Study Guide

It has been a while since I’ve had to sit down and pound some anatomy. Not since Biology 101 in college have I had to utilize my memorization skills for more than just digesting scripts.

Now that my Reformer class is over – I’m finding my superior administrative skills are kicking in to high gear. I have a lot of hours to log before the certification is complete and that means staying on top of my schedule.

On top of the logistics, I have a lot of anatomy to learn before the written exam. As a creative – anatomy is not something I’ve put a lot of focus on in the past. Having invested hours in studying, I can tell you that it’s mostly tedious but then there are ‘a-ha’ moments when all of a sudden you ‘get it’. In those moments I feel smart. I love acting because it makes me feel talented – but I have been enjoying the studying time for Pilates because I’m really digging the sensation of being in love with my mind’s capacity to learn new things.

When I can work from home, I get my work station set up with the following:

  • Wench mug with the lattes I told myself I would try to stop drinking.
  • Monthly calendar
  • Work books and manuals
  • Observation notebook
  • Past class lessons
  • As many different colored pens as possible because – color is fun.
  • Muscle flashcards
  • And the $1 Venmo note from Johnny I won in a game of Uno – reminds me I’m a winner.

Hound Howls


Having a hound usually means you can expect those full-throated howls. Whether she’s saying hello or yelling at a neighbor, it all sounds the same. I like to think of it as her talking to us.

We’ve recently discovered that if we howl with her when she’s all worked up she can’t help but howl with us. I picked up my phone the other night just to capture one of these moments.

We have some chewy dental dog treats that she loves way too much to be able to enjoy. When we give them to her, she usually spends a minute or two excitedly pawing at it. Once she builds up the nerve to grab it in her mouth she proceeds to run around all over the living room and kitchen looking for a sufficient hiding spot. Thing is, there is never a sufficient enough spot for her treasure and the agony of having something that’s too good that you can’t hide it away throws her into a fit of misery howling. It’s the cutest damn thing. Enjoy.


Artist Jeff Hallman

Megan laid in Kevin’s bed wondering if this would be another night spent alone. She was starting to realize how big a mistake it was to move even closer to Leary’s Pub. The cool kid’s bar was now only two blocks away, how was he expected to resist? It wasn’t about the drinking. It was about the company. It was about maintaining social relevance. This was a crew everyone wished they were a part of, and Megan was just beginning to see that Kevin needed that validation more than any one.

Megan shifted positions for the bazillionth time, restlessly attempting sleep. She pulled her phone from it’s charging cord and checked the time: 3:34am. Still no sign of him, the night well on it’s way to morning. She wondered whether he’d taste of tequila or whiskey this time when he inevitably stumbled as quietly as he could into bed. If he tried to fuck her, she’d know it was tequila. He was always so sloppy, so selfish, when he came home. She wondered if he’d still be here if this were her bed, in her apartment, all the way uptown.

Here she was again. In his bed, waiting. For what…she couldn’t conceive anymore. Caught in this never-ending cycle, hoping that somewhere along the line, he will deviate away from the path he’s on, and join hers. But he won’t. That’s not what he wants. Megan laid flat on her back, exposed and vulnerable, as she realized this isn’t what she wanted either.

Tree for Pilates Reformer

A lot of the exercises I’ve been focusing on this week are especially great in promoting spinal articulation. This exercise is called Tree and it’s an intermediate level exercise. It’s important to maintain an engaged core to support your spine. I love the leg stretches at the beginning of this exercise – it feels especially yummy as a hamstring stretch.

Here’s how to do Tree:

Keeping one foot pulling taut on the strap, extend and flex your gesture leg three times.

After the third time, keep your gesture leg extended and bring both hands to meet at your ankle.

Begin to slowly walk your hands down your leg and you roll your spine down vertebrae by vertebrae.

Once you feel your sacrum level on the short box, release your head to look back – keeping your hands on your leg for support.

If you feel like you want more – extend your arms over head and grab on to the rails of your reformer to enter a full spinal extension.

Take an inhale to tuck your chin and your draw your arms back up to the gesture leg. Begin to walk your hands back up that leg as your spine peels off the box.

Once your spine is back in neutral, bend your knee and set your gesture leg down.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

This exercise is best done towards the end of a workout. Making sure your hamstrings and abs are warm and firing before putting them to the test.

Semicircle on Pilates Reformer


I know, there have been a TON of Pilates posts lately – but that’s what’s up in my life so that’s what’s up here. This week, I have been working on form for many of the intermediate reformer exercises. This exercise is called Semicircle and I hated it when I first tried it. You have to roll your lower thoracic spine into extension and it’s a really odd sensation. People don’t normally bend back in half. This week, I went slow and controlled through the movements and I found a really satisfying spine stretch that left me feeling looser and taller after my workout.

Here’s the Semicircle for Pilates reformer:

Footbar at position 2, heels together, toes apart with toes on the footbar. Feet and legs laterally rotated. Roll your hips up to one long line with your body.

Push through your feet to engage your quads and straightened out your legs.

From here, start from the top of your spine and slowly roll down through the spine to drop into the well of the reformer.

Maintaining that spinal extension, bend your knees to pull the carriage back in to the stopper.

Tilt your pelvis to roll your hips up – articulating the spine from bottom to top. Come back to your starting position at one long line.

Now, reverse the semicircle. Starting from the top of your spine, begin to articulate back down into the well of the carriage.

From here, extend your legs out to straight to push the carriage away. Lift your hips in line with your shoulders and knees.

Bend your knees, keep your hips lifted, as you slowly return the carriage back to the stopper, maintaining that long diagonal line with your body.

Here’s what the semicircle looks like all together:

Before the Storm – Hurricane Katrina

Whether it’s good or bad, it’s got to be a party. Laissez le bon temp rouler!

The residents of this weather prone bowl were used to dire warnings. The bowl people had their own way of mitigating the damage of the usual autumn storm – whiskey smoothies and crawfish boils. It was no wonder that they took no mind of this year’s installment. Before it had even finished crossing Florida, residents here began boarding windows and accumulating provisions for the ‘Hurricane Parties’ that would be taking over the city, block by block. It was hard to tell whether the electricity in the air was atmospheric, or something emanating from the revelers below. Signs outside shops announced closers with the giddy excitement of school kids with an unexpected day off. The anticipation had not yet turned dark. Even as the clouds rolled in lower and denser and darker so did the citywide celebration crescendo to a fever pitch. It wasn’t until the storm passed that fear began to set in. It wasn’t nature we had to fear, but man himself. 

Developé for Pilates Reformer

One of my favorites things about Pilates homework is getting to do some delicious stretches. The Developé is one of my favorite Pilates exercises. It’s an intermediate level exercise because of the coordination required and the core strength necessary to keep your spine supported with one moving leg. Once you start to use the correct muscles – at the right time – you find a flow that is so satisfying. It’s a full body stretch and roll that feels like a full body yawn.

Here’s what the Developé exercise for Pilates Reformer looks like:

Start by placing your right toes on the footbar and your left leg extended out to a 45° angle – toes pointed.

As you push your right leg out to straight, bend your left leg to move through bicycle before extending the left leg straight up to the ceiling.

Straight leg to ceiling – point your toes!

Keeping both legs straight, drop your left leg down to tap the foot bar before raising that leg back up to the ceiling.

Stay here. Flex both feet – dropping your right heel under the footbar. Point both feet.

Bend your right knee to control the return of the carriage as your left knee bends to move through bicycle before extending back out to your starting position at 45°.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

What to Know

I’m teaching a free Community Pilates Reformer Class at Truve in Oakland, California every Monday morning from 9:30am-10:30am. Visit to register.