Fitness Face-Off: splits (sessions 17-19)

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While I've been a listless blogger of late, it's only because it's hot, not because I haven't been making many a pilgrimage to Re:AB. Last week was tough, emotionally and otherwise, despite a productive workout with Kate on Friday (I nearly maxed out the reformer while doing my Russian splits). I felt tight, which in turn caused me to seize up mentally, which in turn made me feel tighter. For whatever reason, it just hurt more than normal.

After a weekend reprievethough I did practice my forward lunges (place your front knee directly above your ankle, extend your back leg and then sort of hang into the hip flexor)I felt remarkably refreshed for my workout with Brooke on Tuesday. We started with a bunch of front kicks (using a bar for support you kick as high as you can, swinging it through to the back), before working into flying ronde de jambes (flying, only because we were using momentum). We skipped the reformer completely, using the Cadillac as our mat (interesting fact: Joseph Pilates built the Cadillac so that it could be positioned over the beds of injured soldiers during WWII and used in their rehabilitation). While I've only been measuring the progress of my splits, my flexibility is remarkably increased throughout my body. The first day, I couldn't touch my toes. Yesterday, I was slamming my head into my knees as I rolled up and over. I can reach well (inches and inches) beyond my feet. This is not only because my hamstrings are much looser, but because Brooke and company have been training me to lift out of my lower back and create space between my vertebrae. Essentially, it's hard to sit up straightI've been building the muscle to make this a bit easier.

At the end, before moving into my favorite stretch, I put my back leg into the fuzzy little strap and my front leg onto one of the swings and then, holding myself up using the bars, dropped down into a near split. It's scary and the stretch is intense, but it demonstrated that I'm actually pretty close.

Yesterday morning, I had another go with Debbie (she who has seemingly drunk from the well in Tuck Everlasting), who decided to bag my usual exercises, and take me through a standard intermediate-reformer workout instead. I must say that it was totally gratifying, if only because I accomplished the routine reasonably well which made me feel like I might not blow at traditional Pilates as much as I thought. Sadly, Debbie is heading back to her husband and mother country next weeka significant bummer, because she's so nice and an excellent teacher.

One of the side notes of this project, which I've referenced repeatedly, is an increasing awareness of the balance of my body. I'm making a concerted effort to keep my right shoulder down, to release the tension in my upper back, to keep my legs uncrossed at the office. I've also taken to noticing the asymmetrical attributes of others. Mark Consuelos, host of the addictively bizarre Age of Love (my friend and I justified our two-hour session in front of the TV on Monday by stretching throughoutor I stretched, she drank), has an asymmetrical back (visible only through his button-down as he declined to get into the Jacuzzi vat of 20-year-olds). And, I must note, many of the contestants had asymmetrical boob jobs, or at best, asymmetrical nipple placement.

But I digress. Because Pilates can't fix that.

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