How to Prevent the Common Neck Pain

May 26th, 2017


Neck pain is one of the most common symptoms we see with clients at Focus Pilates and about 4 out of 5 of these cases are work-related. More specifically, the common neck pain is mainly due to poor working habits at the desk.

Most of us, even with the healthiest and fittest body, are not built to sit or stand for long periods of time; our bodies are made to move (except when you are asleep, but even then, we still move, just not consciously). That is why it is unrealistic to expect ourselves to be able to sit at a desk for long hours at a time, on a regular basis, and get away with it.

The good news is, it does not take much for us to do to prevent this common neck pain. To start off, here are two simple tips you can follow:

1)      Take a 2-minute break every hour and perform these three easy stretches:

  • Seated Upper Back Stretch
    Sit upright at the edge of your chair, palms flat on your desk, feet on the floor. Focus on your shoulder blades. Keep your arms straight as you pull your chest forwards towards the desk by gently squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then reverse the movement by pushing your chest away from the desk and allowing your shoulder blades to spread apart across your upper back. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug up towards your ears. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  • Seated Cat-Camel stretch
    Remain seated upright at the edge of your chair, with palms flat on the desk and feet on the floor. Keep your arms straight and round your chest away from your desk; allow your spine to curl into a C-shape, but be careful not to shrug your shoulders. Reverse the movement by arching your back and reaching your lower ribs towards your desk. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
  • Seated Trunk Rotation stretch
    Continue in the same seated position as the other two exercises. Keep one hand on your desk as you open the other arm out to the side and reach towards the back of the room, allowing your head and chest to rotate with the arm, but your hips should remain still. Repeat on the other side. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Like with learning any new routine or habit, it will take some effort in the beginning, but after practising for a week, it should become a lot more natural.
Top Tips to make it work: 1. Set an hourly alarm on your mobile phone or calendar. 2. Get a stretch buddy to remind each other on the hour. 3. Stick a post-it or sticker on the side of your monitor as a reminder.

Please note: exercises should be pain-free when performed. If you have any pre-existing neck or back conditions or are unsure of any of the exercises, please contact us to make an appointment with one of our qualified physiotherapists.


2)      Check your work station ergonomics 

  • The seat should be at a height where your feet can be comfortably rested on the floor or on a footrest.
  • The chair should be close enough to your desk that your elbows are almost touching the side of your ribs when you are typing, writing or using the mouse. If necessary, position your keyboard and mouse closer to you (i.e. closer to the edge of your desk).
  • Top of your computer/laptop screen should be level with your eyes.

Click here to read more on setting up your work station properly. Follow the checklist and start stretching!


– Max Teong, Physiotherapist

Beat the Heat with Coconut Ice-cream

May 26th, 2017

Coconut ice-cream















Do you know that coconut is a great source of fibre, minerals and vitamins? This highly nutritious fruit is also suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

In this edition, we have found an all-time favourite coconut ice-cream recipe that comes just in time, as the weather gets warmer in our sunny island!

Top it off with fresh antioxidant-rich berries to make it extra refreshing – a healthy dessert that allows you to indulge without feeling guilty!


Prepares approximately 4 cups of ice cream.


  • Ice Cream Maker
  • Blender


  • 60 – 400ml Cans of Coconut Milk
  • 3 to 4 Vanilla Beans
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup Raw Honey
  • A Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Fresh Raspberries or Blueberries (optional)


  1. Slice open the vanilla beans and scoop the vanilla out of the pods (1 teaspoon).
  2. In the blender, add the coconut milk, vanilla, honey and salt and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into ice cream maker and freeze. Serve.


Recipe courtesy of



Pilates for Women

April 25th, 2017









Pilates is a wonderful low-impact exercise that is suitable for everyone and is especially ideal for new mums or mums-to-be, whether it be a growing bump, a new little bundle or an active toddler.

Known for toning and strengthening your muscles (particularly the pelvic floor!), Pilates is also great in creating flexibility and increasing endorphin production – those great hormones which promote happier moods and a more restful sleep!

In this special edition, we have rounded up three insightful articles written by our team of experienced physiotherapists and Instructors on how Pilates can help prepare you for your pregnancy as well as recovery after giving birth.

Contact our studios today to find out the available packages suitable for you.

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!



Painless Running with Runity

March 31st, 2017

Running edit












Running is a skill that humans are supremely adapted for, there are more than 20 physiological and biomechanical qualities and adaptations that make us one of the most efficient running animals on earth. While we are far from the fastest or the strongest animal on earth, we, however, have the ability to outrun many other animals over long distances. Elite human runners, while slow over the short course, will beat almost any other animal including elite horses due to the unique advantages of the body heat regulation and breathing.

Running is also associated with various significant health benefits such as 40-76% lower risk of certain types of cancer, and running 10-15min per day reduces the risk of death from all-cause mortality by 29%. Despite the high injury rate reported at between 20-80% per year, it is, however, one of the most practised sports amongst working adults in Singapore. So if we are born runners, why are we getting injured so often? One of the most common reasons people run is to get fit. However, the old adage that says, “you need to get fit to play golf, not play golf to get fit” is also applicable to running. Running like any physically demanding activity requires the body to be prepared for it, to prevent any form of injuries.

Running place many physical demands on our bodies and if we do not have the right conditioning of the pelvis, legs, feet and the rest of the body, chances of you getting injured are high. There are also several factors that influence our running efficiency such as running style and technique, which are surprisingly easy to modify.

An example of which is our running cadence (number of steps taken per minute), by adjusting your cadence by as little as 5%, we can significantly reduce loading through the hip knee and ankle joint. In fact, it can reduce the amount of force passing through your heel by 565 times your body weight. So for a 60kg runner over 5km, that is over 100,000 tonnes (the weight of 70 cars!). If you want to fully reap the benefits of running, which are not just physiological but also psychological, it is worth putting the time into getting your body conditioned to run.

We are pleased to announce that Focus Pilates will be hosting for the first time in Asia, the Runity coaching programme. Its popularity is spreading rapidly throughout the US, Europe and Australia and we are honoured to have the founder of the programme, Juan Nieto to join us and conduct the course. This course is suitable for all running enthusiasts or those who want to develop their running coaching skills. In the course, you will learn how to assess running style through movement screening and video analysis, as well as exercises to prescribe and condition yourself or other runners.

Date: 26-28 May 2017
Location: Raffles Place, 22 Malacca St, RB Capital Building, #08-00 Singapore 048980
For more information, please email and we hope to see you there.

Focus Pilates will soon be introducing Running Analysis to clients, so stay tuned!


-Daniel Dittmar, Head Instructor




March 31st, 2017

  apr nutrition









We all know that green juice and smoothie is good for you. But a healthy smoothie doesn’t always have to be green. This April, we are happy to share with you a brightly coloured fruit smoothie recipe that will leave you feeling refreshed and energised!

Consists of banana, strawberry and beetroot, this perfect trio combination are packed with nutrients including powerful antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C and potassium that are vital for a healthy diet.

Enjoy this cup of refreshing smoothie in the morning to feel good all day long.


  • 1/2 cup cooked beets
  • 1/2 sliced of banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (about 4 pieces) roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of plain or flavoured Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3-4 ice cubes


  1. In a blender, place all ingredients and blend for at least a minute or until smooth.


Recipe and image courtesy of


How do I know when to change classes?

February 27th, 2017

Trial Hundreds low










So you have been coming to classes for some time, reaping the benefits of Pilates but you noticed a variety of classes on the schedule (Back Care, Multi-level, Beginner Strength and Conditioning etc.). How do you know which are the classes right for you? When is it appropriate for you to try different classes?

The more challenging classes such as the Multi-Level, Intermediate, and Strength and Conditioning classes are conducted at a faster pace with more challenging exercises. In order to ensure that you progress to the advanced classes in a safe manner, it is essential for you to be familiar with the beginner level exercise and Pilates principles.

So how do you know what classes are appropriate for you?
Everyone progresses through their Pilates practice at a different pace, some people are more consistent and some may have an injury that may be more of an issue. We recommend you to check with your instructor prior to the class to keep an eye on your technique during the class and advise you after on whether you are able to progress to an advanced class. Another thing you may consider is whether you find that the class you attend still provides you with the benefit and physical challenge. If it does, chances are you probably should stay at the same level of class for the time being.

Apart from the tips mentioned, there are however some basic rules to follow:

  • Fundamentals

Prior to joining a Beginner class, it is compulsory to complete three Fundamental classes.

  • Multi-level / Beginner Strength and Conditioning (S&C)

You should have attended at least 10 Beginner Reformer classes. As the class is conducted at a faster pace with slightly more challenging exercises, it is recommended to have a good understanding of the fundamentals of Pilates.

  • Intermediate classes

Our team of experienced and professional instructors will be able to give you advice on the appropriate level you should be doing. If you are not ready for the next level, this could mean that you need to work on your technique. Perfecting your technique will make you feel the exercise in the right place and prevent yourself from getting injuries.


Other things to note on our specialty classes:

  • Prenatal classes

With changes to your body, certain movements must be modified for the benefit to you and your baby. If you are in your first trimester, you must get a written approval from your doctor prior to joining our Pilates classes. Always inform your instructor that you are pregnant and don’t assume you can go to your regular class, just because you feel fine.

  • Postnatal classes

Your body needs time to recover after giving birth to your little one. If you are looking to do Pilates, we recommend you to start classes 6 weeks after a natural birth and 12 weeks after a C-section. Most importantly, make sure you have received an ‘all clear’ sign from your gynaecologist! For those who are looking for a comprehensive postnatal programme, we also have a Postnatal package designed specially to help new mums ease back into Pilates.

  • Express classes

These classes are 45 minutes long and conducted at a faster pace than our usual full hour classes. As such, we emphasise on class punctuality. Don’t forget for each Express Class that you attend, $10 will be credited back to your account for your next package purchase.

One great thing about our regular class packages is that they can be used for any classes, so you may get to attend your favourite class. We hope this guide will help you to pick out the right class and get the most of your workout!

Click here to visit our website and learn more about the different classes we offer!


– Daniel Dittmar, Director and Head Instructor




Energy Booster Bar

January 26th, 2017











If you are looking for something healthy to eat between meals, try this easy homemade Granola bar recipe, which is tasty and filling, perfect for a quick snack!

The main ingredients in the Granola, oats and nuts contain healthy fats and extra fibre that aid in improving digestion, reducing cholesterol and are great in giving your energy level a boost!

This nutritious snack packed full of goodness is beneficial to your health and helps keep you from reaching out to sugary snacks. You may even bring the Granola bar along with you on your next workout!



  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ½ cup roughly chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts & macadamias)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, raisins or goji berries
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsweetened grated coconut



  • Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Line the flat baking tray with baking paper and lightly grease with healthy oil.
  • Mash the banana in a bowl and stir in the almond butter and mix well.
  • Add rolled oats, chopped nuts, chia seeds, dried fruits, cinnamon & grated coconut and stir until everything is well combined.
  • Spread the batter evenly on to the prepared baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes and cook until top is lightly browned.
  • Set aside to cool before cutting and store in tight container.


Recipe and image courtesy of


Move With Oov

January 24th, 2017


Have you heard of the Oov? It is a device made from highly durable foam, specifically designed to complement the spine’s natural curve. A new and increasingly popular way to train and build your core strength.

Watch our short video from Director, Daniel and Instructor Georgie on how to challenge your core and stability using this new equipment!



Say Goodbye to Postural Pain and Stiffness

December 29th, 2016












If you are spending hours at the desk, it is important to maintain a good posture and do some simple stretches at regular intervals while in the office to avoid various muscle pains!

This January, we’ve rounded up our picks for the top three ergonomics blog articles written by our fabulous team of physiotherapists to give you an idea of what ergonomics is about and some useful tips to set up your workstation properly for the New Year!


How to Un-lazify your Bum

November 29th, 2016










If you have a job that requires sitting for at least four hours a day, you probably have a lazy bum. Even if you exercise a lot, sitting down for long periods of time everyday, reduces your brain’s subconscious ability to activate your glutes.

You might think, so what if I have a lazy bum?! Well the glutes are the biggest muscle in your body and one of the main stabilising muscles of your pelvis, which joins your legs to your torso to make the body a whole unit. Lazy glutes result in poor pelvic stability, and poor upright alignment, which can lead to all sorts of biomechanical problems.

If you think about your body as a factory production line, and each group of muscles (i.e. calves, quads, hamstrings) is one engine or machine on that line. Your gluteal muscles are the biggest machines and they are right in the middle of the production line. If the biggest machine is not pulling its weight, the rest of the machines have to work harder and they end up breaking down. (i.e. knee pain, back pain, tight hamstrings etc.)

Glute Activation

Glute activation is about waking up the connection from your brain to the muscle, so that and the muscles are fired up and ready to do some work.

We can increase the amount of work done by our glutes by activating them with some exercises before your workout.

Here are three simple exercises to wake up those glutes!

  1. Pelvic clock

This is a prep before your glute activation exercises to improve body and joint awareness and relax the hip flexors and other potentially tight muscles around the hips.

  1. Glute bridge
  • Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground. Your feet should be about sit-bone width apart.
  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so that only your upper arm is on the ground.
  • Press into your heels, tilt the pelvis back and peel the spine off bone by bone until you come up to the widest part of the shoulders. Keep tilting the pelvis back so you don’t extend your lower back
  • Make sure your legs are parallel and your knees don’t drop in or flare out to the side.
  • Squeeze your glutes for 3 seconds at the top and then roll the spine down again slowly with control.
  • You should feel this move in your glutes and hamstrings and not in your low back.
  1. Modified Clamshell
  • Lie on your side with your head resting comfortably.
  • Your bottom leg should be straight, with your top hip bent up to ninety degrees so your top foot rests behind your bottom knee. Your hips should be forward, and should remain in this forward position throughout the entire movement to come.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your knee off the ground, keeping your top foot rested on your bottom knee (make sure your top hip doesn’t roll back because it most certainly will try to do so).
  • You should feel this exercise approximately where your jeans pocket would be.


So start activating your glutes today!


– Wong Zi En, Instructor