Welcome to my blog. Here, I hope that you can find some relatable content for on and off-ice exercises to continue to connect the studio to ice, as well as some advice and my thoughts as we navigate the ever changing technical rules of skating and continue to bring artistry to our day to day skating.
Spread Eagles….oh how we either love them or hate them….it's probably based on whether or not they come easily to us (perhaps?). I think that almost anyone and I only say almost because there is an exception to every rule. But I will say this again almost everyone can do some facsimile of a spread eagle. Now this is not to say that everyone’s spread eagle will be a mind chilling, line loving unification of a skating sculpture through space but pretty much we can help each other to get some variation on a theme (of spread eagle). On my studio2ice website I have some of my “go to” spread eagle off ice exercises that I use with skates yet today while in my rink lobby I began to teach a young girl that I met on public skate the beginnings of a spread eagle off the ice. That’s when this blog came to mind; she was so thrilled to even begin to work on this beloved element why not spend more time teaching it? In all of its elusiveness a spread eagle is really, in its very essence a move of speed and flexibility that happens to be a transitional movement. Honestly, I find skaters who have studied ballet at a younger age more adaptable and capable of doing a spread (outside) eagle. For purpose of conversation in this blog I am referring to outside spread eagles only. The larger the circle the more dramatic the spread eagle. But let’s not forget the torso……its relationship to the opening of the shoulder blades have a distinct visual relationship to the actual spread eagle. And remember that the angle of the shoulder will impact the strength of the edge. So, check out some of my exercises on studio2ice.com and try tracing a circle …….forward outside edge….remember my podcast and blog (shoulders, over the hips over the knees) open up the free side while continuing the tracing ….place the free foot to complete the spread eagle position and watch your shoulder and back placement with your hips……. Now you have the beginning of a spread eagle.
What are they and how to do them. First of all, the word contraction begins with a c! C for Contraction and the shape of your spine during a contraction is a C! That may be an aha moment….it was for me! Honestly, I see contractions as both a blessing and a curse. A contraction is a continually stretched line with two forces of energy. The energy through the spine is stretched and continues forward in a “c” curve and it is accompanied by constant energy through the abdomen (thus the valley) of the contraction. The second half of the contraction becomes a simultaneous stretch and expansion of one total half of the torso (divided by the spine) in opposite directions to expand and breath outwards finishing a movement that can look very restrictive if now done in a thoughtful manner. Contractions are one of the new “go to’s” in figure skating choreography as they are an easy way to vary a level of a skater, interpretation to music, or add a performance quality. When they are well done with beautiful skating skills they are magical and a beautiful transition from one step(movement) to the next. But when performed without consideration to line and movement they may actually impair the anticipated result. It takes a very good skater to be able to masterfully perform a contraction especially in a step sequence. Be sure that while the energy and movement of the contraction is focused forward and inward then outward that the skater still performs these on an outside or inside edge. In other words, make certain that the force of the contracted movement downwards and forwards will not lead the skater to a flat. Contractions? Why not? But remember they are a blessing if done well and a curse if not!
When I began teaching years ago I was fascinated by the levels in skating. I remember learning the jumps and their order; the spins; moves and transitions; I was fascinated on the design of the progression of skating and its design. Let’s go back to the progression of movement beginning, of course, with ballet. The ballet barre ultimately remains the same: plie, tendu, degage, rond de jambe, frappe, develop and grand battement. As you progress in ballet the combinations become more difficult with more intricate movements however the skeleton barre is always there. It’s like that is skating. Stroking is our plie. Crossovers our tendu. Degage our jump take offs rond de jambe our spins. Frappe our footwork and steps and transitions, develop our spirals and flexibility and grand battement again any “height” suspended movement and split jump and stag jump energy. So similar and yet so different it’s really amazing when you look at it. But it’s not rocket science it just takes time and study. Time to know each and every athlete as an individual and study of both figure skating and movement. Break it down and think out of the box. Modular training which is my methodology will prove beneficial to you especially when training your athlete and developing choreographic exercises. Keep it simple and ingrate components rather than movement- expression, performance, interpretation and choreography. Short exercises well thought out. Based on the specifics of your skater. Modality of movement. Studio2ice. Xo Paula
Every cloud has a silver lining and for me this covid clouds lining was our new focus on off ice training….now my concern is that we are all going to head back to our schedules and forget about off ice… Please don’t!!! The advantage of all of these off-ice platforms is that skaters and coaches now have the ability to choose and to experience training from all sorts of different coaches; it’s like being a kid in a candy store. You know my philosophy for every hour on ice at least one “segment” off ice. Whether it be concentrated theatre, stretching, ballet, hip hop and whether it be 10 minutes or more I encourage you to remember off ice. And to remember the “silver “lining….keep up with your off-ice training and education; whatever that might be. And get out of the studio…museums, plays, and just plain life!! Look around you at colors and textures and transpose them to movement and skating. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings. Making small changes can go a very long way…standing with your shoulders pulled back in daily life is like a “daily off ice exercise”- that we don’t even need to schedule!! Welcome back to the ice….but please doesn’t forget your off ice!!! Xo Paula
It’s all about the inner thigh……. As you may know this week’s podcast is about using a simple plié exercise to strengthen your skater’s inner thigh. So often we focus on the very top of the thigh and neglect then inner thigh. Doing this may lead to injury and actually affect skating skills. Believe it or not, a strong inner thigh will help your skater control their use of edges as it will help where the knee ultimately is over their toe (please refer to past podcast for more detailed information). In this week’s podcast I share a very basic grand plie exercise with you. Disclaimer; if you or your skater experience knee problems refrain from this exercise temporarily. Watch you skaters hip placement as well. No need to tuck your hips under during a plie; let the spine naturally remain straight. Remember that on the ice the trunk or hips of your skater need to be able to be grounded and used as part of the total torso. How to use this podcast? Work as a skater or with your skater off the ice using this exercise. When on the ice really begin to focus on your “warm up “ exercises; think about the placement of the knees over the toes, the knee bend and where the control of the thigh begins and ends. Once you get comfortable with this process you will be able to develop many more exercises for yourself and your skaters; the world will be your oyster!!! A gentle reminder; remember the hip placement….. Xo paula
Hi everybody….I thought that I would begin to do my blogs as a complement to my weekly podcast. As you know this week’s podcast talks about basic body placement and shares an exercise with you that is very basic yet quite effective. If this horrible covid 19 pandemic has done one positive thing it is that I really feel that it is making me a better teacher. Doing my zoom classes for skaters has taught me that I really need to break everything done – what I think I break down in a studio in person will not suffice for zoom. And honestly, I am welcoming the challenge. So, the exercise that I share with you on my hips over the knees over the shoulder podcast Is one that I have “broken down” and I hope that you will find helpful as a skater or for your skater. I teach an axis that runs from the top of your thigh, across the middle of you knee over the front of your ankle over the lace of your skate over the toe (pick). The shape and dimension of your skaters’ leg will dictate the angle of the plie over the boot. This is fine and very helpful actually as you might find an interesting correlation between this plie exercise and what you are working with on the ice with your skater. Watch the alignment of the hips. Remember to draw a horizontal line from hip bone to hip bone; not a diagonal. Remember the quality of the knee bend; static and non-static. Remember to incorporate it considering where the hips are in relationship to the axis of the knee and toe. Strength of inner thigh plays a large part in this exercise as well. Next week’s podcast and blog: ballet-based movement to strengthen the inner thigh. Xo paula
Challenge - landing position with an infinite free leg Actionable Goal - create a free leg that is so stretched and defined that it endless street continues in to the next transition Actionable Step - draw a line (axis) from the hip down the center of your thigh, center of knee, center of chin, top/center of skate Line/axis faces as one line outwards Stretch of free leg combined with turnout (axis of leg) become stretch into transition Challenge: Create this stretch and transition immediately following landing with body movement Why you should do it: Master control of line with movement. Line = stretch Why its good: Control of line/body movement will help to contribute to controlled transitions
So hopefully by now you have seen the new exercises that we have uploaded over the weekend…but how can we make this even more interesting for you? 1. Weekly challenge Select an area that you would like to work on (let’s say posture) find those exercises and do a challenge for yourself and a friend. Or better yet, find several friends and create a team!! The more people involved the better…your prize at the end of your weekly challenge…. maybe a virtual party? 2. Design programs for your skaters If you are a coach how about using these exercises to design off ice programs for your skaters? Look up the area that you feel that your skaters need the most attention; posture, arms, flexibility etc. and take the exercises (feel free to adapt them and mix them up – make them your own) and design an off-ice program for your skater. Who knows your skater better than you – our goal is to provide tools for you to be able to do this. 3. Mini virtual off ice competition No ice, no problem!! Create an off-ice competition for your skaters using studio2ice. Get awards, certificate and make it a really special event. It just takes a little imagination and thinking out of the box (like we ALL have been doing recently) to give a different spin to studio2ice. Do you have ideas? Suggestions? What would you like to see? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you…. Xo Paula
Hello everyone, Because we are in the business that we are in whatever our particular discipline, we all have an entrepreneur spirit. We are accustomed to managing our own business and navigate through life. This new normal has been a challenge for all of us. As entrepreneurs we are usually in control of a situation and when a situation is not working we design a way to make it work. Life now has presented us with a new feeling of being totally out of control. It’s like we are on a roller coaster that we can’t stop. But just like any ride there will be an end and then we can regroup. In the meantime, we need to remember that we are all in this together and although we are in isolation physically we need to join together emotionally. It’s a big world out there and there will be plenty of opportunity for all of us if we work hard and know our craft. Lets continue to exchange ideas and forge ahead for the future of our sport. Design a game plan that you can implement as soon as you can get back into the rink and on the ice again. Rely on yourself. You will get through this. I promise. Xoxo Paula
Hi Everyone, By now I hope that you have had an opportunity to look through our exercises and choose some that meet your needs……I would love to see this “in action” and welcome your videos of you doing my exercises (please email them to me at email@example.com) We will be adding more exercises soon so keep checking back. Remember that all of these exercises work for any skater regardless of age and level. We all begin somewhere but we can reach any goal that we set for ourselves. The road is part of the adventure. With these times when we cannot get on the ice, off ice training is more important than ever . If you have ever worked with me you know my philosophy; 2 hours of off ice for every hour on ice. I learned this time proven philosophy of training from my very respected friends in Europe. Off ice is what can help give you. It's that missing link. Now I realize that is very difficult but the bottom line is very clear; we need to respect our off ice process like we do our on ice process. Off ice training has as much value as our on ice training. Our off ice process is what will train our muscle memory, and importantly give us the tools to get to know our own creative and athletic process. No two skaters move alike; no two skaters skate alike. My goal is to help you become your very best skating self, as an individual and to give you the tools to help you to stand out. Please reach out to me with any questions and let me know your progress. Let me know what you would like to see more off; after all, we are all in this together. Xo, Paula
Hi everyone and welcome to my very first Paulamentary!!! For those of you that know me, this website and my dream of starting a cataloge of my off ice work has been many years in the making. Thanks to two of my BYA’s (beautiful young assistants) Lisa and Shauna it is now a reality!! How to use this……Everything is categorized by elements. With this I will share with you off ice exercises that I have designed over the years that will work effectively for your skaters. We will be continuing to upload film as we get it. I am so anxious to hear how these exercises will work for you and your skaters. Share film with me, email me , or text me I will be happy to give you any feedback if you would like. This website is kind of like a recipe….it will give you the foundation with which you can build for your skaters. No one knows your skaters like you and I think the there is no one better than you to help get the message across. Our team is looking for new skaters and rinks in which to film!!!!! If you are interested in having us come to your neck of the woods give me a shout to discuss!! Please keep in touch…..looking forward to seeing you in the studio and on the ice. Xoxoxoxo Paula