Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pregnancy and Our Method

I have three amazing children and either taught or took class up to the day of my delivery with each pregnancy. That gives me 27 months of practical application learning what works and doesn’t work on a pregnant body! Each pregnancy was a distinct learning experience, and I appreciate being able to share that with people that are going through their own pregnancies.

One tremendous benefit for pregnant clients is that our classes emphasize engaging your pelvic floor during class. The pelvic floor takes focus to target, but it’s one of the most important stabilizing forces in our entire core and should be part of our exercise regime. I mention in class sometimes that I never did a kiegl during pregnancy, which is true. But my strength and stability were and are amazing because of almost every exercise in our class. We have a continuing emphasis on maintaining an inward draw off all of your muscles towards your bones and this is the same focus when trying to engage your pelvic floor musculature. Just deeper.

The stronger you are internally, the more relaxed you are externally. If you are staying focused internally and able to release the superficial muscles you’ll be able to work much deeper and take your practice to a higher level. Strength within and softness without is a great goal. The ability to combine strength and stability with a compassionate softness is also in alignment with the skills you will need as a new mom (along with a healthy dose of patience!)

Many pregnant women are able to participate in 90% of our class without any modifications, but we are happy to give modifications for any position in which they feel discomfort. Many of our Instructors have experienced pregnancy themselves, and all are specifically trained in working with pregnant women and helping them tailor the class specifically to their needs, which can change from day to day throughout a pregancy. This is why we are able to allow new pregnant clients to begin classes (with a Dr.’s approval) and afford them the convenience of participating in any class on the schedule.

The Dailey Method has helped hundreds of pregnant women maintain or achieve fitness during their pregnancy. I have heard so many amazing testimonies (below are a few) from our clients about their enhanced experience with childbirth and recovery due to their practice at our studios, and it’s also always fun to see the result in the child care room a few weeks later! We also offer a great way to bounce back with our "New Mom" Special of 3 months of unlimited classes for only $450.

- Jill

"I highly recommend TDM during pregnancy. I attended class 3-4x per week throughout my pregnancy. It helped me maintain muscle tone and build strength/endurance (doing the exercises with extra weight is a boost!). All the instructors were incredibly mindful to ensure correct positions and adjustments. I firmly believe TDM was instrumental in a quick recovery and losing the baby weight extremely fast." -- Trina Van Pelt"

"The Dailey Method was such a treat for me during pregnancy. It helped me feel strong, healthy and in control of my body as much as one can be while pregnant! My lower back was strong from the exercises and supported my weight gain and pressure of a big belly in front. My OB actually commented on how strong my abdominal muscles were and how great it was that I had that muscle memory to keep my stomach strong (and also how it would quickly go back to normal after the birth!). All of the instructors were amazingly helpful giving me accommodations to keep me safe and I felt wonderful to be staying active! More than just the workout itself however, I found that the deep breathing and focusing that I used in class was immensely helpful when I was pushing during contractions and giving birth. I would recommend DM over a birthing class in a heartbeat!!" -- Emily Campbell

"I exercised with my first pregancy. Well, sort of. Walks around the park, a few yoga dvds, etc. But here's the truth, being a mother takes strength. Carrying a 25 pound toddler who wants to run back into the toy store takes patience AND muscles. When I discovered The Dailey Method when my son was a year old, I watched my body transform into a stronger, leaner one, the kind of body I wanted and needed for my life. So when I was pregnant with my daughter, I happily continued to attend classes at The Dailey Method . The instructors were fantastically supportive and willing to help me with modifications to make sure I kept my body strong in a way that respected my changing physique. One of my proudest moments as a pregnant woman was when during a particularly grueling set of thigh work, the instructor pointed to me and yelled out, "Look ladies, she can do it, and she's eight months pregnant." Needless to say, I'm still an avid fan of The Dailey Method, and love the way attending class reminds me of the amazing strength and power of a woman's body." -- Carson Buck

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer School

I just got back from Wanderlust in Squaw Valley. This is a four-day Yoga and music festival and it was absolutely amazing. Well I must admit I can only say that the yoga part was amazing, after taking three classes a day I couldn’t really stay awake or stand long enough to partake in the evening music portion of the festival.

Having been in the fitness business for over 20 years and focusing on creating The Dailey Method for the last ten, it would be easy to think that I’ve seen and done it all. Yet I continue to be amazed with how much information there is out there, and by staying open to studying and practicing with other teachers of movement there is always room for improvement and evolution of an already amazing technique.

I’m not a yoga person, never have been and thought I never would be. I took seven classes in three days, all from masters of different styles of Yoga. I learned from and was inspired by all of them. I took two Anusara classes and was blown away. This style teaches an energy flow that correlates with the neutral spine education that The Dailey Method has been teaching, but from a more visceral point of view. They are incredibly symbiotic, and I am excited to further explore this symbiosis.

I took a wonderful class with Elena Brower who introduced the loops, or energy flow, to us and clearly imparted so much information in such a short time. I also took another class from Sianna Sherman. MC Yogi, a funky yogi DJ, said at the end of his class that the one thing he loves about Sianna is that when she talks you see rainbows shooting out of her heart. You honestly do. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was that so many of the instructors were so joyful, engaged and giving that they can’t help but inspire teachers to be to more present with their students. When our teaching comes from a place of genuine enthusiasm and caring, that is when we are at out best

Beyond amazing cues and interesting new takes on movements, I was also reminded that, as teachers, we need to make sure to encourage people to become stronger both inside and out. To strengthen themselves for themselves, but also so they can give that strength to others. Taking time for ourselves each day allows us to go out in the world and take better care of those who require our attention and need us to be our best. This is originally why I developed the Dailey Method, and every day that I take or teach class, I feel a difference in both the energy and confidence that I take out of the studio and into the world. It influences all the interactions that I have the rest of the day. It is cliché, but so true--if we feel good and are happy with ourselves, it’s much easier to make others happy.

I have always encouraged our Instructors to take as many different classes and teachers as possible. I have a good relationship with several similar Methods that allow our Instructors to take and learn from each other when traveling. Along the way I have had the benefit of many wonderful teachers, beginning with my early dance teachers, kinesiology professors, Pilates and Lotte Berk instructors, and of course my Dailey Method collegues. Never think you are at the end of your path. Always consider yourself on a stepping stone somewhere in the middle. This weekend was one of those stepping stones, and for that I am grateful.



Photo by Tinywater Photography. For more information on their services, including weddings, please visit

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Here's To The First 10 Years.

As I reflect back, I really can’t believe that 10 years have passed since I began the Dailey Method. This experience has far surpassed any expectations I may have had or any aspirations that I ever imagined and I’m incredibly fortunate and happy at all that has transpired during this time.

Shortly after graduating from College in 1991 with a degree in kinesiology, I moved to San Francisco. In my search for where to begin my career, many different people helped direct me towards Pilates, which, at that time, was in the early stages of being publicly recognized. I completed the certified training for Pilates, loved it, and practiced it both privately and semi-privately for the next 9 years. During this time I was able to train other teachers and also incorporate more traditional fitness training and rehabilitation work into my format.

After several years of running a Personal Training/Pilates business with a partner, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to help people reshape their bodies in a more assertive manner while still maintaining the alignment and structural. What I didn’t realize is that through this process I would be able to help guide people beyond exercise so that it transferred to their day of standing taller, breathing deeper and feeling better. I also envisioned moving from teaching in a private setting to a class setting. I find that the energy and camaraderie in a group environment is a more effective model for most people.

Thanks to one of my faithful clients who had studied Lotte Berk for years in New York, I was introduced to this concept of exercising and quickly became intrigued and inspired by the possibilities. I visited New York several times and had the opportunity to take class and train with some of the amazing original Lotte Berk instructors. At this point, I determined that this type of group exercise was foundationally what I had been looking for. I returned to San Francisco and began to work at adapting this format using my kinesiology background and training while also incorporating my own creative style enhanced by my many years as a dancer in my earlier years and through college. This style has continued to evolve both creatively and therapeutically over the years as more and more research is done around the effectiveness of strong core conditioning.

I get an incredible amount of fulfillment from what I do because not only do I love what I do, but it makes people happy, it gives them confidence. It gives them a community. Sometimes it gives them a professional or a total lifestyle change. It’s affected so many people’s lives in an incredibly positive manner.

I want to thank all of our devotees, clients, friends and colleagues for helping guide this Method and create this family and make a true change in our bodies.

- Jill

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Often Should I Come To Get The Maximum Results?

One of the most common questions I am asked is: “How many times should I attend class per week?” The correct answer is incredibly individual due to a number of other lifestyle choices and genetics.

I always try to answer from personal experience in addition to what I have seen work for the Clients I’ve observed in classes over the 10 years I’ve taught The Dailey Method (TDM).

3 times per week is a great number. Time wise it’s still manageable and you will continue to make changes to your body with every class. This is a good number for the busy Client that wants to be as time efficient in their fitness goal as possible or someone who has another practice that they like in addition to TDM. This is truly all you need to do to be anatomically healthy and to significantly change your body.

My personal goal is 4 times a week. I’m sure it’s hard to believe, seeing that I’m at one or another Studio almost every single day, but it’s not always easy for me to schedule my own workouts. Quantity or quality of exercise does not occur when I teach because I generally only demonstrate set up and then my focus is on helping the clients perfect their positioning so they get the most effective workout possible. Therefore, with three kids to manage in addition to the business, I have to truly schedule this important time for myself. When I take 4 classes I feel as strong and lean as needed for my body and comfort level. This is for the person that really loves to work out but still may have some time limitations. Clients that regularly attend this quantity have incredible form and focus in the practice and would not have to do any other form of exercise to achieve their personal best body.

I’m not an extreme personality type when it comes to exercise, but must say that when I do have the opportunity to take 5 classes a week, it’s amazing! I’m challenged with enough variety of exercises, positions and angles of strength and stamina that I feel stronger every day. This is a great number for former marathon runners or other athletes that want the intensity but a kinder, more rehabilitative exercise for their bodies.

In addition to time and personality there are also lifestyle, and genetic factors, which will help in determining the quantity of class that is right for you. For example:

-Food quantity and quality consumed. I’m not someone who restricts my diet but I do believe in the importance of both enjoying and eating the best quality and healthful food available. There is value to taste and if you’re enjoying what you’re eating this can have a positive impact in the long-term. Possibly keeping one from over-indulging or under eating. I believe food goes beyond just fueling my body so I tend to take an “anything in moderation is okay” approach.

-The amount of energy expended during the day. This is influenced by how much you physically move and the amount of energy devoted to that movement each day. Both the quantity and quality of exercise will determine the individual differences. There is a wide-range of activities that qualify, from taking stairs, chasing your children, or additional cardiovascular work you may incorporate into your day. Although you may not burn as many calories during your one-hour Dailey Method class as you would in a 60-minute cardiovascular workout, you will actually increase your metabolism by both repairing the muscle from your Dailey Method workout and from the improved lean-muscle vs. fat mass ratio of your new body. Before I started the Dailey Method I used to do 5 hours of cardiovascular work a week and was a size 6, now I only do the Dailey Method and I am a size 2. I have a Studio owner that used to run 6 days a week in addition to her Dailey Method practice. Once she (finally!) followed my advice to quit running, her body leaned out and loosened up significantly, with phenomenal results. We’re two of many true examples of how TDM works better overall than cardiovascular work on reshaping your body.

-Your lean body mass/fat mass percentage make up. This is what determines your metabolism. One of the reasons that you can continue to make these kinds of extreme changes to your body with this workout is a result of the muscular strength work we do in class. Due to the increased metabolic rate explained earlier, you have an increase in energy expenditure even while you’re sleeping, so you’re burning more calories all day long. With cardiovascular work this does not occur. This is why resistance training has proven to be so much more effective in changing ones body and shape over time.

In addition, it is widely recognized that benefits derived from core strengthening are the most important for maintaining the highest degree of health, physical comfort and longevity.

- Jill

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If You Run...

Those of you that know me are aware that I am not a huge proponent of running. The primary reason I feel this way is that it is hard on your body. Running actually has an incidence of injury rate as high as 79%. Walking fast, hiking and cycling can be just as effective as a cardiovascular exercise and are much gentler on your body.

I do, however, acknowledge that running has many positive effects on health, mood and fitness. It is one of the most efficient uses of your time for cardiovascular work, and has great endorphin benefits as well as being effective for toning some parts of the body.

If you run there are a few things you need to do to balance out your body. You can address these issues during your Dailey Method class in the following ways.

Work on your flexibility: For ideal muscular health there should be a balance between strength and flexibility in each muscle group. Both of the primary muscles of the thigh (hamstring and quadriceps) play an important role in running. To create flexibility in your hamstrings you need to make sure that you stretch the muscles both with your spine extended and flexed. The quadriceps need to stretched with both a bent and a straight leg. These variations in position will help to increase flexibility in all of the fibers of the muscle. Another part of the leg, which is incredibly important for knee stability, is the iliotibial band. Your IT band can be stretched by lengthening your hip away from your ankle and maintaining a neutral spine during the barre stretch portion of class.

Strengthen your hips to protect your knee: A major risk factor for knee pain is a weak gluteus medius. This muscle, located on the outer surface of the pelvis is important for hip stabilization in running. Without stable hips, runners can encounter knee, hip, and low back pain. The Dailey Method strengthens and stabilizes this muscle during both the seat work and spinal extension sections of class. Not only do you actively contract the muscle with different variations on your working leg, but you additionally get even more strengthening benefit by concentrating on working your stabilizing leg..

Strengthen your upper body: Running is great at strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, but other muscle groups, especially core stabilizers, need to be strengthened to create muscular balance and decrease risk of injury. It’s important to do strengthening exercises in spinal extension, trunk rotation and flexion in order try to target all of your core stabilization muscles. Although the last 20 minutes of a Dailey Method class is where you’re going to get the primary benefit for core strength even from our first exercise, marching, there is a focus on being aware of your posture and constantly trying to improve it. Attention to posture and alignment throughout class (and all day long!) will make you a more efficient and graceful runner.

The Dailey Method alone can give you all the strength and toning benefits you need for a strong, healthy and amazing physique. I have seen Studio owners and many clients that have run their entire lives, and thought they always would, give it up once they realize how much better they look and feel by solely practicing The Dailey Method.

If you must… then run… but take care of yourself and your body by maintaining balance in your workouts.

- Jill

At The Dailey Method, we have a strong group of owners that support each other. Special thanks to Kerry Corcoran, co-owner of The Dailey Method-Berkeley, and Registered Nurse, for her collaboration on this blog.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Developing A Healthier Spine

Welcome to the new Dailey Method® Blog. Each month I will focus on topics and information to help enhance your experience at our studios. If you have an idea or question, feel free to let me know. I started this Method almost ten years ago because I knew it was the safest, most effective way to help people achieve their best personal physique. Over time, The Dailey Method has continued to evolve based on my deep knowledge of the body and movement in addition to the constant inspiration and dedication of our team. Why? Because I believe we can always improve our bodies and fitness levels. This improvement is directly connected to the importance of being challenged both mentally and physically. If it is the same workout every time you lose mental engagement which negatively affects the mind-body connection that is so important for our health and well-being.
It’s a New Year and all of us at the Dailey Method are looking forward to helping our clients get stronger, healthier and more fit throughout 2010. One hope we have for the year is to help you learn how to improve the alignment of your spine for better posture and overall relief of physical tension and stress.
The Dailey Method is known as an exercise that is challenging and incredibly effective. But beyond making you stronger and more toned; you also gain better alignment of your entire body. Aligned positioning is imperative in rehabilitating long term injuries and also in offsetting any that could occur. It also makes you look and feel stronger and more confident.
All of our studio owners from here and abroad gathered together for a retreat this past October in Scottsdale. We collaborated to refine our technique, and evolve some of our traditional exercises. Much of our focus was on working the spine in a "neutral position". It’s pretty incredible how few people know how to find and maintain their personal neutral spine. Neutral is the healthiest, most lengthened position for the spine and creates freedom of natural movement. We came up with some amazing ways to teach people a truly neutral spine position by just sitting up correctly and engaging their deepest core musculature. We barely move and it’s exhausting and challenging. We hope that this will transfer to their daily lives to create an increased awareness of their movement in addition to a healthier spine.
Alignment can lead to a sense of well being. If you are aligned correctly you have good posture. When you have good posture you look and feel more confident. Additionally by focusing your mind on the spine first and then engaging the musculature around that center you are keeping your mind engaged in your movement and self, which can have a meditative effect. Exercise is an escape for many people. If it can be a physical and mental one at the same time - that’s an incredible time saver.
Happy and Healthy is what we all want for you and ourselves for this exciting New Year!
- Jill