Dare to BARE with Mallory ButcherPilates with a capital P can seem scary to newcomers. But Mallory Butcher is intent on making the technique accessible and empowering for everyone. When she traded in NYC for LA, she started teaching at wellness clinic ProEx Performance, using Pilates as a rehabilitative service for her patients. The new situation expanded her view of her classical Pilates privates work and helped her realize her dream: to use fitness to help people transform not only their bodies, but their lives, too—whether at a point of health or injury. So, the successful commercial dancer and Pilates expert formed Dare to BARE, a wellness brand based around the initials of BARE: Believe, Achieve, Reinvent and Empower. SBS sat down with the spunky, upbeat Ohio native to nab a great Pilates workout, tips on healing two stress-heavy body parts and mixing up your workouts.
SBS: Why is Pilates your favorite workout?
Mallory Butcher: Pilates is unique in that it makes you stronger because it asks you to connect your mind and body. A lot of times you can neglect the mind aspect and mindlessly work out without paying attention to all the different parts correctly.
It’s important to think about your alignment and posture when you’re setting up for every exercise and how your breath can support it. Whether a leg extension or an abdominal crunch, Pilates helps create stability in your pelvis so you can have more freedom in movement.
SBS: Why did you found Dare to BARE versus continuing on with just Pilates privates?
MB: I wanted to form a system to help people set benchmarks for themselves in fitness and life, and then take the necessary steps in order to achieve them with my instruction. I started to think of what concepts inspire me, and that’s how I formed BARE: Believe, Achieve, Reinvent and Empower are my favorite ideas. My clients are able to reinvent how they feel in their own skin. Then they will be able to empower others because they feel that way, too.
SBS: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
MB: Getting clients to trust you can be a slow process. They’re often holding on to something emotional that’s affecting them physically, and they may not even know it. A lot of things open up as they’re moving. In this way, you can help them get to the root and help them release it, but it takes time. But, when they have that moment of clarity and they see the improvement or recognize a new ability, it’s unbelievably rewarding.
SBS: What’s your advice for Pilates newbies?
MB: Find an instructor who cares about quality over quantity. So many people want to do multiple reps and tire the muscles, but they often care less about form. Don’t be afraid to take it a little slow in beginning: The slower you go and the more attention to detail you provide initially, the more you’ll benefit in the long run. And, I’d recommend taking a reformer class before a mat class. The reformer doesn’t allow you to cheat, so you’ll learn how to feel certain muscles engage and understand resistance with the machine first.
SBS: What are other workouts you love?
Mallory Butcher: In LA, I like go to Core Power Yoga because they have a variety of classes, and they always integrate a core series. In New York, I like SoulCycle, Flex Pilates and Shadowbox. I continue to take different classes to be better informed as an instructor. I also think it’s important to integrate a diverse range of workouts to challenge the body and keep it guessing. Changes happen when you mix things up in your routine.
If you’re feeling pain in your after a day of computer and phone overload…
-Start with Cat/Cow to release tension. Begin on all fours and make sure your arms are right under shoulders and knees are right below hips. Inhale and look up, lifting your heart and chin as high as you can. Then exhale and pull your belly button way into your spine while you look down into your navel to get roundness behind the neck and stretch across you shoulders. Repeat for five to 10 reps.
Try Bridges: Start on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, arms by your side. Scoop in your belly button toward the spine, push into your feet and lift the pelvis to ceiling, engaging your hamstrings and glutes. Roll down through the spine five to 10 reps, trying to find a sequential imprint on floor.
Mallory’s Fast and Fierce Pilates Workout:
If you only have about 10 minutes, try this workout (which you can do anywhere!):
-Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and arms by your side. Lift your pelvis up five times before you extend your right leg straight. Then, kick it up and down 10 times with your pelvis held high. Then, hold your leg high, pointed to the ceiling, and pulse for 10. Roll down and repeat on the other side.
-Lay on your back with your legs straight on the floor. Hug your right knee in to your chest and curl your forehead up to the knee. Alternate your knees for single leg stretch with two sets of 10 reps.
-Then, repeat this series, but with both legs straight for the double leg stretch for another two sets of 10.
-Next, move to the Hundreds: Lay on your back and bring your legs into a table top position. Curl your head neck and shoulders up, and reach your arms long by your side. As you pull your belly button into your spine place your heels in a small Pilates V. Begin to pump your arms up and down. Inhale for five and exhale for five, for a total of 10 sets.
-Then, roll onto one side and stack your hips with your legs straight. Keep your top foot in parallel with your knee and toes pointed forward or slightly down in pigeon toe. Lift up and down for 10 reps. Then make small circles for 10 reps and reverse the circle for 10. Switch sides.
I love SBS’ mantra “Be You!” It’s a powerful, challenging statement and a reminder to welcome the journey you’re on, embracing being your true, authentic self. When we do that, that’s when we have the most impact, create change and inspire others!