A Revolution in Fitness: Yoga and Pilates Revisted Part II

In part one of this series, we touched on why I’m not a fan of yoga and pilates and that Curtis Cramblett, ,  LPT, CFMT, CSCS, from Revolutions in Fitness in the San Francisco Bay Area, could be the person to achieve the impossible: change my mind and show me how the two fit into an endurance athlete’s strength program.


Well, I sent over several questions to Cramblett on the topic, and here are more of his answers for your viewing pleasure, enjoy…….


What elements of the two disciplines do you incorporate into your treatment plans?

“I use active postures of yoga frequently for mobility frequently. Things like pigeon pose, down dog and warrior for scapular mobility. I also use triangle for hip mobility and stability.”


Cramblett said he primarily uses Pilates (mat/reformer work where appropriate) as a “neuromuscular wake up” for people’s muscle to turn them on, teach them movements skills (with hip extension being an emphasis) and get them back online. Ok, there are things I use for neural reconditioning as well. Oh boy, it looks like I’m using some of the same elements of Pilates in my methods as well.


What should endurance sports enthusiasts be aware of in regard to doing either discipline on both sides of the fence?

“Understanding what their current  sport is doing to them,  whether it be running, swimming, cycling and what its doing to them relative to the what muscles they are currently using/not using and the postures they are getting into. You then use Pilates, yoga, strength training, etc to balance those movement patterns.


They should focus on moving from sagital plane (right and left halves) to tri planar movements and moving from mobility into stability if its not there.”


Cramblett went on to say he thinks yoga and Pilates should be used as balancing activities to essentially undo what endurance sports do to us:

shorten hip flexors/quads

tighten hamstrings

shut down glutes

shorten chest/shoulder muscles

reduce hip/thoracic spine mobility


Ok, so, now I’m starting to get a little concerned. The two disciplines can be combined to open the front half of the body up that gets tight from endurance sports. I use exercises (deadlifts, swings, etc) to do this as well. Oh man, am I more closely aligned with yoga and Pilates than I thought? It is it just a matter of semantics and equipment selection? Can it be that simple?


What are the biggest weak spots you’ve seen in endurance athletes, and how can yoga/pilates benefit them?

“Something that should be constant throughout all of this is that endurance athletes in general lose strength. They gain endurance, but they lose strength (over the course of a season).


They not only lose strength, but they start to lose neuromuscular connection with their bodies. They also start to lose strength and endurance in joint stabilizer muscles.”


This includes the muscles in the foot as well as the postural muscles that control the way it works when it contacts the floor. Yoga and Pilates done well can wake these muscles up.


“The four pillared stool I like people to stand on is:

1) Good alignment which come with appropriate flexibility around the joint. If the joint is out of alingment, then the ability to get those muscles around the joint to fire is totally off.


2) Once good alignment is in place, they need good neuromuscular coordination. The brain needs to remember how to contract that muscle, specifically in isolation with stability using isometrics. Then more importantly, once they find the muscle contracted, can they control it. Once this muscle is controlled in a local way, they need to be able to connect it with the rest of their body.


3) Good movement patterns from good form standing, posture, etc.


4) Strength and endurance to be able to maintain that good movement/form.


My times endurance activities, or even strength activities, will miss one of those pieces. Pilates and yoga, and strength training for that matter, targeted appropriately can adequately assess and address the weak components in that person’s (movement) chain.”


EGADS MAN! This is something that I talk about in my seminars, have written about and talk on at the studio. Oh man, this is not looking good for my belief system, but, I am a man of science, and as mentioned in part one, can have my mind changed with the right information presented. It looks like Curtis Cramblett has more than met that challenge.


Cramblett finished off that question with the primary areas of focus for endurance athletes should be strength and coordination around the foot being paramount to being able to move correctly, and I agree 100%. It is an issue I’m working on after he found it, and I’ve already seen improvements in a short amount of time from doing this.


He also mentioned the same for the glutes, with the additional importance of connecting the glutes to the feet for optimal movement. Essentially, a ground up approach to getting stronger. He also mentioned upper to mid thoracic spine rotation and extension as critical components to address in a training program.


Well, hmmm. Integrated correctly, can yoga and Pilates be a useful component to a strength training program? It is looking like yes, they can, when applied correctly.





Al Painter, National Academy of Sports Medicine Performance Enhancement
Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist is the President and Founder of INTEGRATE Performance Fitness. He has also been named the “Bay Area’s Best Personal Trainer” by CitySports Magazine, and he has also received a “People’s Choice Award” from the Palo Alto Daily News.


Al is also the Fitness Editor for VeloReviews.com and TwoSpoke.com as well as a contributor to FitApproach.com. 


INTEGRATE Performance Fitness has also been named “Northern California’s Best Fitness Facility” by Competitor Magazine as well as a “Top 5 Bay Area Fitness Facility” by the SFGate.com. 


He also holds a degree in Journalism from Santa Clara University.



Never attempt any new exercises mentioned in the Fitness411 blog without a thorough evaluation from a physician, personal trainer, strength coach, athletic trainer, physical therapist or sports chiropractor.





What is the best way for someone to incorporate yoga/pilates into their weekly training program? How would this blend in with lifting weights?


How would you incorporate the core strength components of Pilates to standing exercises like an anti-rotation hold, Palloff Presses, etc?


What are your thoughts on Dr McGill’s take on spinal flexion as it pertains to yoga/pilates?

“There are only so many bends or a ‘fatigue life’, in your spinal disks,” says Stuart M. McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. “Inside each disk is a mucus-like nucleus, and if you keep flexing your spine and bending the disk over and over again, that nucleus slowly breaches the layers and causes a disk bulge, or a disk herniation.”