Neither of us like flexion at the neck. We have tried all modifications and Client A has chosen to support her head on a small inflated ball. I am fine during the, “ab series,” but find, “ab prep,” an exercise where there are a series of very small crunch like movements, pulls in my traps (upper back) and neck. This is one of the many reasons a small Pilates class is much more beneficial if one is truly searching for change; as we can focus on flexibility as well as strengthening the neck muscles. In todays class, which was our 20th session, Client A, tried cervical flexion for the first time since early on in our trial. She also did side lying legs with upper body perfectly stabilized. At her first few classes she could barely stay still!
Last weekend Client A, hurt herself by twisting her ankle. I’m very proud of her as Pilates has strengthened her ankles and thanks to her using ICE, she is recovering well and able to perform most exercises.
We are still along way off from being able to complete the full repertoire but I feel these 20 sessions have been far more effective than if she had been taking a class for years without fully comprehending the movements. There is a reason Pilates is called mind body movement. My lovely client has a fulltime job, a busy personal life and a very fast paced, goal oriented personality. To see her slow down and concentrate on the precise movements and want to understand why, has been extremely gratifying for me as an instructor.
We are back on track. Not the ideal way to test out the 10,20,30 session experiment but in some ways more realistic as, work, family and life often come before exercise commitment. This is why we always need to explore what really fits into our lifestyle long term.
We both missed our sessions and discussed how being accountable is important. Client A had worked out but couldn’t remember all the exercises. She also tends to workout much faster than Pilates was designed to do. Her 45 minute workouts were completed in 20 minutes! I reminded her that Joe Pilates referred to his teachings as ,”Controlology.”
Having taken the time to learn the repertoire properly I am pleased to see the improvement in her form. We have both been suffering from neck pain and have added a block or flex ball under our head and neck. Flexion is great if you’re not experiencing pain, however if you are, support your head and concentrate on the torso. Anyone who has osteoporosis or spine issues will not use flexion anyway, due to the pressure in the fragile vertebrae and discs.
Today we attempted Teaser prep, the ultimate Pilates position. This is not something we will be attempting for a few more weeks due to tight hamstrings and tight upper traps. I appreciate that there could be a more in depth conversation on an anatomical level but Joseph Pilates wasn’t a Dr and I don’t want to see Pilates owned by the medical field. I believe there are many excellent Pilates instructors who can teach Pilates and refer to experts when they feel necessary.
People often ask what the difference is between Pilates and yoga. The answer in a nutshell, is that Pilates offers dynamic workout, incorporating resistance and flexibility, and yoga emphasizes flexibility due to holding the poses. Obviously there is a lot more to both forms of exercise than that. However, I personally am very tight and have always questioned if Pilates really improved my flexibility. I got my answer this week after returning to my studio after taking two weeks vacation.
Until I started practicing Pilates in 2007, I had always suffered from back pain during a long flight. My flight to London was great in that I wasn’t sore during or after the flight. The first week I was traveling I took two mat classes. I also walked at least 15,000 steps most days as I was sight seeing and in a city where there is public transport. I noticed my calves were very tight and I could feel slight pain in my shins. It wasn’t until I returned home and started exercising after 10 days without Pilates that I realized how tight I was in the hips and lower back.
My conclusion is that although my flexibility may not ever be the same as others due to my structure; I can definitely say that my mobility is greatly improved from Pilates. This is what keeps me pain free, along with the core strength I have gained.
I will discuss the last few sessions in one blog. I planned to write after each session but sometimes life gets in the way and before you know it three more sessions have passed.
I am very pleased with how Client A is progressing. So far we have both seen how starting Pilates from the beginning has really benefited her. I could see she was struggling with the mind body connection in class. This was becoming frustrating as like most people who take Pilates, she is intelligent and was getting frustrated with herself. The reason she wasn’t connecting had nothing to do with her intelligence, it was because she was not familiar and comfortable with the basic principles of Pilates.
After 6 sessions I am pleased to be working with somebody who now looks like they have taken Pilates. We have spent a lot of time on the warm up, which is something that I have found lacking in many classes I have attended, especially in gyms and clubs. The point of the warm up is that many of us rush into class and need ten minutes to get into our mind body connection and leave the outside world for a period.
We have discussed modifications and Client A is now collecting her props and knows how to modify an exercise for her body type. Today we did a 50 minute workout with a few discussion breaks, however she is looking good and not needing to ask so many questions. She says she feels better and she is certainly carrying herself better.
It has only taken 6 private sessions to get her to this stage. This is very satisfying for me as an instructor and proves that spending the time learning the basics of Pilates will benefit a person so much more than if they attend a more advanced class and keep performing the movements incorrectly.
On Thursday we had our second session. This is really good for both client and instructor as we both have equal input into the sessions. On Thursday we went through the exercises and discussed body positioning and different ways to support the neck and head. A person often hurts themselves holding their head in an incorrect position because large classes Pilates cannot be taught to the individual needs. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing a person tell you they hurt their neck, back or hip flexors in a class and that wouldn’t return to Pilates. If there are more than 10 people in the class then you’re very likely in the wrong setting, unless you have taken classes with a trained Pilates instructor. Client A, is happy that she is now beginning to understand what mind body connection is through individual tuition. When I teach a class I can’t keep stopping for every twitch or question a client has. This is cheating the client as most people need tactile cues and lots of repetition to fully understand Pilates, in the same way an instructor needs good instruction from Master instructors and exposure to other instructors before being able to teach a class. Today Saturday, was our third session. We have added a small flex ball to support her head as she has been focusing on the discomfort in her neck. Today my client was able to concentrate on her torso because her head was well supported. I also used the ball behind her lower back so that she had a tactile cue in the half roll back position. Client A had been lifting her feet and rolling back further than her abs were strong enough to support her. When we added the ball, she rolled back less, and felt more. Yeah!!! In Pilates less is often more for beginners! My client is now learning, and becoming responsible for her modifications. She has tight hamstrings and is using a block to sit on. Hopefully in the future she will gain more flexibility in her lower back and hamstrings. My goal is to keep her pain free so that she can focus on the movement and muscles. Stott Pilates breaks the mat repertoire down into layers. We discussed today how if I were to teach this to a large group it would be unlikely that the majority would return. People still find the, “no pain, no gain,” philosophy hard to drop. Yet, if they would take the time to learn the exercises correctly and only move forward when their body is ready, they would get far superior results in the long term. Learning the basic principles of Pilates is how a person will progress and obtain results. We have decided we are going to focus on the basic principles and work through each layer as suggested by Stott Pilates. We are both aware now of how important spending the first five to ten classes on the basic movements are. I am happy to see client A, leave today being more aware of breathing, and experiencing a mind body experience.
:” In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”
This was if you did 3 sessions a week with Joseph Pilates. Diets were different then and in New York, people walked more than we do in Houston, Texas.
I told one of my clients that I’d wanted to try this out. She was enthusiastic to put it to the test. I will call her Client A and thankfully she is goal orientated so I am confident we will complete this challenge.
We have measured ourselves and taken pictures for our personal reference. We plan to complete the 30 sessions but will probably add 3 weeks due to vacations. We are also considering that Pilates works internally and we are not just recording how we look.
We are going to use the mat repertoire only. We have agreed we can both do 30 minutes cardio daily and work on flexibility. Client A will stretch and I will MELT.
Last night we started our experiment. We did 55 minutes of mat Pilates. I am trained with Stott. so we are using their style of Pilates. We plan to do 55 minutes every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
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