Week 9: Accomplishments and Inspiration

By Tina Paul

 

So as we begin to round out the 9th week of this Pilates Intensive, I find myself reflecting on what has changed, what has not changed and what has surprised me. Noticeably, my muscle tone has improved. I’m anxious to take final photos next week and see the comparison. My alignment has certainly improved as well. While it was never bad, per se, I was definitely experiencing some tension and pain in areas that I shouldn’t; particularly my lower back and upper shoulders. While some of that tension during this intensive was due to the fact that I’ve been working my muscles so much harder than they’re used to, I’ve made some out-of-studio changes (i.e.: pillow, computer monitor) and I’ve been nearly tension-free. 

 

One of my body goals was to work on my personal trouble-spot, my “thut.” Remember us talking about this? How difficult it is for me to turn those muscles on? Well, it still is. I’ve improved in that area a smidge, but I still don’t have the tone that I want. The advantage that I have now, however, is that I know how to turn on those muscles… sometimes I just forget! Oops. But hey… my Pilates stance has improved… slightly!

Working on Swan on The Reformer.

Working on Swan on The Reformer.

 

What I am impressed with is my abdominal and upper body strength. I am able to complete “shaving” on the reformer with much more ease than ever before. When I can get my hair out of my way(!), I can really get my hand down to the base of my neck and my elbows out wide. And I can feel the strength coming from my powerhouse. My arms and shoulders are now toned like they’ve never been before. And my back… I ALMOST have that Erin Back. Not quite, but maybe with six more months of training I’d get there!

Trying to keep my Powerhouse engaged while lifting my chest and stretching my legs. Multitasking at its best!

Trying to keep my Powerhouse engaged while lifting my chest and stretching my legs. Multitasking at its best!

 

Ok, so I still have an immense amount to work on. But I’ve nearly gotten through the Advanced Reformer series. I can’t make it through entirely as I’m still learning some exercises and those explanations take a few more minutes than if I were just completing them without verbal direction. Valerie and Erin now expect me to “teaser up” and drop a spring and smoothly transition into my next exercise. I have learned to absolutely love those transitions. Maybe it comes from a love of dance and the beauty that can be achieved through the Pilates method when done according to Joe, and as I’ve interpreted, Romana too.

This is Breaststroke- an advanced exercise that has been helping to strengthen my back. Heres the "stretch-out" part.

This is Breaststroke- an advanced exercise that has been helping to strengthen my back. Heres the "stretch-out" part.

Here's the "open arms" part. 

Here's the "open arms" part. 

Side Note: I love hearing old stories of Romana; they remind me to keep my face calm and pretend that what I’m doing is a piece of cake (when really I’m dying inside). I imagine champagne Friday’s and ladies with their towels and leotards and a genuine love of the method and passion for teaching.

 

So as this 9th week comes to a close, it means I’m two weeks away from the wedding. I understand that most women are going crazy by now, finishing last minute details. For the record, I am not feeling that way. Surprisingly enough, it’s quite the opposite. I’d like to attribute that fact to Pilates. No, really. It’s been keeping me so busy (four days per week at the studio), that my “free” time is filled with normal day-to-day stuff. Pilates gets me out of the chaos of life and into my body. It’s my therapy, my solace, my break from the day. It’s where I can be selfish and focus on myself and not feel guilty about it. It’s where I can be my raw self, even when I’m a ball of sweat, smelly and making horrible sounds of pain, but laughing in between. It’s where I can trust my instructors to lead me to my goal, having full confidence that they know what I am capable of better than I do. It’s where I see clients that share my love of Pilates and understand it’s benefits. It’s a second home, and a team of people that have become friends. Their interest and excitement during this intensive has also pushed me to do the best that I can. I made a commitment and they’ve held me accountable for it. And hopefully I’ve inspired some to push their limits in turn.


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Authorvalerie lopata