WATCHUNG, NJ – As the fight against COVID-19 continues, businesses such as the Pilates Design Studio remain closed. In an effort to help clients, owner Danielle Conner has been providing online group classes three days a week and private sessions everyday and is sharing some helpful drills to help one’s immune systems remain strong and healthy.

“We've been holding virtual sessions, which have definitely proven to be helpful in keeping everyone moving and managing any kind of pain issues,” said Conner. “We miss being in the studio and can't wait to be able to re-open but, in the meantime, we are here to offer some tips to help people maintain healthy, strong immune systems.”

According to the Watchung-based studio’s owner, one’s nervous system plays a big role in managing the coronavirus because the nervous system controls the immune system. “These two systems are in constant communication with each other, which makes it vital for us to have them functioning as well as they can,” said Conner.

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One way to help strengthen the Immune System said Conner, is to stimulate the body’s Vagus Nerve. “The Vagus Nerve is the longest cranial nerve and oversees a large range of functions. It is know for it's huge anti-inflammatory actions and is referred to by scientists as the most critical recovery nerve when handling and recovering well from stress, anxiety, and challenging situations,” she said. One of the easiest ways to stimulate this nerve is through breathing drills.”

A variety of drills, said Conner, can help with overall health and brain function. “Our drills are meant to stimulate the brain in various ways to improve neuro signaling throughout the body. When our brain function is healthy, our bodies are healthy and more capable of fighting off infections,” she said. 

Drill #1: Standing tall, place both hands around the sides of your rib cage with the thumb on the back of your rib cage as pictured in this photo:

As you inhale through the nose, allow the air to fill into the side space of your lungs, expanding your rib cage laterally to push the hands away from each other. Then, slowly exhale through the mouth as your ribs contract down. Try doing this three times. 

From there place one hand on your chest and one hand on your back as pictured here:

This time as you inhale you are going to expand your lungs front to back pushing the hands away from each other. Then slowly exhale through the mouth as the ribs contract down. Try this three times as well.

“Once you've mastered both ways, try to incorporate all four directions on the inhale and completely fill the lungs with air and exhale slowly through the mouth,” said Conner.

Drill #2: Lay on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor with arms overhead resting on the floor next to your ears; if you shoulders feel tight in this position, place a pillow under them as pictured here:

First, exhale and tuck your pelvis under - this will bring your back into the floor; secondly, maintain your pelvic tuck, take a deep inhale and open the mouth allowing the throat and mouth to be relaxed. Begin to exhale drawing the lower rib cage down and deepening the pelvic curl, trying your best to fully empty your lungs. Relax once you feel all of your air is out. Try this three times.

“It may feel like you need to grasp for air or you may cough after you do the drill. These are normal when you first try to do this. The more you practice and master the drill, the less you will feel that,” said Conner.

Anyone with questions or seeking more information, can email Danielle Conner at

About the Pilates Design Studio

Pilates is a system of exercises that uses special apparatus designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness. In addition to offering one-hour, one-on-one instruction and group classes customized to fit each client’s individual needs, the Pilates Design Studio is also the only New Jersey studio to offer Body Balance suspension training and Neuroscience based drills, though the Z-Health Education System, to help stop chronic pain and create efficient movement patterns.

The Pilates Design Studio features five rooms with machines divided up more to allow for better client privacy and to enable the four certified instructors the ability to teach at the same time without crowding each other. Additionally, space offers a room dedicated specifically to the Pilate Design Studio’s neuroplasticity work. 

The studio is located in the Shawnee Building - Suite B-1, at the corner of Shawnee Drive Mountain Boulevard. A complimentary private class is offered to all new clients.

For more information, email Danielle Conner at or visit  and

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