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Harder To Kill Radio 179 How To Up Your Pilates Game By Adding Strength Training w/ Trish DaCosta

Strength Training with Pilates

Most of us know the importance of mobility, finding your breath and addressing all areas of your body during a workout. So what do you do when you find that you don’t have the time to integrate these necessary aspects into your regular routine?

Trish DaCosta recognized this gap in muscle information and created Barbell Pilates as an answer to these two complementary modalities.

By combining strength training and pilates Trish has seen huge benefits to the women she trains and is helping to create more intelligent and resilient bodies.

Harder To Kill Radio 179 How To Up Your Pilates Game By Adding Strength Training w/ Trish DaCosta

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneInGoogle Play | I Heart Radio

About Trish DaCosta

Trish is here to break down the fundamentals of Pilates and weight lifting, help us understand why they are so beneficial to each other, and ways in which you can get back into fitness with activities that you love. Everything from the importance of the ‘two-way stretch’, to why you need to let your body recover and the necessity of noticing your breath is on the docket today as Trish schools us in the best ways to integrate Pilates and strength training.

This episode is all about educating women to address control, stabilize muscles and finding out what works best for your body today. As our bodies constantly change and evolve so will our workouts, and Trish is a pioneer of listening to your body and training smarter, not harder.

Have you ever combined pilates and strength training? Let us know what your results were in the comments below!

On Today’s Episode

  • Debunking misunderstandings around movement modality and weight lifting
  • Understanding the different benefits from each form of movement
  • The psychological impact of growing older and adjusting to your new body
  • Why cutting back on exercise may actually get you better results
  • Learn about your breath and how it can improve your overall bodily function

Resources Mentioned In This Show


“My company is really to teach women how to train better, train smarter with weights, and also recover better using pilates” (9:43)

“I think pilates just like any other exercise is going to change your body in a very positive way, but it’s not going to change your body type per se” (19:14)

“At the end of the day, [my clients] are coming to me to help them feel better about their bodies and they want their bodies to look a certain way, so it’s not up to me to be like, no.” (30:29)

“If we could just learn how to inhale and exhale completely, we would solve so many issues in our bodies just from that” (42:36)

“Its really about doing things in a smarter way that makes sense for your goals but also makes sense for where you are at right now” (48:03)

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Harder To Kill Radio 179 How To Up Your Pilates Game By Adding Strength Training w/ Trish DaCosta



Steph Gaudreau
This is Harder to Kill Radio, a weekly podcast where we explore what it takes to build unbreakable humans through fitness, nutrition, and mindset. I’m your host, Steph Gaudreau. My mission in life is to help women build stronger bodies and resilient minds so that they begin to embrace and really own their inner power. The vision I have is that one day, girls will grow up into strong women who appreciate their bodies know their worth, take up space, and live bigger, without the pressure of impossible to fulfill bullshit societal standards. That is what it means to be harder to kill.

This podcast is one way to explore these issues. And you may not always agree with the viewpoints presented here, but I can guarantee one thing, it will make you think. I’m here to lead a community of women and men, we need you too, who are ready to define what it is they truly want from their lives on their terms. If a particular guest or episode resonates with you, let us know. Leave us a review on iTunes Apple podcasts, and hit subscribe on your podcast app. And also be sure to tune in to my weekly companion show Fierce Love Friday, every Friday. On that note, let’s do this.

Hey, what’s going on? Welcome to Episode 179 of Harder to Kill Radio. I’m Steph Gaudreau, your host. Thank you so much for tuning into today’s show. It’s Tuesday, so that means another expert guest interview. And today I have a very dear friend of mine on the show. I know I say that about a lot of people. But really I love to bring my friends on the podcast because I have some incredibly smart, creative, strong, fantastic, wonderful friends.

And today’s guest is no exception to that. Her name is Trish DaCosta. She is the creator of Barbell Pilates. She’s a Pilates instructor, a personal trainer, and just somebody who I really admire for her very, very smart ways of integrating Pilates and strength training. And today, Trish is going to be taking us down this rabbit hole of why these two modalities are very complementary, but that doing one without the other can lead to some issues. So we’re going to be diving into that world.

But before we jump into the episode, usually I give you a call to action, which is to join the Harder to Kill Club on Facebook. I’m not doing that today. Because this is a special week and I’m doing something special to celebrate. And the special thing happening this week is that it’s my birthday. And not only is it my birthday, because that’s always special. But I’m turning 40 and I am so excited.

You know, I think 20 years were like, um made some questionable decisions in my 20s. They were really hard. I don’t want to go back to my 20s. But I love my 30s. 30s were great. And I’m really looking forward to my 40s because I realize I’ve learned a lot in life. And then I also realized I have so much left to learn. I know nothing. I know nothing, Jon Snow.

So in order to celebrate this week, so all this week, so from Monday to Friday, and Friday the 22nd is my actual birthday, so now you know. All this week, I am doing something really special because I’m so thankful for you. And I feel like this is a cause for celebration. You can grab my Made Strong program this week for $40.

So $40 for 40 is what I’m calling this and Made Strong is my functional strength program that’s based on five main movement patterns- squat, hinge, press, pull, and carry. And it’s just a way to move your body, get a quick and easy workout. I mean, we’re talking 30 minutes or less in most cases, a few times a week, build your strength, feel more confident, open your own damn pickle jar and just get a good workout while also getting to choose your own movements and having some choice in the matter because autonomy is really important.

So to get the Made Strong program for the $40 for 40 sale, head over to stephgaudreau.com/madestrong and you can use that all one word, stephgaudreau.com/madestrong. I will put a link in the show notes. Super super excited about this because we’ve now never done it before. So head over to the website. You can pause this. Obviously you’re listening on your phone, you can pause this, or do it after the show, head over to stephgaudreau.com and get in on the $40 for 40 sale.

Alright, without further ado, let’s jump into Episode 179 with Trish DaCosta. Thanks so much for hanging out with me today on Harder to Kill Radio. Really, really excited about today’s episode because I always feel like when I have a lot of personal connection to someone, the show just ends up being that much richer.

And today is no exception because my guest is somebody I’ve known now for several years. Somebody I’ve had the good pleasure to work with before. Somebody I’ve had the pleasure to lift with before. And she is doing really amazing work in the world and talking about some really important topics. We’re going to bring those into today’s discussion, and share those thoughts with you. So please welcome to the show, Trish DaCosta. Welcome!

Trish DaCosta
Thank you so much for having me. This is exciting, and also a little nerve wracking.

Steph Gaudreau
I always tell people when they are going to come on the podcast, and particularly if they haven’t done a lot of podcasts before, just sort of, you know, just speak from your heart. Just talk about what you know, right. And instead of trying to stick to a script, I always feel like when you’re trying to memorize things, or you want to say it a specific way, you get tripped up with thinking about the particularities instead of just talking about what you’re already an expert in.

Trish DaCosta
Yeah, totally. I think my thing is definitely I’m just a fan girl.

Steph Gaudreau
Oh, my goodness, you’re so funny and sweet. And I appreciate that. But um, I, you know, so I always find this funny because I talk about people in the third person and they’re listening. But we sort of introduced who’s on the show. But yeah, it’s great, because you live locally here in the area we’ve lifted before in the same gym. I mean, I love your dog. He’s amazing. And I want to borrow him someday, because he’s so sweet. And I feel like we just have that that context that then makes it makes the conversation so much better.

So I’m excited that you reached out to me. And it was it was kind of cool, because you were like, I had this idea as I was listening to one of your other episodes. And, you know, what do you think? And I said, Yeah, come on the show. We’ll just talk about it there. Yeah. Because you have a lot of great expertise. So you are the founder of Barbell Pilates. And I always feel like when people hear those two words together, they’re sort of like what? Yeah. And I’m wondering if you can kind of walk us through what, what Barbell Pilates is and what it what it means to you. Yeah, back. So yeah, some background?

Trish DaCosta
Well, I think one of the biggest misconceptions for sure is some people think I’ve created this new like exercise format or method where you’re going to be doing Pilates and lifting a barbell at the same time. So that’s definitely not it. Barbell Pilates, you know, is my company is really just about their two things. I’m a huge advocate for women, everyone to lift weights, and I don’t think that that’s never gonna go away from me. And I stand by that.

But I also believe that the more active we are, especially for, for weightlifting, competitively, even if that’s recreationally, that we need to take care of our recovery in a more intelligent way so that we can one be more resilient in the weight room or with the activities we love, and create more longevity just for our bodies in general. Because what I’ve seen over the years is we beat our bodies up in our 20s because we can, and we recover like crap.

And then we hit our 30s and 40s. And we hit like, these nagging injuries that in our hips, and our shoulders, and our joints are all messed up. And we’ve been sitting at a desk all day in our nine to five jobs. And then we’re just kind of like, Oh, I’m too old. I can’t do this sport anymore. I can’t really lift anymore. I can’t do this anymore. And we kind of just give up.

So that’s a long winded answer of what my company is. It’s really to teach women how to train better, train smarter with weights and also recover better using Pilates because that is what I teach. I am a Pilates instructor, but it’s also the method that I found that works on every single body.

Steph Gaudreau
That’s amazing. And I will definitely attest to being in that crowd of people who were sort of able to just train really hard. I mean, I’ve been, I’ve been into sports my whole life and train really hard. And I mean, aside from the random thing that pops up when you’re when you’re in your 20s, it seems like you can be pretty, pretty invincible. And then yeah, you hit 30s 40s. And then there’s also this curious thing.

And I don’t know if you’ve observed this in your own spheres that you’re in. But now there are so many more women who are realizing that there are huge benefits to strength training, and they’re now a women in their 40s, 50s, and beyond. You’re like, I, you know, I know this is there are benefits for me, but like, shit, how do I even get started? Yeah. Yeah. So that I think is is probably something that maybe we can speak to a little bit later in the episode.

But you know, in terms of, okay, so if you can, this is probably, since I know, you’ll ask this question. You’re not somebody I’ve not spoken to before. But I’ll ask you a harder question, which is sort of when you’re in, like, put yourself put your Pilates hat on and then put your strength training and weightlifting hat on. When you’re in those two environments. What are some of the misunderstandings that you hear being repeated? About the other modality of movement that you’re just like, oh, no, I wish people understood each other better.

Trish DaCosta
Oh, that is a tough question. Dang.

Steph Gaudreau
Just throwing that out there real early in the show. Just yeah, totally.

Trish DaCosta
Just hit me with the punches right away. I think it kind of there’s some of the typical ones, right? If we, if I bring both worlds together, you have the Pilates folks that are like, Isn’t weightlifting, like, dangerous isn’t going to make me bulky, the typical one. You know, I don’t want to get too big or isn’t this going to damage my body, blah, blah, blah, then you flip things over and people on the weightlifting side might think, oh, what’s Pilates? Is it just like a lot of stretching? Is it just a lot of abs? You know, like, I think women are more attracted to Pilates because of that kind of marketing lingo or things that they’ve heard.

But they they might think like, oh, that’s not for me, it just seems too easy, too wimpy. You know, like, I like to lift and smash weights at the gym. And they don’t realize that the two kind of go hand in hand very well, because there are things even if you don’t weightlift, you could be doing another sport, there are things that your body or that you’re not addressing in that area, that Pilates does address.

So it’s kind of like you’re filling in the gaps of your weightlifting and your all of your training with Pilates that unfortunately your workout just isn’t going to hit or if it does hit it’s going to be so small. And you kind of need something that is just blends everything in into like an hour, for example. Does that make sense?

Steph Gaudreau
Yes, and I know I’ve heard, I’ve only ever Okay, so this is kind of me making this confession. But I’ve only ever gone to an actual Pilates class one time. It was so hard. I thought I was gonna die. I mean, and at the time, I was doing CrossFit competitively, you know, very fit, felt very fit, felt very strong. And I went to this Pilates class with my neighbor. And I just thought I am going to die. How much longer is this like this? This is just so hard. And I was doing kind of the easiest modifications, you know, and so that was kind of an eye opener for me, because I always had that perception as well, like, oh, it’s like really easy, or it’s

Trish DaCosta
yeah, like, because, like, Oh, it’s just stretching or like laying down on this machine. And it looks like it’s gonna be easy.

Steph Gaudreau
Totally was not easy. And so I gained any respect for it at that point. And, you know, on the flip side, I also hang out now and do a lot of Brazilian jujitsu. And there’s a lot of folks there who are just like, oh, same kind of a similar concern. I like strength training is going to be injured. It is going to make me become too bulky. You know, and you know, especially it’s kind of like weightlifting, there’s if you want to compete, there’s weight classes, and people aren’t really concerned about that. So I knew so I did a podcast about the word toned and you this is, I guess what kind of prompted you to reach out about coming on the show.

Trish DaCosta
No, I love that episode.

Steph Gaudreau
Oh man, man, man, and I am hoping people took it the right way because it wasn’t meant to be like, Oh, he’s belies people.

Trish DaCosta
Don’t worry. I was laughing when you said it because I was like, yep, uh huh.

Steph Gaudreau
So I’d love to have you speak about the missile like long and lean, and this is you know, so Okay, here we have a an actual, like certified experienced Pilates instructors. It’s just not me, flapping my gums about, you know, what is where it’s problematic.

But I’m wondering if you sort of like, take us through this nuance of, you know, why does why does this show up, especially in the world of Pilates and you know why? People who maybe come into it thinking that they’re going to achieve a certain the certain look, for example, are often disappointed. Yeah, in those results.

Trish DaCosta
Oh gosh, I can say so much on this. So first of all, the long and lean thing, I think, is its marketing lingo. But it’s also taken out of context. Because in fact, if you attend a Pilates class or a session with someone, and they’re like a very reputable, great instructor, they’re not just giving you gimmicky exercises just for you to sweat, they’re really teaching Pilates, you’re going to leave that session, feeling like you’re longer. And that’s just the nature of how Pilates exercises are.

So I’ve written about this on my blog, before that, there’s this concept in Pilates called the two way stretch. And it’s essentially, as you’re doing the exercises, there’s this idea that your your muscles are moving in opposition. So literally, if someone is doing exercise, I will say something like, as you pull yourself back into the reformer, that’s one of the Pilates equipment, make your spine grow in the opposite direction. And that concept like it makes, it makes no sense just for me talking about you, I guess you’d have to be in a class with me.

Like you really do kind of expand and open up spaces between your joints, and in your spine and between your ribs. And you do leave feeling longer and feeling like you got taller. And I think that’s mainly because the nature of our lifestyle, or if you’re a weightlifter, we’re constantly compressed, like our spine is just like mushed together. And we just feel tight and stiff all the time.

So when you leave a class, like or a Pilates session, you do feel so much better, because you did get stretched out even while you worked out. So I think that’s where that concept comes from. It’s not inaccurate, it actually, it’s just that it’s taken out of context. Because now we’re, we’re seeing it, like, come to this workout. And you’ll, you’ll get longer and leaner, as if as though like your muscles can somehow turn long and lean.

And I’ve said this before, I’m like, if you want to be long and lean, you’re gonna have to get new parents like you’re still taller, you know, you just, you just can’t. And I’m a testament to that, like, I’m kind of short and stocky. But I my posture is always better like that. I think that goes back to the posture. The other misconception is that you’ll be long and lean. And I think it has a lot to do with dancers. So going back to just kind of the history of Pilates. Joseph Pilates first studio in the US was in New York, and he taught professional ballroom ballerinas. So if you look at these ballerinas, I mean, they’re already built long and lean. That’s just their body types.

And now and so like the dancing community is really into Pilates, because they’re typically introduced to this method really early on in their careers, like some start when they’re like eight years old. And they may end up teaching Pilates down the road or having their own studios. So we look to these Pilates women, if you will, and the owners and you’re like, you look at their bodies, and you’re like, oh, I want to look like that.

She just Pilates so she does it, then that’s definitely how I’m gonna look like and we’re forgetting or neglecting the fact that these women are a just built like that already and be like they’ve been dancing professionally for over a decade. That is also why they look like that. So I think Pilates, just like any other exercise is going to change your body in a very positive way. But it’s not going to change your body type, per se. If you’re already like, few broad shoulders, it’s not going to get narrower. That way, like you can’t change your bones basically.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, this is a good point. And it’s sort of like, it always reminds me of the a few quite a few years ago there was that kind of like photo spread of different athletes at the Olympics. Yeah, and how I mean typically you’re gonna see that a professional or an Olympic basketball player is going to be very tall or volleyball player, a very tall have a certain body type. And then you might find that other sports are, you know, like a jockey is not going to be six foot five. And so certain body types lend themselves to certain pursuits. And I think that’s such a good point that so often we forget.

Trish DaCosta
Yeah, I think it also goes back to like, you can look at that in anything like gymnasts, who then crossover into CrossFit and do really well. And were like, I want to look like that, like or, or they fear it, because they’re like, I don’t want to look like that they’re too muscular.

I’m like, well, at the same time, this person has been doing this, like gymnastics or something for like, 12 or 13 years, like their body was built this foundation, whether you like it or not on you, it doesn’t mean that CrossFit is going to make you look like that in a good or positive way. Like we’re we neglect that, like, people, especially athletes are doing this kind of work for lots a really long time, usually over a decade. And that’s how they build the foundation of the muscle and the shape that they have.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely. Such a good point. You know, so we and I’ve talked very, you know, I’ve talked very frankly, about this on the show before on my social media, like, look, I think it’s really important that you do things that you love. Yeah. Because then if you do things that you love, you’re you’re gonna do them

Trish DaCosta
If you like to work out, like, do that.

Steph Gaudreau
Exactly. So staying, staying active and having movement, you gotta like it if you’re gonna stay with it long term. But, you know, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this also, as somebody who’s a coach and a fitness professional. Right, we do know that there are, there are benefits to strength training that perhaps other modalities of movement don’t provide. So I wonder if you can speak to that as well. I mean, how do you help your clients understand that different modalities and movement have different benefits, and that we can’t necessarily rely on just one thing to provide everything that we’re looking for? Yeah.

Trish DaCosta
I mean, I think it’s having just a very honest, heart to heart with them. I mean, luckily, the people that come and work with me, and my clients are very open minded, and they’re looking to my expertise. So I am already benefiting. I’m already like, winning there. Because now they’re, they’re already open minded. But what I get a lot is women who are like, you know, they’re kind of like, I want to tone up for my wedding. Or I kind of want to shake my butt Do you think running is going to help me?

And to be honest and be like, actually, no, like, that’s they’re gonna help you at all. I was like, it might help in the short term, like, lose a little fat or something else I’m like, but if you want to put shape on your body, like you actually want to shape something, shape a muscle, sculpt it, whatever word you want to use, like, you have to lift weights at some point. I’m like, you can do body weight. Sure. But at some point, your body is going to adapt, and you’re going to need some other kind of stressor, to challenge yourself.

I actually had a friend last night asked me she’s like, do you think I can build a good booty? She’s like 19, so like, oh, yeah, absolutely. And I gave her some tips. And I was like, I was like, but also you’re gonna have to eat more. And she just looked at me. And like, I was just like, Look, your croissant and orange juice in the morning, it’s not gonna cut it out. Like, if you want a booty, I was like, lifting is going to help.

But you’re also going to have to feed your muscles, essentially, and feed your body so those muscles can grow. And like, it’s not as like most of us women, most women under eat anyway. So I think it’s just really just educate educating women about what the benefits of a weight training is. And when I’m working one on one with them, it’s pretty easy, because I can just say, like, you know, give me a month, just try it my way. And let’s see how it feels.

And if there, luckily, I train in a place where there’s both Pilates equipment available and weight training equipment available, so I can split the session in half and give them a little bit of both. So they don’t feel like they’re missing out on the Pilates portion. But they’re still getting the weight training for the things that I know that they need.

Steph Gaudreau
I was gonna say your friend. I mean, I was thinking like, when I was in high school, you know, sort of Kate Moss days, ya know, like the idea of wanting to like make any body part bigger was just horrifying. Yeah. It’s interesting how the tables have turned. But yeah, I think you’re so right there. It’s interesting how we talk in these codified words to you know, sort of like, you know, sculpting or shaping or whatever.

And you’re like, why, why are we so reluctant to talk about the fact that we want to add or build or grow or? Yeah, I don’t know, do you? Do you find that women are still talking about those words almost as if they’re, they’re trying I’d like to admit that it will mean that they had to get bigger or if they want, you know if that’s the result that they want to see.

Trish DaCosta
Yeah, I think it’s funny that you say that because I still cringe if I have to say the word toning, but I’ve learned to kind of try to speak my client’s language a little more. So I do use the word sculpt. Because when I think about sculpting, I literally think about like clay. You know, like in sculpting clay, molding it the way that you want, for whatever reason, and I think it goes back to just like a marketing language, build, grow, sculpt, it’s all the freakin same.

But build just sounds scary for women, especially since we’ve had this. This idea from early on probably for some women, it probably started even when they were like 10 years old, that build growing was just was negative. Whereas for men, it was like, Yeah, you want to get big, you want to grow, like grow your muscles. For whatever reason, it just kind of sticks with us.

And I think it’s just really hard to undo a concept that’s been with you in your subconscious for like 15 years. But if it helps them understand, like, understand the concepts better, if I just use their language a little more, then I’ll use it. But also with the caveat that I’m going to explain to them. I’m like, Okay, I hear what you’re saying about toning or sculpting. But here’s what you like, essentially, you still have to build muscle like that’s, that’s what that word means.

And no one’s ever been like, f you like, you don’t know what you’re talking about? Like, they’re, they tend to be pretty open. Because I think it’s more of just like, well, I’m coming to an expert, because clearly what I’ve been doing the last few years isn’t working. So I’m kind of at my wit’s end. So I think that helps, but I still think we should, we should speak to, to it depends on the person and speak their language. But I still tried to explain that it’s all the same grow, build, sculpt tone, it’s all the same.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, meeting people sort of where they’re at. And then yeah, slowly moving them forward as necessary. Do you ever have clients who you work with who start to, you know, they’re, they’re doing Pilates, they’re maybe start picking up weight training in some way. And they like the results that they’re feeling. But they’re still like, maybe their bodies changing in ways that they didn’t experience they didn’t anticipate.

So may, let’s say, the most classic example I can think of is like, you know, they wear a fitted shirt to work with like tiny cap sleeves, or whatever. And like a fabric that doesn’t stretch, and then all of a sudden, they’re like, my clothes are getting tight. Do you ever have people people that you talk to clients that you talk to, or folks that you’ve run into and that are experiencing that sort of, almost, I don’t know what the word I’m looking for is sort of this, like,

Trish DaCosta
They backtrack a little bit or like, whoa, whoa.

Steph Gaudreau
Well, they’re sort of like I love the way I feel and so many ways, but my clothes are getting tight. And I don’t know how to deal with the fact that my body is still changing.

Trish DaCosta
Yes, that’s a really good point. Actually, I have run into that a couple of times. Nothing crazy. (Knocking in background) Oh, my God.

Steph Gaudreau

Is somebody at your door?

Trish DaCosta


Steph Gaudreau

Should we pause?

Trish DaCosta

Yeah. Can we?

Steph Gaudreau

Yeah. Okay.

Trish DaCosta

I was like I don’t have time for you right now.

Steph Gaudreau
This is the water, the guy came to fix a water heater. So we’re back. We’re back on air. So yes, we were talking about if if clients experience, they’re experiencing so many positive changes, but then, you know, like, the clothes aren’t fitting the same, or the scale isn’t dropping, or staying, you know, going up maybe a little bit or, you know, how do you how do you talk to people about that?

Trish DaCosta
That one’s hard, because, I mean, I’ve experienced the same thing. Like when I was powerlifting, my muscles were just like, in a good way, we’re getting big, and I was like, Oh, crap, I don’t fit into my pants. Like, I’m quadzillas is right now. And so I totally relate to them on that level. And sometimes it’s kind of like, what I what I do with my clients is just kind of sit with them and just ask more more questions.

You know, just, they’re like, I feel like my quads are getting too big. My pants aren’t fitting and I was like, Okay, I’m like, they don’t fit how, like, are they really tight around your waist? Are they tight around your thighs? And then I’m like, Okay, well, how are you feeling? Overall? I was like, you know, and then you just keep asking questions. They’re like, Well, I’m sleeping better. Like I have really good energy. And sometimes it’s just a fear, maybe not even fear. Like sometimes it’s just very, it’s just what they don’t want.

Like they’re like, You know what, I love being strong, but I don’t necessarily want bigger thighs and I already have even if they’re like a really good shape, you know, like because they just don’t want to go out and buy new pants. I get that, like jeans are expensive. So sometimes it’s more of just like scaling back. If that’s that’s the case be like, You know what, let’s tone it down on, say front squats or doing a lot of walking lunges or something like that, and focus on these other areas.

Because at the end of the day, like, they’re coming to me to help them feel better in their bodies, and they want their bodies to look a certain way. So it’s not up to me to be like, No, we’re gonna keep doing quad, more quad exercises, sometimes just listening and just being like, Okay, we’ll cut back on XYZ. So you know that we’re not over developing this particular area, and you just have to listen to that.

And I think that’s okay. Because a lot of women have an idea of what they want to look like. And I don’t think we it’s a trainers place or another person’s place to argue with them about like, what they want their bodies to look like, I feel like we have enough people telling us what we need, what we should do with our bodies. And I’m certainly not going to be the one to do it.

Steph Gaudreau
That’s a good point. So I would love to have you sort of walk us through how you see Pilates and weight training. And you’ve you’ve sort of like talked a little bit about this in your in your intro. But how Pilates and weight training are synergistic. In other words, how they can really work together, maybe what are some of the strengths? Nope, no pun intended strengths of one, you know, and strain, so the other and then how they can marry together to really provide the results that people are looking for?

Trish DaCosta
Yeah, well, here’s the thing. When I look at weight training, or an activity, like you’re someone who just like plays competitively, in some other sport, you’re thinking about producing force, or just moving fast or moving? Well, you’re thinking about building strength, you’re not thinking about those other little things that are equally as important, say, like breathing, mobility, joint stability, you’re not thinking about those things. Because, I mean, you just don’t have the time to think or address all those areas in a single workout.

So I really think that whatever recovery or active recovery method that we use, needs to hit on those other points that you’re not going to hit when you’re in the gym, for women, especially. And this comes from my personal experience with my own body, but also working with so many women, is that once you hit 30s, it’s like your body just changes. I mean, people told me that this was gonna happen when I was younger, and I was like, whatever, like, I’m just gonna keep exercising, eating well, everything will be great. And then I hit 31. And I was like, Holy crap, what is this? Like, my body changed.

And I think it’s very difficult for women, sometimes to go from like the look and feel a certain way in their 20s. And then they hit their 30. And it’s like, all of a sudden, their hormones have changed. They really fully developed into their womanly body, their womanly bodies. Biologically, they’re kind of preparing to have children, even if they don’t actually want children, your body’s doing the things that it needs to do for that to happen. And it can have this like psychological impact on women, because all of a sudden, we’re like, wait a minute, I’ve been doing all the right things. Why is my body suddenly being different, not moving as well, or feeling different, whatever it may be.

So I think Pilates one works really well for women because it develops a lot of the strength, that they need to have a safe and healthy pregnancy if they want to go that route in their life. And it helps with their recovery post pregnancy. So that’s a big one, Pilates does a lot of strengthening for your core and for your pelvic floor. And I mean, if you were if a woman was to only do Pilates for that reason, I’d say do it because it’s probably the safest and the easiest way to address those issues.

The second is this whole concept around mobility and stability. I think the weightlifting community has done a great job of advocating for more mobility and addressing those issues, for performance reasons, but we’re not necessarily addressing a lot of the stability that women need around their joints, because women tend to be a little more hyper mobile than men.

Of course, you know, I’ve written about this before in an article that because of those hormonal changes, the things that happen in our body, when when we have kids are preparing for that what happens to our joints and like the angles of our you know, our Q angle Q gosh, what am I saying here? Like the angle between like the knee and the hip is different than men? All that stuff really does make a difference.

And we need to address stability and in mobility in in slightly different ways than men might, might have to do. So what I think when I think of Pilates for women or I think of Pilates for athletic women, I’m really looking at it from a very holistic type of view of like, How can I injury proof you so that you can continue doing the things that you’d love to do, but that I’m also preparing you, for these bigger life changes hormonally or just having babies or whatever down the road so that you can be safe, but also recover and still feel really good in your body.

Steph Gaudreau
That’s such a good point about the differences in mobility. I mean, the differences in our geometry and things like that. I mean, can you give us an a more concrete example? So if people are sort of like, if they, if they have a little bit of knowledge about Pilates and or strength training, they can kind of see how this those two things would actually play out? Like, how might you help a female client, for example, address her mobility for her body in a way that might be different from a male client, for example?

Trish DaCosta
Yeah. Okay. So a great example would be like, Let’s go around the hips, because I think that’s a scenario where we tend to be pretty different. When you’re addressing like those geometry differences or changes, and we develop a little more like, like, we’re kind of just like loosey-goosey in our joints around there, we do have to develop muscular strength, for sure. So that’s where the weightlifting is going to come in. But it’s also kind of like controlling the range of motion.

So a lot of things I see, and this, this goes for men or women, they treat their legs and their pelvis and their hips, like, they’re all the same thing. And they work as a unit or a team, but they’re still separate units. So with women, especially a lot of things I’m addressing is just that control of the strengthening around their hips, but also the control and making sure they know how to say move their leg, independently of their pelvis, and know how to stabilize their pelvis, and know how to use their their entire core to help stabilize the pelvis so that their leg can move.

And it seems like so insignificant, in a sense, but the body works as it’s a chain, and it works as a unit. So if I can, someone who’s like super stiff in their back, that can create some problems with their shoulder mobility where they can’t really get their arms to lift overhead. And then they wonder like, Why does my shoulder hurt every time I do, you know, a military press, you know, guess you can address technique. But there’s also this mobility issue that might be in the way. And it could be up or down, it could be their back, or it could be something going on in their hips.

And as much as I embrace all of the, you know, mobile, the mobility movement that’s out there. In reality, we only have so much time in our workout or in our day to fit in quote unquote, mobility work, like, how much time are you going to spend foam rolling, doing mobility drills, doing breathing drills before you work out, like we just don’t have that kind of time. So, Pilates, more, the way that I use Pilates is that I address all those things that your workout doesn’t have time to or that we don’t address it enough.

So we tackle the breathing right away. Breathing is such an important part of Pilates practice anyway. So once I teach you how to breathe, I’m making sure that you’re doing that through every exercise. And then I’m addressing that whole concept of stabilizing the pelvis, moving the femur, independently of everything else, can you twist your spine without moving your hips, you know, like we tend to compensate by twisting our entire hip with with it.

And so there’s a lot of those things and it’s very, the way I look at it. It’s like it’s nitpicky, it’s the it’s the attention to detail. And I think that’s where Pilates fits in. So you have like, weightlifting which is you know, the bigger picture and then Pilates fits in as like the details that you’re you are going to miss if you’re lifting weights.

Steph Gaudreau
Can you speak about the breathing component because I feel like this is an area where people are sort of like, they either hold their breath all the time, and they’re not breathing or they’re not aware that breathing, there is a way to breathe that will help them be more effective at what they’re trying to do.

Trish DaCosta
Yeah, totally. So um, Are you familiar with PRI, the Postural Restoration Institute?

Steph Gaudreau

I am not.

Trish DaCosta

Well, they, they probably teach the whole breathing thing better than anyone. So if you ever want to dabble into their work I highly recommend. But the most basics of breathing is this. It’s like your diaphragm and your pelvic floor or your core like these, you have breathing muscles. And most of us tend to live in our chest when we breathe.

So we breathe in with our chest, with our chest muscles and with our neck. And all that creates is just more tension in those areas, it can cause things like being really rounded over in our shoulders, like our chest muscles are constantly tight and pulling on our shoulder blades and, and things like that, it can cause other issues too, like in your hips or in your ribcage.

So we the first step is just learning how to breathe in your belly. So most of the time, I take clients through just a quick progressive breathing exercise, where I just placed one hand at their chest, one hand at their belly, and I kind of lay them down. And I just teach them to breathe and make sure that the hand that they’re at their stomach is the one that comes up first before the chest, then as they keep breathing, and cueing them to you know, expand the ribcage to the sides of the room, fill up the low back like it’s a tire or balloon.

Then the progression starts, I make them breathing through their nose for a count of eight, and breathe out for eight, then a count of 10, that a count of 12. And then 16 until like you literally feel like you’ve run out of air, essentially. And I mean, really what it helps with it. When you breathe correctly with your diaphragm, it prevents all kinds of issues like becoming too tight, or having other muscles kind of just hanging out dormant, can release a lot of tension in the neck, that later on can cause neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, back pain, it can improve your posture overall.

So there’s a lot more to breathing than just what we think of. And the nice thing about Pilates is that breath is such an important component. It’s actually one of the main principles of Pilates. And Joseph Pilates was way ahead of his time on this. Like, if we could just learn how to inhale and exhale completely. Like we would solve so many issues in our bodies just from that. I mean, obviously, I’m not going to spend like 30 minutes talking about deep breathing with a client.

I mean, we hit it in the first minute or two. And then it’s just breathing cues as we go along. Because we also tend to hold our breath. That’s another fun thing about Pilates I see. So it’s just reminding people to breathe. And eventually it just comes naturally to them. I mean, in my you know, shameless plug here, but in my program, my Pilates Flow Up program, I kind of it’s embarrassing, so I’ll watch it and I’ll be like, Oh my God, I’m such a heavy breather. The mic and you can like, but that is how you want to breathe. It’s like full inhales, full exhale. And if you have to be loud about it then fine.

Steph Gaudreau
I can picture people all in an office, heavy breathing and just wearing headphones so that they can’t hear each other.

Trish DaCosta
Yeah. And so I mean, if you’re weightlifting, there’s a lot of coaches, strength coaches out there who do who have done like the PRI training and they incorporate some kind of breathing drill in, in their like warmup, and it’s usually like one or two drills, and then they move on to the warmup. And I think that’s great. I think that’s an excellent step. And some clients do do that. But I don’t think it’s enough. I think there’s for the majority of us, we need way more work on that breathing front, but who wants to sit around and just do breathing exercises? Like no one wants to do that you want to go work out? 

Steph Gaudreau
For sure. Yeah. And that’s a great point, how you can kind of weave those together and then continue to be aware of it. Yeah. As you’re moving through all of your movement. All this is fantastic. I’m wondering if you can, so one of the things you shot me via email was, and I always sort of like get crazy looks when I talk about this. So I’m hoping someone else can talk about it, so I don’t just sound like the only person. Why cutting back on exercise may actually get you better results?

Trish DaCosta
Oh, man. This is so good, because it’s something I really have to watch with my clients, but it’s something I did myself and I’m sure you did as well. I think every woman goes through this, where we think that in order to get a specific result. We have to just do more. So I have this growing up when I was younger all the way through college and after that. But I was like, Okay, I want to be more athletic. And I want to be like fit and have abs. So I was like, what do you do? Workout more.

So I would do like two a day workouts for six days a week. I mean, I love I love fitness that much where I enjoyed myself, but I was also trying to like, I was just overdoing it. And yeah, I was fit, I probably looked good from someone else’s point of view. But it wasn’t what I was aiming for. And so I never got the result that I wanted.

And I see this with my clients a lot, you know, they really start to get into it. And then before you know it, they’re working out like seven days a week, or they come and train with me, and they’re like, I’m going to yoga right after this. I’m like, Could you please slow down? You know. So I think the problem here is we think that more equals better. And maybe that’s a mainstream message that we learned or picked up in our younger years.

And we kind of just and we think that, you know, we read about a model or a celebrity or some athlete who’s like, well be trained like seven days a week, like for eight hours. That’s what I need to do if I want to look like that. And the problem is, no one ever corrects us, no one has ever said to me once been like, maybe you should actually work out less. No one’s ever said that to me.

So I am a huge advocate of when I do run into women who are like overdoing it or think they need more of like, Let’s do less, and see what happens. Because when you’re working out. So much like that you’re putting your body under stress, working out is stress, and it could be good stress. But when you’re overdoing it, you’re also creating, you know, you’re you’re creating more stress hormones, you are kind of pushing your body in a way, like your body just needs to recover anyway.

And if you’re never letting it recover, and you’re overdoing it, your body is in a constant state of inflammation, it’s constantly stressed out. So what I, I advise women in that case is like, let’s actually take a day. You know, if you’re working out five days a week, let’s change that to four days a week. And then let’s make sure that you’re getting high quality sleep, not just eight hours of sleep, because you can have crappy eight hours of sleep, but like the best quality that you can manage, and allow your body to heal, because that’s when your muscles actually grow.

That’s when your body actually changes is when you’re like sleeping and your body has a chance to regulate again and fix your muscles are not fixed, rather repair the muscles damage that you’ve done, the good damage, not the bad damage that you’ve done from working out. So goes back, I think to education, again, where we just really need to teach men and women that it’s not more that we need, we don’t need more cardio more workouts to achieve a result.

It’s really about doing things in a smarter way that makes sense for your goals, but also makes sense for where you’re at right now. Because not everyone is going to have the time or the energy to do six days a week of training for an hour and a half. Just, I mean you we have shit to do. Yeah, there’s things to be done. And it’s can’t just be about fitness. Like we have jobs and careers and maybe kids and family and a significant other. Like you want your, fitness style needs to work with your life. It shouldn’t be your life revolving around the fitness.

Steph Gaudreau
Mic drop. Yeah. I love how you summed that up. And yeah, I’m always sort of like, what’s the, what’s the best result I can get for the least amount of time that I’m investing, right? So making sure that it’s high quality that I’m challenging myself with, with the weight that I use. And that doesn’t mean that you know, I’m like, trying to pick up a 50 pound dumbbell over my head and like my shoulders all crazy.

And, you know, but sort of like if it if it’s if you’re finishing your sets, and you’re just like blah, blah, blah, you know, and there isn’t, you’re not fatigued, then. I mean, oh, that you need to be going crazy all the time. But it just it has to be that sort of like walking that edge. So like you said, you do get that, that repair. That’s when you build strength and you can just move on with all the things that you have to do. Because yeah, most people are not professional exercisers.

Trish DaCosta
Yeah, one thing I’d add to that too is that I think the high intensity movement, if you will, doing it and metabolic conditioning has been really great. In that respect. We’re we’ve almost like given people the permission to be like, actually, you don’t need to work out six or seven days a week. You could just do three or four days a week of like high intensity training, but that can cause just as much damage if we’re not treading lightly if you will.

We can’t be running or doing just high intensity work four or five times a week, for months and months at a time. And it’s like, we will get results. But at some point, maybe your body is going to reject that. And they actually are like, I need a break. And that could be multiple reasons. It could be the stressor from the workout from all that intensity, and then the life stressors that a normal person goes through.

So I think we just need to be more open minded to about the fact that our fitness, or how we fitness is going to change with our life with our lives and where we’re at with our lives. And we need to be a little more okay with that, because it’s normal. Like it’s not always going to be the same.

And I think you mentioned before we did we started recording was, you know, like, you’re not trying to lift the heaviest. Right now you’re doing jujitsu and like, you know, you have other priorities, you’re finishing a book, you’re doing all this all this stuff, like, heavy, like maybe your body just doesn’t have the time or the energy to put into like four days a week of like, HIIT style training.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, for sure. And it’s sort of like, what, what is the main focus? And I, I’m always, I’ve always been kind of a generalist in a lot of areas of my life where I just, you know, dabbled in this and that and done lots of different things. And, you know, for me to get on, like, let’s say, a, I don’t know, a five by five, or something that’s really, really structured or some other kind of like, you know, hatch squat program or something. Yeah, I mean, at this for me right now, the amount of focus and recovery that would take is just a little bit too much. So yeah, it is. You said it so well, right with making your workout fit your life. And,

Trish DaCosta
We need to play with that changing. I think we just like, get so caught up and like but but it used to work six years ago, like Well, you were a different person six years ago. Yeah. You had different demands six years ago.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely. I love that. All right. Well, we’re going to wrap it up there. I know you got your water heater guy coming back.

Trish DaCosta
I specifically said do not come at this time.

Steph Gaudreau
This is real life, everybody. So tell us where we can stay in touch with you? Where can people learn more about your programs, the things that you have going on, you write some really amazing articles, where can people find all that stuff? Thank you.

Trish DaCosta
Well, I write a weekly article on over my blog, it’s at barbellpilates.com. And if you sign up to my email list, you will get that every single week. So I send a little bit about the blog. But I also include, you know, either like a little mindset message or a little motivational message, or sometimes a really funny story with those emails. So definitely worth checking out.

If you want like day to day, I am on Instagram a lot that’s kind of like my little playground. And that’s at TrishDFit. So if you ever want to see like how I’m training my workouts, my tips, some Pilates things too. You can find me there.

And then it for people that are in that weightlifting space are active and they want to dip their toes in Pilates and or want to get started again and they’re not quite sure how to fit it into their lives. I do have an online course called Pilates Flow Quads. So like flow workout of the day, which you know, breaks down the fundamentals of Pilates based off like what you need for weightlifting and then little lessons that you can use as either a warmup or recovery.

So if you were have like a day where there’s a lot of overhead upper body work, there’s one on just shoulders, and there was one you know, you just wanted work on core strength, there’s one on core. And then once you’re done with those lessons, there are like four full length Pilates workouts, beginners to advanced some with props that you can do from home. So there’s that option too. I mean, I poured my heart into that course. I actually recorded at our gym across them for years. So awesome. Yeah, so that’s available.

Steph Gaudreau
It sounds amazing. And we’re gonna link all of that stuff in the show notes. So that folks can just go click from the show notes for this episode. So thanks for that. All this has been super fun. Thank you for coming on and lending us your perspective and your expertise and thanks for reaching out and for coming on Harder to Kill Radio Trish DaCosta, Barbell Pilates. Thank you.

Trish DaCosta
Thank you so much.

Steph Gaudreau
All right, there we go. Episode 179. With Trish DaCosta is in the books. Barbell Pilates. I know that this show is full of great information and hopefully gave you a jumping off point to consider how you can marry stability work and strength and get a little bit of both in your life because both are really important.

Make sure you get the show notes for this episode there at stephgaudreau.com. There you can find links. Everything Trish talked about, her programs, everything she’s doing in the world. And yes, a link to the Made Strong program because this week again, it’s my birthday is $40 for 40 sale. I’m turning 40.

So I’m doing something special to celebrate. And that is I am offering my Made Strong program for $40. So go check it out. Get in on that a simple way to build your strength, just like Trish is talking about in this episode today. And help me celebrate I would love to have you as part of that program. All right, I’ll see you on Friday for a solo episode of Fierce Love Friday. And until then, stay healthy, happy and harder to kill.

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Steph Gaudreau

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau (CISSN, NASM-CPT)!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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