Ballet Austin Community
Archive for the ‘Pilates’ Category
Thursday, December 20th, 2012
I am loving the blogs written by Schools Program Coordinator Jodi Schwaben. Here’s her latest in the Pilates journey…
Hello glutes, welcome to today! That’s what Ballet Austin Pilates Instructor Alex Miller said before announcing another set of leg lifts, but for me it was more like Hello glutes, quads, hamstrings and all of you other leg muscles I didn’t realize existed until just now.
Yesterday was my final Pilates session for this series of blog posts, and I must admit I’m feeling pretty good (aside from the sore thighs and abs). I’ve been doing Pilates once a week for three weeks now, and I’m noticing a difference in my stamina, posture, flexibility and overall body awareness.
Here are my suggestions for other beginners:
Take a private lesson. Before you attend a group session, it would be wise to first take a private lesson with one of Ballet Austin’s instructors. This is a perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the reformer and become accustom to the adjustments and movements that occur in every class.
Be prepared for corrections. The Pilates instructors want you to get a good workout and they also want to avoid injury, so they will correct your position if it is wrong. This is not to frustrate you or make you feel uncomfortable. To reiterate my first suggestion, a private session will get a lot of these corrections out of the way in a more comfortable setting.
Dress appropriately. At some point in your session, you will be lying down on the apparatus with your legs extended, so loose shorts are not suggested. Fitted clothing are best for a couple of reasons, first, you don’t want to worry about anything showing, second, your instructor will be able to see your body alignment more clearly. For women, I suggest a fitted t-shirt or tank top with leggings, bicycle shorts or yoga pants. For men, I would suggest a t-shirt with bicycle shorts, running pants or gym shorts with bicycle shorts underneath. You will be barefoot.
Communicate with your instructor. Before or at the beginning of your session, let your instructor know if you have any injuries or limitations, and he or she will make the proper adjustments for you. While in session, if anything hurts or feels wrong, tell your instructor immediately.
During yesterday’s appointment I was able to do some of the Pilates moves that I couldn’t complete only two weeks ago. I think it may be due to more than just my improved stamina; I think the encouragement from my instructors helps a lot. Alex and Vlada are not shy to shout out a personalized “great job” or “beautiful” as you go through the motions, and the small class size allows the instructors to give individualized attention to each student. I will definitely be back.
Friday, December 14th, 2012
…Or maybe Energizer Bunnies. My class is full of women and men of all ages and body types and they do.not.stop. I asked one woman how she was able to keep up without her abs bursting into flames, and she explained that she’d been taking Pilates here at Ballet Austin for a while. As the class continued, I realized I too felt more confident in my movements and the transitions became easy (well, easier), which got me thinking about my normal excuses and how Pilates seems to be the exception to my many rules.
I’m having one of those just on my first cup of coffee, don’t talk to me type of day. I’m not sure if it’s the gloomy weather or all the calories I burned Christmas shopping at the Domain this weekend, but I just didn’t want to get out of bed. So of course, the last thing I wanted to do was shimmy into a pair of yoga pants and hit the Pilates studio. Honestly, my desires were to stay in my baggy sweatpants and hit the couch for an all-day marathon of Friends reruns. However, after an hour of Pilates, I have a burst of energy, especially on the days when we do Pilates Cardio. I can also tell a difference in my metabolism throughout the day.
I was born with dislocated hips, so I’ve always had lower back and hip pain. This is my #1 excuse. High-impact classes tend to hurt my hip flexors and mat classes are uncomfortable for my lower back. However, as today’s Pilates Instructor Alex explained, if it hurts or just doesn’t feel right, let your instructor know and modifications can be made. I’ve learned in my appointments that if I am restricted from a move, it doesn’t mean I can’t still target that specific muscle group. The Certified Pilates Instructors are able to make the proper adjustments or teach a completely different move to still get the same results without the pain – well, not completely pain-free (remember the abs bursting into flames comment?)
I’m not trying to brag, but I’m an awesome cheater. Years of evil gym teachers made me a fantastic exercise cheater. I can cheat, cheat, cheat without the instructor ever knowing; I can do the same move as you and feel nothing just by turning my arm a little bit. One problem, if the instructor standing over you can’t tell you’re cheating, the reformer sure can. I cannot cheat on the Pilates Reformer. If you don’t do the movement, it won’t move. It’s that simple. It’s impossible to leave a Pilates Apparatus class feeling like you didn’t get a great workout. The machine adds just enough resistance and forces you to do it right.
That sums up appointment # two in this four part series, and so far I’m sticking to my original statement: Pilates may be the workout for the girl who doesn’t work out.
Friday, December 7th, 2012
I am turning over the BEACTIVE! blog to Schools Program Coordinator Jodi Schwaben for a few weeks. Enjoy!
I was never the most coordinated person. Alright, I’ll just say it – I was a nerd. In high school, I chose to exercise my mind over exercising my body. Now, closing in on the big 3-0, I’m noticing my metabolism slowing and my body starting to slouch. To combat this I’ve increased my activity level, which includes sticking in a pair of headphones and walking on a treadmill until I’m bored. I prefer individual activities, ones where I can do things at my own pace and without comparing myself to the athletes around me.
So when my director asked me to take a Ballet Austin Group Pilates class on the reformer, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit. Luckily, I had a week to mentally prepare for the impending hour of torture.
At my appointment time, I checked out my classmates – one, a Ballet Austin employee who could basically be a Prima Ballerina as fit as she is – I instantly felt nervous and out of place. Everyone knew what to do; they went right to work stretching on the Pilates apparatus. I felt foolish, fumbling with my equipment, but no one seemed to notice; all of the students stared ahead, focusing on their own movements. What a relief!
The class did not stop after that, shifting between core, to legs, to arms, to legs, to core – I never felt bored. Then we switched to cardio. How does one do cardio on a Pilates reformer? In the most fun and entertaining way possible! We attached springboards to our reformers and jumped, while lying down – kicking our legs out to the sides, then up and down. SO MUCH FUN! I looked at the clock after 10 minutes of class and realized I didn’t look at it again until it was time to go.
Still, I may be a Private Pilates kinda gal, but one thing I loved about my group class was the camaraderie; I struggled, it was a tough class, but I had women struggling right along with me. I felt comforted the minute a classmate grunted out “This really hurts.” Oh great! It wasn’t just me!
This is absolutely a class that you feel during and after, but I’ll be back – Not just because my boss is making me – but also because it’s a ton of fun.
Follow my progress the next four weeks as I continue to try out Ballet Austin Pilates apparatus classes!
Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
Somewhere along the way, it was decided that the New Year is a good time to start a fitness plan. That’s great, but to cringe and quote an old cliché, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
Seriously! Do you want to start a new exercise program? Then start! Not “I should start” but “I will start”. We have it in our heads that if we wait until the first of something it will somehow be easier for us to accomplish the task. “I can start that on Monday” or “let’s wait until the first of the month”. And the big one now is “what is your New Year’s resolution going to be?” But what’s wrong with Tuesday…or Thursday…or December? If today is Thursday, don’t wait until next Monday because you think it’s better to start at the beginning of the week. Resolve today and start today. To quote NIKE, “Just Do It!”
I’m not always the best at taking my own advice. I try to stay up on significant trends in fitness. What’s new, what will provide the best overall workout, what will keep people engaged long enough to see results, and so on. I’m fairly knowledgeable about a variety of exercise programs, but other than a couple of private Pilates sessions and some Pilates mat classes, I can’t say that I know as much as I’d like about the Pilates method. I have been saying for months that I will start working out in the Pilates Center. I have not yet started.
Last week I was speaking to Vlada about plans to get the word out about our Pilates Center and the benefits of Pilates. I explained to Vlada that I had asked Jodi, one of my staff, to begin taking Pilates weekly to gain experience and knowledge to better communicate with potential clients. Vlada looked at me and said, “what about you?” Of course my answer to her was, “That would be great; maybe in January.” Her reply, “How about Thursdays at noon? You and Jodi are booked beginning December 6”. Vlada would not accept anything short of “Just do it! And do it now”. So I am.
I’m excited. Jodi and I will begin this challenge together. We are not waiting until January. We have fought and won the battle of good intentions.
Check back to the blog each week as Jodi will be blogging the pains, the gains, the challenges and benefits of Pilates.
What are you waiting for?