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Posts Tagged ‘Monica Hiez’

Interview with Monica Heiz (MJ Pilates and Wellness)

Monday, September 6th, 2010

TG: Hi Monica, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

MH: Hi Tom thank you for reaching out to me.  My introduction to the Wellbeing industry began in College. I went to Florida State University in 1988, took a gym class & a Nutrition course and loved the idea of FITNESS & HEALTH. I declared my major; it would be a B.S. in Nutrition & Fitness.  After that semester I began a weight training & cardiovascular program on my own.  I would run or rollerblade outdoors, get on thestairmaster or bike in the gym.  I fell in love with weight training- I could pay all my attention to myself and my strength. I attained my Aerobic Certification, AFAA and soon after that began teaching Hi/Low aerobics, Sculpting and Step classes. Upon Graduation in 1993 I entered the world of Corporate Fitness, working at  big Corporations providing fitness programs, classes and health fairs. In 1999 I was ready to leave the paperwork behind and become a freelance Group Fitness Instructor in NYC, following my passion to teach Fitness. I certified in ACE and NASM personal training.  Over the years I educated myself attending conferences, workshops and trainings in all aspects of Fitness and Nutrition. By 2007 I had completed my STOTT Pilates Training and Wellcoaches Certification.  I wanted a place where I could share my love & passion for Wellbeing, more than “just a diet & exercise plan”.  I opened my Studio MJ Pilates & Wellness in November 2007.

TG: Can you tell us a little about your competition history?

MH: Competitions… I love everything about competing.  My first competition was a Regional Event in California in 2001 for the National Aerobic Championship (ANAC- now Aerobic Gymnastics).  I qualified for my first Nationals that year and again in 2002.  By 2003 I switched coaches, I worked with Roberson Magalhaes.  He is Internationally known as a World Champion Athlete and Choreographer. His ability to create dynamic routines, see me for my strengths and believe in me layed the ground works for me to pay attention to what I needed to do to win.  I am so thankful for all he has done for me. During my 2004 season I had a wonderful opportunity to train on weekends in Washington DC with Roberson & 5 World Aerobic Champions. It brought me to a new level mentally & physically.  In 2005 I trained by myself using all the tools Roberson had cultivated in me over the previous years.  I went on to win the National Aerobic Championship womens class II that year. 2006 I wanted to continue competing more frequently, so I decided I would give Fitness a try.  I loved it!  I loved the discipline of training, focus of planning.  I entered 5 Fitness & Bikini Competitions that year finishing in the top 5 in 4 of them.  2009 I competed in 5 Figure & Bikini competitions, wanting to compete not ready to commit time to a routine as I was focussing on building my business. November of 2009 I called Roberson to create music, and get ready to prepare a Fitness routine- my passion was calling- time to get back on the Fitness Stage.  In March of 2010 I competed in the Arnold Sports & Fitness festival Amateur Fitness finishing 5th.

​​​TG: What are the specific benefits that Pilates has over other group fitness classes?

MH:​What I love about Pilates is that it keeps us in the moment to the fact that everything in the body- muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons etc…is connected and works together. Like an intricate web.  The idea is to balance the web, not to pull to tight in one aspect of the body. I love that Pilates uses so many types of positions-seated, lying prone/supine, kneeling, side lying, rolling and so many types of movements- extension, flexion, lateral flexion, rotation.  The body is meant to move and Pilates encourage that movement!

I love the ability to create movement, strength and correct postural curves in the spine. I work with my clients to improve movement patterns and imbalances in the spine, shoulders & hips.  Pilates pays attention to breathing through in a balloon shape through the back, sides and front of ribs.  This is so valuable for everyone to improve, most people daily have no connection or attention to their breath.

TG: What benefits will the untrained individual experience when starting Pilates?

MH:​​When starting the biggest benefit is the feeling of alive, free and stress free.  You will begin to feel the oblique muscles around the ribs expand, stretch feeling toned. The spine lengthen & stretch decreasing pressure on the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine) The pelvic bones form a bowl shape. Now imagine that bowl filled with water and saran wrap over it.  If you turn the bowl over nothing spills out, the saran wrap is snug.  Create that visual in your pelvis. Your sure to feel stronger, more engaged in your abdominal muscles

TG: What does a day in your life look like?

MH:​​My morning begins about 5:30am- by 6:30am I am training a client or getting a workout in.  (Depends on what type of workout I want to do).

I have classes & clients through the morning. 1:00 I schedule paperwork, emails, general computer work.  3:30 I get another workout in…( I schedule my day like this because I like it, and it works for me)

4:30-9:00 classes and clients.

TG: Many people come to Pilates to overcome back pain, specifically low back pain, how effective is Pilates at addressing this problem?

MH: It’s important to understand what is going on in the lower back (lumbar spine)- with 5 vertebra- are they short, long, where is the curve and what other skeletal/muscular things can you identify.  So Lowerback pain comes in all shapes & sizes, there is no one size fits all solution. Pilates can help educate you on what is happening in your Lumbar spine and choose appropriate exercises, movement and body placement  to move you through a process to re-educate the spine.  With so many muscle attachments on the lumbar spine it’s important to feel your way rather than rush through movements.  You also have to address the spine as a whole not just the lower back/lumbar region- it’s a domino effect.  Pilates is great for looking at the Lower back, it should be done in a small group (no more than 6) or Private instruction.

TG: How important is correct nutrition?

MH: Food is Medicine- Nutrition is everything. Understand that just because it says “organic” doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.  I find some fruit in NYC “organic” from New Zealand.  That’s a long way- how does it really stay fresh? It’s about quality of food, how you feel after eating it and positive, uplifting thoughts and emotions. Look for local Farmers Markets. If you can’t pronounce the name you probably don’t want to eat it.  We are hunters & Gatherers

TG: You have a great studio, can you tell us a little more about what you offer there?

MH:​​Thank you.  I offer small group Pilates classes (maximum of 6 people) on the mat with Props, and Arc Barrel. Clients that take 2 classes per week receive 1 free weekend class.  I do this to give back for their support and commitment to my studio and themselves.  Private Pilates, Personal Training, FlirtyFloorwork- a dance class inspired by Pole dancing.  It includes sexy movements of the spine, hips and body.  Wellness Coaching offers people an opportunity to create new habits in health, stress reduction, nutrition, weight, exercise through weekly sessions and accountability. Nutrition Programming provides a thought out effective Nutrition Program for each individual client. Metagenics NutraceuticalSupplements.    Create the Body You Want is an all inclusive  program offering 2 pilates classes per week, nutrition program, weekly coaching session, exercise program, daily motivational quotes.   I want to share my passion for Fitness & Life with my clients. I want to give them the tools to be healthy and follow their passions.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?​​​

MH:​​I see myself writing in magazines, articles about Wellbeing. I want to reach out to families and children on the value of quality food and movement- it needs to be fun, joyful with laughter & passion.  I’m going to explore some Fitness Modeling.  Of course more Competitions & more education.  I’m fascinated by Tom Myers Anatomy Trains Program.

TG: Thanks for your time Monica, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Thank you, it’s been my pleasure!

Love & Kindness,

To fond out more about Monica, or her Pilates Studio please have a look at her sites!