Neck strain in The Hundred

A few weeks ago, someone came to me at the end of class and mentioned feeling it in the neck while doing the abs series. 

Neck strain while doing the Hundred is a common feedback I get from beginners who don’t yet know how to activate and contract their abdominals, causing their shoulders to lift off the mat. 

The Hundred – Pilates abdominals series

In this piece, they’re trying to get their chests higher, and the shoulders further away from the mat. But when they’re not strong enough in their abdominals, they then strain their necks forward to try to get their bodies higher. This usually gets their necks tired and strained quickly.

I remember when I first started out teaching, I used cues like “see if you can get yourself lifted more”. Now, I focus on “try to get this space between your ribs and your hips shorter” so that the focus on the contraction in the trunk.

The following week, I got the participants to feel the weight of their heads on their palms while lying down, then having the weight continue to stay on their palms as they contract their abs in, lifting their shoulders off the mat. This seemed to help.

Also, getting them to roll down to the hundred position from a seated position is a lot easier than curling up from a supine position but I’d probably do it both ways to get them working different segments of their abdominals and to get used to both.


Teaching Emily Pilates (Part 2)

After last week’s mess, I was sure that I wouldn’t see the same people in class again. That they’d skip Pilates at the club this week and join something else. Maybe wait for the regular weekly teacher to be back again next week. I was wrong!

I received a second chance and saw familiar faces this time. I made sure to correct all the mistakes I made last week, so I asked for everyone’s mats to be vertical to mine and checked in with them on their bodies. That made all the difference.

Because I knew that the gym had Pilates magic circles available, I had learnt to incorporate them for our exercises. I found them useful as a device to help them activate their muscles.

I’m still improving on making modifications and progressions in a group setting, and looking back now I would probably make them do more isometric work because they were slower to make changes in their positions once they were set. But the class felt so much more manageable today and I’m thankful for that!

The amount of knowledge surrounding the human body in motion is just so incredibly vast. I felt like being humble about it was the key to today’s class being great. I don’t have all the answers and they don’t expect me to.

While packing up, two ladies thanked me and we chatted a bit about their private Pilates sessions which I was excited about because I do think private sessions and machine work are so much better for people with injuries and for people over 50. The lady who had commented last week about the exercises being strenuous to the knees mentioned that the class was challenging but manageable! I was so relieved.


Teaching Emily Pilates

On Tuesday, I taught Pilates at a social club here in Singapore. It was pretty exciting to visit, and I could imagine Emily Gilmore strolling in to a similar country club in Hartford. So rich, so privileged. There weren’t a lot of young people in the club, and I didn’t look like I belonged when I was standing at the gym’s reception.

It was fairly packed for a Tuesday afternoon, so you can imagine that these people were indeed the Emily Gilmore-types.

Several things didn’t go too well – and I realise now that I have specific requirements for my Pilates group classes to happen.

1. The placements of the group’s mats need to be vertical to my horizontal mat for them to be facing me. This is how I’m used to teaching, but because everyone started laying their mats horizontal, I decided I’d go with the flow and how different could it be anyway?

It was a mess. The people on the left faced one way, the people on the right faced the other. My cues became slightly messy and confusing.

2. I did not start off the class finding out about their bodies well enough – which came back to me after the class when one lady told me to please let them know if I was going to be doing a lot of exercises that would be strenuous to the knees. Which, of course was a valid point considering that the majority of the people in the class were of an older age.

3. Their age. I was/and am not yet experienced with teaching older people.
I made some modifications and we had yoga blocks to help out, but looking back now I would have done everything differently. There was a lady who had asked for a good, challenging workout but I should have arranged it so that I offered it as an option to her and not made it too demanding on the whole team.

I was feeling awful after the class, but after a really good one today at a corporate class today..I’m a lot happier. You can really tell if a class is good if people are groaning just the right amount but are also given enough time to rest and occasions to actually learn about their own bodies.

I shall ask the PBT team about teaching older people to get ready for my next class at the club. I’ll also need to improve on executing progressions and modifications while I’m teaching. I can only get better.

(I’m experimenting with this journal-style entry to make sure I record these little mundane things in my life. I wonder if it throws things off balance on here, but I would hate to post anywhere else and leave this blog dry and insipid. That said, I shall try to make less edits on these posts.)



Things I love: Gilmore Girls

Sunday. 5.08am

4 more minutes to the end of A Year in the Life and I’m feeling a bit weird. It’s just weird. The final reveal – the secret last four words Amy-Sherman Palladino has for the series. And this wasn’t a big deal to me earlier this week when I was thinking about it. It’s just four words. It could be utterly mundane and unimportant. It could be predictable and cheesy. It didn’t really matter to me when I was thinking about it before, they’re just words.

But now, so close to the end, I feel a bit jittery and I’ve paused the episode just to think about why I feel this way, and maybe to make the moment last longer. To extend the experience a little bit more. To be completely unenlightened and uninformed.

I have so many comments about these four episodes, and not all of them good, but it’s been tickling my memory center and feeding the nostalgia beast so I’m going to overlook all the odd and exaggerated acting.

Okay. I’ve dragged this out for 10 minutes now. Time to say goodbye.



For most of my life, I’ve been a pretty stoic person. My emotional range went from happy and content to scared and panicked.

Excitement was never a thing I thought I felt.

But I recently learnt that fear and excitement are essentially the same thing.

Fear is usually held with reservations. Excitement is held with anticipation.

Your heart races, you feel butterflies flapping wildly in your gut, your breathing intensifies, you feel a sense of heightened sensitivity as your eyes widen and you limbs quiver with anticipation. Fear or excitement?

It’s both. The only difference between fear and excitement is the way you think about it.

I’ve approached things slightly differently ever since I found out. It has made teaching my first paid teaching gigs less traumatic, even though I still get a little panicky.

Just reframing it as excitement has made it that much more exciting but I don’t know if I’m making sense as I’m typing this out and explaining it, so go read these amazing posts that explain it way better than I can.

Turn your fear into excitement so you can pursue your dreams

Are fear and excitement the same?

What’s the difference between fear and excitement?

That being said, I still struggle with showing excitement in my voice without coming across as being sarcastic. Baby steps.



Enough time

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once. – Ray Cummings

We are always saying that there isn’t enough time, that life is too short. Hardly anyone ever complains about life being too long, of having too much time.

But we are its creators. We decided to count the number of sunrises and sunsets and we invented watches, clocks, calendars to keep track.

Some people never get to see the next sunrise, some never get to see the next sunset. It’s only when we’re running out that we count and realise that we’ve seen too little, we regret and lament that we never got enough time, that we should’ve gotten more – Please, please god, why me?

We created time. And how much we get depends on us. My only hope is that I would never have to say that I don’t have enough time. There is enough, if we try harder to make our time count, because counting time doesn’t seem to make things better.

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The nights are clearer

The night
The dark
The quiet

The bright lights not forced upon me
Gentle glitter outside my window
The sound of stillness all around me
My silent thoughts now finding flow
Imperfections become small matter
Life is easier when you don’t see me.

The day
The bright
The buzz

An alarm goes off, it’s starting
A flurry, for coffee, it’s morning
The pressure of life, and living
Moving, climbing, the clock is ticking
I carry the weight of the day.


One of those days

I have much to be happy about.

After months of learning and training in Pilates, I’ve finally passed my theory, practical and teaching modules and I’m now a certified instructor.

I’m going to Philippines in October for a friend’s wedding, and Clif and I will be going to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches for a good tan before the wedding.

I’m healthy and everything is good.

But there are some days that are just downs, for no particular reason, and they’re just mellow and slightly grey. My brain gets into itself and things get messy in there.

Today is one of those days.


Things I love Thursday, a Throwback Edition

I remember being so in love with books when I was younger that I’d hide under my blanket covers to read.

Fairytales and Sweet Valley Twins, Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew.

I loved stories about Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Having a twin sister sounded like the best thing ever, a best friend I could depend on.

My brain doesn’t hold many memories of my childhood, but one good memory I have is one of my brother bringing me to the large Borders bookstore at Wheelock and then telling me to pick one book as a Christmas gift.

I was spoilt for choice.

Sweet Valley Twins - Big for Christmas

Sweet Valley Twins – Big for Christmas

The one I finally picked was Christmas themed, to go along with the spirit of the December season.

I must have read this about twenty times (or more).

You might also be surprised to find out that I still have this book with me.

I realise now that it’s not the coolest thing to talk about, but I was never exposed to Roald Dahl. I think I was probably turned off by the illustration style on the Roald Dahl books, which would have been unappealing to me as a kid.

And as much as I’d like to think I was a bookworm, I was never the Rory Gilmore-type who’d read Moby Dick or Pride and Prejudice.

Trust me, I tried with Anna Karenina.

Wheelock no longer holds a bookstore, and now, I get my books off booksdepository.com.

Latest novels to arrive are the second and third books of Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children.



A dormant hobby? Did I say that watching vintage bags on eBay would be a dormant hobby? I was wrong. That was a week ago, and a week ago I was young and naive to have thought that watching beautiful things on eBay get sold to other people was an enjoyable, passive activity.

What was I thinking?

I discovered a new impulsiveness. One you would only understand if you’ve ever watched the last 30 minutes of an online auction. It was almost as gripping as an episode of Game of Thrones (Season 2).

All I can say is…as the number on the countdown clock drew nearer, a different kind of fear gripped me – what if I win? And then panic, what if someone outbids me and my bid gets pushed to my maximum bid?

Nobody did.

I’m now waiting for the arrival of my new most expensive not-so-new bag.

Even though a sturdy plastic bag could probably do as good a job of holding my wallet and my phone.

That’s all.