-minded people.  Sticking with something is never easy and it’s even harder if all of your friends and family are unsupportive and don’t get what you are doing and why. Having a trusted movement teacher or trainer who is on your side can make a world of difference. Having a workout friend who is on the same path of trying to keep consistent can give you just the support and camaraderie you need.  Having a place and space in your life to workout where you feel supported, loved and actually enjoy makes the process so much more fun and enjoyable and easier to stick with.

At Rivercity Pilates we are passionate about movement and what an amazing health tool it can be in your life.  Our staff is here because they love being “those supportive, like-minded people” in your life!  Our staff is on the same life journey as you. We are on a daily journey to use movement in our life consistently so that we too can live our best life.  Our daily interactions with our amazing clients inspire us in our own movement journey.  The studio is our “happy place” and we really hope it will become yours too.  If you are looking to add movement into your life we would love to meet you and introduce you to the studio, our staff and all of our fabulous inspiring clients!  Click here to schedule a complimentary private session to get started today!!

5 Things Not to Expect at Pilates!

Thinking of trying out Pilates or starting an exercise program during the pandemic?  Here’s our list of the top 5 things NOT to expect during your Pilates virtual Pilates session!

1.  Don’t expect to feel bad about not exercising or not being in as good of shape as you think you should be.  It happens to everyone and we will help you realize that getting back into shape is easier than you think.

2. Don’t expect to be so sore that you can’t walk down the stairs or lift your arm to brush your hair.  We know that exercise does not need to leave you in pain to be effective.  You can expect to get a great workout that is perfect for your body! 

3.  Don’t expect to do the same exact thing every session.  Each class or session is designed to meet your needs on any given day and those needs are constantly changing. Expect us to tailor your exercises to your body and continually challenge you with new variations and movements.

4.  Don’t expect to be able to do everything perfect the first session or even your 100th session.  (I know….this one is hard for most of us and especially if you tend to be a perfectionist!!) Pilates is designed to safely challenge your body and your mind so that you can continue to evolve to the best you!

Try not to be so judgmental toward yourself and KNOW that the benefits of Pilates are more dependent on you doing it on a regular basis rather than how perfectly you do it!

5.  Don’t expect to dread coming in to the studio to exercise.  In fact- most of our clients look forward to coming in!  (this may be hard to believe if you have always been a person who just doesn’t like to exercise- you’ll have to trust us on this one!)

Ready to try out a complimentary virtual Pilates session at Rivercity Pilates?   Contact us today to set up your first session!

What do Pilates & Oreos have in common?

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve had my share of comfort foods this year! I’m not sure but I think that my hidden chocolate stash (hidden because I have 2 teenage boys) probably saved my sanity during quarantine time.  And let’s be real…when you can’t leave your house, there are no outside activities and pretty much you spend your days working at home and home schooling…baking (and eating) your favorite cookies, treats and meals can become a highlight of your days!

Luckily I had some good habits that I’ve turned to during this crazy time that seem to counter my comfort food indulgences, like Pilates! It has me thinking that in many way Pilates has been like a comfort food for me during the Pandemic! Who would have thought chocolate and Pilates would have so much in common? I made a list of how Pilates often gives me the same rewards as my favorite comfort foods!

Pilates feels good in your body and instantly gives your body a boost of “feel good”! Eating food high in fat, sugar or salt activates the brain’s reward system. Just like eating a comfort food like chocolate can have a strong effect on mood, generally increasing pleasant feelings and reducing tension, Pilates does the same! When you start moving mindfully, breathing on purpose and moving your body in ways that balance it out…it feels amazing, reduces stress and puts you in a better mood. You will find yourself craving that reward and luckily moving your body is a reward with no ill side effects. This is not always the case with our favorite comfort foods.

You know what to expect from Pilates. When you pop that double stuff Oreo into your mouth…you know exactly what you are going to taste before it even reaches your mouth. When it comes to Pilates as an exercise method you know what to expect. You can expect to do a whole body workout that always meets you where you are in your body on any given day. You know you’ll be working on core strength, breath and mobility in your body. You don’t have to worry about pushing yourself so hard that you’ll hurt yourself. You know you will be glad you took time for Pilates when you are done!

Pilates swan

Pilates exercises are not fancy but effective. Usually our favorite comfort foods are nothing fancy…a piece of chocolate, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, or maybe potato chips?  Yet we know grabbing that simple food will give our body a quick sense calm and comfort. Pilates exercises are similar in that the exercises themselves are not super fancy, but oh are they effective. In fact if you look at people doing Pilates you might think… I used to practice that in gym class, I tried that exercise on a Jane Fonda tape, or I learned that from my physical therapist.    

spine stretch

The effectiveness of Pilates comes not from fancy movements but from learning how to execute simple movements in a really balanced way in your body. My upcoming workshop is going to be focused on how you can do those basic Pilates Mat exercises in a way that makes them more effective in your body and I think you’ll love getting to slow down and learn the details in these exercises!

This workshop will give you the chance to perfect the Pilates basics in your body whether you are new to Pilates or have been practicing for years. We’ll be using a resistance band for some of the exercises in the workshop. I love to teach some of the basic Pilates exercises with a resistance band, as I feel like the band can give support and feedback in a way that allows you to really understand the exercise. If you need a band you can get my favorite 5 foot supportive purple resistance band for half price when you purchase the workshop by using the code purple! Sign up here! The online training will be recorded – but the price goes to $35 on Monday!

When’s the last time you were coached?

Often times I find that our male clients end up starting their Pilates practice because their wife or significant other convinces them to try it.  Once they get into the studio and start practicing Pilates on a regular basis they start to realize they actually enjoy the work and can feel the difference in their body.

I was checking in with a wife of one of our new to Pilates male clients this morning and she mentioned something that got me thinking a little bit more about how we teach Pilates.  She said he mentioned,” It’s been a long time since I’ve been coached and I’m really enjoying the instruction and coaching.”

Coaching is one of the things that really separates Pilates from any other fitness trend.  Pilates Instructors are trained to coach each body to learn exercises and movements that are very specific to their body.  Pilates instructors are not just worried about giving you a workout, they are trained to educate you on how to move your body more efficiently so that you can get a better workout and move better throughout your life.  Pilates instructors are trained to give you movement tools that you can use in all the other movements you do outside of the Pilates studio setting.

If you’re someone that enjoys learning new things or maybe you were an athlete in your younger years (or still are) you might find that learning to practice Pilates is something you’ll really enjoy!  Schedule a complimentary session at Rivercity Pilates today and let the coaching begin!!