By Tina Paul
I’ll tell you what, I had a very tough time getting motivated this week. Last week was busy and the weekend didn’t allow for much recovery time. Come Monday, I couldn’t move my neck. I’m not sure if I had slept wrong (again), but the muscles on both sides of my neck seem to be playing off of each other. I rescheduled Monday’s session with Valerie as the neck tension was traveling and causing a headache. I concluded that the rest was in fact good for my body.
My Monday session was rescheduled to Tuesday. I worked with Valerie in loosening muscle tension and getting back into the rhythm of weekly sessions after the weekend. We moved from the wall over to the reformer and I jumped right in. We worked through sections of the reformer series, though they were out of order. We threw some basic exercise back in there, such a Short Spine Massage, as it was good for warming those muscles back up. We’re still working on some nitty-gritty corrections, and I’m devoted to ensuring I’m doing every part of the exercise as it was designed. As I jumped on the reformer though, my thut was immediately firing. My thut muscles surprised me! I couldn’t believe that that muscle memory was really happening. Five weeks ago, it was incredibly hard for me to even activate those muscles. So there’s that improvement.
I had all intentions of returning for mat class on Tuesday evening. I changed my clothes and headed back over there. Then no one showed. Then I realized I was 30 minutes early. I can’t keep my session times straight! So, instead of waiting, I took care of some errands and went home. I then completed a HIIT workout (I ran full-out, and then walked in a sequence for two miles). I can’t remember the last time that I ran. While I was out of breath quickly, my muscle endurance surprised me. So that just goes to show that Pilates is a strong supplement to any type of exercise you may excel in – just look at the Olympians right now! Laura Placentera just won “Best Female Athlete” in the 7th annual decathlon and is a Pilates devotee!
Rounding out the week was still difficult for me. I was dehydrated and still recovering from the long weekend. What a noticeable difference in my endurance it had on me! I worked hard on the reformer and Erin had me working fast. She threw a few more variations of new exercises in the series, including one-leg tendon stretch on the reformer. I am just learning how to do the basic variation of this exercise, and the core strength that it requires is incredible. I cannot lose focus for one moment or I will not be able to complete the exercise. While trying the new variation, I had all I could do to hold my one leg parallel to the floor with a flexed foot. And during which, Erin kept telling me that I am strong enough to do this now. I suppose with a few more tries I will find the muscles I need to help me attain this exercise.
Hearing that I am strong enough now is thought provoking. Am I really? Has my strength really improved? How come the exercises don’t feel any easier? Maybe I just can’t see it yet. Yes, I can see some of the physical changes in last week’s photo comparison, but Pilates is designed to be all-encompassing. It has the constant ability to increase its demands on your body and mind. And speaking of those photos – I still find it hard to believe. Muscle tone has increased tremendously, not to mention the alignment of my body. My neck is more in line with my spine, my arms hang more straight and my shoulders are more even. Being relatively strong and healthy, these changes bring more awareness and concern to individuals who may experience some health issues and how those issues can affect all other systems in the body, and then manifest themselves in a physical way.
All of this new awareness is something that I wasn’t expecting to gain originally within this Pilates Intensive. While I understood that personal physical changes were likely – really, inevitable – there is so much more that is happening. There is a much deeper component involved than any of us had anticipated.