Get More Out of Every Workout with a Mind-Muscle Connection

Mind-Muscle Connection

Get More Out of Every Workout with a Mind-Muscle Connection

By Dominic Pereira

By now we all know that our brain is in charge of everything our body does and feels. It helps us think, walk, sit, talk, pick up items, etc. So it makes sense that your mind is able to improve the way you work out and help you increase muscle strength; aka having a mind-muscle connection.

What is a Mind-Muscle Connection?

According to

“As you know, movement is controlled by the brain. The first step towards muscular contraction is a signal sent by the brain to your muscles telling them to contract. You might say that the mind-muscle connection (MMC) occurs at something called the “neuromuscular junction”. This is where the mind meets the body. The brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter called “acetylcholine” to communicate with muscles in the body.

When acetylcholine is released at the neuromuscular junction it crosses the “synapses” (the tiny space that separates the nerve from the muscle) where it binds to receptors on the surface of muscle fibers. Voila, muscle contraction.” [sic]

Neuromuscular activation is a well-known term often used by physical therapists when they are helping people with injuries strengthen their mind-muscle connection. According to Wellwood Health, “This brain to muscle connection happens naturally within the neuromuscular system when the nervous system (neural) and the muscular system (muscular) are working together effectively.”

In conclusion, the mind-muscle connection is merely focusing your thoughts on the muscle you are using during your workout whether it’s lifting weights, Yoga, Pilates, etc. to ensure you increase the muscle fibres used; allowing for a better quality workout.

“…almost like ‘flexing’ without actually making any large body movements.”

Alan Snyder, DPT, owner of Breakaway Physical Therapy.

interaction between nerves and muscle fibres
Image Credit: COR

The figure above displays the interaction between nerves and muscle fibres.

Benefits of a Mind-Muscle Connection

  • Better form – as you’re focusing on the movement, you’ll reduce your chances of obtaining an injury.
  • Enhanced performance – since you are focusing on your form and properly executing the movement, you’ll be more in tune with your body’s ability to either push harder or ease off.
  • Great stress relieving method – as you’re focusing on the workout, it can help you forget about things causing you stress (even if it’s just for an hour).

How to Effectively Develop a Mind-Muscle Connection

Here are a few tips and tricks to help develop a mind-muscle connection:

1. Clear Your Mind

In order to fully focus on your workout and your form, you have to try and clear your mind of unrelated thoughts, like your to-do list. This will allow you to fully connect with your body during your chosen workout.

2. Focus on Your Form

According to SkinnyMs., proper form is not just for creating an effective mind-muscle connection; it’s crucial to ensure you reduce the risk of injuring yourself during your workout.

If you’re focusing on the muscle you’re working on, you’ll notice if your form starts slipping or if you’re doing the exercise too quickly to really feel it working.

3. Gain Strength From Inside

According to Sheer Balance, by focusing on the strength you have inside, you’ll start to understand the deeper framework within your body and start correcting its imbalances, misalignments, etc.

“If we can manipulate our bodies with our minds, we can correct misalignments and unhealthy posture, balance muscle groups making sports or daily activities easier, safer, and more enjoyable, and we can remember how to feel the strength of our body and all that it’s capable of doing.”

4. Slow It Down

According to, by performing exercises slower than usual, you’ll be able to concentrate on the movement and which muscles are being contracted. It will help visualise the muscles you are using. And if you’re unsure where certain muscles are, try researching them before your workouts to know where to feel the contraction.

5. Warmup Properly

Important for any type of workout or movement, warming up the body remains essential in order to properly wake up your muscles and ensure they are warm enough for a great workout.

For instance, if your focus is on your legs for a specific workout, doing small, unweighted squats, hip bridges, etc. beforehand will get them warmed up, allowing you to know exactly which muscles are working during your exercises.

6. Eccentric Exercises

According to My Fitness Pal, performing eccentric exercises will ensure your muscles are properly stretched before contracting. Eccentric contraction is when you slowly lower yourself or weights to really help you focus on the movement and ensure your muscles are working optimally.

The bottom line? There are immense benefits when slowing down and focusing your mind on your movements. You’ll be able to increase strength without having to start using heavy weights or additional equipment.

Looking for a way to stay fit and healthy at home? Rent or buy one of our pre-recorded, edited videos. Our library has a selection of Pilates (and Pilates Stretch), HIIT, and Yoga classes, which you can easily join from the comfort of your home. Start taking action to ensure you have your healthiest body and mind. Get in touch to make your booking or join an IN Studio class

Why Join Live Online Movement Classes?

Live Classes | moveOn 89 | Pilates | Yoga | Wellness

Why Join Live Online Movement Classes?

By Dominic Pereira

Why do Live Online Movement Classes?

That’s a good question. The web is filled with loads of free content that you can watch and use at your leisure. So why sign up for a live class?

As a studio owner and movement enthusiast I can only speak from my own experience and share how our live classes have worked during lockdown to keep our clients healthy, sane and strong!

I have been so impressed and honoured by our clients’ commitment to showing up on the virtual mat daily. Some keen beans even TWICE a day. Most of the regulars are doing at least one class a day, whereas in the days of IN studio classes most people did only one or two classes a week. Others have taken up HIIT for the first time and are happy to find that instead of it being scary and murder, it’s just murder! ha! Jokes, if you’ve never tried a HIIT, it’s 30mins well spent. Read our blog on the benefits of HIIT here.

We’ve had Movers from Paris, London, Lisbon, Colorado, Wilderness, Mpumalanga, Maritzburg, Cape Town and Ballito join us – just shows the beauty and blessing of this technology. All are welcome 😀

How an Online Movement Class Can Help You

This enforced STAYcation, known as Lockdown, might have caused some to lose the ability to move and quite possibly their marbles too, but a streaming live class forced others to make a commitment to a specified time when they booked their spot, and show up.

You show up because you’ve paid and the teacher is waiting for you. And you get to wave hello to other faces from around the globe or around the corner. In this way, we stay connected and the live experience makes us feel, just that, alive. We might still be in a virtual world but it’s happening in real-time which is refreshing in a time of so much fakeness and the inability to identify with a buff, half-dressed trainer. Which creates a lack of meaningful contact. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch and then you need real people that you can identify with!

There are lots of online movement options out there. YouTube alone has a gazillion videos. According to MerchDope, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over five billion videos are watched by users a day!

Please use these videos if you can’t afford live classes. Just choose well 🙂

Benefits of Live Online Workout Classes

In a nutshell, these are the benefits of live online classes…

Personal Connection

The difference between our live streaming classes and pre-recorded videos are two things:

  1. The personal connection in this disconnected period. We have a relationship and therefore a trust and we can connect in class, say hello, smile at one another, and then get down to the business of good movement.
  2. The added attention despite the lack of eyes on your body: Your teacher will check-in at the beginning of every class and if there is a sore knee, shoulder or heart that we need to be aware of we try to address that during the class.

Beat Boredom

You’re home, bored, frustrated, the days are melting one into the other – Groundhog Day. After day. After day. But with a class booked into your schedule, you have something to do, to show up for. And not just something – but movement – the best gift, other than good nutrition and sleep, that you can give your body. Especially now that we have all this free time, it’s the perfect opportunity to improve your health.


You are able to see and interact with others at a time when many are feeling isolated and cut off.

Form a Healthy Habit

You will end up doing more classes than you would on your own because you’re now part of a community and it becomes a habit very quickly once you schedule it in and show up. A good habit. And wow, do we need more of those!

Instant Access

Access to your favourite class is at your fingertips. So no matter where in the world you are, if your time zone corresponds, or you don’t mind doing Pilates at 2 am! ha! So when you’re travelling (yes, that will happen again!), for work or pleasure you can still keep up with your fitness regime and your connection to your local studio.


Live online classes are generally more affordable than IN studio sessions since you aren’t getting personal attention from an instructor.

Build a Routine

Another beauty of working out at home is that exercise becomes less of a chore, which you resent and avoid, but it’s now part of your life and your home and your routine. You have seen how easy it is to exercise anywhere, all you need is a mat. You’ll continue to learn a lot even though you don’t have a teacher standing over you. With some guidance – you CAN do this!

You Can Choose

Post lockdown, when studios are open, you can do a combo of IN studio and live streaming, as we will continue streaming all our classes. This means that if you’re running late for a class or out of town, you can still do it from the comfort of your lounge or hotel room.

Our mantra for this loco lockdown is: Whether together or apart, let’s stay connected 💞

Please join us for live online HIIT, Pilates, Yoga, and Stretch sessions! Your first class is free, which is great if you’re not sure about the online experience but want to give it a try. Moving daily will definitely make your body feel amazing but it will ALSO get the endorphins flowing freely making that decision to be in a good mood so much easier.

We encourage you to join as many classes as you can. We have made the fees wallet-friendly as we know that it’s tough right now but we also know that our collective wellness is vital.

A Few Words From Our Streaming Community

At the end of the day the proof is in the pudding (no, don’t eat pudding!), the proof is in the human experience. This is what our regular streamers, have had to say:

“Thank you for the breath of fresh air you bring to my day when I attend your class.”

“The silver lining of this strange time is that Allison introduced me to Moveon89. If / when I come back to Cape Town I will definitely come to meet you in person, for a big hug.”

“I am really loving the stretch classes and find them super beneficial at the moment! I also really appreciate your positivity, the classes really set me up for a great day!”

“I have so appreciated the streaming sessions, they have been an absolute godsend in these times!”

“Hellooooo- you are such a light in these dark times- feel so much better after the workout.”

“Just want to say thank you so much for these online classes – it is amazing how every class has been exactly what I need on the day!!”

“so good to move, dearest. Thank you xxxx”

“thanks so much for these Pilates sessions. we are enjoying them together as a couple. And my body is feeling great.”

“I had forgotten how much I loooooooove your classes!!! So good to be active on the mat, even only once a week and with kids crying behind the door!”

“thank you for keeping us connected and moving. not once have you shown fatigue or fear – you are always smiling and ready to rock.”

“I loved our session and it made me realise how much I need to move…. looking forward to another class soon.”

“thanks for today. feeling amazeballs. I adapt where you recommend and don’t push beyond my limit…”

“…my core is so fired up now I could paddle the bay!”

9 Pilates Exercises for a Stronger Core

Pilates for stronger core | moveOn 89

9 Pilates Exercises for a Stronger Core

By Dominic Pereira

The much talked about core is not just about strong abs. It’s about having a balance between strength and flexibility and the ability to stabilise your pelvic and shoulder girdle when needed. With weak abdominal and shoulder girdle muscles, your balance is thrown off and you have poor posture.

As they say, abs are formed in the kitchen, but exercise still comes into play. This is where workouts like Pilates come into focus. What is Pilates? Pilates is a series of low-impact exercises to help strengthen your stabilising and mobilising muscles while simultaneously working on your posture and flexibility. These exercises do involve a lot of abdominals or core, as it’s known, so you’ll definitely feel your abs work with every move!

So for those really wanting to do the good old ab workouts, there are tons of abdominal exercises in Pilates, ranging from mountain climbers to leg circles to criss-cross movements (not just planks), all available for you to strengthen your abs. But more than that Pilates is about creating body awareness and in so doing it helps you to understand where you are in space, to control your movements, and hence move better.

Benefits of a Strong and Balanced Core

Although having a six-pack is most people’s ultimate goal, a strong “Core” is so much more beneficial than merely to be shown off on the beach. Having a strong “Core” helps:

With everyday activities like standing still or simply sitting on a chair. You might not always notice, but with small acts like these, you still make use of your abdominal muscles.
With jobs that require you to lift boxes, twist your body or simply walking.
With balancing your body and providing stability. With a stronger “Core”, your body is able to stand still without letting you fall over on the spot.
With better posture. When your stabilising and postural muscles are weak, your body will start to slouch. It also helps prevent wear and tear on your spine, which can later lead to serious back issues.

9 Pilates Exercises for a Stronger “Core”

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of having a strong “Core”, add the following moves into your workout routine to achieve the true “Core” as we define it.

For best results, do each move for 30 seconds (if you’re a total beginner) and once you’re stronger, aim for one minute.

1. Leg Circles

How to do Leg Circles:

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Palms facing up to open your shoulders or down, if more comfortable.
 Place your left foot on the floor by bending your left knee.
 Stretch out your right leg until it’s perpendicular to the floor.
 Form a circle with your right leg by moving it out to the side, then down to your mat, then return to the starting position with your leg straight. Make the circles only as big as you can maintain a stable pelvis and prevent your back from arching.
 Reverse the circle.
 Repeat the movement on one leg for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

2. Single or Double-Leg Stretches

With this movement, you can decide between performing single or double-leg stretches depending on your strength level.

How to do Single Leg Stretches:

Lie on your back and bring both of your knees to your chest.
Place both hands on your shins and curl your head up so that it’s off the floor.
Inhale, then slowly extend on leg straight out at a time. Alternate between left and right.
Ensure you keep your lower back pressed against the floor and your abdominals engaged.

How to do Double-Leg Stretches:

Lie on your back and bring both of your knees to your chest.
Place both hands on your shins and curl your head up so that it’s off the floor.
Inhale, then slowly extend both legs straight out at a 45-degree angle. While extending your legs, extend your arms next to your ears.
Exhale, then bring your arms back down to the starting position and hug your shins.
Remember to breathe throughout the exercise and keep your shoulders from touching the mat.

3. Criss-Cross / Bicycles

How to do Criss-Crosses:

Lie with your back on the floor, bringing your knees in towards your chest.
Curl your head up off the floor, place your hands behind your head, and keep your elbows wide.
Start by bringing your right knee in and rotating your left shoulder to the knee, while simultaneously extending your left leg.
Alternate sides for one minute.
Remember to engage your abdominals by drawing them into your spine and keeping your lower back pressed into the mat.

4. The Hundreds

The Hundred | Pilates for stronger core | moveOn 89

How to do The Hundreds:

Lie on your back, palms facing the floor.
Lift both your legs straight up towards the ceiling, then lower to a 45-degree angle.
Lift your head and arms up off the floor, keeping your arms straight alongside your body.
Inhale for five counts while pumping your arms up and down in short, quick movements. Exhale for five counts.
Hold this position while repeating the breathing pattern for about 10 counts.

5. Roll-Ups

How to do Roll-Ups:

Lie with your back on the floor and extend your arms towards the ceiling.
Exhale then curl your chin inwards to your chest, and roll up into a sitting position. Reach your arms to your feet.
Exhale and roll back to the ground. Imagine rolling back one vertebra at a time.
Try to control the movement without jerking your body up or down.

6. Mountain Climbers

When doing these mountain climbers, try to do them in slow motion, as if you are in the water.

How to do Mountain Climbers:

Start with your body in a high plank, hands underneath your shoulders.
Exhale and bring one knee to your chest. Slowly alternate between legs.
Remember to engage your core, and avoid your hips from rocking side to side.

7. Plank to Push-Up

How to do Plank to Push-Up:

Start by standing upright. Slowly roll down to the floor until your hands are on the floor.
Walk forward with your hands until you’re in a high plank position.
Lower your body by tucking your elbows into your ribs.
Straighten your arms as you push back up.
Walk your hands back to your feet and slowly roll back up to standing position. That’s one rep.
Repeat for one minute.

8. Hip Rolls/Pendulum

How to do Hip Rolls/Pendulum:

Start by laying on your back, extend your arms out to your sides until you form a T shape.
Bend both knees until your legs are in a 90-degree angle, with your feet off the floor.
Slowly let your pelvis and legs roll to the left whilst keeping the opposite shoulder down. Make sure your abdominals are engaged.
Return to the starting position and repeat on the left.
Repeat for one minute.

9. Plank Leg Lifts

How to do Plank Leg Lifts:

Begin in a high plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders.
Keeping your core tight, lift one leg off the floor. Lift the leg only to hip or shoulder height and keep your pelvis stable.
Repeat on the other leg.
Perform this exercise for one minute.

10. Bonus Move for Your Obliques

Hip Lifts

How to do Hip Lifts:

Start in a side elbow plank. Place your right elbow under your right shoulder and bend your knees, stacking your hips, knees, and feet.
Slowly lift your hips off the floor, pressing off your forearm as you exhale and then lower.
Repeat ten times, then switch.

With these moves, you can easily start to strengthen your “Core” to help ensure your body is able to handle all the tasks you perform daily in both your work and personal life.

Rediscover movement in its purest form and allow your body the freedom it once had as a child. Using the tools of Pilates, Yoga, Barre, and HIIT we encourage you to play, bend, twist, jump, roll, laugh, be precise, be silly, be imperfect, laugh, stretch, unroll, soften, and laugh some more. Get in touch to book a class at our studio.

Pilates for the Uninitiated

Pilates Explained | moveOn 89 Pilates | Yoga | Wellness

Pilates for the Uninitiated

By Dominic Pereira

So you’ve been to the physio and been told: “You have a weak core”. You reply: “My what is what?” 

Physio: “Your abdominals are lazy.”
“Shocking! Well, how do I get them active?”, you retort.
The physio has a single word answer for you: “Pilates.”

“Pah .. what?”, you ask.
“Pi-laa-tees,” the physio repeats. 

As soon as you leave the practice you Google “What is Pilates?”, and after reading a few articles you have a vague idea and so your next search is “Pilates for dummies”.  Only joking, your next search is specific,  “Pilates Studios Cape Town” and still you drill deeper, “Pilates studios Gardens” 

You’re serious about taking charge of your weak and indolent core and whipping those lazy abs into hardworking, self-respecting muscles!


And so your journey into the unknown world of Pilates begins.

You opt for a private session with a reputable and recommended Pilates teacher. In your first session, you learn that your backache and sore hip are the results of poor movement patterns, the overuse of muscles designed for global movement, and the underuse of muscles designed for local stabilization. 

And now you’re even more confused. But she’s patient and explains further.

Your framework, better known as your skeleton, forms your body’s structural integrity. These beautiful bones are held in place by soft tissue structures, of which the stabilizing or postural muscles are vital. These are the muscles that hold the skeleton while the movement muscles move it. 

Pilates focuses on training the brain and body to connect. This is initially done using small, controlled movements to teach your muscles to fire by laying down new neural pathways. This motion will strengthen your muscles and create optimal movement patterns. 

In turn, this will improve posture, breathing, digestion, joint health, and many other physiological benefits.

These mindful movements are reminiscent of meditation and have the added benefit of releasing stress. 

You cannot think about renewing your car license, outstanding kids school projects, or what to make for dinner, while maintaining equal weight across your sacrum as you rotate your left femur in your hip joint! 

After a few Pilates sessions, your mind/body connection will start to fire and the movements will feel more familiar. That’s when the fun starts. 

Initially, beginners need to lay a foundation of new neural pathways and develop integral strength. From there they can quickly move on to more complex movement patterns and more challenging exercises.

But, Pilates isn’t just a form of exercise. At its core, it’s a new language and way of thinking and being. It can literally change the way you see the world because it changes the way you see yourself. 

When you become conscious of your body (that sought after “body awareness” state), you will not only know where you are in space (proprioception), but it will translate to how you move. It will also instil the need to hold yourself with more structural integrity. 

Your improved posture will, in turn, translate to a sense of pride. When we hold our head up high and lengthen our spines, we feel strong, earthed, and proud in our bodies, hearts, and minds. 

“Body reflects mind and mind reflects body.”

As we recognize this reciprocal relationship we are able to draw on our newfound physical strength to feel better about ourselves. We gain a sense of well-being which we want to maintain and grow. So we feed that which serves us and let go of those things that don’t. 

And the beautiful interplay between body and mind becomes a dance of balance and rhythm that we strive to keep in flight.

Nuts ‘n bolts - How Pilates Works

Pilates can be done in private sessions or group classes on the mat, using a myriad of small props, lotions, and potions. 

I’m joking; there are no lotions or potions involved. (Unless your teacher is also a qualified physio or massage therapist of course!) 

Props encompass various yoga balls, magic (not really) circles, resistance bands and tubing, weights, yoga blocks, balance pads and more. Pilates equipment is also used in group classes or private sessions.

You will also come across scary and interesting terms like “The Reformer”, “Cadillac”, “Trapeze Table”, “Wunda Chair”, “Exo Chair”, “Ladder Barrel”, “Arc” and “Baby Arc’. It’s truly a weird and wonderful world. 

At the end of the day, all the props are tools used to teach and facilitate good movement. The intention is to get to know your body through coordinated movement. To learn to move with efficiency, control, and balance. And then to move often. 

We now know that prolonged sitting is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies – worse than smoking! (yip, Google it). It’s all about avoiding sustained positions. Change, adjust, move, get up, walk around, sit, stand, lie down.

“Body reflects mind and mind reflects body.”

When you go back to your physio in a month or two, you will be able to report back that not only is your transversus abdominis working optimally, but your psoas has lengthened, glutes have strengthened, serratus is firing, patella are tracking better, and your TFL and ITB are happier. 

And so are you.

Are you looking for a Pilates studio in Gardens, Cape Town? Then book your first session with moveOn 89. 

We use cookies to track visitors, measure ads, ad campaign effectiveness and analyze site traffic. We may also share information about your use of our site with 3rd parties. For more info, see, our Cookies Policy, our Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept All” you agree to the storing of all cookies on your device. In case you don’t choose one of these options and use our website, we will treat it as if you have accepted all cookies.

We use cookies to track visitors, measure ads, ad campaign effectiveness and analyze site traffic. We may also share information about your use of our site with 3rd parties. For more info, see, our Cookies Policy, our Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept All” you agree to the storing of all cookies on your device. In case you don’t choose one of these options and use our website, we will treat it as if you have accepted all cookies.