We had the good fortune of connecting with Paula Morizono and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paula, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
This is my philosophy, use correct functional movement with a strong pilates core in your daily life. This type of program reaches a wider audience than the standard fitness programs which requires extra time to be set aside in one’s schedule. Using one’s own daily life activities is a more inclusive fitness plan. It has great appeal to those very hard working Americans who hardly have time or energy to simply fulfill their daily responsibilities. When I told an overly stressed mom who said she didn’t have time for any kind of fitness right now about approaching fitness from this perspective, her enthusiastic response was, “I could do that!”. Right away she understand it was doable because she was already doing the movements. I told my student, a busy mom of three little ones, “picking up those babies is now your chance to tighten the core and glutes”. By doing her daily movements more powerfully she became stronger than she had ever been in her life. She used her strength everyday, all day. As her kids got heavier she got stronger by lifting them! This same woman who had hurt her back so badly rocking her baby and had to go to ER, now used the weight of her kids to strengthen her body. She turned poison, her daily bad habits which were weakening and causing injuries, to medicine, by using her daily life to strengthen her body.
I knew this approach of using activities of daily living as opportunities to strengthen would become the hallmark of my style of teaching. This epiphany came upon me slowly as I saw more and more students who could not stick to an exercise regimen. I felt compassion for their struggles and efforts to take care of everything and everybody in their lives. By taking my advice of using their daily life as opportunities to strengthen—the results were even greater than I had anticipated. They became stronger than they had ever been in their lives as a natural consequence of repeatedly engaging their muscles throughout the day. My students loved this paradigm shift of looking at their lives as innumerable opportunities to strengthen their bodies. In this way, my students became stronger and stronger. They looked empowered, as if they had found the proverbial “diamond in their own coat”.
I believe creating strength in daily life movements is the only way to get more people involved in their health on a regular basis. Small and doable daily efforts accumulates over time building strength. Consistently using daily movements as exercise becomes a habit. These habits become the driving force and source of a functionally strong body that will be “fit for life.”
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from other, what you are most of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Powerful daily movements require good form and core strength.
What does it take to make daily life movements strong? It requires correct biomechanics and core strength. That’s where I come in, teaching students how to correctly move while engaging their core muscles. If you are a stay at home mom with little kids you may be doing a lot of lifting, so I would teach you how to hold the core while maintaining a neutral spine when lifting. If you have a desk job you may be sitting 8 hours a day, I would show you how to sit properly at your desk and make sure the ergonomics of your office set up was supporting your back, neck, knees and wrists. I would also bring in tools like lumbar supports, foot rests and wrist supports in addition to giving exercises you could do in a chair. If you are a chiropractor you will be adjusting patients for many hours. I would have you show me your adjusting positions, then teach you how to engage the core and glutes. If your set up position was not optimal, we would try finding a different postural set up that would better support your body.
Bad form can undermine any fitness program.
Another important aspect of my session with students is going over any bad habits they are doing in their daily lives. Correct form during the day is very important. Bad form all day, everyday will undermine any fitness program and slow progress for the student. Thoroughly addressing each student’s daily life movements is crucial for long term success. This is often a neglected area of inquiry among fitness professionals and health professionals alike. I spend a lot of time questioning what kind of daily life routines of my students are engaging in, then make sure they are not using incorrect form. More often than not I discover they are doing something in their daily lives which contributes to discomfort or pain. It could be sitting without sufficient back or wrist support, picking up objects too far away from the body, twisting when lifting, knees overshooting the toes on a squat movement without engaging the glutes, etc. I often tell my students that three sessions a week with me cannot override bad form they engage in 30 hours a week. My students and I have thorough and continuous discussions on how to be mindful and aware of poor form while moving in their daily life activities.
Correct breathing is the foundation of a strong core
Core strength is another area I focus on more than most teachers, not from a perspective of doing more core work but creating a deeper foundation. This foundation starts with the breathe. A truly strong core cannot exist without correct breathing. A huge missing link in the fitness industry is not teaching students how to breathe correctly resulting in the body not being able to create intra abdominal pressure. IAP needs to be established for the core to be strong.
In order to create IAP the breathing needs to include widening the ribs and relaxing the shoulders. Whether I am teaching an olympic athlete or working with a personal injury case I have the same approach to the core. This is an article I wrote that talks more in depth about the importance of and how to breathe correctly. https://primewomen.com/health/fitness/how-to-breathe/
Cue the abdominals from the COG (center of gravity)
Where on the body to cue the abdominal exercises from is another aspect of core training I am emphatic about and which I rarely see addressed. Cueing the abdominals from certain areas will create strength in different areas of the abdominals as well as influence body position. Where are you holding your abs from; the upper abs area around the solar plexus, the belly button or lower at the COG (center of gravity) two inches below the naval? Where you hold the core from makes all the difference in the world. Most people only strengthen the upper abs but never strengthen the lower abs, the foundation of the body. If they tighten the low abs they usually cue their belly button rounding the back. This takes the back out of neutral position and destabilizes the spine. It is better to first strengthen from the COG, then move to the upper abdominals. Strengthening in this order stabilizes the lumbar, the foundation of the spine.
Maria, a busy mom of three little kids uses her daily life to develop a strong body
I would like to conclude by sharing my student Maria’s experience. She had had a severe low back injury and realized she needed to strengthen not only for her sake, but for the sake of her family and her three little kids. She became stronger than she ever had in her life by using her daily activities to build muscle, balance, and power. In addition, she lost weight and had to buy new clothes! Most importantly, she had learned how to help prevent injuries by engaging her core, and how to strengthen it while maintaining good form. She felt more empowered physically and mentally than any fitness program she had ever engaged in.
“I’m a busy mother of three, who also goes to school and works. Paula came highly recommended and I soon learned why. An anatomy expert in her own right, she personalizes every session so I can use what she teaches me in everyday life. Through her lessons, I’ve gained confidence both physically and mentally, all the while staying healthy and active. Furthermore, she helped me through my sciatica episodes and my back pain has subsided tremendously through her therapeutic sessions. Her help has made a world of difference in my life; she is truly heaven sent!”
Thank you to shoutout for letting me share my story!
Here is a blog I wrote for the ergonomic website the back school which explains my philosophy more in depth.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely take my friend out salsa dancing even if she didn’t dance! There are so many places in Los Angeles to salsa and many of the best dancers in the world are here.
I would also take her to Hermosa Beach near the pier. There are great restaurants many with outdoor eating areas. Then we could take a walk along the pier and promenade. I love to do that after a nice meal.
Since my friend loves shopping I would take her to the century city mall. What a great outdoor mall it has become, one of my favorite places to shop and explore! I would also take her UCLA near me. The university has become a mecca attracting people from all over the world and the campus has become so beautiful and state of the art. I hardly recognized it when I visited.
If my friend wanted great Asian food I would take her to the southbay. That’s where all the great Japanese and Korean restaurants are. Amazing food there. Since I am a pilates teacher I would definitely give her a few lessons at the studio. I know I could give her good advice to help her strengthen her body. The last thing I would do is set her up on a blind date. Who knows where that might go?
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my life long friends John, my mentor Martha and my son Christopher. They have been my biggest cheerleaders and have been on this amazing journey of growth and authenticity with me. I love them very very much and my heart is filled beyond with gratitude. They have encouraged me to be true to myself and encouraged me to keep on keeping on. They believed in me, when I doubted myself. I am here standing stronger than ever in my chosen field because they have unwaveringly stood by me.
Other: https://primewomen.com/health/fitness/how-to-breathe/ https://blog.thebackschool.net/body-mechanics/pilates-core-with-functional-movements-the-perfect-marriage/ http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-paula-morizono-functional-pilates-west-los-angeles/