Movement: Why regular exercise is vital to our wellbeing

exercise and health BFI studio classWe know we need to exercise regularly.  Yet making movement a routine part of our daily lives can be a challenge. For years, I moved energetically and even strenuously daily  – taking dance as a teenager and in college, and then discovering Pilates in my early 20s. Naturally, owning a Pilates and Movement studio for over 15 years here in Tucson, and prior to that running studios in Denver, I’m passionate about the power of daily movement.

That said, it doesn’t mean I feel like it every day. Or even if I feel like it, that I’m able to fit in the time and level of exercise that I’d like. Sometimes daily life can present one obstacle or distraction after another, and my best intentions go astray.

I know many of you experience the same thing.  Yet to improve our mind and overall health, and to age well, demands that we commit to daily and regular exercise.

A dear client asked me yesterday: “Can you give me one tip to help me get up in the morning and exercise? I have good intentions but just can’t seem to incorporate it into my life.”

My answer: “Start small, but be consistent.  For example, perhaps lie on the Foam Roller 5-10 minutes. Or start your day with a few rounds of Sun Salutations. Those are a great way to deepen your breathing and increase your flexibility.”

Another tip: Increase your lunchtime an extra 15 minutes to allow for a short walk after eating.

 There are 3 components to a healthy fitness program:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Strength training
  3. Aerobic exercise

Flexibility = stretching. One thing that we can do to help us lower the chance of injury is to stretch before or after exercise. A favorite of mine is the Sun Salutations series from yoga (mentioned above) – it’s an ideal way to greet the day and focus on how your body is feeling before beginning strength or cardio vascular exercise. If you plan to attend my small group meditation class in April, you’ll learn a chair Sun Salutation series there.

Strength training = weight bearing exercise. Strength training includes a variety of weight bearing exercise. Hiking can be weight bearing- simply place a small back-pack on and chose a walk or hike that isn’t flat.  Pilates is excellent for strength and flexibility.

Aerobic = endurance. Walking briskly just 20 – 30 minutes three or four times per week is a great start to an aerobic exercise habit. If you haven’t moved in a while, try 10 minutes and build up. You’ll be surprised how quickly your stamina increases! Set yourself up for success by calculating your Target Heart Rate. If don’t know yours or would like to learn – just send me a note .

Exercise does not mean diving into an Olympic training program. Although, if you are training for specific event, it is always my pleasure to help you meet you training goals.

As always, please talk to your physician before beginning a new fitness program. You want to improve your health, not risk it.

In health,




Inspired by Lesson 3 of the Perfect Health program, “Perpetual Renewal.” Now registering for the June 2017 program at 520-299-6541.

Creating Good Health: Tips for Simple Cleansing

organic fresh fruit

New year, new you!  Each time we embark upon a new year, the genuine desire to make positive changes for ourselves is strong. However, oftentimes our motivation is hard to sustain, especially if we try to do too much all at once. My suggestion for cleansing is to begin simply, phasing in changes as each new behavior becomes a habit.

Many of you have asked me about cleansing.  I cover cleanse options in detail at the Perfect Health course, but for now I’d like to give you some simple ideas to detox and re-balance. There are many over-the-counter remedies that promise to kick-start your body’s cleansing process and help you lose weight quickly.  Some of them are quite good. However, you can achieve the same results with a more natural, organic approach.

4 Tips for Body Re-balancing

  • Focus on locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat homemade broths, soups and stews.
  • Drink freshly prepared organic fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies.
  • Eat foods that are easily digestible.

Note, these tips apply not only when you’re working on New Year resolutions, but any time you have a major life transition. It’s a gentle way to reset your immune system and digestion.

Cleansing or fasting:

Organic Ginger Tea

A simple way to cleanse.

In Ayurveda we practice adjusting our eating and  lifestyle to be more in alignment with seasons. Seasonal transitions are also a good time to fast or cleanse. To best prepare your body for a fast or cleanse:

  • Reduce your intake of  processed, canned, frozen or fried foods.
  • Consider a one-day liquid fast, which may include water, fresh juices, soups and herbal teas.
  • Make homemade Ginger tea.
  • Drink warm water throughout the day.
  • Even one day can be highly beneficial for detoxification, as well as helping with mental clarity.
Two Baby Bobcat cubs drinking rom the fountain outside studio.

Baby Bobcat drinking from our fountain.

The New Year comes with new challenges as well as an optimistic new outlook. It’s the ideal time to create better health practices.  And keep in mind that just because you may stray from a resolution, it doesn’t mean the practice is a lost cause. You can start over at any time!! Be kind to yourself.



WellMind: A Natural Way to a Good Night’s Sleep

wellmind natural sleep aidIf you’ve ever taken prescription sleep medication, you’re probably familiar with the “hangover” they can leave. Melatonin works for some, but others experience overly vivid dreams or even nightmares. One homeopathic, natural sleep aid that works gently is WellMind (formerly Neurexan).

WellMind’s ingredients work together to calm the mind, readying it for sleep. There’s not the pre-coma drowsiness some prescription sleeping pills can cause. An overactive mind, or frequent insomnia, can be disruptive to our ability to remain calm in the face of daily life stress. Insomnia in the United States is at  epidemic proportions. A good night’s sleep is key to optimal health.

To give WellMind a chance, adjust your bedtime routine. After you dissolve a tablet under your tongue, consider reading something non-stimulating: i like to spend a half hour ro more with philosophy or spiritual readings. Avoid bright screens and put your technology away-  really, step away from all devices.  In a short time, you’ll begin to feel the effect.

Those clients and friends I know who’ve tried WellMind share that it does calm the overactive mind and really helps them to “wind down” at the end of the day. Used as a natural sleep aid, sleep is generally uninterrupted and best of all, no sleeping pill hangover or grogginess. Several friends and colleagues have replaced their prescription sleep aid with WellMind.

WellMind’s homeopathic active ingredients include:

  • Avena sativa – Relieves simple nervous tension
  • Coffea cruda – Relieves irritability
  • Passiflora incarnata – Relieves simple nervous tension
  • Zincum valerianicum – Relieves occasional nervous sleeplessness

Please ask us if you have any questions about the natural products carried at our Tucson Body Fundamentals Studio, during your next Pilates session or simply give us a ring: 520-299-6541.

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A Natural Approach to Joint & Arthritis Pain Relief

T-Relief homeopathic pain reliefMany of us suffer occasionally, or even chronically, from joint pain, stiffness and osteoarthritis. Aging often brings arthritis pain, as do old injuries and new. Or it may be that you overdid it at the gym or on a hike. Even minor pain can keep us from doing the things we love, with the people we love. As our options for pain relief grow, I find my go-to homeopathic pain relievers remain T-Relief™ Arthritis Tablets and Ointment (formerly known as Zeel).

  • The T-Relief Arthritis pain relief ointment is suitable for relief of osteoarthritis pain, joint pain and stiffness when massaged into the area. It features organic oils as well as homeopathic pain relieving ingredients.
  • The T-Relief Arthritis pain relief tablets dissolve under the tongue, “reducing pain that causes lack of mobility.” It also features all natural active ingredients for relief from joint pain and stiffness.

A bonus: these products are safe for the stomach and our organs. Many of our prescription and over the counter pain relief medications can play havoc on the sensitive stomach. Being able to give our hardworking organs a break and still get pain relief can be a win-win.

As someone who actively seeks out natural pain relief options whenever possible, I can attest to their effectiveness. Ease of movement is essential to being able to demonstrate and spot our Pilates clients, so if I’ve overdone it the day before, I’ll turn to T-Relief.

In fact, I’ve offered the products at Body Fundamentals Tucson studio for over 15 years. Over the years, we’ve found that our clients swear by them, as well. A tip: Using the products in combination can effect even more immediate relief.

As always, it’s recommended that you check to be sure there are no contraindications for either prescription or over the counter medications, or the potential for allergic reaction.

If you have any questions about the retail products carried at Body Fundamentals, please feel free to ask at your next Pilates session, or give us a call at the studio: 520-299-6541.

In health,
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Simple progressions from Bruce King.


“This is a health rather than beauty book. Its purpose is to help you improve your movement habits for life. ”  – Bruce King.

Just finished re-reading Bruce King’s powerful gem: Rule Of The Bones. I’ve spent many years with this small treasure and find myself returning to it often. In a world of extremes often intensified during the Holiday season, Bruce’s balanced approach to posture, gait and movement is a gentle and helpful guide. It’s practical and it works. And even though we know more in 2014 about the body then we did when this was written,  these progressions stand the test of time.

Powerful in its simplicity, his movement progressions and postural tips are sound, and effective.  His exercises for the feet in Chapter VI are simple and can be done anywhere. No equipment required.  I give them to many of my older clients who are struggling with neuropathy or foot cramping from tight muscles.  They receive relief quickly and their feedback is consistently positive. I also like the section on sitting and the great reminders on how to sit properly in front of a computer.

I know many of you have incorporated part or all of the exercises into your home routines. Keep it up and continue to improve your movement habits daily. Consistency is key!

And, if you have a moment, let me know how it’s going. . .I love to hear from you!

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Simple Soutions for Back Pain #3: Back Systems3


In this 3rd part of Simple Solutions for Back pain series, I’d like to share a little bit about the Back Systems machine and, specifically a low back stretch. The  stretches on BackSystem3 are easy, safe and effective.  I encourage you to try this machine if you have access to one.

Diana Bailey, my dear friend and longtime mentor introduced me to this machine 22 years ago in Denver. Before I was strong enough to try anything Pilates or Pre-Pilates related, Diana worked with me for several months on the Back Systems machine, the Swiss Ball and the Foam Roller to increase my flexibility and decrease muscle spasms in both my Upper and Lower Back.

During that first year of working with Di, I was going to Physical therapy, Massage Therapy, and Pilates on a weekly basis.  The PT stretches helped and the balance and stability training on the Ball made me internally stronger; however, the Back machine consistently gave me relief .  Every single time! It seemed odd to me that a little machine with simple stretches could give me such tremendous relief. Back Systems allows you to stretch in a positions that creates gentle traction on your lower spine, work you abdominals.  There’s also a terrific series for Shoulders and Lats which I’ll cover later on.

For the past 19 years, I’ve kept a BackSystem3 machine in my Pilates studios and continue to use it myself as well as with clients every week.

Try the first exercise on the Back System3 machine.

Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes before or after your private or semi-private  sessions to get on the Back Machine.

How to:


Stretch #1 The Low Back Stretch:  Start by holding each stretch for 2 seconds, then work up to a 30 second hold.  BackSystems recommend 5-7 repetitions.

This simple exercise provides gentle traction, is a safe lumbar stretch and feels really good!
Tucson studio clients, ask me for details or take a look at the guide. It’s on the “handle bars.”

BackSystems 3- Low Back stretch

Talk Less, Breathe More.

stones and ocean
Practice breathing with every movement.

Breath is Life. And as we know from Vedanta philosophy, Yoga and Meditation, “Where attention goes, energy flows.”

Take a moment to center yourself before moving by bringing your attention to your breath.  Fill up your lungs  on your inhalation, empty your lungs on your exhalation. Let your breath be easy and soft to begin.

Try connecting your breath your to your  movement during your pilates sessions this week. Be easy with  your breath and your body. Try not to make this a strong effort. There is tremendous power in learning how to move without tension.  Our bodies are designed to move well and with ease.  They’re designed to move freely. Increase your awareness of how and where you hold tension.  If you’re holding your breath,  pause, slow down and consciously exhale.  Try  to practice without a lot of chatter, internally or externally.

Talk less , Breathe more.

The benefits of this kind of awareness and focus on your breath encourages calm and relaxation,  helps focus muscular engagement and release,  and allows for ease of movement.

Keep Breathing,


emailavatarb3               Keep Breathing words on top of nature photo


Previously Published in October 2011

Ped-i-pull for Posture


Improve your posture by adding seated Ped-i-Pull exercises to your private sessions. scapula elevation and depression as well as lat stabilization help align your spine and work stabilizing  abdominal muscles.  Many students with osteoporosis or osteopenia find noticeable improvement in their posture from using the ped-i-pull.

I use the ped-i-pull almost daily with private clients and they love it!


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A great cold remedy… home-made tea!

This is a repost that i wanted to share again with all of you.  I’ve made this tea several times-  love the dual benefit of antiinflamatory suport from the ginger and burst of vitamin C from the lemon. It jus feels nourishing.  Thanks Hilary!!

– Genevieve

Every year, right before the holidays, I get sick. I’m always guilty of running myself on overdrive, attending holiday parties and family functions, shopping ’til I literally drop.

One of the best defenses is a tea, a simple concoction of 3 things you probably already have in your kitchen!

– 1″ cube of fresh ginger, grated (ginger has many respiratory health benefits- including being anti-inflammatory and a natural expectorant)
– juice and slice of 1 small lemon (a great source of vitamin C)
– honey, to taste (doesn’t just taste great, honey is effective, natural cough suppressant)

Boil water in a teapot or a regular pot. Then, reduce to simmer and add the ginger- freshly grated. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes and feel free to breathe in as much of the steam as possible!

After the mixture has simmered, add as much lemon and honey as you like and pour into a mug! Enjoy and be well!

– Hilary










Originally Published December 2011