Journal

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An Afternoon with Andrea C. Spencer, LMT

It’s mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, and I’m climbing the carpeted stairs to the second floor where one of Andrea Spencer’s therapy rooms is located.  As I poke my head above the wide banister, I hear the soothing sound of gently trickling water coming from a small tabletop fountain. There is a feeling of hushed peace.  I pause to take off my shoes, and Andrea greets me cheerily as she tidies her cozy space after a client’s appointment. I settle on a low leather bench and relax as I breathe in the lightly scented air.  Antique and modern anatomy charts adorn the walls. A tall rectangular floor lamp to my left emits a soft glow. I’ve come today to conduct an informal interview with Andrea about her work as a Licensed Massage Therapist, and her connection to Springboard Pilates as a client and collaborator.

Andrea has now been doing massage for almost ten years.  She specializes in myofascial release and deep tissue therapies, and she is the founder of Apple Core Therapy, a complete wellness center located in Portland, Maine.  In her spare time, Andrea also joins forces with Meredith Coffin, Owner and Instructor at Springboard Pilates, in a unique bodywork-Pilates offering called the Reset Package.  (More on this later.)

I’ve known Andrea for about five years, and I always look forward to time spent in her presence – she’s calm, direct, and intuitive.  She laughs easily, a throaty, joyful sound. She has a love for companion dogs and animal rescue, and has two very special rescue pups at home.  Her brindle-colored American Standard Bulldog, Quinn, sometimes makes a guest appearance in her treatment room, where his gentle presence makes him a perfect unofficial therapy dog for the many clients who are just as enamored of him as Andrea is.

Andrea and I immediately start chatting as we unwrap our sandwiches from the café across the street.  My fingers fly over my keyboard as she talks, and we enjoy occasionally wandering off the path of the original question.  What follows is a version of her answers that I reluctantly whittled down to fit in this space.

THE NATURE OF ANDREA’S WORK, AND WHERE IT IS TAKING HER

Andrea is known in the Portland scene for her excellence in myofascial release and deep tissue; the fact that you may have to wait 4-6 weeks to get an appointment with her is proof of her popularity.  As we dive in to a deep discussion of these modalities that are her specialties, she explains that they are intensely physical, and often difficult for clients to accept at first. This leads the conversation to what will be a recurring theme: trust and empathy are of paramount importance in Andrea’s work. And while she stresses that she is in no way qualified as a talk therapist, she says that she has become much more comfortable over the years with clients shedding a few tears during their treatments – a favorable sign that they trust her and have let her “in.”

She notes that myofascial release helps people to deal with years of not countering poor body positioning (she calls this “cultural” posture) that results from working for long periods on computers, or driving instead of walking.  She also believes that poor posture can be directly related to unfavorable emotions. “Pain sometimes becomes an identity for people,” she says.

It is this undesirable pain-as-identity that gets her excited to be moving in the direction of therapeutic energy work that will help clients with their emotional needs.  We talk about one of her newest treatment offerings: a 26-pound heated infrared amethyst therapy biomat. Treatments using this soothing bed take place in a separate room from Andrea’s other services.  Clients can book 30, 60, or 90 minute hands-free sessions to lie on top of the heated bed, which creates a sauna-like atmosphere. The benefits are thought to be many, ranging from pain relief to lessening of symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Andrea also offers guided heated infrared amethyst therapy sessions, which incorporate craniosacral therapy (another one of her specialties), the use of healing stones, guided meditation, and verbal visualization.

Ultimately, she’d like her work to help people long past the end of the session, and she’d like her clients to be educated about their massage therapy and even start to understand the theories involved.  And while she thinks Western medicine has a very important place in our culture, she feels strongly that people should be thinking for themselves when it comes to their bodies. She points out that we only have one body for the rest of our lives, and believes we should know enough about it to take care of it ourselves – most or all of the time.

THE PILATES METHOD, SPRINGBOARD PILATES, AND THE RESET PACKAGE

I’m curious to know how Andrea was introduced to Pilates, and the Springboard studio.  She tells me that after learning about the Pilates method from her brother’s fiancée (now wife), she and a friend decided to try mat classes at Springboard.  Not long after those first classes, Andrea agreed to be the case study for a teacher who was furthering her Pilates education through one of the training programs offered by The Pilates Center of Boulder, Colorado.  (Springboard is a host studio for TPC.) She remembers that it was fascinating to observe this teacher growing more skilled at using her voice and cueing to teach Andrea the language of Pilates. “It was like, how do you get in there [a client’s brain] and make it make sense to them?”

I ask Andrea to press the fast-forward button from her time as a case study to a few years ago, when she and Meredith, who has been happily teaching Pilates for ten years and has owned Springboard Pilates for almost five years, came up with the Reset Package.  She describes how wanting to collaborate with her friend blossomed from her affection for Meredith. She laughs as she comments that the Reset is also in line with her dreams of creating her own modality. “It’s far-fetched, but it’s there.”

For readers who aren’t in the know, the Reset Package unites Andrea and Meredith’s passions and talents in a private, personalized two-hour workshop that is typically booked on a Saturday at the Springboard studio.  Each Reset begins with Andrea and Meredith carefully assessing a client’s posture as they move and walk, verbally sharing what they notice. As Andrea employs hands-on bodywork, Meredith continues to observe and take notes.  She also translates for the client, describing how what Andrea is doing will relate to the Pilates exercises that will come next.

In the Pilates portion, Meredith and Andrea decide together what to have the client do on either the Reformer or Cadillac (both pieces of equipment created by Joseph Pilates, and found in any Pilates studio worth its salt). Meredith then guides the client through exercises that have been specifically chosen to help train that client’s body in new movement patterns.

It is Meredith and Andrea’s belief that the two hours of undivided focus with each other and the client will help to press a “reset” button in the client’s mind and body.  Ultimately, they hope to empower people to walk out with 
newfound knowledge about their bodies and postural alignment that will keep them healthier and happier.

Andrea sees the Reset as being for people who love to learn, and for people who may want and/or need something to really be about them for two hours.  She loves the overall education that happens. When I ask her why someone would book one of these private workshops, Andrea is thoughtful for a moment and then says, “We’d take a whole lot better care of each other if we learned to take care of ourselves first.”  This strikes me as a wise observation, and one that reveals, once again, how compassion is at the heart of her work.

WHY ANDREA IS DOING WHAT SHE DOES

We talk a little about how Andrea’s current career is very different from other employment she’s had in the past.  She loves how massage therapy grounds her and connects her “. . .to health and to the positivity that humans have in them.”  She feels that the competitiveness of our culture and the near-constant stimulus from the many screens in our lives – laptops, televisions, and phones – is changing our brains.  We both remember childhoods in which we learned to tell time from analog clocks, sat still for long periods with a good book, and explored outdoors by ourselves, and wonder if those things are still possible for today’s kids.  She feels that anxiety is being passed on, and wants her work to be part of the antidote.

I ask Andrea to describe her favorite forms of self-care, and she gives me a pretty comprehensive list:  Pilates. Yin yoga. Walking. Getting bodywork. Getting lots of sleep. Other small pleasures (“A little bit of whiskey sometimes helps,” she says with a smile).  Enjoying the comfort and companionship of her dogs. It seems that she has arrived at this place in her life – doing work she loves, feeling grounded – by careful consideration of what does and does not makes her happy, and by not letting others’ expectations of her cloud her judgment or worry her.

We’ve spent almost two hours together now, and I have become more and more impressed by Andrea’s serious and passionate answers to my questions.  It’s clear that she thinks a great deal about how her work affects her own life and others’ lives, and I sense that she has taken massage therapy far beyond the confines of what she learned in school.

Several days after our interview, as I’m considering how I’ll organize my notes into something readable, it dawns on me:  the reason why Andrea is so good at what she does is that she knows WHY she’s doing her work. I’ve come to see this knowing as a hallmark of people who are exceptional at what they’ve chosen to do.  Even if that “why” has never been spoken aloud or shared with another human being, knowing it is half – or all – of the battle. And when people know the why, they contribute in positive and beautiful ways to their communities.  If you know Andrea, you’ve seen and felt this positivity, and if you’re a lucky client, you’ve felt the warmth and strength of her skilled touch. May we all, in time, find the answer to that WHY.

To find out more about Andrea’s services and to book an appointment, please visit Apple Core Therapy’s website at www.applecoretherapy.com.

Spots in the Summer Reset Packages are available on the following days: Saturday, July 14th 11 a.m.,  Saturday, August 4th 11 a.m., Friday, August 24th at 3 p.m.,  and Saturday, August 25th 11 a.m.  Please email info@springboardpilates.com or sign-up on Mind Body to reserve your spot!

 

 

An Inside Look at Springboard Pilates

It’s Friday morning at Springboard Pilates, and there’s a happy vibe in the air. The door beep-beeps over and over as clients crowd in for their weekly fix of Dave Reese, P.T.’s mat class. The small entryway is a polite chaos of bodies. Coats and hats come off; boots and shoes are shucked. Clients say their hellos and share quick embraces. Laughter and chatter rise and carry across the floor to the cushy mats, where folks stake out their space for the next 50 minutes. Foam rollers, TheraBands, short lengths of stiff bamboo, and tennis balls come out of the props closet and are employed to help stretch and warm muscles before class starts. The water cooler gurgles as bottles are topped up and glasses are filled. A client stands sideways and gracefully kicks forward and back, revealing the ballet training that still shows in her turned-out legs and pointed feet. There are decades of lives lived here – the collective age may add up to well over 300 years. Each unique body, whatever its perceived limitations, has been brought into the studio with an eager mind and spirit at the helm. These long-time regulars are about to willingly submit to Dave’s special blend of “fusion” exercises, which incorporate elements of yoga, Pilates, martial arts, and plain old boot camp. Dave, a spry and fit somewhere-past-middle-age, will soon be punctuating his gut-busting sets with silly jokes, warm encouragement, and sly asides.

It’s not just Dave’s unique class that brings clients to the studio; today and every day of the week, there are also private or semi-private lessons going on in our space. Some clients have a standing weekly appointment to work individually with one of Springboard’s well-trained and dedicated teachers. Other clients are happy learning in a group class setting most of the time, but may have decided they’d like to tackle outside of class an exercise that seems particularly difficult. Maybe they have never used the machines and don’t know that many exercises also have versions performed on the Chair, Reformer, and Cadillac. Maybe they have noticed something about their own movement patterns that just seems “off.” These are great reasons to book a one-time (or once a month?) “tune up” private! Yes, private instruction is less budget-friendly than a group class, but a private lesson can be a hugely rewarding and enriching experience for both teacher and client.

Consider the far-reaching effects that even one 50-minute lesson can have: that difficult exercise can be broken down into parts so that it seems less daunting, and the client now has the confidence to work on the movement skills required for the exercise (and may also start to see how those same movement skills show up in other exercises). A mat class-only client may get the opportunity to deepen her understanding of the feel and form of an exercise on the Reformer, and then bring that new understanding with her the next time she comes to mat class. Exploring together, a curious and attentive teacher and client can examine that “off” movement pattern. . .and maybe something softens, feels strengthened, or feels connected to for the first time through the use of creative cues, a prop, or the resistance of springs.

Pilates teachers are not doctors and cannot (and are expressly forbidden to) diagnose physical conditions, but we are very good at noticing where movement seems (among other things) stuck, not sequential, or not bilateral, and we go right to work with the tools in our toolbox – all afforded to us through the genius of the classical Pilates method. And when our clients experience the excitement of an “Aha!” moment in a lesson – when the sun breaks through the clouds and movement feels different or better, we teachers are just as excited.

Returning to the lively scene that is Friday mornings at Springboard, every week at the ten o’clock hour, most or all of our teachers gather for “Teacher Time” – a wide-ranging, round table discussion about some aspect of our work as movement teachers. You may see us settling in around a Reformer or two, mugs of tea warming our hands, as we turn our attention to the topic for that week. These rap sessions are led by Meredith Coffin, Springboard’s owner, and the topics cover anything from breaking down how we approach teaching a particular exercise from basic to advanced skill levels (Teaser, anyone?), to comparing the same exercise taught on three different pieces of equipment, to brushing up on anatomy, to revisiting Joe Pilates’ seminal work Return to Life Through Contrology. Getting on the equipment or the mat to explore an exercise we’ve just discussed is sometimes part of the hour. The reward for carving out this time for ourselves is that we often make new, in the moment connections about some aspect of the Pilates method. Our hope is that this leads to our clients always being on the receiving end of intelligent, well-informed, adaptable teaching. . .which sometimes sounds like a teacher having the confidence to say, “Hmm! Good question! I don’t know the answer right now. Let’s explore this!”

By early afternoon on Fridays at Springboard, the last few private lessons are winding down. The studio’s warm red walls and gleaming polished concrete floor have absorbed the energy, inspiration, and joy of approximately 75 hours of collective teaching over the last week. The cushy mats are in a neat row along the baseboard underneath the burlap-covered wall, and the Reformers recline in the sunshine streaming through the windows that look out on Pine Street. Our hope is that, over the weekend, the clients who have passed through Springboard’s doors will think back to their lessons as they go about their activities. Maybe they’ll think of us as they bend deeply at their hips to sit down on the floor and scoop a grandchild close – and then easily rise up from the floor once playtime is over. Or maybe they’ll think of us as they effortlessly lift a grocery bag to the counter and unload its contents into cupboards and the refrigerator, smoothly bending and twisting. Or maybe – just maybe – they’ll think of us as they cartwheel across the lawn with strong, straight arms, an engaged core, and softly-pointed feet. We have a feeling that Mr. Pilates would be proud.

March Movement Challenge 2018

Cabin fever is setting in and we’re all keeping a close eye on the weather reports for those 60 degree days. Sun? Yes! Only a light layer under the down jacket? Bliss. Although we have a few more weeks (and perhaps even a few more snowfalls) until Spring officially comes to Maine, why not jump start all the lovely Spring energy with some movement! Spring is a time to reinvigorate your mind, body, and spirit. Let’s start together and let’s start today with March Movement Challenge.

The Challenge? The Hundred. We challenge you to do The Hundred every day (or as many days as you wish!) during the month of March. Do The Hundred, get a star on our Challenge Chart. (The chart is at the Studio but if you’d like to participate remotely, email us with your star count at the end of the month and we’ll add you on!) At the end of the month, the top 6 movers will be entered to win 1 of 6 prizes. Prizes include gift certificates to Silly’s, Private Lessons, Group Lessons, and Springboard Pilates swag!

Want to increase your chances of winning? AND get a strong core? We’ll add a *Bonus* challenge every week. Add that challenge after you do The Hundred for another star! (Limit one star per week, per *Bonus*)

Here’s a quick video tutorial demonstrating The Hundred and a few variations. (Why is it called “The Hundred”? By the end of 10 sets you have completed 100 pumps of the arms. One set equals 1 inhale pumping your arms 5 times and 1 exhale, pumping your arms 5 times.

*Bonus* Challenges:
March 4 – March 10: Ab Series of Five (Here’s a video tutorial of the series!)
March 11 – March 17: Basic Five (Video tutorial by Meredith!)

Each week we’ll add a new *Bonus* Challenge series!

Good luck with the March Movement Challenge!

 

Springboard News from Along the East Coast

A sunny spring break trip to Florida had Meredith and Ashley learning archival exercises from The Pilates Center’s Amy Taylor Alpers and Kelli Burkhalter Hutchins. The material in the workshops, Archival Reformer and Utilizing the Archival Tower Exercises to Build Upper Body Power, was been taken wholly from the archival film footage and photography of Joseph Pilates teaching in the early 1940s. The Archival Exercises, with their subtle alterations and variations in form and choreography, provide valuable “new” insights into the purpose and goal of the exercises.  Want a sneak peek of an archival exercise? Here’s a video of Meredith performing Flying Fish.

Ashley performing Archival Swan with assistance from Amy Taylor Alpers, co-founder of The Pilates Center.

The good news about Springboard has made across the border to New Hampshire! We’re grateful to be featured in New Hampshire Homes. Now house hunters who are exploring regions of New England will know access to great Pilates is right around the corner. (Springboard instructor Juliet McKinnon’s studio Pointe Pilates, located in Portsmouth, is another incredible option for classical pilates.) Check out the article here!

All Introduction to Pilates Workshops are FREE in January 2018

Whenever a ​n​ew ​y​ear comes around​,​ our ​imaginations a​​re unleashed and ​a sense of hopefulness and ​possibility once again knock at the door. Simple to-dos are reaffirmed: ​a​ promise to drink more water​, s​pend less time on the computer​, b​​reathe more intentionally, ​do more ​outdoors. ​Even ​bigger, life changing ideas are suddenly given new life: ​Could ​I change jobs? Is it ​finally ​time to move? Is this the year I retire?

To move our minds, we must ​move ​our bodies. As Joe Pilates said, “Change happens through movement and movement heals.” At Springboard Pilates, we are committed to being a wellness oasis where every body feels confident in developing movement skills for life. Take your first step towards change with us.

“​Offering ​our Introduction to Pilates Workshops ​FREE OF CHARGE in January is Springboard’s way of helping you jump right into 2018!​ There’s even one on New Year’s Day! ​We’re excited to see ​new faces in the ​s​tudio and ​have you feel ​how Pilates will change the way you move through your ​new ​y​ear.” -Meredith Coffin, Owner of Springboard Pilates

A new fitness adventure can be intimidating. We get it. We’ve been there. Tips to make it all a little less nerve-racking? Bring a friend! Grab your brother/sister/mother/uncle/dad/spouse! Shoot us an email or come in for a 15-minute consult to learn a little more or tour the studio. The good news? No one really comes in being “good” at Pilates. It’s like any ​other ​activity​:​ you have to learn by doing. So, come​ try it​!

Tuesday, January 1 | 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 10 | 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 13 | 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Thursday, January 18 | 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 | 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Wednesday, January 24 | 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Friday, January 26 | 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday, January 30 | 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

No experience is necessary. Reservations are encouraged as space is limited to 5 bodies per workshop!

Sign up → www.springboardpilates.com (Go to our website, click on “Class Schedule” which is located under the “Classes” tab, and find the date of the workshop you’d like to take!) or email info@springboardpilates.com

Client Corner


Meet Molly Kingsbury!

Age: 50

How long have you done Pilates? I had to have back surgery in 2015 (spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis).  As part of my recovery,  I did some physical therapy.  It helped, but going to the gym was not my thing.  As someone who has never enjoyed exercise classes of any kind, I knew I needed to find something that could just become part  of my routine.  When a friend urged me to join her for a Pilates mat class, I went with high hopes but low expectations. I thought that what I was searching for maybe didn’t exist. I remember thinking though, after that first class, “Hmmm.  That wasn’t painful.  I didn’t feel like I was going to die.” And, the next morning, “Wow.  Nothing aches.  I can touch my toes again. I feel taller.”

This is my second year of Pilates and I love that it is keeping me limber, moving comfortably.  My balance is better.  Mid life isn’t seeming so heavy.

What are the classes you currently attend Springboard Pilates? I am working in a Level 2 machine class now and I look forward to each class.  I have NEVER looked forward to exercise or gym classes before Springboard.

What’s your “day job”? Before kids, I was a middle school foreign language teacher. Then I worked for some time as a garden designer and installer. Now I am full time with kids in a blended family, ranging from second grade to sophomore in college.

What activities do you enjoy outside the studio? I love travel, photography, political discourse, good books, good times with friends.

3 Favorites…
1. Food! Anything in season. I can go crazy over dead ripe raspberries. And milk dark chocolate, which is mercifully hard to find.
2. Movie or Book! Still love Jane Eyre.
3. Pilates Exercise! In Mat class I loved the Russian Squats because they made me feel strong and on the machine I like Short Spine because I feel like a kid goofing around at the playground!

Pilates exercise you’d like to conquer this year? I fear I will never conquer Teaser.  But I will keep trying!!

I just want to say how grateful I am to Springboard Pilates and the wonderful staff there.  I always feel supported and encouraged.  It’s been a life changer for me.

Introduction to Mat Workshop

Introduction to Mat with Meredith Coffin

This workshop will help you build a foundation of understanding in your mind and body about Pilates. You’ll feel by the end of the hour why it is movement you can do for the rest of your life!

We will practice Pilates breathing, work on many fundamental movement skills, learn the basic mat exercises, and have time for questions.

At the end, we will talk about how to get started at Springboard and progress within the class levels.

Join us! All levels are welcome to this workshop.

Choose from the Saturdays below or register for both!:

November 11th

December 30th

both dates 9:30 – 10:30am

$25 per person

Sign up from the Class Schedule page on our website (make sure you are looking at the date you want when selecting “Take Class”).

See Meredith’s bio on her Team page above.

Please familiarize yourself with our straight-forward workshop cancellation policy here.

Core Connections Workshop

Core Connections: Pelvic Floor and Pilates

with Lesley T. Hoey, Pelvic Floor PT

Have you given birth or ever leaked any amount with a cough, laugh, or sneeze? Did you know the pelvic floor is an essential muscle group for core strength, or that women are more prone to pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) than men? This workshop will explain why women are more predisposed to PFD and teach the specific core muscle activation to help you start toning your pelvic floor and integrating it into core strengthening with Pilates based mat exercises.

Choose from the Saturdays below or join both for greater understanding:

November 4th

January 13th

both dates 8:30 – 10am

$35 per person

Sign up from the Class Schedule page on our website (make sure you are looking at the date you want when selecting “Take Class”).

Lesley Hoey, DPT, CYT is a Physical Therapist and Certified Integrative Yoga Therapist in private practice who specializes in orthopedic and pelvic floor rehab. She integrates Yoga and Pilates core strengthening principles into her treatment sessions with patients and private clients to help them improve and maintain their pelvic health and function.

Please familiarize yourself with our straight-forward workshop cancellation policy here.

Yin Yoga Workshop

Yin Yoga with Jen Micoleau

 

What is Yin yoga?
Yin yoga opens your heart to the understanding that you are your best teacher.

This quiet, introspective practice offers you a break from your active, busy, running-around-like-mad life style. Enjoy luxuriating in passive, restful postures where time and space are provided to you to encourage breath awareness and connection to your body. Within the stillness you uncover a deeper understanding of your body’s tension holding patterns and how to assist them in unwinding. This happens in real time, which encourages the fast-talking “monkey mind” to soften into the background, its interest captured by the present moment.

Expect to feel in this class; it is not restorative. The purpose is to move the body into deep sensation without approaching pain. Find your edge and sit in it. Be curious about it. Watch it. Be in the process of discovery. Listen, allow, surrender into what is. And most of all, learn to be compassionate and friendly toward this process.

The workshop will consist of 20 minutes of seated Guided Meditation and centering followed by 80 minutes of Yin postures with a few Yang (active) postures mixed in to support the balance of the practice. The final 20 minutes will be in Savasana (Rest or Corpse Pose), partially guided and partially in silence.

Choose from the Sundays below or register for all of them!:

October 1st

November 19th

December 3rd

all dates 4-6pm

$50 per person

Sign up from the Class Schedule page on our website (make sure you are looking at the date you want when selecting “Take Class”).

See Jen’s bio on her Team page above.

Please familiarize yourself with our straight-forward workshop cancellation policy here.

Workshop for Beginners

Introduction to Reformer with Meredith Coffin

Joseph Pilates invented the “Universal Reformer” to add assistance and challenge to his method. The Reformer’s springs and structure offer a unique resistance training experience which creates a balanced workout of both strengthening and stretching. Working this way in proper alignment is not only therapeutic for the joints, but also creates long, lean muscles and an overall uniformly developed body. If you have never seen a Reformer, or worked on one, you are in for a treat! It makes working out fun!
This workshop will introduce you to the amazing piece of equipment Joe designed. You’ll be taught the Introductory level of exercises working with the springs and straps, and given lots of guidance for moving mindfully from your core instead of your neck, shoulders, or low back. There will be time for questions and to talk about how to progress within the levels of the classes offered at Springboard. All levels are welcome.
Choose from the following Saturdays (or attend more than one for deeper understanding):
September 30th
October 28th
December 16th
February 3rd, 2018
all dates 9:30-10:30am
$25 per person

Sign up from the Class Schedule page on our website (make sure you are looking at the date you want when selecting “Take Class”).

Please familiarize yourself with our straight-forward workshop cancellation policy here.

Read Meredith’s bio on her Team page above.