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Tips for your Mid-Abs

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⚖️ARTICLE: Balancing Internal and External abs for whole body fitness

Mid Ab Massive Attack - Balancing Internal and External abs for Whole-Body Fitness

-by Paul Van Alstine

Other titles I played with are:

  • Developing a Long, Strong, and Thin Waist With Balanced Breathing
  • Grounding for Emotional Support and Relaxation
  • Killer Abs Sooner with Less Effort
  • Reducing Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain While Making Yourself More Likable.

The reason for so many titles? This is because this week focuses on changing literally everything. When you develop better skills and use them to create more internal strength through your deep core (transversus abdominus, pelvic floor, and respiratory diaphragm) you will be able to maintain more lift and length in your body as well as add more strength and tone to your 6 pack and obliques and external muscles. This higher level of breathing and coordination will reinforce your core and grounding reflexes and enable you to add overall strength safely and beautifully.

What Do I Do? Use the skills, tone, and strength that you have been developing since your first day at Studio One. Your toned feet, inner thighs, and low abs will form the foundation for this week. We will add various exercises and cues to systematically connect these muscles through the chain to your upper transversus, intercostals and respiratory diaphragm. In the following weeks, we will build on this to help you improve postural alignment in the head, neck, and shoulders.

Skill Focus:

  • Making your ab tone come from your deep core
  • Keeping your legs and waist long, as you turn up the heat on your six-pack and obliques…
  • Keeping your internal calm as you increase your effort and focus to a higher level.
  • Breathing smoothly as you learn to burn.
  • Breathing smoothly as you learn to increase your ability to flex, twist and rotate a bit further…

From Mid-ab week you can expect:

  • Longer Waist
  • Feel taller.
  • Sore low, mid, and upper abs
  • A reduction in size at your waist and lower chest
  • More grounded posture
  • Better alignment of the rib cage over the pelvis.
  • Great workouts
  • Skills last forever… Conditioning is not as dependable

One of our specific goals with Mid-ab week is to enhance your essential skills. These skills are like riding a bike. This is why you will see us work the same exercises over and over. Variety is great fun, but mastery is what produces balanced and injury resistant bodies over your life span. These effective workouts are carefully designed to progress your structure systematically and predictably toward a body you want to inhabit. Your workouts this week will focus on helping you to boost your inner strength, timing, and breathing, as we add range of motion and endurance to your outer ab muscles… It's going to be a lot to learn... Take the time to develop these skills, and you will be able to apply them anywhere, anytime. Particularly when you need to rebuild or recondition after some time off or an injury...

Get Ready to Soar On top of increasing your skills, we will also make sure you leave remembering your workout for a couple of days. The studio’s goal is to make sure we take these skills into a hard workout where you’re feeling the burn but developing your outer ab muscles as well. When in doubt - start and stay with internal strength. If this week's workouts feel too difficult, stop and go back to the breath. Re-center and re-start the exercise. Internal strength and balance are the foundation of your strength, tone, and flexibility. Various hard workouts can borrow from that foundation. When you are young or uninjured, tough workouts can be a great shortcut to getting results fast. Many of us (me especially) have tried this route. It can be fun as well as a bit addictive. It can also lead many people to injury. At that point, without strong internal skills, many people will find difficulty recovering. This is because they have not yet learned to workout from their own internal body awareness and knowledge. They are using external measures like # of reps, or how far or how fast to gauge their success, avoiding their own internal messages.

I hope this gets you inspired!

See you in class!

🏔Studio One Hike + Schedule Alert!

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Friday, October 25th after 2:00 pm there will be no classes


Saturday, October 26th closed for classes all day

Please join us for a hike instead!

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Where: The Hive and Queen Bee Trail (meet at Hillside Park)

When: Saturday, October 26th at 11:00am

Map: Here's the parking area

Who it's for: Everyone is welcome! It's a moderate hike at 4.2 miles with 574 ft of elevation (not too steep!). If you have bad knees or long distances are difficult, we recommend skipping this event.

What to bring: Yourself, a water bottle and bear spray. You're welcome to bring a friend/family and your dog (please bring a leash for them)

A note: Always be aware of your surroundings. Frequently there are mountain bikers on this trail. For safety, please stay to one side of the trail and use caution when rounding corners.

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Why no classes?

All year long our generous neighbors at Ozark's allow us to use their parking lot so studio one staff can leave a little more space for you!

During their huge sale on the evening of the 25th and during the day on 26th we will be lending our parking lot to them! Make sure to stop by to see what they have!

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Join Paul & the studio one team for a hike! 🏔

See how your Pilates has changed your hiking & walking... Plus, it'll be fun! 😄

Regular class schedule will resume Monday, October 28th.

💪🏼VIDEOS: Exercises for your mid-abs

Here are some short tutorials on some of the most common exercises for your mid abs.

🏃🏻‍♂️ARTICLE: Becoming a More Natural Athlete from the Mid-abs Out…

Becoming a More Natural Athlete from the Mid-abs Out…

One of the VASIE goals is to aid people in growing into more natural athletes. We want to help people become more skilled at what they do, but also notice more results from every workout. I learned this from watching some friends who were amazing in the gym. When they worked out, they put on muscle in all the right places and had excellent posture. They looked great, had little pain, and somehow, worked out far less than I did. I decided to simply outwork them. My reward? Injury upon injury and only more imbalances.

It took several injuries and a lot of time but VASIE Pilates teaches a lot of what I spent years learning. Trying to figure out the magic that these workout “super-responders” were demonstrating.

Changing Your Workout Response Type:

The Mid-ab class teaches a set of skills that helps you to bring support from the feet up through to the respiratory diaphragm and neck. These skills are internal strength abilities that create the matrix that supports your other physical goals such as running, cross-fit, or staying out of pain.

When your internal strength (deep core) muscles start to lose their timing and tone, your body starts to compensate by shortening with your “extrinsic” or external muscles. This is particularly easy to see in the lower mid and upper abdominals.

In a world that glorifies stubborn workouts, it is difficult for all of us (myself included) to remember that inner balance must come first. If your goal is to maintain a body that is fun and comfortable to inhabit and avoid injury over a lifetime; you will want to develop these skills. it's a bit like investing - a well-balanced portfolio over the long run will almost always beat an imbalanced and risky one. There are a few people out there who will defy the odds, but most of us will need to maintain these reflexes to stay healthy and stable.

Internal Strength First:

We’ve been talking a lot about internal strength needing to be increased as much as external strength. With your abs, this is particularly important and also easy to observe. When external fitness goals overwhelm internal fitness, you will see visible evidence in the core. What you will see is a short and square waist. While the external performance may be good for a while, the body is imbalanced and you will see problems begin to emerge in respiration, recovery, grounding, injury, and aesthetics.

The skills necessary to maintain the internal or core strength and increase tone are:

  • Breathing - can you easily engage breath from your feet through your core?

  • Pelvic Floor and low ab engagement -

  • Transversus engagement -

  • Extended Exhales -

  • Increasing Tone

Key Signs of Loss of the Mid-ab reflex is:

  • Abs that stick out regardless of how lean a person is
  • A shortened waist
  • An upper body that is either set back or is collapsed over the pelvis
  • Poor respiration
  • Head forward posture


Extreme conditioning of external abs without maintaining internal balance of TA -

Possible negative effects: Inhibited respiration, pressure on the pelvic floor, head forward posture, tendency toward joint injuries in the long run?

Immediate Benefits: Feel very strong, some injury prevention during high stress activities, able to exert a lot of power and strength

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Bias toward internal strength over outer strength and conditioning

Possible Side effects: While very thin it is possible that this person is not doing enough cardio or strength training!

Benefits: core reflexes are intact so posture should be easy. Better alignment of joints throughout the body. Probably less likely to injure joints or have good joint over time

JEALOUS? My Friend the Abercrombie Model: The body I always wanted... until he stood up

Many years ago, I had an Abercrombie model in one of my Rolfing School classes. He had the gorgeous six-pack abs that were de rigor for models at the time. He looked amazing. That was until he stood up! All of the work that he had done on his abs had shortened his six-pack muscles and obliques until he was bent over like your average 80-year-old... He had shortened his torso, and his super strong abs had pulled him into a good number of curvatures in his spine…

Authors Note: He is still 500% more attractive than I am. But my posture is better. #sourgrapes #stilljealous

Master Classes

Master-classes are two-hour plateau busters that help you reach the next level of integration, tone, strength & confidence!

Master-classes are the heart of your learning and education at Studio One. They provide the opportunity to really slow down and learn a profoundly new way of changing your body through exercise. Every master class is carefully designed to help you get several “ah-ha” moments.


VASIE Movement University is a series of weekend intensive classes that go through the entire VASIE Pilates repertoire. It is created with the goal of sharing the deep knowledge that Studio One instructors & Rolfers® know and have with every client. We believe that the skills you learn and transformations you make here at Studio One Pilates are for life.

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Instructor Training

Look good, feel good and learn to help others to do the same. Explore and expand your knowledge of the body and increase your confidence by joining the VASIE Pilates Instructor Training. Because there was so much interest, we added another certification course this year!

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