Pacific NW Pilates blog

Pilates for Runners: Foot and Gait

by Trixie on July 26, 2014

The Foot — in Action

PNWP Owner Melanie Byford-Young is an expert in her own right, and, like passionate trailblazers, she never stops learning. That’s one of the traits that makes her such a sought-after teacher. Melanie will be teaching a foot-and-gait workshop for PT, medical and therapeutic Pilates professionals this September in Portland, Oregon. Here, she shares a little insight into the marvelous foot. 


I am in awe of the foot. It fascinates me.

We take it for granted. Our feet sport hot heels and sleek pedicures. They run races. They carry us to our dreams.

But what stirs me is how the foot works and what it does. The foot is a rigid lever that propels forward movement, and, in a split second, unlocks to become a mobile adapter to provide our balance.


The foot dictates and responds to every action in the body. If it fails to adapt to the surface it treads below — or to the body’s motion above it — there’s a breakdown.

Understanding and improving foot mechanics is crucial for me as a Pilates Master Instructor with deep roots in physiotherapy, as it is to anyone working in rehabilitation, strength and conditioning. I am absolutely dismayed when clients arrive wearing inappropriate orthotics or shoes, following misguided advice or fads. i see issues that originate in the spine and create problematic adaption in the foot, or the reverse.

In 2009, I had a personal eye-opener. I ruptured my Achilles tendon while playing tennis. What a phenomenal new set of insights that particular mishap provided! A long road to recovery illustrated my own motor strategies and compensations. At one time, I could not feel my foot when running or during quick motions.

i16_lThe Pilates Reformer was instrumental in my recovery. I found the “sleeper” exercise particularly useful, because it helped link all of the kinetic chain, reintegrating glute and calf muscles.  Though my recovery has been fantastic, I still work on balance and neuromotor integration.

“Only through truly understanding the biomechanics of the foot — and the interactions of all the joints and tissues of the body — can one truly unwind and restore healthy dynamic feet. This is what I love to teach and share.” 


In September, I will be teaching an intensive weekend of workshops to examine the foot, gait and running. At the very heart of the workshop will be observing the foot and the body in action, then linking those observations and applying practical Pilates solutions. The great beauty of the weekend will be an opportunity to learn by integrating information and practice.

I invite movement and therapeutic professionals who share my wonder and fascination to attend.


Melanie Byford-Young






Pilates Posture: The Right Curves

by Trixie on July 18, 2014

 Good posture is not a straight line habit


Pilates is known for enabling and enhancing beautiful posture. But here’s the truth: Developing good posture and movement patterns doesn’t follow a straight path. For the record, the back is meant to have lovely curves. If it took you 40 years to learn how to stand as you do today, it will take a while to unlearn that same habit.

Other postures 2

The cool thing about our bodies is that they are endlessly adaptable. Pilates helps to choose a more efficient or more effective way to stand and move—from a biomechanical vantage.

Clients often ask WHY they stand or move the way they do. There’s no one answer. Among the reasons could be one or a combination of the following:

  • Incomplete understanding of how their body works. Example: “Some part of me didn’t realize where my hip joints are and that I could move them independent of my spine!”
  • A sense of what’s right developed in early life. Example: “My mother always said, ‘Stand up straight,’ and now THIS feels straight to me.”
  • Activity or lack of activity directed to use the body in a specific way. Example: “I was a teenage gymnast and taught myself to arch my lower back. Now I do it all the time.”
  • A coping mechanism was secondary to an injury. Example: “When I was eight, I fell from a tree and landed on my back; it hurt to walk for a long time and, after a while, my foot began to hurt … “


New PNWP clients are evaluated with a postural assessment to give us both a starting point. Typically, we use a plumb line to identify and establish verticality. I’ll explain more about that in the future.

Guiding a client through Pilates exercises to experience a new way of thinking about moving can have powerful results. The compromised movement that feels “right” in the present is often the very thing that needs to be altered. Pilates instruction provides a gentle hand and voice to support and assist you through learning new action.

We’re devoted to help you develop neuromotor control to acquire a new skill. You can experience your good posture, and discover a new way of living in your amazing body.

Yours faithfully,

Leslie Braverman




Pilates Inspired Balanchine Dance

by Trixie on July 8, 2014

Imagine my delight to discover—in the middle of a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary about ballerina Tanaquil le Clerq—that the legendary choreographer George Balanchine drew upon Pilates movement in one of his ballets.



Ballerina Tanaquil le Clerq, Balanchine’s wife and muse, was stricken with polio at the height of her powers. She was only 27 years old. Recovery began in an iron lung to aid her breathing. Her once-powerful leg muscles were weakened, and her career was halted.

Balanchine was devoted to her therapy. He was a friend of Joseph Pilates and routinely referred New York City Ballet dancers to Pilates’ studio to avoid and treat injury. He studied the exercises and put le Clerq through her progressions.


In fact, Balanchine incorporated the manipulation of limbs, inspired by de Clerq’s Pilates exercises, in his Agon ballet. Check out the PBS video for a fascinating story; Agon and Pilates are mentioned at about the 52-minute mark.



Happy Fourth of July

by Trixie on July 4, 2014



Leslie Renews Pilates Passion on PNWP’s 13th Anniversary

by Trixie June 24, 2014

On May 1, Leslie Braverman and PNWP co-owner Melanie Byford-Young celebrated 13 years in business as the Pacific Northwest’s premier center for Pilates education, certification, and client fitness. Leslie found the occasion a time to reflect on what PNWP means to her.  Anniversaries make this girl take stock. We just hit #13. At the very […]

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Melanie’s Pilates Adventure in Dubai – Part 2

by Trixie June 17, 2014

PNWP Owner Melanie Byford-Young was invited to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Real Pilates in Dubai to teach STOTT PILATES workshops. Before teaching in early June, she explored the desert from an oasis and toured Abu Dhabi—spectacular experiences that she shared on our blog. Here, she comments on what it was like to visit […]

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Every Wednesday is Father’s Day

by Trixie June 6, 2014

Pilates Strengthens Our Father and Daughter Bond    PNWP Owner Leslie Braverman has had the pleasure of introducing her father to Pilates over the past year. It has been life-altering and an education for both of them. She shares their happy story with you, and encourages all our friends and family to celebrate Father’s Day […]

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PNWP’s Melanie Travels to UAE for Pilates — Part 1

by Trixie June 1, 2014

Desert Days Before Dubai   PNWP Owner Melanie Byford-Young was invited to teach the first-ever STOTT PILATES rehabilitation course (RMR1) in the Middle East. Before starting her work in Dubai, Melanie and her husband Kevin spent a few days exploring the land and culture of the United Arab Emirates. Highlights of her travel journal appear […]

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PNWP Movement Workshop with Matt Walsh in June

by Trixie April 28, 2014

Removing Mystery from Movement Patterns Workshop for physical therapy professionals: dysfunctional movement patterns of spine and lower extremities PNWP’s workshop with international expert Matt Walsh is a rare chance for you to access top-level biomechanics with a demonstration that incorporates Pilates exercises solutions. Friday, June 20, 2014 5 – 7 p.m. Cost:  $150 Register by […]

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Media Release

by Trixie April 22, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Leslie Braverman (503) 292-4409 Pacific NW Pilates Kicks Off 14th Year and Pilates Week 2014 with 14 Free Classes   Premier Portland Pilates studio and certification center begins 14th year with free studio and community classes: Solutions for Work, Play & Life Portland, OR (April 22, 2014) — Pacific NW Pilates […]

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