Rolli Blog: Passion for Pilates

Article written for Rolli Blog by Roll Mobile App

Last year, Women’s Health Magazine set out on a nationwide search for the Next Fitness Star: a trainer with a fresh fitness philosophy, strong fitness aptitude, and a magnetic personality to help motivate and inspire people to get in the best shape of their lives. The campaign drew in thousands of applicants and was noted for its huge success in revitalizing fitness as something everyone could come to love and enjoy.

Meet this year’s 2014 next fitness star finalist, Katie Yip.  

Katie focuses on classical Pilates which remains as close as possible to Joseph Pilate’s original work regarding exercise positions and order of execution. Pilates emphasizes strength with stretch and control particularly via the lengthening of the body in opposite directions. It teaches the use of the core and serves as a good foundation for stability and precise yet flexible movement. “Often times, the spine and the body undergo compression throughout the day as we go about our daily tasks. Pilates helps to stretch and realign the body which drastically improves proper circulation and overall health,” Katie says. “Because Pilates is a solid foundation for fitness, coordination, and full range of movement, it acts as a great compliment for the conditioning of any other sport.” As a contestant, she aims to empower everyone through exercise so they can become the strongest version of themselves, and to inspire others by sharing the teachings and philosophies of the Pilates method.

Katie began her training with Chris Robinson at SSC Gym in San Diego, and then completed her apprenticeship under Brooke Siler and Cary Regan at re:AB Pilates in NYC. She is a graduate of the University of California San Diego where she earned her BS in Physiology & Neuroscience. Katie is currently a Masters Candidate in Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. Her post graduation plans involve returning to the Bay Area and opening up her own Pilates studio while promoting awareness of the benefits of Pilates.

Check out her website or vote for her here in support of the next fitness star!

The Importance of Fitness Experimentation

When most people ask me about fitness and nutrition, they ask me to tell them exactly what they need to do to transform their bodies. They want a plan with simple rules that they can seamlessly implement into their everyday lives. In essence, they want to know what to do without knowing the why. The problem with this approach is that it creates dependency on a protocol that isn't always functional or viable in the long-term. Who really enjoys drinking juice for seven days straight? And how realistic is it to have your life revolve around extreme workouts and restrictive diets?

Research continues to affirm that exercise and diet have a protective effect against disease -- we know it's good for us. This information is a powerful motivator by itself, but beyond enjoying the health benefits of exercise, I choose to embrace an active and healthy lifestyle because it gives me the ownership over my own life. There are many aspects of life that we have little or no control over, but nutrition and exercise are among the few in which our own decisions can greatly influence the quality of our lives. Our bodies are our own, and we can choose to nourish them with food and movement that make us feel good. The outcome of our actions are contingent on our choices as individuals, and it is our personal responsibility to make well-informed decisions when it comes to our health.

If you don't understand what you're doing, you're more likely to continue riding the fad-diet/exercise bandwagon, hopping on and off with results coming as quickly as they go. If you are genuinely interested in making real changes, make it your mission to be fully committed to your beliefs and personal philosophies. Often times you will realize that what you were initially doing was right all along, yet you abandoned it for the latest fad because you lacked the confidence. If we understand the reasoning behind our actions, we are more inclined to make better, more sustainable choices that inevitably create a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

In the time that it takes you to read this blog, there are going to be hundreds of new articles about the latest diet and exercise trends, but they may or may not be the right answers to your questions. Strength coach Dean Somerset duly noted that, "there is no system holding fitness professionals accountable for what they say and the advice they give," and they can say what they want without any repercussion. With that in mind, I encourage you to invest a little time to educate yourself, do some research, and understand how to separate the credible information from the unsound. Question any statement before accepting it as a truth. Seek out credible sources, learn from them, and try out the principles that resonate the most with you -- I call for every one of us to self-experiment!

Above scientific theory or any professional opinion, your own real world results are what ultimately matter. Embrace the evidence, but also consider personal results when it comes to finding the right formula for you. We all have unique DNA blueprints and respond differently to training programs and dietary interventions; there is no instant fix nor a one-size-fits-all solution for transformation.

We must do more than blindly follow -- we must question, assess, apply, and modify as needed to suit our individual situations. Authentic transformation happens, both externally and internally, by getting to know yourself and figuring out what works and doesn't work -- you know yourself better than anyone else does.

How to Self-Experiment:

  1. Eliminate or add items to your dietary and/or exercise plan for at least one month.
  2. Evaluate your progress qualitatively by analyzing how you look and feel.
  3. Resume with or remove the items one at a time to assess how each item affected you.
  4. Continue incorporating the variables that were successful while avoiding the ones that weren't.
  5. Repeat this process and refine as necessary. There is always room for improvement. Never stop learning about yourself, and enjoy the process!

The essence of jeet kune do: 1. Research your own experience. 2. Absorb what is useful. 3. Reject what is useless. 4. Add what is specifically your own. -- Bruce Lee

Vote for Katie Yip for Women's Health magazine's Next Fitness Star competition at

Click here for access to original article at The Huffington Post

Meet the Next Fitness Star: Katie Yip (Part I)

Interview with Grace Kim from Lean Girls Club

"Women’s Health is in search of the Next Fitness Star and this week is the final week to vote. While there are many excellent candidates, I’ve already cast my vote for Katie Yip. Katie is a NYC-based pilates instructor who teaches at Pilates Challenge on the Upper East Side. This weekend I had a private pilates session scheduled with Katie, but before that I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her personal fitness and health journey. Even before meeting, her answers won me over. Katie is smart (she’s earning her Master’s in kinesiology and exercise physiology), passionate, and charming. I can’t wait to share how our workout went, but for now get to know your Next Fitness Star, Katie Yip." 

1.     Why is health and fitness important to you? 

Health and fitness is important to me because a) the research continues to affirm the prophylactic effect of exercise on health and longevity, and b) because it gives me a sense of ownership over my own life. There are many aspects of life that we have little to no control over, but nutrition and exercise are among the few where our own decisions can greatly influence the quality of our individual lives. Our bodies are our own, and we can choose to nourish our bodies with food and movement that make us feel good. 

My ultimate goal is to become the best version of myself — physically, mentally, and emotionally — and to be better and stronger than I was the day before. Although I cannot always measure internal growth, Pilates (and other types of exercise!) is the most tangible way for me to evaluate my own physical progress. 

2.     Many Lean Girls Club readers have a hard time fitting a workout into their busy schedules. What is your go-to workout for someone who has less than an hour? 

Exercise is cumulative. Exercise doesn’t have to be performed in an hour segment, it’s entirely possible to break up exercise throughout the day and still reap the benefits from it. For example, take the stairs or do some body-weight squats before lunch. It doesn’t matter when or where physical activity is performed, it’s a matter of taking responsibility for yourself and your health and making the time to incorporate little pieces of movement throughout the day. 

Interval training, which can be completed in 15 minutes, is another excellent option for a fast and highly effective workout. Interval training is an exercise method that uses alternating periods of work and rest. This type of training can be done with simple body weight exercises, and induces a similar and perhaps elevated cardiovascular response sans equipment. If I’m doing this kind of workout, I  like to perform 4 exercises that consist of the 4 athletic movements: run, jump, push, and pull. I’ll perform each exercise for one minute with 15 seconds of rest in between, and then repeat this for a total of three rounds. 

3.     What is your favorite go-to healthy meal or snack? What fuels you when you’re on the go? 

My favorite go-to healthy meal is grilled salmon (cooked with lemon/salt/pepper) with brown rice, and a side salad of romaine lettuce, avocado, shredded carrots, and tomatoes with olive oil and salt. When I’m on the go, I’ll usually pack a few hard boiled eggs or a quest bar. If I didn’t pack anything I’ll go to the supermarket and purchase foods such as a can of sardines, a whole avocado, or kombucha. 

4.     What is one tip you would give all Lean Girls to looking and feeling their best selves? Call it a healthy mantra or words to live by if you will…

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” - Aristotle 

I think this quote is so important because it encapsulates what I feel women should do before embarking on any health/fitness journey. There’s always going to be latest trends in diet and exercise, but those trends may not necessarily be the right solution for you, your goals, and your lifestyle. People respond differently to different types of training and dietary programs - importantly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for transformation. Instead of blindly adhering to specific protocols, I believe in understanding what those protocols call for by doing your own research and self-experimenting. Authentic transformation happens, externally and internally, by learning what works and doesn’t work for your individual body. Importantly, embrace the research but also consider real world results to find the right formula unique to you. 

5.     If we were to look in your purse, what is one thing that we’d be surprised to find? 

Golf ball. In between clients or classes, I’ll use a golf ball as a foam roller to massage the muscles of my hip and the bottom of my foot. I always try to be as productive as possible with my time…time is valuable! :)

The Unedited Version of Katie Yip

Prior to the video shoot, Women's Health asked me to fill out a questionnaire to get to know me a little better. And what better way for everyone else to get the full/unedited version of me and what I stand for than by sharing my answers to these questions. Take a look! 

1) What is your fitness background?

My interest in fitness started when I was a kid. I was always involved in some sort of physical activity from soccer to martial arts. While in college, I pursued my interest in exercise and the human body by majoring in physiology and neuroscience and by working at an exercise physiology laboratory studying metabolism. After college, I had a brief stint in the biotechnology industry, but realized it wasn’t for me and decided to devote myself to my Pilates training. 

2) What would you consider your “training philosophy” or your approach to fitness?

My training philosophy focuses on mastering basic fitness before diving into skill intensive sports. When I say “basic fitness” I’m referring to quality movement patterns which require core stability, full range of motion in the joints, motor control, balance, posture, coordination, and movement without pain. The modern day sedentary lifestyle is ubiquitous, and in an attempt to counteract it, we engage in highly technical activities such as CrossFit or marathons without a fundamental foundation of movement and general fitness. Low quality movement can’t be solved with aggressive physical training, and building a set of intricate skills on dysfunction compromises performance and increases risk of injury. I have found that Pilates is one of the best platforms that creates a solid foundation with which other modalities of exercise can be built upon. 

3) What is your motivation for exercising?

I initially began doing Pilates for purely aesthetic reasons — mostly because I read that celebrities and models were incorporating Pilates into their workout routines and getting exceptional results in only a few weeks. However, the more I worked out, the more I started to like the length I felt from the spring resistance and the victories of performing exercises to near perfection. I started to view working out not as part of my daily grind, but more as a game I enjoyed playing.

Nowadays, my motivation to continue Pilates is primarily achievement oriented. Every time I do a workout I test myself to see if I was better than I was the previous workout: “Did I perform the “teaser” without moving my legs?” “Did I do an advanced reformer workout in under 50 minutes?”. My motivation to continue working out has shifted towards one that is more task driven. My ultimate goal is to become the best version of myself in all facets of life, and to be better and stronger than I was the day before. It’s difficult gauge progress on all aspects of life, but Pilates is the most tangible way for me to hold myself accountable for my own physical progress. 

4) Why are you doing this?

I think this is a unique opportunity to brand myself and to showcase the original Pilates method. Pilates is often misunderstood by the general public and the scientific community because it’s been misrepresented by the media and because it hasn’t really been scientifically studied. For example, the assumption that Pilates is just stretching and ballet is completely inaccurate. Pilates workouts will vary depending on the individual - it can be slow because it’s a workout driven by precision and technique, but the goal is to be able to perform the exercises dynamically while maintaining that technique. Additionally, people within the scientific community have made false claims about the method simply because they don’t understand it. I hope to be able to dispel those claims and show people the original Pilates method developed by Joseph Pilates. 

5) People should vote for me for the following reasons:

Academic education: I earned by BS in Physiology & Neuroscience at UC-San Diego, a university known for its academic rigor in the sciences. I also am currently a MA candidate in Kinesiology & Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. Because of my academic background, I employ evidence-based practice and give my clients results backed by science. 

Pilates education: My Pilates training transpired in a very organic way. My first “unofficial” apprenticeship with my teacher Chris Robinson didn’t consist of a strict curriculum or text book reading, but rather one that required me to take initiative of my own learning. Chris would provide me with the knowledge and guidance, but I had to show him that I was genuinely interested in learning the method and becoming a Pilates teacher. In exchange for a nominal fee, he gave me keys to his gym and I was allowed to come in at all hours to use the equipment, observe him teach, and ask questions. One of the most important concepts Chris instilled in me is understanding how the work feels in your body — and you have to workout. Pilates is very technical but it's also very experiential, and to be able to teach someone a set of skills, a good teacher must understand how it works and feels in his or her own body.

My second apprenticeship with Brooke Siler was also one that aimed to develop a teacher naturally. She avoided creating cookie-cutter teachers because she fostered a learning environment conducive to the individual becoming a good teacher. You couldn’t pass the certification just by reading the manual or reiterating cues word-for-word. She made sure you understood the method, knew how to read the body you were teaching, knew how to explain it to someone, and most importantly, connect with a client and earn their trust. You wouldn’t pass unless you had her stamp of approval. My training is unique and unconventional. I didn’t go through a certification program and just pass the requirements, I had to go above and beyond, and commit to my training to earn the respect and approval of my teachers.  

I never stop learning: I work out 2-3 hours a day 5x/week from Pilates to strength training to make sure that I understand how it feels in my own body. I stay up to date with the current literature in the field of Pilates and exercise by reading books and studies. And importantly, I understand the context of papers I read and how to interpret and apply research into clinical application. 

I genuinely want to improve the quality of living of people: Pilates is more than just exercise, it empowers people through physical independence by teaching people to take responsibility for themselves. It gives people a sense of control over their own lives. To be able to tell your body what to do and have it listen to you is a powerful feeling. It has given me the confidence to achieve whatever I set out to accomplish because I am no longer confined by my body’s limitations. 

6) What is your view on nutrition?

Nutrition is very important in my daily regimen and my friends refer to me as a relentless self-experimenter when it comes to diet. I’ve always been interested in how my body reacts to diet so I’ve experimented with various diets such as the conventional American diet of high carbohydrate and low fat, Paleo, ketogenic, dairy-free, gluten-free etc. Nutritional sciences is not binary, it's complex and will vary from person to person - so my advice is to figure out what works best for you and your own lifestyle.

I set aside time on Sundays to prepare meals for the rest of the week. And if I run out of time preparing food or am hungry, I'll go to the grocery store and buy whole/unprocessed foods that I can eat such as a can of sardines, an avocado, nuts, etc. My second passion is manipulating conventionally unhealthy foods into healthier foods that use whole ingredients. My instagram is filled with recipes that I have created such as 3 ingredient healthy waffles, french toast, etc. 

When it comes to weight loss, consistency is essential. If you’re only exercising once a week because you hate your training routine, you’re not going to lose weight. In my opinion, I feel that it’s important to find an activity you love and do it often, and then let your nutrition navigate the weight loss.