Tag Archives: pilates reformer


Check out this fun crash course on the History of Pilates


I fell in love with Pilates and committed to study it and share it with others after I experienced life-improving results from it 12 years ago.
Out of college, I earned my AFAA Group Fitness Certification and began teaching fast pace, high energy, sweaty group fitness classes at Memorial Hermann Wellness Center in Houston, Tx.  I loved it!  After some time my boss, Joetta Dickerson  [opened the first Pilates studio in Houston] told me she wanted to start training me in Pilates through the PhysicalMind Institute because she was wanting to add Mat and Reformer Pilates to our schedule there at the Wellness Center.  I originally thought, “Sure, that will be an easy class to teach.”
First order of business, take a Pilates class. At this point I had NO IDEA what this even was… and I was probably pronouncing it wrong as well!  So, first class,  I set my mat up in the back of the room and was ready to memorize these exercises.  I remember the lights were dimmed and the atmosphere was quiet and calm.  I was afraid I would fall asleep… after all, we were laying down… with the lights out…  Joetta had us breathe and she led us into the first exercise.  WOW… it was really hard!  I could’t do a lot of them, and what I could do felt very sloppy, tight and uncoordinated.  Ugh, what was happening??? I was an athlete and a group fitness instructor!  I thought I was strong before and what I quickly learned was that my strength was extremely imbalanced.
My takeaway… I NEED TO PRACTICE!!!  I started practicing Pilates every night just so I could build strength to perform the exercises.  I started reading materials that Joetta gave me to study and began observing her sessions.  At this point Joetta was working with the Houston Rockets Basketball Team. An impressional moment I will never forget was watching Joetta work with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon on his Roll-Up.  It was CRAZY!  This giant man could hardly do it… and his flexibility was not great.  At all.  This was the moment Pilates got my attention.

Photo credit: Memorial Hermann Wellness Center

Joetta Dickerson and Hakeem Olajuwon
 So after a month of daily practice, my hubby started noticing changes in MY body!  My shape was changing!!!  Now, I didn’t start doing this for my own benefits.  This was my job.  I wasn’t looking for results but the results found me!  I gained flexibility I’d NEVER had before.  I felt great.  My shape completely changed and I rehabbed my shoulder that I was suppose to have had surgery on 5 years prior and didn’t.   This happened during the time I was studying Reformer Pilates.  I COULD NOT BEIEVE THIS!
As I studied this Method, I began to identify with Joseph Pilates… being that we were both sick kids and wanted nothing more that to be strong, fit and healthy.
I enjoy and see the benefit in a variety of fitness methods, but Pilates will ALWAYS be a part of what I do and what I teach.  This is something that will keep my body young and add value to my life as long as I live.

And now the NEW Tye4® System from Pilates PhysicalMind Institute is the latest in the Pilates evolution.  It’s a wearable Reformer that can go anywhere!

More TYE4 videos and workouts on my Youtube Channel:

Ashley Benson Fitness – SUBSCRIBE!!

New classes and programs at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital Wellness Center, Murfreesboro Tennessee.

Pilates Classes

Check 840west.org for more info.




I just completed the PhysicalMind Institute 2 day E401 Standing Pilates Workshop held at the Chelsea Studios in New York, NY taught by Yuu Fujita, Institute Lead Teacher.  Traditionally, Pilates is practiced on large equipment like the Reformer and Cadillac and is not always accessible to everyone.  Mat Pilates is less expensive, does not require a lot of space, and can be followed by video or live streaming.  Often Mat Pilates classes will involve small equipment like a ring, bands or balls.  Still,  performing Pilates exercise standing has been challenging to master.  
For this training, we used the NEW Tye4® wearable resistance system from TheMethod Pilates.  It’s a harness that fits over the shoulder and connects higher on the chest, or lower depending on comfort.  It’s easy to put on and can be adjusted quickly.  It has loops that connect to each foot anchoring the single leg bungee and hand loops that anchor the single arm bungee.  While standing, the bungees function like a “bar” and gives support to movement that require balance.  Because it’s not as stable as an actual bar, it requires the body to work harder to balance.  This type of work is great for developing strong stabilizer muscles and a strong core.  The bungees can also be used to assist in movement and of course we used them to create resistance in the standing position – up to 40 lbs depending on how  the bungees are used!  We also worked through Pilates fundamentals and traditional exercises on the mat.  In this case, the Tye4 functions like a Reformer by providing assistance and resistance.  Mat Pilates is much more effective when using Tye4.  It can also be used on different Pilates apparatus – see here   

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A Little Anatomy

I am currently studying for my PhysicalMind Institute Tye4® Pilates Certification… the reason for no resent posts lately!  Well, I have been reminded – through my studying – how perfectly complex the human body is.  I am fascinated by this intricate system i.e. the reason I work in fitness!  I love that we have so much knowledge about the body, yet it is totally vulnerable and mysterious.  All the parts are arranged  in such a way as to work together for perfect function.  When one part does not work properly,  other areas WILL be effected.  Every part depends on another.


Simply put:
  • Bones support our body against gravity. We are a lot prettier this way 🙂  Hehehe
  • Muscles move the bones
  • Tendons connect the muscle to the bone
  • Ligaments connect bone to bone and helps stabilize our joints

Now let’s talk ARMS for a minute.
We are able to raise them above our head, easy (considering a healthy shoulder joint).  No big deal- not much thought, right?  Welllll, let’s take an inward look to see HOW we are able to perform that “simple movement”:
Think about the shoulder blade, or scapula, for now.  It stabilizes our shoulder both at rest and in motion.  As the arm raises upward, the scapula is responsible for range of motion and support for the arm.  It holds the arm to the body so the arm does not dangle!!!

The scapula is an ANCHOR!

As you raise your arm out to the side,
the first 30 degrees is accomplished by the arm alone- moved by the deltoid muscle.
The remaining movement is possible because of the scapula bone.
The muscle that moves this bone is the trapezius in the back.
Raise your arms out to the side and all the way up to your ears.
Now lower them.
Think about the back work that is involved.
Now do the same thing but bring the arms in front of you.
Can you feel your scapula move?
 — — — STORY TIME — — —  
College days at Houston Baptist University
Starting back to practice after volleyball season 
had ended.

So, we were back in the gym after a good Christmas break,
gearing up for training during the off season. We were lifting weight to find our max.  This means that we had to lift as much weight as possible, in one lift, for different muscle groups, to find the maximum amount of weight we could lift.
 This would allow us to find 60% of our max weight to perform  3 sets, doing 10 repetitions or we could lift 40% of our max weight for 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Ok, so back to the gym.  I was doing the Military Press exercise with a straight bar to find my max.

Military Press Exercise

WEll, it didn’t take long to learn that the weight I was lifting was OVER my max when my shoulder dislocated while holding the weight above my head!!! OOOUUUCCCHHHH! That was too much demand for my trapezius, levator scapulae, and serratus anterior.  When they gave way, my shoulder joint lost its support.  The  rotators in my shoulder clearly couldn’t handle that load and resulted in dislocation.  Good news for me: I didn’t tear anything, but I did stretch and strain the tendons and ligaments of my rotator cuff muscles in my shoulder.  They were stretched good!  For a number of days, I had to support my injured arm with my other hand while I sneezed, coughed, or hick-upped.  If I didn’t add that extra support, my shoulder would slide out of joint, and then slide back in.  Yes, that was weird!  I rehabbed my shoulder with focus – determined to fix it and get back in the gym.  After a few weeks and a much stronger shoulder, I dislocated it again 🙁
The doctor said that if it happened again, I would require surgery.  Well, let’s not tell the doctor, BUT I dislocated it 5 more times.  BOOOO  I didn’t want the surgery and decided to live with my limitations.
Fast forward 6 years…
At this time I had earned my degree in Kineseology and was working as a Fitness Specialist and Group Fitness Instructor at the Memorial Hermann Wellness Center in Houston, Tx.
My boss and mentor Joetta Dickerson (owner of The Pilates Studio Houston and Pilates Instructor to the Houston Rockets Basketball team) started teaching me the art of Pilates.  I began studying and practicing TheMethod Pilates. Unknowingly, I rehabbed my shoulder to full range of motion and strength while using the Reformer!  Needless to say this kinda hooked me onto Pilates!

Now in 2013:  PhysicalMind Institute has created the most inventive Pilates system – TYE4® that functions as a reformer!  Reformer classes are expensive and hard to find.  Great news:  now everyone can take advantage of the benefits that come from balanced, flexibility, joint mobility, core strength, long lean muscle and coordination from the large Pilates apparatus.   

Be thankful today for your scapula 🙂
Pay attention to your movement and enjoy the fact that you have such a cool, complex “earth suit” to wear!