At this point, 6 weeks into my daily Pilates course, Pilates is just about the only exercise I’m doing, not counting cardio and, of course, ballet. But ballet is more for fun than for exercise so it doesn’t count…
I’m still loving my Pilates class. It’s gotten progressively harder, and there’s been so times when my muscles have been aching like never before. Some of those abs sequences, having the muscles tensed for minutes at a time – my core feels worked out like never before. And then, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, here come the exercises for the sides (obliques). There’s been so many times when I’m thinking ‘Lady, you’re killing us!’. In a good way, of course. In general my abdomen area feels so much stronger than before, even when I was doing the ab wheel exercises at home.
Thanks to my habit of laying sprawled on the couch on my right side, causing the muscles to be stretched unevenly, my left side is stronger. I have noticed this during any of the oblique-targeting exercises, as one side is much easier to do. Since noticing and making sense of it, I have started alternating the side I’m sprawled on. As a whole, I tend to pay much closer attention to my body’s alignment and all the asymmetries that need fixing, as well as to what my habits are doing to my posture.
It’s so interesting how the body works and how if the different parts are not used efficiently it will wear down, how our habits and posture shape our bodies. I’ve pondered long about how my body got it’s (pre-ballet, and definitely pre-pilates) lack of shape, and have come to the conclusion that it was likely due to me doing any movement the easiest way possible (such as standing with my knees hyperextended rather than engaging my muscles or slouching when I should be standing straight, dragging my feet while walking). I was always uncoordinated growing up, and nobody ever taught me how to use my body otherwise. Does a child need to be taught how to use their body? Many may not, may have their ease of mobility be naturally-occurring, but others, like me, do. From the time I was a baby who learned to walk at a late age, to being the only kid in the preschool yard who couldn’t climb on the merry-go-round, to falling over while trying to sprint at age 8, physical activities have not been my strong point.
Before I would have thought that there was no fixing it, that I’m just naturally clumsy, but I don’t any more. I simply just had no idea of my body’s range of motion, of what my body could actually do. Sometimes I feel like this is what Physical Education class is really supposed to be about, except just mindlessly walking laps in the hot sun and being a prime opportunity for school yard and locker room bullying.
Anyway, at least I’m learning now. You have no idea how grateful I feel…
And the whole “shoulders back” thing, that alone has helped my body so much. My upper back and shoulder soreness is gone, my all-over-back tightness greatly reduced. I would say it’s gone, but the other night I slept in the wrong position and felt super stiff. My arms are so much stronger and I can now push up into the backbridge position like it’s nothing. While up in the backbridge position I’ve been working on tapping my feet, lifting them up slightly, trying to get comfortable with the feeling of just being up there. My upper body strength has increased enough to make a walkover possible in the near future, if only I get over my fears.
As for cardio, I’ve hit a plateau. On days that I use the treadmill, I’ve slowly increased my speed until most recently been averaging a little over 9 minutes a mile. But I haven’t increased the total amount of time ran (around 20-25 minutes). It’s not that I’m completely exhausted so much as I get bored or start thinking about other things I need to take care of. I’ve been good about getting myself motivated to go out there and run; I don’t want to ruin it by putting increasingly higher expectations upon myself. Better to keep it fun!
I’ve still been doing the jumping jacks and squat jumps as well. These have helped me so much with jumping in ballet class. I can really tell the difference, and when before jumping felt like it took huge amounts of effort it now feels almost effortless.
I’m really glad I made the decision to begin working out (5 months ago) and especially take that Pilates class. I’ve read somewhere out there on the internet that it’s not necessary to cross train with ballet. I don’t know why people say this, or if that advice only applies to children and not to an adult’s body. For over a year and a half I refused to work out to supplement my ballet, telling myself that I would get stronger just through ballet. And this did work – to an extent. My barre work improved, and the small muscles that help you hold your balance or fondu or point your foot did develop, enabling me to get better. But as for my jumps – I was getting nowhere! I did countless foot exercises with my theraband, thinking that weak feet were the problem (to why I couldn’t point my feet midair). My feet got stronger, but still, my jumping sucked. It wasn’t until after doing cardio consistenly I started to notice results. Perhaps this is because I was extremely out of shape and didn’t know it. Perhaps this doesn’t apply to anybody (or any body) else. But all I’m saying is, if your seem to hit a ballet plateau, and you don’t already, it may be beneficial to do some cardio. I wish someone had told me…