Tag Archives: mr. tennis ball

Pilates And Me, End Of First Week

End of my first week of Pilates.

So far, I love Pilates class! Love, love love it!  I come out of there each day feeling nicely sore, though completely relaxed.  I think it’s all the deep breathing, only to exhale and squeeeeeze the belly button in as hard as possible.  Yes, simultaneously sore and relaxed and there’s even nice soft ambient music, sometimes classical, playing softly in the background. Feels like I’m at a spa or something – or how imagine a spa would feel…

I am so glad I went in. I’d signed up because last semester in ballet class Teacher had mentioned that Pilates is good for dancers (even us amateur dancers). So I’d signed up, but as the day came closer I started to get a bit anxious.  Just like ballet class almost two years ago, a new First. And I started to worry about some of the more practical details some of us girls worry about: what do I wear?

Surely I couldn’t show up in ballet attire (though if someone who is not terrified of attracting attention were to do that it would be awesome!)?  But would a baggy T-shirt be ok? I remembered this exercise class I tried attending once back the first time I went to college, back when I was very overweight, and being intimidated by a majority of the class being very slim and athlelic, some of them displaying a six-pack.  A leotard I can do, for the same reason I can’t do many workout wear tops: a leotard keeps the stomach covered (or at least any of the styles I buy, lol).

Well, I sucked it up, faced my fear and went in there.  My outfit was a compromise: a T-shirt on top, black yoga pants on the bottome.  I got there, saw that there was diversity in body types, and started to relax.

Pilates is very focused on the core, I find out. So far it feels good.  I’d been starting to worry that the AB-wheel exercises I’ve been doing at home may have been making my abs grow outward (however weird that sounds), so I like the focus in Pilates of squeezing them inward. Apparently it’s supposed to feel as though your core muscles make a muscle “girdle” for your spine and stuff. That’s pretty cool, and I can already start to feel it, especially in the sides (I guess obliques) area.  And we haven’t even done any reformer stuff yet, just mat work (which is really fun!).

But while the ab benefits are great, there’s been another unexpected (to me) benefit: shoulders.

My shoulders are a mess! I’d noticed within the last year – though the problem most definitely extends since my  early-to-mid-childhood, but at the time was obscured by all my extra padding – that from a front view  my shoulders sort-of curve inward in a  crescent-like line from shoulder to shoulder. Never been a part of my body that I  like, but figured I couldn’t do anything about it. I mean, I’ve tried to straighten my back out (when I remember – which is about 50% of the time – and I try especially during ballet class), but I’m not even talking about my back I’m talking about my shoulders. Which are easily 2 inches forward of where they should be pretty much all the time! And previously to taking this pilates class I had no idea that this was going on. It’s called a fatigue position or something which just sounds so unappealing, ugh.  Whenever teachers have said “Shoulders back!” I guess I hadn’t really understood what they meant. Kind of how for the first year or so I had really no idea what it meant to point  the foot (as opposed to just flexing the ankle)…

Anyway, the thing I’ve been finding the hardest so far is keeping my shoulders back.  It’s not in muscle memory yet, but I find myself so conscious of my shoulders as I go about normal activities throughout the day. Every time I remember I pull them straight back!

(While writing this blog post, I’ve already reminded myself four six at least 20 times. Once I remember, pulling them back feels so good…)

By now I discovered that this shoulder forward-hunching appears to be responsible for my constant tight, sore feeling on my upper back/shoulder area. I’d previously blamed this pain on my bra strap digging in, but now that I’ve been putting my shoulders back consciously the pain has been diminishing and I’m still being dug in to by the same strap. Also, having my shoulders forward appears to be the cause of this stubborn under arm/upper chest flabbiness that seemed to never go away.  If I can manage to remember to keep my shoulders back,I may even feel comfortable in a tank top soon (assuming the weather was warm, of course).

Check out the difference:

shoulders back!

shoulders back!

Shoulders curved

Shoulders curved forward

We’ve also been using balls! Both a small dodge-ball-looking ball to squeeze between our knees, and tennis balls to rub the feet. As I’ve previously mentioned, I looooove my tennis ball, rubbing my feet on it and also my back (coincidentally, at the spot where it hurts from hunching my shoulders forward). Oh, and also these really big balls – I think they’re used for ab work – to support the feet for some of the students without sufficient ab strength yet (luckily, all my past few months’ worth of exercise has keep me from falling in that category; so far I’ve been able to do all the exercises, but in my pre-exercise condition half a year ago I probably wouldn’t have. At least not the double- knee raises…).  But I’m glad to see that there’s modifications available to make it possible for all different kinds of people to try it.

I’m so glad I decided to try this class out. If you have not already done so, I recommend that everyone, regardless of current state of being in shape or not, try out Pilates.

Advertisements

Fitness Goals Update 4

Next week I hope to be surrounded by noveling bliss (NaNoWriMo) so I’m planning ahead and doing my next fitness update today! I’m guessing things will get a bit more hectic.  Of course, I still plan on working on my fitness goals during the month, I just don’t know how much spare time I will have for writing about them.

Running/jogging/whatever you call it – really, what’s the difference? Speed? – has been going great.  By now I’ve worked up to about 10 minutes of jogging (all after my uphill walking warm up), but since I’m not getting as extremely winded as when I first started with 5  minutes, I’m thinking I may up the time this week. I  split my jog/run into two parts, one before my jumping and one after.

On the jumps, I’ve been jumping in sets of 64. 64 jumps (8 with feet together, 8 with feet apart (sort of like a la seconde), 8 more with feet together, 8 with feet opening and closing, repeat), then rest for about 20 seconds, then the next set and so on.  Immediately after I finish jumping I begin to jog again.  This last time, just on impulse, I started to gallop chasse across the field on the way home after I finished jogging. It was so fun,and boy did my thighs burn afterward.  If I hadn’t previously I’ve really learned to love that burn, the feeling of getting stronger.

My balletish lunges have been going well, making my thighs feel so much more muscular than before.  I think I have some visibly new muscles both in the front and back of my thighs, but specially the back – I’m bulging!  When I first started doing these I was only able to do sets of 3 or 4 – and remember, I could barely do them, and used the arms for leverage. That’s how weak my legs were.  Now I’ve worked up to several sets of 10, keeping my arms either in high fifth or a la seconde. I’ve definitely been feeling stronger during class, and my one-legged moves (like fondues) have seemed so much more controlled than before.  Improvement makes me feel happy, it’s nice to see results for hard work!

Been doing about 25-30 minutes of yoga 3 or 4 times a week.  I’ve noticed that I’ve felt stronger and more stable in the poses, and have been really focusing on feeling every part of my body being stretched.  It feels so relaxing, like an all-body treat. Been incorporating more poses (postures?) than include bearing weight on my arms as well.  My upper body goals haven’t been going anywhere still…

During my last ballet class, Teacher said that the obliques are responsdible for the body maintaining stability while turning.  I haven’t started yet, but I will be looking up some oblique-targeting exercises to do. image

Speaking of an all-body treat, remember Mr. Tennis Ball?  Just this past week I discovered that he’s not only good for sore feet. I’ve been laying on a towel on the floor, putting Mr. Tennis Ball under my extremely sore and tight back and just kind of rolling around on him.  Feels sooooo good, it reaches all the spots on my back that my hands won’t reach – not to mention my hands get tired – just thinking about it I want to get down there and roll around some more. Seriously, if you’ve got access to a cleanish tennis ball – or any tennis ball-sized semi-hard ball –  you’ve got to try it!  Best massage I’ve ever had, and best of all, it’s free!

My Newest Friend

It’s now been 4 weeks (so it counts to me as a month, even though it might not technically be a month. We could pretend it’s, like, February or something.) since I took my unfortunate mid-summer slide  down the stairs and two weeks since I stopped experiencing any pain or discomfort while walking. A month seems like a nice, neat time frame to celebrate something, so I’ve been celebrating by… walking, which just so happens to be one of my favorite things to do.

I’ve been focused on working my way up to what was my usual pre-fall morning route – a 1.8 mile (3.6 miles round trip) series of tree-and-cactus-lined residential streets, winding up and down through the foothills of a small (3000 ft.) mountain. Not yet, but I’ve been getting closer every day this week. Perhaps even tomorrow. It’s been mostly the heat that’s made me decide to turn back, not my fatigue level. Not that we’ve been having a heat wave – if anything it’s cooled down a bit and today was downright nice. But I’ve been waking up a little bit later than usual, due to staying up too late enjoying my last week of summer vacation, and have not made it out for a walk as early as I would have liked.

I’ve also been doing some midday walking, which is not my favorite – it’s hot! there’s people! – but I wanted to be supportive of Boyfriend’s efforts to get some exercise and spend some quality time before I start school. It was his birthday this past weekend, and the consequent partying is a big factor that led to my desire to increase the exercise level. Class is coming up tomorrow, the start of the semester of ballet next week, and leotards, tights and mirrors are unforgiving.

Also, ever since I started going to class I’ve resumed practice at home. My first week returning to practice I just worked on the most basic moves there are: plies and tendus. I didn’t even go up on releve. This past week though, I’ve gone back to regular practice – without any jumping, although we did sautes and changements in class last wednesday and my ankle felt fine.

The familiar soreness is back – and I love it! I could almost swear that the time I was off, before I started doing floor barre, my muscles felt noticeable weaker and were almost visibly shrinking. Or it could be my imagination. I hope.
Anyway, along with the awesome all-over-body soreness seems to come the (also familar) not-too-pleasant foot soreness. Not pain, nothing related to any injuries, but just a soreness that is usually (temporarily) aliviated by a foot massage.

A couple days ago, I remembered something about a tennis ball. I wasn’t really sure what I was to do with it, so I set it on the floor and rested my foot on it, feeling it’s rough texture against my foot. Then, I applied pressure, almost curving my foot and sort of “rolled” it around for a few minutes.

Best Feeling Ever! Not only was it amazing during the time I was rolling it around, like a foot massage, but afterwards the soreness was completely gone, unlike a foot massage.
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before!
Thank you Mr. Tennis Ball!
image
Now, if only I can keep you safe from my dog…
image
She’s not looking. RUN!!!
image