Pilates: A Beneficial Choice for Runners

In my practice, I have seen firsthand how Pilates benefits athletes in so many ways. It is especially incredible for runners.

Pilates focuses on six main principles: concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision and flow. When practiced regularly, the benefits of Pilates include increased core strength, improved efficiency of movement, strength and coordination, proper posture and increased energy – all of which will advance your running. Pilates also improves breath control, enhances flexibility and improves balance, helping you get faster, stronger and more comfortable in your runs.

It’s best to schedule a session with a local Pilates trainer – he/she can create a personalized plan that will complement your running regimen – but you can also do some exercises at home. Here’s a series I give to my running clients. It will move your body in all directions, stretching and strengthening each muscle. Don’t forget to breathe through each exercise, keep your abdominals engaged and your shoulders and jaw relaxed. If at any time anything hurts or feels uncomfortable, stop the exercise.


1.     Lie on your back, lift up your knees into tabletop position (knees and legs at a 90-degree angle, lower legs parallel to the floor).

2.     Point your toes, squeeze your heels together and extend your legs out.

3.     Lift your head and shoulders off the mat, extend your arms straight out, palms down.

4.     Pump your arms up and down in small, sharp movements.

5.     Inhale for 5 arm pumps; exhale for 5 pumps. Continue to 100. 


1.     Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and your arms overhead.

2.     Tuck your chin into your chest, reach your arms up and slowly – vertebrae by vertebrae – curl your shoulders and back up and follow your arms towards your toes. Slowly roll back down to the floor.

3.     Repeat 3 times.


1.     Lie flat on your back, legs together. Raise one leg into the air and flex your foot.

2.     Slowly trace 5 small circles in the air. Reverse the direction for 5 circles.

3.     Repeat with your other leg.


1.     Get in a push-up position. Lift one leg up about 6 inches, foot flexed.

2.     Shift the weight of your body back onto the heel of your bottom foot. As you shift back, point the toe of the foot in the air. As you shift forward, flex the upper foot.

3.     Repeat 5 times, and then switch to the other leg. Repeat.


1.     Lie on your stomach with your legs together and hands by your head.

2.     Lift your abdominals away from the floor, pressing your tailbone down to the floor.

3.     Press through your hands, lengthening your spine and neck. Release your arms straight to the side as chest and thighs lift up off the mat. Slowly release back down to the mat.

4.     Repeat 6 times.


1.     Lie on your back with your legs together.

2.     Curl your upper body away from the floor, reaching your arms towards your ankles.

3.     Let one leg extend toward the floor while you gently pull your opposite leg toward your chest.

4.     Switch your legs in the air to create a scissoring motion for 6 sets.


1.     Lie flat on your back, arms at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

2.     As you exhale, curl your tailbone off the floor one vertebrae at a time, weight distributed evenly between your shoulder blades.

3.     Inhale, then on the next exhale slowly curl back down to neutral position on the floor.

4.     Repeat 3 times.


1.     Sit tall, lengthening through the spine with legs together and feet flexed. Raise arms to the side at shoulder height.

2.     Inhale and lengthen through the spine, exhale and twist your torso to the right, pulsing two times. Inhale and return to center. On next exhale, twist torso to the right, again pulsing two times.

3.     Repeat 3 twists on both sides.


1.     Lie on your side, resting your head on your hand. Place your top hand on the floor in front of your chest. Bring your legs forward a bit, keeping your shoulders, hips and ankles aligned. Flex your lower foot.

2.     Point your top foot and slowly kick up towards the sky for 1 count, keeping your pelvis stable. Slowly lower back down.

3.     Repeat 10 times on each side.


1.     Kneel with hips above knees, shoulders above hips and shoulders and jaw relaxed. Keep arms low or stretched out in front.

2.     Tuck your tailbone under, exhale and lean your whole body back from the knees, inhale and hold for 1 count, then exhale and slowly return back to upright.

3.     Repeat 3 times.


1.     From standing, roll down – vertebrae by vertebrae – until your hands are on the floor. Walk your hands out until you are in a plank position.

2.     Bend your elbows and lower down to the floor as far as you comfortably can, then push back up. Walk your hands back and slowly roll back up to standing.

3.     Repeat 3 times.


In my book, The Mountain of Youth, I talk about the importance of meditation. It is a practice I believe in wholeheartedly - both in theory and in practice. Here's an excerpt from my book on the topic:

Sinking into Meditation and Joy -- Excerpt from The Mountain of Youth

     Meditation is so important. It forces you to take the time out you need to cleanse your mind, stress less, and sink into the joy of living. It reminds you to live consciously. It helps you to nurture yourself. It takes just ten minutes a day to offer your body a personal meditation, and the benefits you reap will be astounding.


In my book I go on to help you create the right environment to get the most from your meditation and I recommend meditation apps like Insight Timer, which offers many different choices. I'm currently doing this one and it is absolutely magical. It is the most wonderful way to start your day.

Try it - you'll enjoy the clear benefits of a clear mind and a more present you. 

Flu Vaccine: Do or Don't?

Flu season is in full effect this year and the virus has been traveling around fast + furiously. Should you get the flu shot? 

My two cents: DON’T! I know so many people who get the flu shot and then GET THE FLU. I see it every year, over and over again among my friends and clients. 

Even more, flu vaccines include potentially harmful ingredients. The most common is thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that has been linked to brain and immune dysfunction. Many countries have even banned the use of thimerosal in children's vaccines. 

So skip the flu shot and focus on proactive, natural things you can do to stave off the cold and flu this season. Here are a few obvious, easy things you can do:

  • Wash your hands vigorously + frequently.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water + tea. Have soup. Avoid coffee, sugary drinks + alcohol.
  • Make smart (plant-based) food choices.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Keep stress levels low (meditate!).

Of course if you do come down with the flu, take care of yourself and pay attention to your body. You know it best. If you notice anything unusual, call your doctor.  

Stay healthy!

xo, Irene

Irene's Top 3 Tips for Losing Belly Buldge

My 3 Top Tips  

  1. Eat oatmeal for breakfast or consume soluble fiber daily

  2. Drink an abundance of water

  3. Harness the power of a stress busting workout


The fat that settles around your middle is more then a problem of vanity. It surrounds organs and produces hormones that raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The good news is that you can lose it with some simple lifestyle changes. 

It's Never Too Late!

Hello everyone. I thought this would be a beautiful piece of inspiration that it is never too late to start anything - despite your age! All you need is good health and a positive frame of mind.


Ruth Kobain

Age: 100
Neighborhood: Murray Hill
Fountain of Youth: a regular routine regimen of Pilates and staying out of the sun
Motto: "It's never too late."

An avid athelet, this great-grandmother of 16 took up Pilates around the time of her 90th birthday and has a private one-hour session once a week. "I'm pretty good at it," says Kobin with a laugh. The former ballerina -- who turns 101 in September -- reads, does crossword puzzles and watches hockey, football, tennis, golf and the races. "I yelled my head off watching the Kentucky Derby," says Kobin, adding, "I can't say I'm ever lonely."

-- source New York Post