Review: Pelvic Clock Device for Back Pain

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The Pelvic Clock Device is brilliant for those of us with unstable pelvises and back pain.

A few months ago I received an email from the folks behind what was to become my new favorite little exercise device, the Pelvic Clock. And I did not answer right away.

I thought, “This little gadget is small, expensive, and what good could it really do?” After all, I have lots of small gadgets and rollers at home to help me feel better. Did I really need another thing?

But they were persistent, and I ultimately said yes. Now I wouldn’t want to be without it.

What Is The Pelvic Clock Device?

Basically. the Pelvic Clock is a small (6.5″ across, 2″ deep) dome made in the US out of rubber, with an imprint of the human sacrum in the top. When positioned correctly, your sacrum is supported in the device with a little bit of traction. The basic lower back exercises are simple – flexion/extension, side to side, and circles (the pelvic clock exercise), followed by some diagonal stretches.

The first time I did the basic series, my SI joint was out, and it popped back in! Then I had hubby, who has a spondylolisthesis with herniated discs, get on it, and his back adjusted and felt better.

Feeling cheeky, I brought it over to the studio one day for my colleague Tori to try out, and her back happened to be out. It adjusted during our session and by the next day she felt 80% better. If she had to see the chiropractor, that one visit would have cost the full amount of the Pelvic Clock.

Meet Yana

Yana Blinova is a Lenin Scholar, with Master’s in Exercise Science. She is also a former gymnast, who coached both the Soviet Army Rhythmic Gymnastics Team and the underdog Italian Olympic Team, who managed to win a silver medal in at the Atlanta games. Did I mention that she is also legally blind?

In the 1990s, Yana’s doctors recommended an invasive spinal surgery to repair her back injuries and ailments: spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, herniated discs, lumbar spinal stenosis, and sciatica. She wanted to avoid surgery and did, using this device! She invented this in her tiny NYC kitchen.

I met Yana a couple of weeks ago when she came to visit me at Real Pilates, where we shot some videos of the device in use, with me and Yana teaching my colleague, Bridget Casey-Insana.

Good for More Than Just Lower Back Pain

As I learned while working with Yana, the Pelvic Clock Device can be used for the pelvis in supine, sitting, and standing (against a wall) positions. It can also help the upper back, shoulder girdle, and feet. In addition, there are several standing exercises that will help with balance and stability, including lunge and squat variations.

Because you can use it standing, it is safe for pregnant women and for folks who cannot get up and down from the floor. It can also be used in bed.

Note that to really be effective, you need to do the exercises daily for a while. But at least they take 10 minutes at home, versus going out to a PT or chiropractic session.

Pilates and the Pelvic Clock Device

I saw immediately where this device could be used in Pilates – the Corkscrew exercise being an obvious choice.

I highly recommend this device to Pilates teachers and personal trainers, both for your own back and your clients. It is so small and light that I can toss it in my purse! And they offer bulk pricing for direct orders.

Bridget felt so much better after this shoot!

Here is a playlist of some videos, including the basic exercises, the foot strengthening exercises, and the Pilates Corkscrew.

What I Learned from the Fitcode Genetic Test

fitcode genetic test

The Fitcode Genetic Test gave me insights into my high cholesterol, joint issues, bone strength, and best fitness programs!

I am fascinated by genetic testing, and was excited to try the Fitcode Genetic Test. Now that we have successfully mapped our genes, it is possible for a simple cheek swab to give us useful information about ourselves.

And since I am adopted and know nothing about my family history, this information is even more important.

The Fitcode Test

Orig3n offers a few genetic tests to consumers, including skin and nutrition assessments. They offered me their most comprehensive test, the Fitcode test, to review. This test is priced at $149, and analyzes endurance, power performance, metabolism, joint health, and exercise recovery.

I received the test, which came in an unassuming small box. The box contained instructions, a release, a return label, and the collection kit. The cheek swab was easy, and I had the kit boxed up and ready to go within a few minutes. The return shipping is paid, so all I had to do is drop it in the mailbox.

I received an email after about two weeks (the sit says four) with a link to my results. The results may be viewed via an iOS app, or on any browser.

My Results

The report is broken up into the categories above, and lets you know whether you are Gifted, Normal, or need Adaptation regarding a specific gene. While normal in most respects, I had a few areas of concern, most of which I already thought were the case, but never had proof.


I am gifted in terms of Cell Repair in recovery. According to the report,

You have a less common result that is found in 25% of the population. People with this result may have better protection than people with AA or AG against free radical damage from high intensity sports. People like you are typically associated with faster recovery from intense exercise.

I love short bursts of High Intensity exercise, versus long term endurance things that annoy me. Always have!

So it is also interesting that I am gifted in fast twitch muscles (again, better for short term, high intensity sprints), lower levels of inflammation (so I recover faster from the intensity), and greater blood flow to my muscles that leads to more power (I love my heavy weights). I also have strong joints that are less prone to osteoarthritis (again, less inflammation).

Studies have shown that this result is more often associated with power athletes than those with the CC genotype. People like you may have greater blood flow to your muscles and therefore more strength for exercise that requires power over endurance.

Adaptation Needed

I have always felt that my joints were hypermobile, and they are! I have the gene associated with hypermobile joints. It is important for me to keep my joints strong to avoid injury.

I also have two genes that make it harder for my body to metabolize saturated fat, which explains my tendency towards higher than average cholesterol and weight gain. That means I have to watch my consumption of saturated fats.

Of more concern to me is the gene that leads to weaker bones and issues with vitamin D use.

You have a result found in about 60% of the population. This gene codes for the Vitamin D receptor and functions to control calcium and phosphorous levels in your body which is important for your skeletal muscle strength. This result is associated with a higher risk of muscle and bone injury when performing high intensity sports.

I have had issues with broken bones not healing (remember the great crushed toe incident of 2013?), and should probably be a bit more concerned about osteoporosis prevention.

Fitcode Takeaway

While so much of the information we get regarding our bodies is questionable at best, I now feel like I have a better understanding of my body, including how to train and what to watch out for.

It makes sense that I detest running and any long form cardio, preferring to do short, high intensity sprints. It also makes sense that I gravitated into modalities that focus on power, strength, and joint mobility. I dislike yoga because all of that joint stretching hurts me, but I love Pilates because there is so much strength and power work that I can reign in my overly flexible joints.

And now I know that my sensitivity to saturated fat really is a genetic gift, and that I need to maintain bone and joint strength more so than mobility.

This really was an eye opener for me, and I am so happy that I did this!

Book Review: Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core


Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core is a complex and smartly written book for experienced Pilates teachers.

I generally dislike Pilates books, especially ones that focus on functional anatomy. While this may sound odd coming from me, let me explain.

Most functional anatomy books end up modifying Pilates exercises to the point where they are unrecognizable as Pilates, while at the same time writing off the classical Pilates exercises as dangerous. By taking that approach, the books end up being useless for Pilates teachers.

But Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core manages to promote Pilates while discussing movement and functional anatomy. Instead of changing the exercises, the authors give teachers strategies for how to address movement dysfunction from within the Pilates system via a functional understanding of how our Powerhouse works.

Anatomy expert Dr. Evan Osar and Pilates Teacher and bodyworker Marylee Bussard approach Pilates as functional exercise and approach anatomy and movement from the standpoint of biotensegrity (a concept which I cannot explain well in a short review, but check out more on biotensegrity here). The book is written for teachers who already have a good understanding of anatomy and Pilates. This is not a book to read during your teacher training or even first year of teaching.

But once you know Pilates, anatomy, and have been teaching for a while, this book is indispensable. Seriously! Fabulous discussions of motor learning, fascial connections, and breathing. Clear photos of real clients doing Pilates exercises that show breakdowns in core support and how to address them. And best of all, a whole list of cues that can help your clients connect with their bodies within the Pilates system.


Yeast Infections and Exercise

yeast infection

Many women get more yeast infections when they start exercising. How to avoid yeast infections and treat them if you get one.

I have always been prone to yeast infections, even as a little girl. And my doctors always treated me with Monistat. First the 7 day treatment, then the 5 day, and finally the 3 day.

Now, of course, there is a ONE day treatment, and it is available over the counter at any pharmacy.

Avoidance is, of course, preferable. When I lived in the Caribbean as a fitness and pilates teacher, avoidance became quite important. I quickly learned the importance of always wearing cotton underwear, washing laundry always with a cup of white vinegar to kill yeast and mildew (if your clothing ever gets the mildew smell, white vinegar in the wash is the only thing that works).

Here are some more good tips from Monistat:

1.       Choose cotton underwear for workouts: It’s breathable, absorbent, and flexible — pulling moisture away from the skin and allowing some air flow. Moisture build up can lead to irritation, yeast infections, or bacterial infections and as you might guess, the more sweat the more moisture. If you are planning a heavy sweat session, make sure you are wearing breathable underwear and even plan to change pairs halfway through if possible.

2.       Make Sure It’s the Right Size: Wearing underwear that’s too tight can cause skin irritation by rubbing and pinching. Tight clothing in general can also limit breathability and increase the risk for yeast infections.

3.       Shower ASAP: When you finish up your workout, hit the shower as soon as you can. No sprays or wipes do the same job as a quick rinse in the shower. If you’re in a rush or planning to do more active things after your workout, like mowing your lawn or cleaning the house, try to at least change into a fresh pair until you can shower.

4.       Treat it Quickly: If you do end up with a dreaded yeast infection, don’t delay treating it with an over the counter suppository like Monistat which can cure a yeast infection without a prescription. There is nothing worse than trying hit the gym while dealing with serious discomfort that accompanies a yeast infection.

If you are interested in an all natural approach, check out Love Wellness, which offers all natural, boric acid-based yeast infection treatments that work!

My Favorite Body Care Products

Body Care

My Favorite Body Care Products are all natural and smell great!

When you have been married as long as hubby and I (23 years), you start to share body care products. After a while, you agree on common favorites based on fragrance and what your skin needs.

We are both very scent sensitive, preferring natural fragrances or unscented products. And we each have skin disorders, eczema for me and psoriasis for him, so need body care products that moisturize and calm.

Seaweed Bath Company

I received samples from Seaweed Bath Co. and both of us loved the shampoo and body wash enough to order. Since then we have used their bar soaps, body creams, and bath salts. I am actually trying their not-yet-released facial product line right now, and the products are super hydrating, smell great, and my skin looks and feels fabulous.

While on a personal journey to find a better skin solution for Adam’s severe bodywash_eucalyptus_front_copy_largepsoriasis, we discovered the soothing and detoxifying powers of seaweed. We were delighted to discover that seaweed not only calmed Adam’s troubled skin, but also provided important benefits for all skin and hair types.

The Peppermint and Citrus scents are light and natural, and the unscented products still smell ok, not weird like many unscented products do.

The shampoo and body wash lather well and rinse clean, without drying. The body cream sinks right in and feels light, but is extremely effective. The baths all contain seaweed and salt, and detox while treating your skin.

Serenity Acres Farm

The folks at Serenity Acres Farms raise goats for milk, and their goats milk soaps and body creams are rich and creamy. Their tagline is Happy Soaps by Happy Goats, and the soaps I tried are all different and all wonderful. Even hubby likes them!

At Serenity Farms we strive to create a place where we work with nature instead of against nature to create a healthy, sustainable, bio-dynamic home for us and our animals and make the planet a better place, one hoof print and one soap at a time! Serenity Skin Care and Soaps are toxin free, all natural, and are good for you, good for your body and good for the planet.

I love the goat stories and the cute folded boxes. But I love the soaps more. And the body cream is light and fluffy, yet rich and deeply moisturizing at the same time. Note that the products smell more in the box than they do when in use, so don’t be put off.

Como Shambhalatravel-kit-s

Having spent time as both a guest and staff at Como Shambhala at Parrot Cay, I grew very attached to the Como Shambhala Invigorate products. They smell wonderful, are full of botanicals, and are very hydrating

The Invigorate body wash, shampoo, and body lotion all take me back to that gorgeous beach, even in my NYC bathroom. And the salt scrub works wonders on my dry skin as the fragrance transports my soul.


Review: Leaner Creamer


Leaner Creamer is a healthier alternative to Coffee Mate, but does it work? Read on…

Perhaps you have heard the marketing slogan “Drink coffee and lose weight.” This is a bold claim from the makers of Leaner Creamer, a coconut oil-based, lightly flavored powder coffee creamer.

In addition to creamer, the company sells three pre-ground coffee blends, in light,medium, and dark roasts.

For this review, Leaner Creamer sent me one box of original flavor creamer packets, and the medium and dark roast coffees.

The Creamer

I like a strong cup of coffee, and generally use a little fat free half and half until my coffee is a medium brown color. With Leaner Creamer, I started with one packet, but that wasn’t enough. I needed two, and the vanilla flavor was so slight that I still needed sweetener. At $19.95/20 oz. bottle, this could get quite expensive.

I generally eat a lot of fiber and good fat, so I didn’t notice the fullness effect as much. And like all powdered fats, the beverage must be warm. No iced coffee!


Leaner Creamer is a delicious addition to your morning java that suppresses appetite and promotes weight loss with its coconut oil based infused with its proprietary all-natural blend of Citrus Aurantium Extract, Hoodia and Green Tea Extract. Our all-natural and non-dairy powder coffee creamer is made with the perfect hint of vanilla that will keep you coming back for more.

The Coffee

The coffee was great! Both roasts were flavorful and not bitter. I only wish that the coffee came whole bean, so I could do a coarse grind for my French press. And at only $9.95/12 oz. bag, it is great coffee at a great price!

All in all, the Leaner Creamer products are great. They offer great coffee and a healthy alternative to the chemical-filled powder creamers I grew up with.



Review: Learn Krav Maga Online

Krav Maga

Can You Learn Krav Maga Online?

The folks at Krav Maga Online Worldwide Academy think so. I took a look.

Krav Maga, developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, is the official martial art of the Israeli Defense Force. Krav Maga emphasizes instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios. The system is utilized globally by law enforcement agencies, military personnel, and average people looking to learn practical self-defense and get in shape.

Krav Maga Worldwide

Krav Maga Worldwide is the largest reality-based self-defense organization in the world, with over 150 certified and licensed training centers worldwide. Even with such a large spread, they recognized that there are still many communities and individuals that don’t have convenient access to Krav Maga training.

Learning Online

So they decided to enter the online space with effective Krav Maga online training available to anyone with an internet connection. Through an immersive virtual training center experience using in-depth HD videos, a moderated forum, instructor feedback, and a comprehensive curriculum, anyone can learn life-saving self-defense techniques from a desktop or mobile device.

Currently there are four courses available – an introduction to Krav Maga (free), Core Krav Maga white-yellow belt ($139.99), an Anti-Bully kids program ($31.50), and a law enforcement Defense Against Handgun Threats ($31.50).

Each course has several modules with accompanying videos, handouts, and access to a forum where you can get answers to any questions.

Does It Work?

The videos are well-produced and clear, but note that you will need at least one partner and some padding to complete the course. While there are stances, punches, and other moves that you can practice on your own, the real usefulness of this work is being able to utilize your skills against an opponent.

The upper-level courses are not up as yet, so I can’t speak to how the work is structured at higher levels.

Is Krav Maga a Great Home Workout?

Any martial art will be a great workout, but I still maintain that it is better and more effective when learned in a group for practice. It’s hard to maintain form and speed by yourself, even with coaching from the video.

The upshot? If you have no access to a trained Krav Maga teacher and want to learn basic techniques, the Krav Maga Online Academy is a great resource. Just know that you will be limited unless you have a partner and some pads or guards.