Feeling tight and tired? This quickie routine is how the pros perk up and melt away stress.
by Lindsay Lopez
My name is Lindsay, and I’m a recovering Pilates studio owner.
I’m joking a little, but really, owning a studio is hard work. The commitment to teaching and running a studio leaves you with pretty much zero time to do your own workout. So when Pilates Style came along, asking me to create a Pilates workout, I was stumped. As a teacher of the method for almost 20 years, it’s not that I was at a loss for sequences or cues. What I’d lost through devoting my time to my business was my best Pilates self! How could I not feel like a fraud when I hadn’t felt the work in my body in…well, suffice it to say, a long time.
Running your own show is not for everyone. While you make more per session, and maybe teach less hours, you have to shoulder more responsibility. Unlike traditional Pilates studios, our focus at my studio, FORM, New York City’s first Pilates cooperative, is on allowing an instructor’s business to incubate within ours. So far, it’s worked out for the best. But…the downside is that it can still leave me—the show runner—with little time to work out.
Instead of belittling myself for not getting my own workout in between payroll and client sessions, now I plan my sessions with the masters themselves. For this feature, I turned to one of my favorite go-to instructors, Xavier Cha, for inspiration. Classical with a modern twist, Xavier puts me through my paces and gives me exactly what a busy studio owner needs. The result is a workout for anyone who sits at a desk all day, hunched over a computer for hours on end.
Xavier steers me toward the Cadillac anytime I roll my eyes and say, “I’m tight and tired!” It’s the perfect place to open things up and stretch out.
Sitting at a desk and managing a business would leave anyone’s chest tight and shoulders hunched forward. Rolling back returns freedom to the spine with careful articulation. The Chest Expansion, Long Back Stretch and Thigh Stretch all open the chest, improve lung capacity and stretch the front of the body, and Hanging counteracts the forces of gravity and actually creates space in the spine. Finally, finishing with the Spine Corrector is like eating a big piece of cake. Like the Hanging, the reverse of gravity with the leg work helps to reverse blood flow and create space in the hips, plus the stretch in the lower back feels amazing.
These exercises are for all levels of experience, with the exception of the Hanging. You can do this quick sequence anytime you feel yourself squirming to relieve pain. Step away from the keyboard!
Purpose: promotes articulation and freedom in the spine
Setup: Sit tall on the mat, with your feet against the vertical poles and legs straight, hands shoulder-width (or wider) apart holding the bar.
1. Inhale and, keeping your knees soft, begin to roll down.
2. Slowly roll all the way down, allowing your head to touch the mat. Exhale.
3. Inhale deeply, then roll up one bone at a time, exhaling at the top. Do 3 reps.
Tips: Don’t forget to roll through your lower back; use your abdominals to tilt your pelvis. Imagine that you’re wearing a button-down shirt backwards, lightly pressing each button into the mat on the way down and resisting them off the mat on the way up. If you have trouble articulating through your lower back, bend your knees.
ROLLING BACK WITH ONE ARM
Purpose: stretches and strengthens the side body
Setup: Same as Rolling Back, but hold onto the center of the bar with your left hand, wrapping right arm your waist.
1. Roll down onto the mat.
2. Reach your left arm toward the left side of the Cadillac.
3. Then, for an additional stretch, slide your left leg toward your right leg.
4. Return your left leg to the pole and your left arm to your waist, squaring your body off toward the bar.
5. Roll back up.
6. Repeat the entire sequence on your other side, breathing naturally throughout.
Tips: At the bottom of the Roll-Down, soften your chest and ribs into the mat and breathe. Try to keep your body as square as possible to the vertical poles.
Purpose: opens the chest and expands the lungs; strengthens the hamstrings; stretches the front of the hips
Setup: Come into a kneeling position facing the roll-down bar, legs hip-width apart. Reach your arms in front of your body at shoulder height, and make sure that your fingers just touch the vertical poles.
1. Place your hands on the bar shoulder-width apart. Begin to inhale, pulling the bar toward your hips.
2. Holding the inhale, look toward your right, then toward your left.
3. Exhale, releasing the bar.
4. Repeat the sequence, but look toward your left first.
Tips: Try to stack your shoulders, ribs and hips over your knees. Lean forward toward the bar, but simultaneously pull your abs back. Try to inhale evenly the entire time you turn your head, instead of holding your breath, to increase lung capacity.
Advanced: Move farther away from the vertical poles.
To read the full story—and get the complete workout—check out our May/June issue. Get instant access to Pilates Style on your tablet or mobile device—packed with more great features—by purchasing our app edition!