About Me

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


So, I got to my favorite Pilates class today where we use weights and Swiss balls. I must say that today I looked much better and a young girl said I was really good at Pilates! Ha, if she only knew I'm such a beginner.
We started by sitting straight up on the Swiss balls and using the weights for arm exercises and some of them really make you burn, like the shoulder series where you bring your straight arms out in front of you and then bend your forearms in at right angles and then finally pulse up and down in this right angle position. "Breathe through it," the Pilates instructor said.
We start with arms at sides holding weights and then moving straight arms sideways and up. Then we do the right angle series and also, bent at a diagonal from the hip while sitting on the Swiss ball, move the arms backwards, pump to the shoulders, and squeeze our arms behind us. I could definitely feel a tightness in the triceps. Then, lying down on the Swiss ball with head and shoulders touching the ball, torso flat, glutes engaged, move the arms up to the ceiling and open sideways while holding the weights of your choice. Then move alternate arms sideways.
After this, we stretched over the ball and then walked out into plank position and practiced bending the knees into the chest while on top of the ball. Then, the harder one, in pike position and moving back and forth; then pushups, all while keeping the back straight.
Then we put away the props and lay on the floor, curling up, moving straight legs in scissors movements, and stretching in straddle. That's it, all done, feel like a million! The pain is worth the result. I feel so much more powerful, yet light at the same time. Great!
Then I had a sandwich and went for a swim, sharing a lane with a really good female swimmer and trying to stay in my place and now I am waiting for ballet class with a great teacher. I wonder what he has in store today...
Fast class tonight. The teacher said it's better to move and not be so tense with the muscles. Also, he reminded me that, when turning, the movement in the torso is sideways, not up and down with the shoulders. I think I do dip and this is a good point. When I tried it, though, I was amazed at how off my leg I was. No hamstring strength. I watched another girl pivot effortlessly around her hip socket. Must work on this...
My Russian friend came! She said she had two pulled hamstrings. After class, the teacher said not to stretch but to strengthen the hamstring. I watched as he coached her how to do this while I stretched my quad against my shoulder with my theraband, noticing how tight my shoulder was, something I noticed in Pilates this morning. Also, during barre, I noticed how I want to hunch up my shoulder and then I get a pain in my neck. The teacher said this, too, looking at me...don't hunch up your shoulders.
I asked my friend how she liked class and she said it was challenging but she didn't get a lot of it. It was a really fast class, and this is supposed to be a beginner class! Well, barre started with the usual grand plies and releves facing the barre, grand plies with port de bras, and then tendu 1st plie, releve, 2 tendus side, releve, tendu 1st derrierre releve, 2 tendus side releve. Then we did 2 tendus front, 3 side, 2 back and one side (to confuse you), followed by degages.
After Pilates, I realized that I don't pull my legs all the way into tight 5th position because I am compromising my hip joint and not feeling the crease. Indeed, this teacher always says to only use the legs. We did fondu ronde jambs with one off the floor, port de bras forward, passe to attitude and balance, extend leg and swing to front to other side, letting go of the barre. There were beats with frappes and developpes in seconde in demi toe to penche down. The teacher said to envelope the arm and not just move it up and down for better movement. We did grande battements en croix and I had to adjust in second position so as not to get too close to the girl at the other barre. There were a lot of people in the dance studio today, trying to keep warm in the cold.
My friend remarked how cold the studio was but once we started, I felt warm and took off my tee shirt and shorty shorts, just wearing my leotard and tights. My arms looked stronger and more elongated after using weights, and tonight I almost felt my back stay strong against my legs, although when I let go of the barre I could see that I still could not turn out and resist one leg movement without moving the standing leg, because I didn't have the strength to isolate my joints. At least it's getting better now, and, more important, I am aware of it and understand how to fix it.
I still struggle with looking graceful in class. I fidget too much, and look like a jock instead of a ballerina. I have to stop doing this and just do the class -- as one teacher said, it's dance, it's not the gym! But, like in the Black Swan movie, I just want to be perfect...
So in center we did tendu front, back, side, side, plie pirouette from 5th to 4th, double pirouettes. We also did tendus side with chasse pas de bourre pirouettes and tendu fondu forward grand port de bras. The teacher said to feel the movement going sideways, not just up and down, and to envelope the arms for more movement. Also, when bending sideways, really to make the arc, as he showed us, kind of like holding something, like a big barrel. After the port de bras we did arabesque promenade en dehors, plie pas de bourre en tournant.
We moved on into jumps: 16 changements, two changements with two echappes 3x, and then echappe to 4th and pirouette, then 2 changements and two assembles and the same pirouettes. The teacher said to move the leg out in echappes because there is not enough time to move up and down without moving out first. This makes for tighter, smaller jumps. Whew...then sissonnes through 1st arabesque and then sideways. Really push with both legs, the teacher said.
That was it. We stretched and then as we left the room, I lingered to watch the teacher coaching a very young girl in a variation. She held a tambourine and started to do high kicks, and even kicked her leg back to touch the tambourine she was holding. She was making good sounds with the tambourine as she kept doing releves and, bringing the working knee in, extending it to a high developpe to kick the tambourine. She also moved around the floor with quite nice epaulment and I thought she presented herself quite well. Proud dancer!

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