Category Archives: Pilates privates

Our Rehab Approach

This month, I wanted to offer an inside look into our approach to rehab at Corpo Kinetic.  While most readers of this blog are most likely familiar with Pilates and the benefits it can offer to core strength as well as overall fitness and flexibility, you may not be as familiar with how a Pilates studio approaches injury rehabilitation.

Let’s start with the basics:  What is Rehab?

Rehab is a broad term which relates to treatments intended to aid in recovery.  For us, we’re talking more specifically about recovery from musculoskeletal injury.  Many professionals can help you recover from such an injury, including your medical doctor, a physical therapist, and a chiropractor.  Massage therapists and fitness professionals who have been trained in how to work with injuries can also be a part of your rehab team.

The musculoskeletal injury treatment team

When you have an acute injury (acute = just happened, as opposed to chronic = been with you awhile), a medical doctor is usually your first go-to.  Your doctor can diagnose your injury, which is helpful because diagnoses often come with a treatment plan.  You now have years of medical research at your side telling you what has and has not worked for other people with your condition!

Depending on the injury (and, getting real here, depending on your insurance plan…), a medical doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for treatment.  These days, recent physical therapist graduates have gone through a three-year program, and are doctors themselves.  While physical therapists will use the application of heat, cold, stem machines, and more to treat injury (there are some cool tools out there!), the majority of their treatment time is in manual therapy and exercise.  In many cases, a physical therapists will perform the manual therapy and assign exercises, which will be taught and/or supervised by a physical therapist aide (often a young student who’s hoping to be accepted to a physical therapist doctorate program).

If you’re more into the alternative health route, you may start by taking your injury to a chiropractor.  Chiropractors are also doctors and can diagnose injuries.  All chiropractors are trained in joint manipulation, and if your injury is caused by or exasperated by a joint being out of place, they can help.  Some chiropractors (and, IMHO, the best chiropractors) also treat muscles and other soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, and fascia – the stuff that connects stuff).  In my experience, treating muscles as well as bones works better because tightness in the soft tissues may be pulling the bones out of alignment, and just treating the bones may leave you with a tight muscular structure which will pull you back into your misalignment soon after you leave the chiropractic office.

And now we get to who we are at Corpo Kinetic: massage therapists and Pilates instructors who have been trained to work with injuries.  That is quite a mouthful!  The reason for it is that not all massage therapists or Pilates instructors have the training to specifically work in a rehabilitative manner.  Learning about rehab care in the massage and Pilates world is continuing education – it is additional to the basic training required in order to be certified.

The trainers who offer rehab services at Corpo Kinetic are unique in that we are BOTH massage therapists AND Pilates instructors, AND we have additional training in each field to work with injuries.

The tools we use at Corpo Kinetic in our rehab services are two-fold.  As certified massage therapists, we can use massage and manual therapy to release tension in the soft tissues (muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons), and as certified Pilates instructors we can help you strengthen areas which need strengthening as well.  This two-fold approach can be very powerful in getting past injury.

Why would you see us as opposed to a physical therapist or chiropractor?  Your health care team is ultimately up to you.  Pilates and massage, even when combined in a rehab setting, should not replace an evaluation from a trained medical professional such as your doctor, a physical therapist, or a chiropractor.  Depending on your injury, our rehab services may be a good fit for you either as your main source or rehabilitative care or as an addition to the care you are getting in a medical setting.  Here are some examples of the types of clients who see us for rehab:

  1. Physical therapy has helped!  But you’re still not back to your full functioning.  Unfortunately, many insurances will only pay for a certain amount of physical therapy per injury.  If you’re better but still not back to all the physical activities you’d like to do, you may just need more care.  We can help pick up where your physical therapy left off.
  2. You’re currently doing physical therapy, but you want more supervised movement.  If you’re lucky, you get to see your physical therapists twice a week, but often PT appointments are weekly or even less frequent.  To get past an injury, you need to be doing your physical therapy exercises more frequently, and for best results you want to make sure that you’re doing your exercises with the best form and alignment.  In these cases, our rehab trainers make a great addition to your team, helping you maintain good form and strengthen the appropriate muscles in between your physical therapy appointments.
  3. Your doctor has offered medical interventions such as steroids and surgery, but you’d like to try a more conservative approach first.  Because surgery has risk of complication, and is essentially another injury the body will have to recover from, many people would like to avoid surgery if possible, or delay it as long as possible.  Some people also believe that steroids do more to mask symptoms than treat the cause of injury.  Many people turn to Pilates when they are seeking to avoid back surgery, and adding manual therapy with our rehab services can be even more effective.  Even in cases of more advanced osteoarthritis, where eventually a joint may need to be replaced, I have seen our rehab services decrease pain, increase mobility, and push back a surgery date, adding years of healthy function.  Manual therapy and strengthening exercises can help make sure that the musculature around the joint isn’t pulling it out of alignment, which would increase the bone-on-bone rubbing which causes pain and lack of mobility.
  4. You’re seeing a chiropractor, and you both feel strengthening is the next step towards getting you back to full functioning. If you keep getting adjusted and the pain or injury keeps coming back, you may need to strengthen the musculature around the area.  Increased muscular support can help you resist the loads you’re placing on your body as you go about your daily life, helping you hold your adjustment for longer.
  5. You have a chronic injury you’d like to address.  Let’s go back to semantics: acute and chronic injuries raise different alarm bells in the treatment world.  For acute injuries, think:  this just happened!  lots of pain!  need help now!  Acute injuries are best initially evaluated by a medical doctor or chiropractor for diagnosis.  For chronic injuries, think of the old ankle sprain that keeps acting up, the “bad back” you’ve had ever since becoming a mom, your “weak knee,” or the old shoulder injury from playing football in high school.  These types of injuries often don’t require immediate medical attention: in many cases you’ve already gotten help from a medical professional back when the injury initially occurred.  However, as we age with injury, the scar tissue that originally helped stabilize the area can get “gummy,” restricting mobility and causing compensation patters.  The result can be unbalanced areas of weakness and restriction, which can be addressed very well with a combination of manual therapy to release the “gummy” areas and strengthening exercises to correct the years-old compensation patterns.

How do rehab services work at Corpo Kinetic?

When a new rehab client comes to our studio, we start with a 90 minute initial appointment.  This longer session allows us to do a thorough intake and assessment.  We’ll start with a conversation with you.  We want to know the history of the injury, what you’ve done so far to help it, what has helped, what hasn’t, and very importantly: your goals.  Are you looking for pain relief?  Are you looking to be able to return to your full athletic functioning?  Both?  Assessments might include evaluating your range of motion, a postural analysis, watching you move, and muscle testing to determine relative strength.  Then, depending on your injury, the session will proceed with a combination of manual therapy and Pilates strengthening exercises.

Follow up appointments are typically an hour.  We always do a quick intake and assessment to make sure things are progressing as expected, or allow us to change course if need be.  Often, as injuries improve, clients will find themselves receiving less manual therapy and doing more rehabilitative Pilates.  As appropriate for you and your injury, we may suggest some exercises to do at home, or even lifestyle changes if it seems like some simple changes could improve your progress.  (These changes are usually simple, such as changing shoes to addressing how or how much  you sit.)  If possible, we suggest rehab appointments be scheduled twice a week.  If scheduling only allows a weekly visit, we may be able work with that as well, but we will likely spend more time developing a home program and making sure you are confident with doing those exercises well on your own.  When exercising, frequency matters, and if you’re recovering from injury we want to be sure you get the benefit of adequate frequency.

That’s it for this month!  I hope you have a better idea of how our rehab services work, and how they can fit in with your current plan for injury recovery.  If you are wondering if we may be able to help you, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 510-463-1473 or email us at

Anatomy Moment: A Trip Around the Hip

As we get into the summer months, I thought, what better time to write about the hip?  Just kidding -there’s no seasonal reason for my post, but I am inspired to spend some time breaking down the anatomy of the hip and pelvis, as I find in my classes and sessions that is it an often misunderstood (or not-well-understood) area.  As you know if you’ve been reading these posts for awhile, we are anatomy nerds here at Corpo Kinetic, and we love sharing.  Here we go!

What exactly is the hip?  In everyday language, it tends to reference a very broad area of the body including the boney points in the front where we would rest a belt, the musculature on the sides of the pelvis, and occasionally the glutes (butt muscles) as well.  Somewhere in that broad structure of bones and muscle we know there’s a joint called the hip socket or hip joint.  Are the muscles on the insides of our legs part of the hip?  What about the boney structure slightly above the glutes, in the center?  Is that low back or hip?

The general amorphous quality of the word “hip” explains why, if someone comes into our studio complaining of hip pain, our first question will likely be, “where in the hip?”  Outside of the Pilates studio, there may be no need to be so specific, but inside the studio, knowing specifically what part of your anatomy is bothering you can help us to better treat the cause of your discomfort.  When my anatomy brain starts to break down and explain the colloquial term “hip,” the first thing I go to is:

It’s actually many parts.

Look at that!  Look at how many labels there are!  And those are just the bones!  Those labels are just some of the many smaller parts which make up what we think of as the “hip.”  Labels and names are a fun thing to think about if you’re an anatomy nerd.  However, whether you’re ready to dive deep into learning anatomy or not, some basic knowledge about the function of our hip is useful in understanding why we have all those labeled parts.  When I think function of the hip, two things come to mind:

  • The hip is responsible for transferring the load of the upper body to the lower body.  (And that load includes the weight of the upper body as well as everything the upper body is carrying, from grocery bags to backpacks.)
  • Fluid mobility of the hip is crucial for keeping stress out of our knees, feet, and lower back as we bend, get up from sitting, go down stairs, and more.

Pilates works on creating stability in parts which are too mobile and mobility in parts which are too sticky.  When we look at core function, hip musculature which is not mobile enough can decrease the ability of your core to fire correctly.  On the flip side, hips which are too mobile can transfer unwanted movement up into the lower back, potentially causing pain and injury.  It’s all about balance, and luckily that’s something we thrive at in Pilates – creating balanced support for the body.

Let’s get down to business.  Here is our picture from before, a side view of the right hip.

If we were to have this person take a quarter turn and face us, we would see something like this, a picture of the right and left hips, connected by the pelvis:

Let’s break it down!  My first matter of business is a small clarification from the perspective of anatomical language.  “Hip” is a vague term, as discussed above, so for clarity I prefer to talk about the “hip sockets and pelvis.”  Remember all that other stuff from my initial question, “What is the hip?”  We had:

  1. boney points in the front where we would rest a belt
  2. the musculature on the sides of the pelvis
  3. the glutes (butt muscles)
  4. a joint called the hip socket or hip joint
  5. the muscles on the insides of our legs
  6. the boney structure slightly above the glutes, in the center

Number 4 from above is the hip socket.  The rest of the bones listed above (1 & 6), are part of the pelvis.  Numbers 2, 3 and 5 I would call muscles which move the hip socket.  Are all of these part of the hip?  Yes because that’s how we tend to talk about it in everyday language, and no because the hip socket is actually a very small component of the area we tend to refer to when we say hip, and the rest of our boney structure is the pelvis.

Starting with the pelvis, if you were to sassily put your hands on your hips, they would most likely land on a ridge of bone which wraps around the sides of your body, including the back and the front.  That ridge is part of one of the most easily felt bones of the pelvis called the ilium (actually, you have two, a right and left ilium).  Your hands are resting on a part of the bone called the iliac crest.  It’s easily felt because it’s not densely covered in muscle, as is the majority of the rest of the ilium.  The ilium bones serve several important functions, including housing and protecting our pelvic organs (those are important!), and providing large surface areas for muscles which move the hip socket to attach.

If you follow that ridge to the front and down a couple inches or so from the top, you’ll find a more pointy part which sticks out to the front.  This point is called the “anterior superior iliac spine.”  (Got that?  Anatomists often call it ASIS for short, so let’s follow their lead.)

The parts of bones which are easily felt and sort of “stick out” are often referred to as “boney landmarks” because they give us information on the placement of things we can’t as easily feel or see beneath the surface.  The ASISs are an important boney landmark for looking at the levelness of your pelvis.  Your Pilates instructor might check the levelness of your right and left ASISs to determine if your pelvis is level side to side.  We can also use the ASIS with other boney landmarks to determine if your pelvis is level front to back.

If you walk your hands back up to the top of your iliac crests (where you put your hands sassily on your hips earlier) and then follow the crest towards your back, they will slope down and together.  As you follow those slopes, you might feel two little dimples.  These are your sacroiliac joints, or SI joints for short.  In very close proximity to the SI joints are the posterior superior iliac spines (PSISs).  When you are standing and the PSIS and ASIS are level, then your pelvis is level front to back.

Did you have a hard time feeling the dimples or PSISs?  Don’t worry.  They are far less prominent than the ASISs.  When I was a new instructor, it took me quite some time and checking multiple different pelvises before I felt confident that I was on the right spot.  We use the PSISs as instructors because it is more precise, however a far easier way to check where your pelvis is on your own (and for everyday use precise enough) is to use a different boney landmark.

So – come back to your sassy hands on hips position.  Follow that boney ridge, your iliac crest down to your ASISs.  Keep walking your hands down and together.  We have more muscle here, so you may loose track of the iliac crest – you can use the crease in your pants where the leg meets the pelvis as a guide.  When your hands meet in the center, you’ll be on what we often refer to in the Pilates studio as the pubic bone.  If you look back at our front-facing picture above, they’ve labeled the point in the center as the “pubic symphysis.”  We actually have two pubic bones, a right and a left, which are connected by a dense and fibrous tissue called the pubic symphysis.  This connection is mostly immobile (and should be).  Fun fact, during pregnancy the body releases a hormone which relaxes all ligaments in preparation for birth, including the fibrous pubic symphysis.  This is why we modify certain leg exercises for momma’s-to-be.  Mommas need to be strong, and in most cases can work out hard, but we want to promote that strength without creating shearing at the pubic symphysis.

So – you know where your pubic bone is and where your ASISs are.  If you put the heels of your hands on your ASIS’s and your fingertips on your pubic bone, you can now line up your ASISs and your pubic bones in a vertical plane.  This is another way to tell if your pelvis is level front/back, and usually fairly easy for us to check on our own.

Let’s land on the iliac crests again (sassy hips), then take our trip back around to the PSISs and SI joints.  Walk your hands one more time down and together along the iliac crests and eventually land on those dimples.  Remember that the name of those dimples is the Sacro-Iliac Joint.  Iliac stands from the ilium part of the joint, which we’ve already visited.  Sacro stands for the sacrum, which is the broad flat part in the center back of your pelvis.  Here’s a view of the pelvis and hip joints from the back, as if the person were facing away from us.

It provides a good view of the slope down from the iliac crest (sassy hips!) to the sacroiliac joints, and the sacrum nestled in between the right and left iliums.   At the base of the sacrum lies the tail bone, or coccyx.  There is actually also a joint between the sacrum and coccyx, and the tailbone can move, occasionally being displaced.  The name of this joint is kind of fun:  sacrococcygeal.

At this point, we’ve visited three joints of the hips and pelvis which we often don’t think of as joints: the pubic symphysis (front, down, and center), the sacroiliac joint (on the back, the dimples at the top of the sacrum), and the sacrococcygeal joint (between the sacrum and tailbone).  These three are joints because they do move, but key to their health is that they actually don’t move very much.  Most of the movement in our hips and pelvis should come from the true hip joint – where the thigh bone meets the pelvis.  This joint is a classic “ball in socket” joint, and it’s mobility allows us to squat to the floor, climb mountains, ride horses, and much more.  This is the joint that we want to keep mobile, in all planes of motion, so that our smaller, less mobile joints are not overly stressed.

Phew!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip around the hip.  Now take your newfound knowledge and move it!  If you’re not coming to the Pilates studio today, taking a walk up some serious hills is a great way to get mobility and strength in your hips.  See you soon!

Instructor Spotlight: Meet Janet!

Janet Collard is a dancer, Pilates instructor, and all around fantastic person who I am happy to have at Corpo Kinetic.  Janet teaches group classes on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, and works with private clients as well.  Janet teaches complex exercises in such a way that her clients accomplish them with ease and grace, and her classes are challenging, fun, and feel so good!  Check out Janet’s group class schedule, or sign up for a private session with her.

Q:  How were you originally introduced to Pilates?  
In college, at California Institute of the Arts.  Our ballet teacher was certified and we also had a Pilates mat class taught by one of the Pilates elders, Jillian Hessel.

Q:  Do you have a favorite exercise or technique which you just love to do?  Why is it your favorite?  The practice of strengthening my core while remaining in neutral spine/pelvis is very powerful for me.  I get an activation of the pelvic floor and a real strengthening of my core front to back.  One of my favorite exercises is Carolla’s Breathing.  It always makes my back happier.

Q: Why did you decided to become an instructor, and what is your favorite part about teaching?
After getting an injury while dancing, I sought out Pilates for rehab and cross training.  It reinstated how great this work is for all people, which motivated me to want to teach it to help others feel better and stronger and more confident in their bodies.

Q:  Joseph Pilates is quoted as saying “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”  As a dancer and Pilates instructor,  you are quite fit!  Of all the ways to obtain fitness out there, what draws you to Pilates?
Because Pilates is a holistic form of exercise, it will work your entire body.  Often people think they have to move really fast and repeatedly to get in shape.  While we do need cardio in our lives I find that our obsessive workout culture can overdo it.  Pilates is a way to come back to the basics of alignment, form, and breath to be able to move forward in your workouts more mindfully and therefore keeping you healthy and active for longer.

Q:  And on that dancing note – when can we next see you perform?  I will be performing in the Bach Project in May at the San Francisco Community Music Center!  You can get more information at my website:

Holiday Pilates Schedule

_MG_7299 copyFrom December 22nd – January 4th, regularly scheduled group classes at Corpo Kinetic will be cancelled.  However, we have a special Holiday Schedule planned for you.With a limited schedule of classes, spots are scarce – sign in online to secure your mat!

  • Tues Dec 23
    8:30-9:25am:  Pre-Holiday Mat with Janet
    7:30-8:25pm:  Long & Lean Springboard with Jenna
  • Sat Dec 27
    9:00-9:55am:  Springboard Circuit with Janet
  • Mon Dec 29
    8:30-9:25am: Last Mat of the Year with Jenna
  • Tues Dec 30
    7:30-8:25pm:  Long & Lean Springboard with Jenna
  • Sat Jan 3
    9:00-9:55am:  Springboard Circuit with Jenna

Get your spot now  – sign in online.

Private Sessions Available with Janet and Jenna

Julia is out of town December 22-January 4th.  If you’d like to take a private Pilates session during that time, Janet and Jenna have made themselves available to you! Please check their schedules and book your appointment online.

Save the Date!  New Year’s Open House:  Jan 10th, 3-7pm

photo 1Celebrate the New Year at Corpo Kinetic Pilates Studio!  Come on by to see some Pilates demonstrations, enjoy some healthy treats, and enter to win a chance to win a few prizes which may help you with those New Year’s resolutions.A more formal invitation to come.

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season.

Group Classes and Private Session Specials

springboardsGroup Classes on the Springboard
Small Group Classes at Corpo Kinetic are really small – a max of four participants. This allows me to keep an eye on all participants and to offer individualized instruction in a group setting. If it has been awhile since you’ve been to a group class here, come try the Springboards on us!

From now through the end of November, if you have never taken a Springboard class, your first one will be free. Just sign into the class of your choice online, and we’ll take care of the rest. If you have taken a Springboard class and have a friend who hasn’t, we’ll extend the offer to your friend – bring ’em along for free.

Fall Special — Privates with Janet
This fall, Corpo Kinetic’s apprentice trainer Janet Das will be undergoing the rest of her training to become a comprehensive certified Pilates instructor. Janet is already an accomplished instructor who teaches on the mat and Reformer, and the next portion of her training will add to her repertoire, incorporating the Chair, Cadillac, and Spine Corrector.

From now through the end of November, Janet is offering a special on privates while she undergoes her training — only $45! I encourage you to take advantage of this offer! Janet is a lovely trainer already — I take from her myself — and she won’t be an apprentice much longer!

Especially if you take group classes at Corpo Kinetic, this is a great way to take advantage of the benefits of a private session with quite the hefty discount.

Our Studio Gets a Summer Makeover

Julia Hollas PILATES” becomes “Corpo Kinetic”

You may have heard through the grapevine — there are a few changes afoot at our cozy studio on Telegraph and Alcatraz. Rosie Liebe, owner of The Body Praxis, closed her Oakland business on Wednesday, April 30th in order to embark on an adventure to India. Today, the studio opens its doors for business as Corpo Kinetic.

I am thrilled to welcome Janet Das and Jenna Anjali as teachers at the “new” Corpo Kinetic studio. and to welcome Jennifer Mirich and Julie True – massage therapists who will be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you are looking for rejuvenating Pilates or body work, the “J team” here has got you covered. Watch your inbox as the summer progresses for discounted offers for you to sample the Corpo Kinetic practitioners!

Semi-Private Fall Special

Welcome to fall! As the days get shorter and we move into the holidays, our natural rhythm is to slow down, seek creature comforts, and rest.

One of my favorite aspects of Pilates is its search for balance. We increase our muscles’ strength and flexibility and make sure we are equally strong and functional in all planes of movement – be it right to left, front to back, or top to bottom, our bodies feel best when they have all options available to them.

As fall deepens to winter, I say we borrow from Pilates’ focus on balance – embrace the need to slow down, but be sure you still give your body the movement it craves to stay strong and feel good. Often all we need to stick to those healthy habits we know make us feel good is the little extra motivation of a friend or loved one doing it with us. With that in mind, I am happy to announce:

Semi-Private Fall Special
Single Semi-Private – $37.50 per person
Package of 5 Semi-Privates – $172.50 per person
Package of 10 Semi-Privates – $337.50 per person
*25% off regular rates. Must purchase by 10/31/11.
** Each semi-private session lasts for one hour and is for two people. Semi-privates are appropriate for beginners, advanced practitioners, and mixed-level partners: each session is designed to appropriately challenge both you and your partner.