How is it that I've had obliques my entire life but am just now understanding what it feels like for them to activate? Don't I use them every single day? Don't they literally function to keep me upright and stable? Thanks to this week, my obliques are now engaged and sore in a way that I never knew was possible.
Not only is this week the middle of the challenge, but this week especially focused on my middle.
I started this week with two STOTT classes that were more demanding than I anticipated. In one, Anna led us through a side plank series and a front plank routine that looked like pure elegance but felt like muscle chaos. Then, in a private session, Heather led me through several exercises on the Ladder Barrel. It started with a few innocent side bends. But then quickly spiraled into me doing a leapfrog downward slide over the front of the barrel before using my core to lift my body up and back. If you're having trouble understanding what that looked like, just imagine how I felt trying to execute the motions as Heather cued me on.
During that same session, we decided to try Teaser on the mat.
I wish you could have seen the weak smile I gave Heather as I got down on the floor. I've been tracking my progress by how well I master the Teaser, and all the staff knows to hold me accountable. And this moment with Heather was the first time I'd been asked to perform the move on the mat.
The mat may look innocent to those new to Pilates, but, honestly, it's one of the most challenging areas to master because there's nothing to hold on to or support you through. It's just you, gravity, and your core. And why the Teaser? It's a signature and instantly recognizable Pilates move that draws on the core, back, and leg muscle groups. When mastered, it's an elegant glide upward that literally defies gravity.
My session 1 Teaser was floppy and a little round in the spine. And I could only hold it for a few seconds before all my muscles floundered. Since then, I've pretty much mastered the bar-assisted Teaser on the Cadillac but leaning into my own strength was all new territory.
How did I do with the session 16 Teaser with Heather? I lifted my legs and arms into position and immediately started to wriggle. This is usually my cue to collapse, but Heather just looked at me and said, "Fight for it."
So, I fought.