Interview with a Pilates Instructor and Wellness Lifestyle Consultant

This week's fitness professional is Frances Darnell, a Brooklyn resident and owner of Dynamic Core, her private practice as a Pilates and Wellness Lifestyle Consultant. Fran specializes in prenatal and postpartum fitness and works with women in preparation for pregnancy, through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. She loves working with women helping them feel empowered in their body. She sees people of all fitness levels to help deepen their connection to their body, rehabilitate the abdominals, balance pelvic strength with Pilates and Yoga for the pelvis, and improve their well being from the inside out. For the past six months, Fran has been working with Jessica during her pregnancy - playing a large role in Jessica's running health as the belly expands and her body changes. Thank you, Fran!

Why do you like working with runners?
I love working with runners because I love helping them tap into their core strength when running. I know from my personal experience how Pilates helped to transform my running. Running puts a lot of impact on your feet, legs and hips. I help my clients unwind tension in their body, increase flexibility, and learn how to engage their abdominals to support themselves on a deeper level. I love supporting my clients in reaching their goals whether they are just discovering their inner athlete, running for cardio or training for their next big race. Pilates is such a supportive practice for running and I love being able to teach my clients tools for feeling better in their body and improving their performance.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take the time to warm up with dynamic movements before and stretch after running. It is so important to prime your body so that you are able to engage your muscles mindfully and feel more connected with every stride. Also taking the time to stretch and release tension afterwards will keep your body feeling free. In particular make sure to take care of your psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is a deep core muscle that supports your every stride and when you don't take care of it can lead to tension and imbalances in your body. Practice gentle passive stretching and releases - it will make a big difference in your running and how you move through your everday!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Pilates is my go to fitness activity. I can practice the exercises anywhere I bring my mat. I love how my body feels stretched long and balanced after Pilates. It is also a great way for me to stay conditioned for all of the activities I like to do. I am a big fan of doing cross-training and getting outside to workout whenever I can. I love surfing during the summer. Other fitness activities I do to get a good sweat are to run, cycle, swim and practice some yoga. And I always love to go dancing (especially salsa dancing)!

What is your favorite post workout meal?
After a long run I love brunch food like eggs and roasted potatoes and some greens. When it is hot outside I prefer a filling smoothie. I love putting 4 leaves of Kale in the blender along with 1 cup of frozen berries, a banana, a tbsp of peanut butter and 1 tsp chia seeds with either filtered water or almond milk. It is so filling & refreshing and the greens & chia seeds keep me energized.

When did you start running and why?
I started running when I was in high school to train for field hockey and lacrosse. I ran a little bit in college while I was studying dance. I started running half marathons after I graduated college and was looking for a way to stay in shape and get outdoors. This past year my reason to run has changed. My mom has Alzheimer's disease and I began running with the intention to physically express what I am experiencing emotionally seeing my mom's progression with this disease. I am now a member of the Athletes to End Alzheimer's Team and ran the NYC 1/2 Marathon this year in honor of my mom and to raise funds for the programming that the Alzheimer's Association provides. Running helps me clear my head and to face challenging moments on the road as well as in life.