Thursday, May 30, 2013

Break It Down: Roll Over

As Joe demos in the picture below, the Roll Over in the Matwork is anything but simple.  This exercise is all about control and not necessary about "flopping" your legs overhead.  Master this one and you are ready for the more advanced exercises.  

Purpose- massage the spine, lubricate the joints, lengthens the spine/hamstrings, opens the chest, inversion

Preps- Rolling, Short Spine Massage, Roll Up, Bridge, Seal, Hamstring Stretches

Form- Hollow abs, peel off from tailbone, legs straight as you roll over as one piece, weight transfers into shoulder blades and not neck

*May not be appropriate for those with low back problems (disc issues, osteoporosis, fusions) or those with neck pain.

Modifications- Pads under the shoulders, hold onto wood rods with a raised mat, hands under hips and Hip Lift part only, spot clients at their feet to assist in overhead section 

How to Advance- Add in legs open/close and point/flex with feet, Magic circle/ball in ankles

Challenges- Mix in a Jackknife or advance to Boomerang

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pilates for Scoliosis

We all live with some form of imbalances.  At times these may be more evident than others.  Pilates works wonders to make the body as symmetrical as possible.  To help explore this concept deeper, Brett Howard from the USPA came into town and hosted a Scoliosis workshop at Core Sport Pilates and Fitness Studio.  

Creating a strong core and good posture practice will help the client feel stable no matter their body type.  All good programs should include lateral flexion, rotation and flexion (as long as there isn't a rod or fusion of the spine).  Stretch and strengthen the weaker side to create more symmetry.  Below are some ways to enhance the current Pilates repertoire:

  • Lying Single Knee Sways: hands under bottom to ensure pelvis doesn't shift (great to add in prior to One Leg Circles)
  • Knee Stretch (Round/Flat): one arm comes to small of back or hugs waist to bring the focus to the center and more stability
  • Roll Back w/one arm on Cadillac
  • Chest Expansion w/one arm on Cadillac: other hand comes behind head or reaches up to the ceiling
  • Footwork/Running: balance a bar on hips for stability
  • Chair Seated/Kneeling Side Bends
  • Crossed Lateral Single Leg Springs on Cadillac: use the opposite spring for bend/press, lower/lifts, a combo of the two and scissors with only one leg
Read Curves, Twists and Bends to learn more about scoliosis and helpful exercises to correct muscle imbalances.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Learn to Ride Your Bike

I came to the realization the other week that when I teach and workout are the few moments in my life that I truly live in the present moment.  In these moments things might not be so perfect but I find simple comfort, creativity and sometimes joy in the process.  The rest of my life I am typically working through my past or daydreaming about my future.  

When I teach it is magical to me.  My words make the body before me move and perform.  I am able to let go and not be quite so serious about life.  I tell my clients they are essentially "learning to ride a bike" and each time the work will become gradually less "thinky" and more focused on the deeper details of the movement.  The more they do it the better they will become.  The breath will flow naturally and their transverse will grow stronger.  They will begin to feel and understand how the bike works and where it is they want to travel.

Pilates is a personal journey.  It can be familiar yet have its twists and internal struggles.  Just when we thought we were mastering the Snake we can loose our confidence and slip.  We must get back up and continue.  We stay in the pain free zone and accomplish what our body is capable of that day.  When in doubt, leave it out.  That is why there are so many exercises and variations.  No two bodies require the same workout.  However, they will feel each exercise where they need it most.  

We are all not meant to do the entire advanced series.  We may strive to, but actually the basic beginner exercises should always be just as challenging as the fancy "combo moves" of the advanced system.  Pilates is more of a practice than a workout system.  We are re-teaching the body to move efficiently.  Lately, functional training has been the craze and I would argue that Pilates is the most functional movement system for all.  Go to any teacher training program and you will probably find an instructor with exquisite posture demonstrating some crazy internal strength to boot.  Chances are they aren't in their 30's either. 

The method is meant to last a lifetime.  Pilates will be there for you when there is no gym.  Pilates will be there when you get a funky injury and nothing else seems to work.  It is the bike that functions when your car breaks down.  It will improve your memory and focus.  You will notice a lifestyle change just by taking better care of your joints, improving your balance and increasing your coordination.

You have your daily cup or coffee or mult-vitamin.  We brush our teeth, shave and shower.  Why not the same with fitness?  As Joe wrote, "This is the equivalent of an 'internal shower'".  It does the body, mind and spirit good.  Live in the moment during your personal practice and carpe diem!