The place to find holistic information about your health

Top 5 Pilates Moves To Get Bikini Ready

Holly Jean and I met in my office to heal an nagging injury working into a crazy advanced yoga pose, sirsa padasana. Luckily we got her better in 2 visits and I got a glimpse of her fierce passion for her work.

She kindly invited me to a double down Sunday of Barre class followed by Pilates at YogaWorks Soho that royally kicked my ass. Her dedication to keep her classes fresh, innovative, and playful makes her in high demand in NYC. Talk about pushing the envelope and inspiring other teachers and movement specialists to step up their own game!

I love how Holly walks her talk as a teacher, refining choreography in her own body while keeping her clients needs always in the back of her mind. She is my go-to when my patients need extra instruction and motivation to get their core strength solid.

Urban Wellness Clinic gets the first look into Holly Jean Cosner’s top 5 pilates moves to get ready for summer.Holly Jean Cosner's Pilates Moves

Single Leg Stretch

Holly Jean Cosner's Pilates Single Leg Stretch Moves

Double Leg Stretch

Holly Jean Cosner's Pilates Single Leg Stretch Moves

Single Straight Leg Stretch

Holly Jean Cosner's Pilates Double Leg Stretch Moves

Double Straight Leg Stretch

Pilates Moves by Holly Jean Cosner

Criss Cross

This is really the heart of the classical Pilates mat. At this point I must have 50 different ways to do this series with variations and props, because as a set sequence it works the core perfectly. I NEVER teach a class without sneaking it in somewhere. My favorite variation is doing the series in Headstand…its a killer!

“Eat with your mouth and Breathe with your nose.”

People are often confused on the Pilates breath, the direction, the reason behind the breath , its function and benefits, can you explain?

Pilates breathing is exactly like Ujaii breath in yoga. Mr Pilates has a famous quote on breathing, “Eat with your mouth and Breathe with your nose.”  Mouth breathing is a huge pet peeve of mine. It cuts the breath short in both directions making it more shallow, which creates more stress in the body and sends the nervous system into fight or flight mode.  Breathe slow and deep thru the nose and let your movement follow your breath.

Unlike weight training, in Pilates the exertion of an exercise is usually in the contracting movement. So we inhale into extensions and exhale into contractions. The idea is to oxygenate the muscles as we expand to create more room for extension and push the air out in contracting and flexion movements to expel stale air out of the lungs and get deeper engagement of the abdominals (particularly the transverse abdominis).

You have a new business coming out, can you describe it in one sentence?

Its a social platform that helps fitness and health professionals connect with their clients, their students, and each other so they can grow their business, income and community presence.

What was the inspiration for the new business?

Necessity really. I’m a little tired of seeing all my yoga teacher friends posting their schedules on Facebook everyday, or not being able to separate their personal lives from their professional lives online. We wanted to create a sort of Facebook/Linked In/OpenTable for the wellness community.

We are always interested in our favorite movement specialist’s evolution to where they are today. How did you become a Pilates teacher?

I was a dancer from my teens into my early 20’s. I also started writing songs and singing in a band in college. When I first moved to NYC from Memphis, I had just gotten a record deal. But you soon figure out there is no money in music, so I started working the graveyard shift in a hotel and I would use my days for working on music and rehearsing with a dance company. My friend Monique, also a dancer, was working at the hotel as well. She told me she was in the process of getting her Pilates certification and asked if I wanted to come to the studio some time to try it out. There were very few Pilates teachers  back in 1997 and they pulled me aside after my first session and asked if I’d be interested in training to become an instructor.

Once I got certified, Bob Liekens (one of my master teachers) said “if you really want to take your Pilates to another level, you should start practicing yoga.” I started going to yoga regularly and was floored at how the 2 practices related to each other and truly enhanced one another.

For a long time I decided that I didn’t want to teach yoga because I wanted something that was for just myself and didn’t feel like work. After about 10 years of being a student, YogaWorks offered me the chance to get my full 500hr certification and the timing felt right.

I now also teach barre classes, it was just an easy progression to make given my background of dance, pilates and yoga.

What risks have you taken?

My only feeling of taking a risk was the initial decision to teach Pilates. It wasn’t really a popular practice in 1997 and I didn’t know if I would find a job or be able to support myself once I finished the training. Fortunately, I got in as it was rapidly being embraced in the fitness community and I have been able to work consistently from day one. I feel very grateful for that.

Who inspires you?

My clients and students mostly. I feel so lucky to have an extraordinary and diverse group of people who trust me with their bodies. I want to help them achieve whatever goal they have that led them to me. Each person is unique and has their own set of needs from me. It really keeps me on my toes and inspires me to  “figure out the puzzle” of what will work best for them. I work with many of clients long term and that means I also need to constantly try to keep things fresh, challenging and keep them engaged. If I just taught the same thing all the time, I’d feel bored and so would they.