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Oct 27 2013

I Hugged with My Abs Today!

So, you know how EVERYTHING in Pilates is supposed to come from your abs? How we’ve all heard the refrain, “Use your powerhouse more,” or “Scoop your stomach in”? I am guilty of parroting those very words, but, really and truly, they’re always true. Always. No exceptions.

Does that mean I follow my own advice and wield my abs like the iron fist they are? Not so much. I try. All the time. I even tell my clients, “If you’re awake, you’re abs are in.” But   my abdominals, like everyone else’s, are a work in progress. And progress happened today, in my jammies, on my Reformer in the basement.

One of my favorite sequences in Pilates is the Rowing Series. It makes me feel better and taller every time I do it. My chronically tight neck and shoulders finally relax as I row. My wingspan extends and my spine lengthens. I feel like vectors stretching in all good directions. That is why, even when I’m doing my quickie workout of 20 minutes, I always do rowing. It’s on my Top 10 List (more on that later).

Shave and Hug, which conclude the Rowing Series, are always hard in that good, muscle-burning hard kind of way. They are the last few moments of strength you are fighting for at the end of a good series. However, with few exceptions, my knees pop up as I extend the straps.

I know better. I know that I should be using my feet to connect to my butt to draw in my abs to extend my arms, just like on the Baby Chair. It is ridiculously hard on the Baby Chair, but I can keep my legs and knees still, and, on occasion, feel my abdominals. The same cannot be said for the Reformer. Until today.

Today, something changed. Today, when I engaged my seat by abducting my legs by pressing through my feet, I felt something totally new. Abs. I felt abs. Well, I’ll be. They were there all along, waiting for my body to catch up with what my brain knew was there: the feet to butt to abs to arms connection. And the strongest part of it all was, of course, the feeling of intense work coming from my abs.

With every eureka moment I have in Pilates comes a sense of lightness, of float. So today with Shave and Hug, as my abs kicked in, my arms were light and suddenly less fatigued. I hesitate to say weightless because I was working so hard, but my arms felt weightless. The feeling of working intensely without intense fatigue is no doubt what others call the zone, and we in the Pilates world call flow. Whatever you call it, it rocks.

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