Getting Away From Everything…Except Pilates

August 19, 2009

By Kristin McGee

Pilates has become so much a part of my life now that I just can’t seem to take a vacation from it. Tim and I just returned from a weeklong getaway in Maine. My student, Pip, has an incredible house on the beach in Kennebunkport and he offered to lend us his home for the week that his family was away. We were so excited for the opportunity, especially since Tim has to head back to Carnegie Mellon for his second—and last—year of his MBA program. Tim insisted we keep his laptop at home and that I refrain from checking email or doing anything work related. I struggled a bit with the idea but agreed it would be best to have a break from being online, and this way we could really enjoy each other’s company and the magnificent beauty that surrounded us. The computer could stay in NYC, but the Pilates Power Gym, on the other hand, simply could not!

The beautiful Maine shoreline

The beautiful Maine shoreline

I’m very fortunate to be the Pilates expert for the Pilates Power Gym on the Home Shopping Network. The Pilates Power Gym is like a miniature Reformer/total-body gym all in one piece. The company discovered me through my Pilates presence and acting background, and ever since October 2008, I’ve been going to HSN almost once a month. I absolutely love to see how popular Pilates has become and I really support any kind of equipment that can bring Joseph Pilates’ brilliant method to a wider audience. If you feel like having a laugh and seeing me on HSN in the future, I’ll keep you posted on my next air dates through my blog and on twitter.

Anyway, I was hired to shoot a new set of DVDs to go along with the Pilates Power Gym and I needed to work on my routine. I figured with a whole week off of work in Manhattan, Maine would be the ideal location for me to have a little bit more space (instead of my tiny New York apartment) and free time (my teaching schedule is insane). I asked the company if they wouldn’t mind shipping a unit to Pip’s home and also told Pip it would be a house gift once I left. He was fine with it—but Tim was slightly upset. He could not believe I was having the Reformer shipped to Maine. He threw a stink for a little bit, but in the end he really supported me and gave me time to do some choreography and get some incredible workouts in. I felt amazing after each morning, moving on the machine and working all angles of my body while Tim lounged around. (I especially love using the leg straps and doing Leg Circles.) Afterward I could spend the entire day with him and I was a much happier fiancé. It also helped me stay connected to my core when we did our runs on the beach and our rowing in the kayaks on the ocean.


Working Your Backbone

August 14, 2009

After reading my first blog, a student wrote me—and gave me the hugest compliment. She said that I had worked so hard to be a good person and that I only deserved the best. I can honestly say that Pilates has helped me along my path to becoming the type of woman that I admire. Every time I take a mat class or a get on a Reformer and connect with my deeper internal core, I feel like I’m somehow strengthening more than just my physical self. I find that through my practice, I have become more in touch with all aspects of myself.

backbone

I take a private with one of the best teachers I know—a friend who I met in acting class years ago. Carey has a second sense about her, and she really knows how to push my buttons and make me dig deeper to really access places that are stuck or even a little dead. She’s helping me wake up my lower-back region, which gives me the backbone to be able to speak the truth and be honest in my relationships. In the past, I’ve often let myself morph into my significant other. I’d become more like the man I was dating and lose sight of my individuality and eventually, I’d start to feel depressed. Thanks to Pilates and my work with Carey, I now have that strong backbone and I’m able to remain true to myself while still growing and developing alongside another person. That person, of course, is Tim and he’s so open and ready to discuss things—and he truly allows me to be myself.

Here’s an exercise that I do with Carey to get in touch with those deep lower-back muscles: Sit tall with your legs extended out in front of you and really try to access your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine closing an elevator door at your pelvic floor and then let it rise up each floor as you hollow out your low belly and keep growing taller out of your lower back. Slowly lift your arms up until they are reaching the ceiling, alongside your ears, and then turn your palms toward each other. Do the very best you can to soften your chest, and keep drawing your front ribs back in space to gain strength in your back body. (I’ll write more about this in my next blog and how softening my heart region in Pilates has helped me in so many ways as well.) Turn to your right as far as you can and then pulse back 10 times, making tiny twists. Turn forward and repeat on your left side.

This exercise had a profound effect on how I carry myself and it has also slimmed the back region of my waist. Not only do I have a backbone and more confidence, I now have a sexy back, too.


Hot Air Balloons, More Pilates and the Dress of My Dreams

August 12, 2009

By Kristin McGee

Dear friends,

I am thrilled to announce that I just found the dress of my dreams. I can’t give away too many details because Tim, my fabulously supportive fiancé, reads all my blogs, helps me with my Facebook posting, and runs and manages my PR more or less whenever he has any free time. He is a computer whiz! He just finished his summer internship here in New York. We’ve had an incredible time living together in my tiny apartment. I’ll be so sad to see him leave in a few weeks. He has one more year of business school, and then we’ll get married in December. Once he finishes his last semester in the spring, we’ll take our honeymoon. We haven’t decided where yet, so I’ll probably ask you to help with suggestions. (So if you any some great honeymoon tips, let me know.)-1

I just can’t believe how lucky I am. I went to the store whose dresses I had seen in certain brides’ magazines and always loved the most. The dresses are from Barcelona, http://www.pronovias.com, and Carmel, who helped me, was beyond awesome. I found a gorgeous veil to go with the dress, and I will make sure to send out pictures after my big day.

I’m glad I held off on the dress at the Italian dress store. As much as I loved it, it didn’t make me cry when I put it on (I always heard that was the criterion). And guess what: I literally had tears in my eyes today when I stood in front of the mirror. Carmel was hilarious…she kept asking how I got my body and I said it was Pilates. She is going to come take a class of mine now.

Speaking of classes, I taught a wild class last weekend at a Hot Air Balloon festival in New Jersey. Tim came with me, and we took our first-ever hot-air balloon ride in the Darth Vader balloon! Tim was beside himself being the Star Wars fan that he is. My teaching leads me on some of the greatest adventures, and I am so thankful to have a fiancé who will support me along the way.

Thanks to all of you for your support, for your comments and for following me on the greatest adventure of my life. I always love to hear from you! I’ll have another “Pilates Bridezilla” installment for you soon, so stay tuned!


Working Out and Dressing Up

July 28, 2009

By Kristin McGee

I have the coolest students. I am so lucky to teach Pilates all over the city and meet and work with such amazing people. Just last week after I taught my class at the Soho Equinox, I started chatting with a student from Australia. Naturally the conversation came around to the fact that I’M GETTING MARRIED IN FIVE MONTHS! And it just so happens that she is also recently engaged and she had a wonderful lead on some beautiful dresses and gave me the link: http://www.rembo-styling.com. As we kept talking, we also discovered that my wedding date is on her birthday! We couldn’t believe it. Her wedding is in April so she has bit more time to pick out her perfect dress.

After a private session, I taught on the Upper East Side a few days later, I passed by a wedding gown store called Atelier Aimee, on Park Avenue. The dresses in the window were stunning and I had to ring the bell and walk inside just for a peek. I know these dresses are way beyond my budget, but I thought I’d at least ask what one of my favorites came in at.

This is E28 from Eve of Milady, which a student recommended to me.

This is E28 from Eve of Milady, which a student recommended to me.

The lovely clerk, Marni, said it was about $6,000. Wow! Six grand is a lot of money, but for handmade dresses from Italy that are one of a kind, it wasn’t as terrible as I was expecting. I told her my wedding date, though, and she nearly fainted. She said brides who are getting married in December 2010 have already bought their dresses and that I should get a move on. I am going back in for an appointment next week to try on some of the dresses. If nothing else, I’ll have an idea of my perfect fantasy dress and maybe I can have someone make it for me here in the States or hit the lotto and buy a gown at http://www.aimeeusa.com. If I happen to really want something from there (and can take out a loan), then I have to decide, like, yesterday in order for them to have it made.
Once I posted my first blog, one of my favorite long-distance students who does my DVDs and who I connected with via internet, emailed me immediately and gave me a link to her favorite wedding designer: http://www.eveofmiladybridals.com. She also said E28 would be an incredible dress for me. I almost cried when I received her email because of her incredible support for me and the fact that she is helping me out even though we’ve never ever met in person. I feel like she is my sister in a sense.

In my familial birth order, I am the middle girl between two boys, and I have to admit as much as I love having my hair and makeup done for photo shoots, I am quite the tomboy. I run around the city in workout gear all day long and usually wear my hair back in a ponytail. I live for the weeks when I’m camping with my dad (we did two weeks white-water rafting on the Grand Canyon last summer). Don’t be horrified, but I can go for days without washing my hair and live in the same T- shirt and flannel and rinse my undies in the nearest river. But that’s when I’m camping. Right now, I have to focus and to find the dress of my dreams. (Oh, am I obsessing?) I am too practical, and I’ve given up dress shopping for work or my own workouts and classes to become a better and better teacher.

I have five months now before the big day. It’s time to really pretend I’m a princess and I need to pamper myself a bit more (something that’s actually hard for me to do). I need all the help I can get. I appreciate the advice I’ve had so far from my students and friends, and I have a few pseudo-sisters in Manhattan who are waiting for me to pick a day to go to Kleinfelds so they can help me try on dresses. I will keep you posted and I’ll try and bring my digital camera with me so you can vote on or help me decide on the ideal dress. Or send me your suggestions! Post your comments here and I will get them—and respond to every one of you. Thanks for sharing in this journey!


The Pilates Bridezilla Speaks!

July 22, 2009
Tim and I

Tim and I

By Kristin McGee

I never would have imagined I’d meet the man of my dreams while teaching Pilates. In April 2007, I was in Sun Valley, Idaho (the ski town near where I grew up), for Easter weekend and to do some spring skiing. It just so happened one of my East Coast clients has a home there as well, and she asked if I could do some yoga and Pilates privates with her apres-ski.

In the middle of our second session, Teresa jumps up and screams out, “Tim O’Shea! I said, “Tim O’huh?” I thought maybe the ab series had got her delirious or something. She says again, “Tim O’Shea. He was just here in Sun Valley skiing for a month. He is perfect for you, and you are perfect for him. You have to meet him. He will love you. I am calling him right now.”

Before I even knew what was happening, I got a phone call later that evening from Tim, who said his best friend’s mother had left a voicemail on his home fax machine phone (which he hasn’t had a call on in ages) instructing him to call me. He was as nonplussed as I was, but we both were very intrigued by the entire scenario. Tim was living in Boston, and he said he’d come to New York and take me out when I came back from Idaho.

He came in on a Monday evening, and we went to dinner at The Spotted Pig (thank goodness I’m not a vegetarian) in the far West Village of New York and talked the entire evening. The next time he came in to the city, he took me to Raoul’s (the best steak frites in all of NY….once again, thank goodness I’m not a vegetarian), and he kissed me good-night that evening. Well, the rest is history (at least, among the McGees and O’Sheas). We continued long-distance dating—lots of fung wah $15 bus rides from NY to Boston and vice versa—and just this past December while we were both out skiing in Sun Valley, he popped the question on the chairlift of all places.

Pilates led me to Tim in a roundabout way, but I think Pilates has and always will continue to keep leading me back to myself and my true center. It keeps me grounded, focused, centered, lengthened, lighter, stronger, more confident and constantly aiming for a deeper understanding of myself—and of life. I’m counting on Pilates to not only get me in tiptop physical shape. Goodness knows I need a scooped-in belly, nice posture, lifted derriere and toned arms for whichever dress I end up choosing…I’ll need all of your help with that, so please send me suggestions and leads I know I can also count on Pilates to keep me calm, cool and collected to deal with whatever comes my way as I get ready for my big day. [Editor’s note: Kristin: if you got married TODAY you’d have the perfect Pilates bod!]

We’ve set the date, December 19, 2009, in Sun Valley (of course), and we’ll be getting married in the clubhouse of the-brand new Golf Lodge, which has breathtaking views of Mt. Baldy. After the ceremony, everyone will be shuttled over to the River Run Lodge at the base of the mountain, where we’ll have our reception. I’m excited for you to help me along, and I’ll share with you all the details of my Pilates practice, dress hunting, invitation sending and beauty regime. I’ll do my best to maintain the Pilates contrology and not actually turn into Bridezilla. So far so good. Tim cannot get over how relaxed I am as a bride to be. Of course, only time will tell.

XOXO,

Kristin McGee—soon to be O’Shea