We start class with something she learned over the weekend. Barbara has us take our mats to the wall where we sit with our hips and back against the wall and our legs straight out in front of us. She has given each of us a thick rubber band to be placed around the big toe of each foot, which are separated by several inches. From here we practice turning out one foot at a time ever so slightly but originating the movement from the hip instead of the foot. In order to do this correctly, the glutes and abs need to contract while the hip flexor is engaged. This is relevant because we’re to use this same movement when doing the side leg series. It’s a helpful demonstration and I make the connection in a way that I had not before.
To do Pilates correctly requires a great deal of precision and subtlety. Much of the movement originates inside the body in a way that cannot always be seen in the outer form. This subtlety of technique is why we offer an introductory Pilates series so newcomers can learn the proper inner technique and not just mimic the outer moves in one of the regular mat classes.
The class today is filled with students who’ve practiced Pilates a long time but even they need these subtle refinements from time to time. Barbara’s ability to clarify the fine points of Pilates, even after years of practice, is what keeps her students enthralled with her as a teacher.
Barbara also has an interesting teaching style. She modulates her voice, sort of like an actress, in a way that keeps your attention. When we’re doing something difficult her voice may rise in pitch with the effort as if imploring us to stay with it and do it correctly. At one point, as a reminder, she says to no one in particular “don’t you dare” do such and such. This phrase makes me laugh but it reveals Barbara’s passion for Pilates and her flair for the dramatic that makes her classes so consistently interesting and good.
In today’s class we do a little extra stretching with each series of movements and that makes it even more enjoyable for me. During the quest I haven’t attended as many yoga classes as I would with my normal schedule and my flexibility has suffered somewhat as a consequence.
The class has 20-24 in it, mostly women. Bill Plunkett, Bill Felix and I are the token males in class today. The $25 gift certificate goes to Teka Bartter.