Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week 51: Core Values: A Pilates Experiment

Photo courtesy of Ascend
Pilates -- a workout all about stretching and strengthening the core muscles in a highly controlled manner in order to achieve balance throughout the body as a whole.

In Pilates, the slightest movement can make a drastic difference.  It's all about knowing which muscles to activate and how to go about doing it.  It other words, it's a sneaky, ninja workout in which the effects are not apparent until the following day or two.  These exercises, performed on specialized equipment developed by Joseph Pilates himself, work on deeper muscles that help with stability in the body.  It's those muscles, the ones you never even knew you had because you'd never activated them before that will be sore the day after your session.

So let's take a look at those specialized pieces of equipment because they are fascinating in and of themselves--especially the names!  The Reformer, the Cadillac, the Magic Circle, the Wunda, the Electric Chair...

Photo courtesy of Ascend
In the foreground are the Reformers while the Cadillacs are in the back.

This week my mom and I attended not one but two classes with Diane Musumeci at Ascend: A Studio for Pilates.  The first session we worked entirely on the Reformers.  This was our introduction to Pilates.  We learned about correct posture and proper form.  Diane had us stand in front of the mirror and told us to line up our domes.  From the arches of our feet to the tops of our heads, we gradually worked our way up the body towards better alignment.  Then we were to imagine our spines as elevator shafts and slowly line up our vertebra to allow the elevator to ascend.  I know that I have terrible posture--I tend to hunch over, but it was still incredible to see what I would look like if I was in proper alignment.  (I'll post the before and after pictures if she sends them to me).

What was interesting about doing duet sessions is that no two people are exactly the same.  While I thought my mom and I would be pretty similar in levels of strength and ability, we were actually very much polar opposites.  My legs are extremely tight and not flexible whatsoever.  They have always been this way so I was not at all surprised to hear this.  My mom, on the other hand, is TOO flexible.  Diane would tell us to do a stretch and here I am struggling to get my leg straight and my mom is completely doubled over.  

Consequently, I need to work on loosening up while my mom needs to work on control.

The second session we moved up to the Cadillacs and Pilates turned out to a bit more like torture...  Since we had established that I have tight legs, we did mostly leg work which I struggled with for the entire hour...

Basically, we learned that there are many ways in which Pilates could improve our bodies as a whole in terms of control and balance and therefore fully intend to proceed with these sessions in the future.  If you've never tried it, I recommend you try Pilates at least once in your life.  It's not for everyone, but if you're willing to give it a chance, the benefits can be phenomenal.  

And as Diane said at the end of our first session, "If you remember nothing else from Pilates, remember domes and elevators."

Coming up... Week 52: Strike a Warrior Pose: A Year in the Making
We made it!  Next week marks one year of weekly challenges or experiences!  I hope you'll check out next week's post which summarizes my past year of growth AND celebrates my first ever mud/obstacle run: the Warrior Dash!  The race is Saturday evening so I'm hoping to have it up Sunday afternoon at the latest.  It's been a long and crazy ride, folks.   Thanks for sticking with me! 

And, don't worry... there are many more great weeks to come!

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