Transcript EP 282 – Pilates: Get Fit without Leaving Your House with Emma Jory
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Dr. Taz Bhatia: Welcome back everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Superwoman Wellness, where I’m determined to bring you back to your super-powered self. And I am so excited about this next topic for multiple reasons. First of all, I have a guest from Malaysia and my vision has always been to connect us globally, so that’s super exciting on a selfish level. And secondly, we’re going to be talking about exercise and Pilates, which is literally one of my favorite things in the world. So, I want you all to welcome Emma Jory. Emma, I hope I’m saying your name correctly. Is that right?
Emma Jory: Yes, that’s great, thank you.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: All right, so let’s learn a little bit about Emma. Emma’s an international certified Pilates bar and hatha yoga instructor, all of my favorite things. She’s also a certified health coach and online instructor and specializes in women’s health, specifically, pre and postnatal programs, with over 17 years of teaching experience. She’s the creator of ePilates online and online global fitness business. Internationally, she’s been featured in Parenthood and Pilate Style magazine. She took the stage as an expert professional at Malaysia’s MURFEST and the Sacred Postpartum summit and was a podcast guest on the Purpose Effect and the Conscious Connections. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband and her cat named Winston. Welcome Emma to this show, thrilled to have you here.
Emma Jory: Thank you, Taz. It’s so wonderful to be here, really. Really, I am excited to chat to you today.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: And we’ve got to let everybody know, you woke up at six o’clock in the morning to be on the show. So I am so honored. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
Emma Jory: Thank you.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Let’s get into it. So my Pilate story is really one where it built my core, it opened up my diaphragm. I felt like I had the best sort of physique when I was doing Pilates a couple days a week but, of course, life got in the way and got busy, had babies, started my practices and just now the kids are now 13 and 14 years old as are the practices. I’m just now able to find a little bit of breathing room where I’m starting to go back again. I still can’t get in two or three days a week, like I did when I was single but I can at least get in a day here and a day there, so I’m a huge Pilates advocate. How did you get into it? What is your belief around Pilates? Some people don’t even know what Pilates is, so break it all down for us.
Emma Jory: Oh, great. I’m thrilled that you have had so many good experiences with it because it’s life changing. For me it was life changing as well, like you described. And I also love the way that you talked about the diaphragm because that’s very important and we can talk more about that.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Yes.
Emma Jory: I got into Pilates over 22 years ago. I was doing it for about four or five years before I actually started to teach it. I wanted to know what the celebrities were doing, this new craze. And when I checked it out after my first class, that was it, I was hooked. It had incredible benefits. I just felt calm, I felt connected to my body and I felt engaged and powerful, like I was energized as well. So for me that was huge, made a big lasting effect. And then I did it five days a week after that and then became a teacher.
Emma Jory: I then went on to open my own studio. I actually moved from corporate to teaching Pilates. So, a big life change for me. And I had a studio in Sydney, Australia. I’m actually from Australia, even though I’ve been living in Malaysia now for the last 10 years. I went through a bit of a burnout phase running my business and wasn’t looking after myself. So I totally get where you’re coming from, after having children, so my studio was my baby at the time. It just really, for me, Pilates has always been part of my life since I started it. But, even more so after the breakdown, for me, I was just not prioritizing myself enough, really made it a regular thing, every day again, because sometimes our exercise can slip, like you said, so even breaking it down and having small, increments of exercise every day is key, I think.
Emma Jory: So, yeah. I now teach online. I moved to Malaysia after selling my business to join my husband here and then put my teachings online. That’s how ePilates online began because I didn’t really know how long I was going to be here in Malaysia to start another business. And also I just found, I wasn’t able to reach enough people, helping enough people, basically. So the option became quite clear for me. But, that was before COVID, that was about four or five years before COVID. So now it’s quite common, everyone’s used to working out online.
Emma Jory: So for me, Pilates is… I’d describe it like a staple in my diet. I feel like it’s like vegetables, it just has to be there. I think it helps us stay in great posture, keep the body balanced. Yeah, I know as we sit up.
Emma Jory: Exactly, me too. And yeah, in general, just feel connected again to our body because we get in our heads so much during the day, we’re busy.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Yeah.
Emma Jory: And, like yoga, I know you’re an advocate of all of those, so it just brings us back into our body and out of our heads. So I just love it and we’ll continue teaching it for another, probably, 17 years, if I can too.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: So why Pilates versus some of the other things you love, like yoga or bar? How do you differentiate between these exercise forms? And then I want to get into a little bit about accessibility to Pilates because the very thing that stopped me, honestly, was children and babies, and I couldn’t make it to a studio. I even bought a super cheap reformer that’s upstairs, but it’s not the same. So I’m curious how you… I’m definitely going to check out your website, but how does that work when you, maybe, don’t have the fancy equipment and things like that. But, first let’s break down Pilates and the actual benefits of Pilates versus some of the other forms of exercise that many of us love.
Emma Jory: Yeah. So for those who don’t know much about Pilates, it does focus a lot more on core strength. And a lot of people don’t actually really understand that the core is not just the abdominal muscles, and I think it’s a bit of a misconception to think it just focuses on the tummy. It focuses a lot on the glutes, the inner thighs, the back muscles, the hamstring. So the core actually does make up all of our trunk, really, the muscles that surround our spine. So it does focus a lot on that and working together. And the reason we really need a strong core is because, especially as women, as we age, our muscles are affected by hormones. So we can tend to lose muscle strength in all those areas, especially if we’re sitting for long periods. So the core is really important to keep us in that good posture, again, and to prevent injuries and also recover from injuries. So Pilates is amazing with that.
Emma Jory: But, also it helps to strengthen, again, the whole body. It works not just the core but works the arms, the limbs, the feet. And feet are something we tend to forget about, but they actually do help connect right to the rest of the body and the core, so there are huge importance as well to keep strong and flexible. And it does also help us, like I mentioned, reconnect back to the body because Pilates is a mind-body exercise. So we are always thinking about our breath, making sure we’re not holding our breath. We are focused as well, because a lot of gym exercises tend to not always get us thinking about form, I’m sure a lot of PTs do help us with that, but the focus isn’t as much on controlling the body or what we’re doing with the body to the level that Pilates does. So we have to be focused. We have to be in the present moment when we’re doing our Pilates, otherwise, we can’t do too many fancy things with the body, which we sometimes ask to do.
Emma Jory: So I think the difference in the exercise of gym and Pilates is also working the smaller muscle groups as well. So we do focus on those. Which stabilizes the joint and they help to prevent injuries.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: I love that. I have a background in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and some of these alternative systems of medicine, so one of the things we learned from them and even, honestly, from the field of chiropractor is the importance of spinal health and how it’s connected to the meridians. And when you have blockages, mechanical blockages, in the body, whether it’s in the spine or the hips or the core, it results in organ blockages as well, it’s all connected. And we hold our emotions, often, in many of those places. So, for me it’s core, diaphragm, pelvic floor, emotional release, spinal lengthening and then, really, just working, in a very different way, to so many other muscle groups in the body.
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Dr. Taz Bhatia: Now how though… That accessibility issue, right? Hopefully most of you listening and watching today have seen the reformers and then there’s the chair and then there are the Springs and all these different pieces of equipment that are used in many of the more traditional Pilates programs, because it was invented by a man who was injured and had to come up with a new way to move based on his injuries. Now, do we have to have all that equipment to be able to do Pilates effectively?
Emma Jory: Not at all. Yeah, you’re right, Joseph Pilates did invent Pilates. And he firstly invented it… A series of mat exercises, basically. Because he was interned during the war in Germany. And he taught this to his clients but he realized that a lot of the exercises, people sometimes couldn’t get their body into some of the moves. So he then went on to create the other apparatus to give a little bit of assistance, to help do the mat exercises. So the mat was the original method that he invented.
Emma Jory: But, you really don’t need the other forms of apparatus, you can definitely use things in your home, if you ever want to add on certain different moves, but the mat is all that you really need. And you can have things like a small yoga block if you need to sit on that sort of thing. So you can do it all from home.
Emma Jory: And that’s a great thing too, about online Pilates now, we can access, obviously, all kinds of exercise now online. And Pilates is one of them you can take anywhere, you just need your mat and sometimes if you’re home, you can use a couple of extra props. We have different things like magic circles, bands to add on extra strength and stability and toning sort of work. But, all you need is the mat and you’re good to go.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: How often do you recommend someone does Pilates for results? Like you were saying, get it in every day, what are you thinking there? Is that a 15-minute deal every day? Or, tell me what’s happening there.
Emma Jory: Yeah. So ideally a couple of times a week, you will notice a change in your body. And that’s what we’d recommend, two to three times a week. But often sometimes it’s tricky for a lot of people to fit in an hour, so I highly recommend doing at least 15/20 minutes, that actually gets benefits as well as keeping those muscles working.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Gotcha.
Emma Jory: Yeah, And it’s a great way to, I guess, keep your habit in place as well, doing little bits at a time.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Could you break it up? Could you do 20 minutes and 20 minutes?
Emma Jory: I do, yeah. I actually do that often. I like to do half hour workouts. And with my online program, I actually do that program a lot for my clients. And I find they stay more consistent that way. It’s not a big chore to have to get to do a whole hour. It’s easy. And then you feel good once you’ve done that. Even that little bit, you actually feel great and then you are usually coming back for more. It’s like a little feel good bonus then. Yeah.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: I love that. That excites me, I’m going to have to check that out. So who is Pilates right for? What age of woman? Pregnancy, postpartum? Oh my gosh. I probably shouldn’t share the story, but I remember having had my… I did Pilates throughout the pregnancy, I did that. I remember it was so awkward because this belly was out here and I couldn’t… You know when you’re pushing on the reformer, I could barely push. And then when I came back, I’d had a lot of, not to overshare, but a lot of damage to my pelvic area and it was just so painful. But it did help in bringing the mobility and the laxity back through there. So who’s the right person? Who’s the right candidate for Pilates?
Emma Jory: Yeah. Everybody, actually. It is ideal for men and women. It was created by Joseph who. obviously, is a man, but it is amazing for women, as you said, for pelvic floor reasons, for general rehabilitation. So for pre and postnatal women, it’s ideal. I specialize in that area as well. So I do train a lot of women during their pregnancy, but also after recovering. And Pilates, actually, it does strengthen the pelvic floor but it also keeps it supple.
Emma Jory: So there are two things that are important when it comes to the pelvic floor because we don’t just want to have an overactive, over strong pelvic floor. It’s like any muscle that has to be able to contract and release. So we do allow for movement in the pelvic floor. Ideally, we are not just doing keels as we try and strengthen the public floor as women, because that’s not working the whole body. The pelvic floor is at its best function when we are working all the other muscles with it, like the inner thighs, like the glutes and the core. So Pilates is ideal for strengthening the pelvic floor because it incorporates all those other muscles as well.
Emma Jory: So, it’s amazing for women of all ages, going into pregnancy, recovering, but also women who haven’t, obviously, had children. I’ve had a couple of injuries in my time and they’ve affected my pelvic floor. So it’s interesting, your pelvic floor can be affected by other things, so Pilates is great for that.
Emma Jory: And also it’s great for just strengthening the whole body, keeping our muscles toned and strong. We lose muscle mass a little bit as we age as well, so keeping that up is fantastic for all ages of women.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: One of the questions I get asked often in practice, I get asked about this about yoga and Pilates, do they build muscle? Because one of the biggest issues for women over 40 and over 50 is that they’re having this loss of muscle and that loss of muscle is driving up insulin, which is resulting in belly fat. And so a lot of women are trying to work out really hard and trying to starve, but they still have this belly fat that they’re dealing with. So Pilates truly builds muscle, like lifting weights, or where is that on that continuum?
Emma Jory: Yeah, good question. It is, because we are using our whole body weight. That we do push ups, we do planks and all of those sorts of things where we often strengthen muscles that sometimes get missed in the gym. We work the obliques as well and thighs. I mean, yes, there are apparatus to do that in the gym but we do make sure we are focusing on those in every exercise.
Emma Jory: But, comparing it to weight lifting, I think women need to do weightlifting as well. So I don’t see it as an either or, I think combining the two are amazing and that’s what I like to do myself and also for my clients. You mentioned earlier and I didn’t really explain then but the yoga, the bar and the Pilates and even weights, I find, is my ideal combo. So I tend to do a bit of a mix of it all because we really do need the weights, I think, as women, as we age to add that little bit extra punch and strength. Yeah. So I combine all of those on my website as well. I train in all those because I’m also a certified personal trainer.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Wonderful. So on your website then, do you have workouts where you mix everything? Are there dedicated Pilates, dedicated weight stuff?
Emma Jory: Dedicated? I find I keep them in the box. I mean, sometimes I mix in a bit of yoga and Pilates but I really like what each brings to the table. So I do keep them separate.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Gotcha. So with that kind of background, let’s help the women out there who might be listening today. If you’re in your 20s, muscle mass is usually in pretty decent shape. What is, maybe, the ideal workout for a woman in her 20s? And let’s do that for 30s and 40s and even 50s. And mixing between this toolbox, everyone likes cardio to get the heart rate up, but mixing between the toolbox of yoga, Pilates, bar, weights, what would you recommend through the decades?
Emma Jory: Mm, good question. The bar, every bar style is different, but I highly recommend bar for women who are in their 20s to 30s and younger. I think this is a great way to build up your heart rate, the cardio element, in bar, it’s quite intense, even though I still love it now and it gets great results, but I think that would be ideal for women in 20s to 30s. 30 to 40, again, Pilates I think is great, but also right through the years, yoga, I think as we get into our later years is amazing to help us just control the cortisol level, but also great for women in 30s to 40s who are busy in their careers, perhaps, to help maintain a nice calm feeling, I guess, through our body because we tend to find we’re often stressed and that releases those hormones that we don’t really want running around our body too often, the stress hormones, so that brings us down to a nice rest and digest state, the yoga. But also, I think leading into later in life, it keeps it a little bit more flexible.
Emma Jory: And the weights, as we talked about, as we age, I think it’s great because it helps us prevent osteoporosis, but also maintain that level, so good for our bone density. But, Pilates all the way through, I think that’s the winner, right? The staple of the diet. Because that also keeps us injury free and keeps us mobile as we age because if we fall or trip and we do fall over at any point, it’s going to help us have a little bit more grace as we land. We do a lot of rolling around on the floor in Pilates. And so if you can sort of help to catch yourself as you fall or you have core strength and happen to roll down rather than land heavily, then Pilates is great for that and will help prevent injury.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: That’s all so helpful. And one of the other things that I personally have experienced, how do you know which style of Pilates? Because there’s classical Pilates, right? And then there’s some modern variations of it. How do we sift through that information? How do we figure that out?
Emma Jory: It can be confusing for someone because they can… If you do start Pilates and you’re new to it, you can go to a class that’s quite easy in level because there’s even restorative Pilates and even yoga and a slower pace style Pilates. But then there’s also the quicker pace and more of a flow style Pilates. So, you’re right, There’s contemporary and classical.
Emma Jory: Classical tends to be more flow, if you’re doing mat especially and reformer. And contemporary can sometimes break the exercises down a lot more and is often more used in physiotherapy and rehabilitation, clinical sort of style Pilates. So I’m trained in both, actually. And I love both for different reasons. So I think when you’re trying to choose something for you, you just have to try out a couple of different places and different teachers because it can vary so much, as you know. And so finding something that suits you and your body type, where you’re at at that time is really important. You don’t want to be feeling exhausted after a class, you want to be feeling energized and worked out. I think also teachers are very different, so it’s finding the right teacher as well as style.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Gotcha. And-
Emma Jory: Yeah.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: And so tell us about your business. So ePilates online, tell us a little bit about that. What can we expect? I was actually going to Google it in a minute, then what can we expect?
Emma Jory: Oh, good.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Give us a sense of how you’re approaching that.
Emma Jory: Yeah. So I, like I mentioned, started it about six/seven years ago now. And so I’ve been creating classes for my members for a long time and getting some amazing results. It’s pretty much my Pilates studio online now. So like I mentioned, I have bar, yoga, Pilates, weights. I even focus on women going through their pre and postnatal phase, so there’s all those videos available as well. They’re all pre-recorded, so you can do them anytime.
Emma Jory: But, one of the things my members say a lot is it feels like I’m actually in the room with them. So I do teach quite closely. I do give them examples of things to look out for at home, so it’s not just a straight class, like you’re in a class and you are there in the background. I do communicate with you to look out for certain things, are your shoulders around your ears? That’s one of the big things my members love, the little reminders I give the clients as I’m teaching.
Emma Jory: So you can get access to the classes 24/7. It’s a membership style. And I actually provide a monthly calendar for the members and usually a monthly focus or challenge. So they don’t have to really look around for what they need, I provide that for them every day. So they can just click a button, it’s there, they don’t have to think about what they’re doing. If it’s not the kind of class for them, on the day, they can just search through and find something more suitable.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Gotcha. Wonderful. Well, you know I love Pilate. So I’m excited to go check it out. And for anybody who’s thought about trying it, I highly, highly recommend it. It really works for all ages, all body types. Opening up that spine, strengthening that core. Which, remember, you’ve got an emotional, spiritual and a physical body and they all communicate. So many times you might not be sweating. I know everybody’s like, “If I’m going to exercise, I’m going to sweat. And I want my heart rate to pound aggressively.” And that has its place, but many times we’ve got to open up these energy centers, we’ve got to lengthen and strengthen. And then we see some long lasting results. So thank you so much, Emma, for joining me today, I appreciate it. This was so helpful. If anybody listening or watching wants to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Emma Jory: Thank you. I’ve loved this chat and I love the way you bring in the energy into it, because that is a whole nother element. Thank you. They can reach me at epilatesonline.com. And there are a couple of free programs that they can access there. There’s a Pilates pack that they can sign up for and get delivered to their inbox, to try a couple of classes. And I would love to help any of your listeners in their fitness journey, and yourself. So thank you so much, Taz.
Dr. Taz Bhatia: Yes. Thank you. And thank you for waking up early for us, we appreciate it so much. And for everyone watching and listening to this episode of Superwoman Wellness, thank you so much. Don’t forget to rate and review it and share it with your friends. And I will see you guys next time.