Pilates classes by design are fairly repetitive. There are variations on a few themes but basically the same core exercises are done each time. The juice is in the details – the subtle refinement of technique and that’s what Barbara is especially good at teaching. Pilates is a mind/body discipline and it’s hard to know, even by watching if someone is doing it correctly because of the 'internal' core actions that are required. For that reason, Pilates instructors must constantly be reminding students of the finer points of good technique.
One of the similarities between Pilates and Yoga, I’ve come to realize, is an emphasis on always lengthening away from the core – elongating the spine and extending the legs out of the hips – while paradoxically ‘anchoring’ the core by contracting deep within the abdominal muscles. Having just come from a high impact class with lots of jumping – it’s clear to me why Pilates and Yoga have been so important in healing my back.
I haven’t spoken of it much in my blog but I’ve had serious low back issues for most of my life. I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis when I was 17. In simple terms that means one of my low vertebra (L4/L5) is out of alignment, which can and has created chronic pain at times. The vertebra in my case are already overly compressed so it’s smart for me to avoid additional compression. However, if one wants to be active and play sports like volleyball (my favorite) that requires developing a strong core musculature and improved flexibility – both benefits of practicing Yoga and Pilates.
For several years I had to lay off volleyball completely because of the price I paid each time I played it. That experience led me to the practice of Pilates and Yoga – both of which have helped restructure my body in a way that allows for at least a limited amount of volleyball without chronic pain.
It’s Tuesday morning now and I’m finishing this entry – a day after taking the CardioSculpt and Pilates classes. I have no doubt that without the benefit of the strengthening and flexibility I’ve gained from Pilates and Yoga – I might not be walking today – instead I feel pretty good, if a little sore.
In Barbara’s Monday class there are about 15 participants….most of them the dedicated regulars but also a few newcomers to Barbara’s class. There’s one other guy – Bill “abs of steel” Felix, who also practices Pilates to ward off chronic back pain. The $25 gift certificate goes to Edwina Wilson.