We all need a little normal. Right now, when normal is changing from day to day and sometimes even minute to minute, normal seems like it’s so far off.

At first I relished in my lack of schedule.  I was happy to not have clear timelines and deadlines.  When I started having virtual meetings, I became resentful of scheduling my time.

Now, many weeks later, what I have realized is that it’s the structure that has helped me to get through.

It’s a reason to get up in the morning. And once I get up and start that routine, things seem to fall into place.

So how do you create normal in a time when there doesn’t feel like there is one?  Find the things that help increase your strength both physically and mentally.  Choose activities that bring you happiness and joy. Find those things that inspire you and uplift you.  And once you’ve found what those things are, build them into your routine.

One of my most favourite rituals was one I started years ago. I joined the 5am Club. It was recommended by my favourite motivational speaker. As a business owner and a mom with two small boys, it was my “me” time.  At first I resisted it.  I felt like I hated it.  I was tired and I resented having to get up that early. I fell back asleep when I was supposed to be meditating, I marked time instead of giving it my all in my workouts and I generally felt like I was getting nowhere.  For some reason, I persisted.  Maybe it’s because my mentor said it would help, or maybe deep inside I felt so better.

Several weeks later and I was no longer relying on an alarm clock to get up.  I was loving every minute of my early morning time and I had a routine that helped me thrive.  I was more energetic.  I took on challenges with less stress and  more resolve that I had the skill and the will to make it through.

So how can you create a new norm for yourself that helps fill your cup?

  • Create “appointments” for yourself that require you to be somewhere at a specific time.  Book that online fitness class or a private personal training session so you’ve committed yourself to building your strength.
  • Schedule time for your meditation or yoga practice to help build your mental health and increase the calm in your life.
  • Commit to healthy eating.  I’m not saying you have to give up potato chips.  Everything in moderation, including moderation is what my best friend taught me.  Have some chips…but only every once in a while.  Instead, find some healthy recipes that you can commit to.  Try prepping meals in advance, so when it gets to that time and you don’t feel like cooking, you can make sure it’s easier to stick with healthy choices.
  • Find a buddy to help keep you accountable.  Whether that’s a friend who will call you on your s#*t or a coach that you pay that keeps you focused on what your goals are.
  • Write out your goals or create a vision board and reflect on them regularly.

As we progress through this challenging time, our normal will evolve.  And now more than ever our mental and physical health are something we can take control over to keep us functioning optimally.  Taking the first step is the most important part…

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu

Top 5 Reasons To Choose a Studio over a Gym

A studio environment provides you with personalized attention so you can be successful in achieving your health and wellness goals.

A gym can be a very intimidating place to exercise, especially if you don’t feel like you know what you are doing or if you have injuries and you are worried about hurting yourself.  There are definite benefits to choosing a studio environment over a gym or health club.

  1. You’re Never Alone
    A studio is an ideal place to get moving if you are new to exercising, haven’t exercised in a while or have injuries.  Unlike in a gym environment, studio training provides small group or private, individual lessons which means you are never training alone.  With constant supervision, you’re sure to have better technique to maximize your results.
  2. Who’s Watching Me?
    Have you ever felt like your instructor was only there for their own personal workout?  A studio is a unique training space where instructors focus all their expertise on you and your alignment, not on their own personal workout.  During group classes and private sessions, studio instructors spend their time monitoring what you are doing and how you are doing it. They may demonstrate an exercise in order for you to see what it looks like, however, after the demonstration they are up and about correcting what you do and how you do it.  Instructors in a studio do their workouts on their own time, not in class with you.
  3. Smaller is better
    Although studios may charge more for their services, it’s because you are getting more personalized attention than in a gym.  Small size group classes mean that you are getting the corrections and modifications that are appropriate for your body and your needs.  In a studio, group classes have no more than 10 participants which means the instructor can adjust exercises to meet each participants individual needs without disruption to the class.  Instead of being one body in a sea of many, you have the opportunity to get more attention and improve your performance of each exercises.  Sometimes smaller is better.
  4. Expert advice
    A studio is a place where you will find instructors with more targeted education, especially for clients with injuries. With fewer clients, instructors can focus on providing training that suits your needs, rather than a generalized workout that is given to every client that walks through the door.  In a studio, we take the time to find out what your personal goals are, as well as assess challenges you may be having.  We look at many different aspects of wellness and provide coaching that addresses all aspects of your life.  Health and wellness are more than just making you exercise.  We take into consideration your entire person and match your goals and needs to your training.
  5. Lost in the crowd
    Are you uncomfortable exercising in a group?  Then studio training is for you.  A studio is a much more intimate environment that respects a client’s privacy and allows you to workout without having everyone in the gym staring at you.  Studios offer private, personalized sessions in a space where it is only you and your trainer working.  You don’t have to share equipment or space with others.  Gyms often provide personal training in the same space where other clients are working out.  This can make clients feel uncomfortable or intimidated.  In a studio, you never have to compare yourself with someone else, and you can feel confident that you have your trainers undivided attention.

Still not sure that studio training is what you need?  Why not book a session and see how focused and comfortable a session can be.  Studio training is money invested in you and your success.  We all have the best of intentions to make it to the gym but often find excuses that can get in the way.  With an appointment and your trainer’s support, your sure to achieve all you dream of and more!

“Get someone else to blow your horn, and the sound will carry twice as far.” – Will Rogers

Oh, my aching back!

“If you are experiencing back pain, you owe it to yourself to learn more about your body and how it works.”

For years the talk has been about stability and core strength in the treatment of back pain. However, using the abdominals is only one small part of the complex picture necessary to manage and treat dysfunction of the muscles that provide stability and support to the spine. Do you know how to activate the deep muscles of your spine and pelvis to provide support? Once you have created support through the muscles, are you able to maintain a muscular contraction as you breathe and move?

Optimal spinal control includes activation of the pelvic floor and deepest layer of abdominals (transversus abdominus). Ideally these connections happen in anticipation of movement. Research shows that people with lower back pain are delayed in connecting these deep support muscles and often change which muscles they recruit, thereby reducing the shock absorbing qualities of the spine and making it more difficult for the spine and pelvis to transfer loads effectively (Hodges et al, 1996). Often stiffening of the spine and decreased movement is the strategy of choice for those with back pain. This suboptimal approach results in decreased flexibility and more pain.

The Pilates approach is an ideal component of treatment for men and women with low-back pain. The focus in a one-on-one session is to address your ability to comprehend and connect with the deepest layer of abdominals; activate your pelvic floor muscles in combination with your transversus abdominus to create optimal control; learn how the diaphragm and your breath influences your connection with these important stabilizing muscles; learn how your posture and alignment impact your ability to engage your muscles and decrease strain on your joints; improve your strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination; and challenge your ability to support your spine and pelvis during functional movements.

Back care is so much more than some simple crunches. If you are experiencing back pain, you owe it to yourself to learn more about your body and how it works.
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30; you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” – Joseph H. Pilates


Allison Kares is the owner of Movement Unlimited Inc. With 25 years of experience in the rehabilitation and fitness industries, Allison has created a facility that will appeal to young and old. Her expert staff have specialized their training approach to provide programs for all ages and abilities. The team has a unique approach to fitness that provides the appropriate challenge for clients of all fitness levels. Using sound training techniques, our instructors can provide you with a safe and effective program that will inspire you to a new level of fitness. Contact her at or

Help! I Don’t Know What To Give My Kids For Breakfast!

Summer is half over and back to school is just around the corner. Wondering what to make
for breakfasts on those busy mornings? You want something quick, easy to prepare and
something the whole family will like, right? Have I got the answer for you! Smoothies!
Ever wonder what all the hype is about with smoothies? Smoothies seem to be the biggest
trend in healthy eating in recent history. And there is good reason for it. In today’s world of
processed and fast foods and also add to that our busy lifestyles, smoothies are becoming the
fast food of choice for many health conscious people.
Smoothies are definitely a good choice for a healthy breakfast or snack and there is an
abundance of ingredients that can successfully be used to make them. The right
smoothie can provide a good source of healthy proteins and good fats, calcium, vitamin C
and many other vitamins and minerals to kick start your day. By starting your day off with
a smoothie you are providing your body with adequate hydration and a natural energy
boost to carry you through the day. This healthy breakfast that you can drink on the go
takes only minutes to prepare and will keep you fuller for longer than most highly processed
popular breakfasts. As long as you use the basic guidelines of protein, fruit, liquid, veggie
and good fat you can’t really go wrong. Just choose the flavours that work best for you.
Still have questions and not sure how to get started? Come for breakfast to my Shape Up Your
Smoothie Workshop at Movement Unlimited on Saturday September 12 to find out more. You
will get to sample all of my recipes as I will walk you through the basics of how to make
nutritious smoothies the whole family will love.

Written by Alisa Davies, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Part of our team of professionals at Movement Unlimited Inc.

For more information, contact Alisa at


Walking Is Man’s Best Medicine, and Woman’s, Too!

Walking is one of the easiest ways to begin to move but still people will shy away from it. Last year I got introduced to nordic walking, and it changed the way I think about walking all together.

Nordic walking you say? What is that?

Nordic walking uses handheld poles to connect the upper body to the lower body while you step. This method of exercise has been popular in Europe for years and has finally made it’s way to Canada.

Nordic walking burns up to 47% more calories over walking without poles.Now I have your attention, don’t I?

Walking: The most ancient exercise, but still the best!
Walking: The most ancient exercise, but still the best!

How does this happen?  This unique exercise method allows you to use 90% of your body’s muscles which increases the calories you burn and improves your body’s efficiency.  The Urban Poling website reports that there are now over 115 studies on PubMed that clearly show walking with poles is an effective, safe and enjoyable physical activity. They report that  physical activity, such as walking with poles, can provide improvement in all spectrums of health including physical, psychological and social well-being. Clients with injuries, chronic conditions, post-surgery, older adults and mental health issues agree that walking with poles promotes greater independence and improves quality of life.  We’ve seen our clients move more and sooner by starting with nordic walking poles post surgery.  They tell us they feel safer and more confident using the poles.  We’ve watched our clients change their posture and improve their body position while out for a pole walking class.

With the nice weather arriving, now’s the time to investigate this gentle yet effective form of movement that helps you move with ease. Help your body become healthier!  “Walking is man’s best medicine” – Hippocrates

The Ins and Outs of Pilates Reformer Training

There is a common misconception that Pilates exercises are only done on a mat.  Although the original exercises developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s were done using the body, the need for more support to facilitate better muscle connections lead to the development of unique, spring-based equipment.

What is a Reformer?

The Pilates reformer is the key piece of equipment used in any Pilates practice.  This functional unit allows the client to work in a lying down, sitting, standing or kneeling position, making it one of the most functional core workouts available.  On first sight, the equipment often appears intimidating but one try and clients are hooked by this smooth moving and gentle, yet effective method of training.

“When I began my reformer Pilates for the first time in my lift, I learned how to isolate specific muscles and make them work,” says Niagara resident Renee S.  “I never knew that my weak core muscles failed to kick in when needed, until I learned how to tap into them and make them work.  I owe this all to Reformer Pilates.”

Working on a reformer allows clients to engage their core while continuing to provide resistance for arm and leg muscles.  Alignment and posture are always a focus in any Pilates program and the reformer provides feedback that enhances these essential components of a good core workout.

Pilates reformer training is beneficial for both men and women.  All ages and levels of ability can benefit from working on this versatile piece of equipment.
Pilates reformer training is beneficial for both men and women. All ages and levels of ability can benefit from working on this versatile piece of equipment.

The Benefits of Pilates Reformer Training

  • Improved core strength
  • Increased flexibility and mobility
  • Better posture and alignment
  • Decreased back pain
  • Gentle enough for rehab clients but challenging enough for elite athletes

So How Do I Get Started?

Due to the specific nature of the equipment and the vast repertoire of exercises available, Pilates reformer training should always be initiated under the careful supervision of a certified instructor.  Training with an instructor will ensure your body is positioned correctly, that you have made the effective muscle connections, and that you are completing the exercises safely for maximum results.  Working one-on-one or in a small group will allow a program to be tailored to meet your needs and goals.  “Thinking I was in good shape, I started Pilates on the reformer to change my workout routine,” says Maria O., a reformer client for the past 10 years.  “The resistance from the springs and pulleys put me to shame as it was far more challenging and difficult to achieve the correct balance.  My abs certainly weren’t at their strongest, but the weekly reformer training has strengthened them considerably.  Another bonus of the reformer is there are so many attachments to help modify or intensify all the movements.  Assist and resist with the reformer to help your body be the best it can be!”

Movement Unlimited Inc. is a Pilates studio located in Fonthill, ON Canada.  Whether your goal is to move with less pain, or to enhance your sport, our team of experts can help!  Movement Unlimited Inc. offers the highest quality, professional Pilates based programs as well as the latest in current fitness training methods to compliment your fitness regime. For more information about our studio, visit our website at

So What Is Pilates?

One of the hardest questions that I’ve been asked in my career doesn’t have to do with anatomy or how the human body works.  Believe it or not, the hardest question, the one that I dread most is “So what is Pilates?”  How do your describe something so simple yet so complex?  What words can you use that accurately describe a unique system of movements that help your body move more easily while feeling like it’s challenging your body in unimaginable ways?

My Pilates career started 13 years ago.  My first training session had me challenged and weak in the knees with only a few simple reps. Having already worked in the fitness industry for 12 years, I was shocked at how such small movements could make my body ready to throw in the towel.  I was strong, I was healthy, but Pilates had me humbled. After working both on the mat and the equipment, my body felt lighter and taller.  I found it easier to hold an upright posture with less strain and stress.  I felt muscles working in my body that I had never felt work before.  I was hooked.

The Reformer is a versatile, spring-based piece of equipment that allows clients to move their body in all different planes of movement while connecting with their core muscles  for support and stability.
The Reformer is a versatile, spring-based piece of equipment that allows clients to move their body in all different planes of movement while connecting with their core muscles for support and stability.

The equipment quickly became my favorite.  Helping me to make muscles connections and allowing my body to align itself with less effort.  The smooth flow of the reformer aroused a new level of awareness that had my body humming. I’d never worked my body in so many different planes.  It was exciting and fun to investigate new movements and new ways to encourage my body to move.

After many hours of studying, practicing teaching and personal training, I chose to leave my career in the rehab world and focus on teaching people how Pilates could change their bodies.  Many of my rehab clients decided to pursue Pilates as a part of their treatment program and their results were incredible.  I quickly moved my small home based study into a bigger location and started advertising to the public.

All the training and practice teaching could not prepare me for the ultimate question…so what is Pilates?  Pilates is so complex and does so much, that it’s hard to compress all it’s benefits into a 20 second elevator speech. To me Pilates is a series of movements that engage the core for stability and support, while improving mobility in the body by working through full range of motion with or without the assistance of equipment.  Pilates allows me to have good posture, reduces strain through my joints and makes my body feel lighter.  Pilates is the key to keeping me healthy and strong.  Every session is different in every way, taking into consideration how my body is feeling and how I am moving. I’ve dedicated my life and my career to Pilates.  Please just don’t ask me what it is! 😉

Allison Kares is the owner of Movement Unlimited Inc. a Pilates based movement studio in Fonthill, ON Canada.  To find out more about the programming at Movement Unlimited, visit our website at

Pelvic Floor Health is a Fitness Issue!

Most women think they know how to do Kegel exercises properly, but effective activation of the pelvic floor is more than just squeezing these often difficult to find muscles.  Now there is a program that can help women gain a better understanding about these muscles and how they work.  PFilates, or Pelvic Floor Pilates, combines medical research with exercise to help women realize that “pelvic floor health is a fitness issue.”

The scientifically researched exercises taught in PFilates were developed by Dr. Bruce Crawford, a urogynecologist from Reno, Nevada, using surface EMG recordings to determine which exercises were the most effective in recruiting the pelvic floor, transversus abdominus, adductor group and gluteals.  These muscles all work together in concert to provide support of the pelvic organs and restore pelvic health.

The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that spread across the bottom of the pelvic cavity like a hammock.

The functions of the pelvic floor include:

  • Support of the pelvic organs, specifically the uterus, the bladder and the rectum.
  • Provide sphincter control for the bladder and bowels.
  • Withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, straining, and lifting.
  • Provide posture and stabilization of the spine and pelvis.

What are the consequences of a weak pelvic floor?

When we age, the pelvic floor muscles may begin to sag and weaken.  Many conditions can stress the pelvic floor including:

  • Pregnancy-related changes in the body.
  • Heavy straining during childbirth.
  • Damage to the pelvic floor sustained during childbirth.
  • Repeated straining during bowel movements while constipated or with chronic coughing.
  • Repetitive heavy lifting.
  • Weakening of pelvic floor muscles (atrophy) due to hormonal changes.

Weak pelvic floor muscles can result in pelvic organ prolapse (POP).  Prolapse can occur to your bladder, urethra, uterus, rectum, intestines, and vagina.  Other consequences of a weak pelvic floor include involuntary leakage of urine or fecal matter.  Risk factors for developing POP include pregnancy, aging, being deconditioned, obesity, chronic constipation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or eating disorders.  Weakness can also result in overactive bladder (OAB), which is defined as urgency, with or without incontinence, usually associated with frequency and nighttime voiding.
The PFilates program consists of ten movements presented in three different levels.  Each of the PFilates movements includes a series of repetitions followed by a hold phase and a pulse phase at the point of peak engagement of the pelvic floor.  As such, these movements encourage the development of the three essential elements of neuromuscular performance: strength, endurance, and coordination.

PFilates is intended to be preventative but also a therapeutic alternative for those already experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.  For patients that have already had surgery, PFilates can help protect and reduce the chance for recurrent symptoms.

Allison Kares is the owner of Movement Unlimited Inc., a Certified Pilates Instructor and an instructor trainer for the PFilates program.  Allison has over 25 years experience teaching fitness and rehabilitation exercise programs for men and women of all ages and abilities.  For more information about therapeutic training, pelvic floor training or to experience a Pilates session at Movement Unlimited Inc, visit our website at

The PFilates program are 10 scientifically tested exercises developed by urogynecologist Bruce Crawford.
The PFilates program are 10 scientifically tested exercises developed by urogynecologist Bruce Crawford.