My lats, they hurt. I only discovered this during a private with Anna where she had me take a stretch on the Cadillac. It was a sore burning that kicked on when I raised my arms and went into a slight back extension—and it let me know I’d been putting in work.
Last week, during my first session of this challenge, Elissha told me to use my lats as I powered through a few rowing motions on the reformer. “My what?” I asked. “Think of your armpit muscles,” she answered. This minor correction painted enough of a picture in my mind that I could feel what was likely an underused muscle group light up and propel me through the remainder of our time together. This little bit of focus changed everything and lifted me to a new level of body awareness.
I had to wonder why things felt so different this time around. I’m going to tell on myself and admit that I lacked consistency. I would go Pilates a few days in a row, get sore, take a break, and either switch to something else or go sedentary for a few weeks. Even during the good times, I’d attend class once a week and pat myself on the back for trying.
As I wrap up the first week of this challenge, I can say that this experience has been humbling and educating. I’m finding myself called out and corrected in the poor body habits I adopted.
For example, let’s talk about the rib popping that looks stunning in my old acro yoga photos and likely carried over from the gymnastics lessons of my youth. Elissha spotted this on day one and reminded me of the six principles of Pilates—concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing. This understanding was a mind-blowing discovery for me because, while this correction was about how I was holding my ribs, it showed me I had been sucking my stomach in instead of contracting my ab muscles.
What about my trusty tactic of holding my breath to power through a challenging sequence? Also called out, as it directly goes against those six Pilates principles listed above. And, finally, my holding my chin to my chest when asked to tuck my chin? I got a stern word on that one, too. Not only is that bad alignment, but also the kind of positioning that could lead to injury in the long run.
These corrections have made a noticeable impact on my performance and my posture. And they have made Pilates that much more challenging as I’m being pushed past my physical strength and into actual mental coordination.
Another positive in all this is that I’m relearning all the little bits of Pilates knowledge I previously took for granted. Sean, a newly certified instructor, spent one session with me getting into the nitty-gritty of finding my neutral spine and carefully transitioning into a supportive imprint. It was an enlightening session that reminded me of the simple yet fascinating science behind how we move.
Perhaps that’s how I can best sum up this week—enlightening, humbling, and educating all in the best way possible.
To see updates and more, make sure you’re following Equilibrium on IG at @equilibriumpilates and me at @Cambreynoelle.