Wellness - Sep 29, 2021

Get to Know Rosalie Helsel


If you practice Pilates with us at the PJCC, you likely know Rosalie as one of our dedicated, talented instructors. But did you know she’s now a Certified Personal Trainer—as well as one of the newest additions to our Pink Power breast cancer rehabilitation team? Catch up with Rosalie—you’ll experience her passion for Pilates, and also learn some of her best for a motivating, well-rounded workout.

What is the best-kept secret about Pilates that will surprise (and delight!) our members who haven’t tried it yet?

Many people think that Pilates is just stretching. Although Pilates improves flexibility and mobility, it is so much more than stretching! Every exercise is designed to challenge the core muscles, especially focusing on activation of the transverse abdominis (TA), the deepest abdominal layer that stabilizes the lumbar spine and pelvis before moving the arms or legs. If the TA muscle is weak, the body will recruit other muscles that are easier to engage such as the muscles of the lower back, hip flexors, and upper shoulders and traps. This can result in increased tension in these areas and is often the culprit to lower back pain. A strong TA is key to maintaining good posture, preventing injury, decreased back pain, improved balance, and pelvic floor strength and function. Having a strong core will help you to do everything better.

You also recently became a Pink Power-certified trainer (breast cancer rehabilitation). What inspires you about working with survivors? What can we learn from them about making our own bodies healthy and strong?

I am really enjoying working in the Pink Power Program. What inspires me most about working with breast cancer survivors is their determination to move forward and take charge of their health and also to put themselves first for a change. Exercise and strength is so important to our overall health and well being, it benefits us mentally, physically, and spiritually.

What are your four best exercises for a well-rounded strength workout, and what cardio do you recommend to make it complete?

My four best exercises for a well-rounded strength workout are:

1. Cable Chest Press
2. Cable Squat/Rows
3. Toe-Taps (either with knees parallel or with knees wide and toes together)
4. Planks — All sides

Cardio — Any kind of High Intensity Interval Training

Explain what Pilates 100s are, and how they have the power to sculpt a strong, toned core.

The Pilates 100 is a classic Pilates exercise often performed as a warmup because it involves the whole body, gets the blood flowing and the breath going. It’s an intense exercise that challenges the stability of the spine and pelvis thus increases abdominal strength.

Here’s how you do it:

Lie on your back, knees at 90 degrees, shins parallel to the floor, arms over the head, and most importantly, the deepest layer of abdominals pulled in and slightly up (this is to recruit the TA to stabilize the lower spine and pelvis).

Nod the chin, flex the spine forward so that your eyes are now looking over your belly and your hands are next to your hips.

Extend the legs (legs up high is easier, legs low is harder). Begin pumping the arms up and down 6 to 8 inches, inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 counts. Do this 10 times (100 pumps) If spinal flexion is not for you, you can modify by keeping the head on the mat and adjusting the height of the legs.

How can we stay motivated to prioritize our workouts now that the days are getting shorter and cooler, and Netflix beckons?

I think the key to staying motivated is to pick something you enjoy doing, make it a priority, and stick to a routine. There are so many different ways to work a muscle, experiment until you find something you like or dislike the least. Try not to focus on how you’re feeling before you go to the gym, instead focus on how good you’re going to feel when you’re done with your workout and the days following. Know that everyday in the gym is a step closer to stronger, healthier you. Don’t forget that being strong feels awesome!

Thank you for sharing your expertise with us, Rosalie!

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