Small spaces and reversed breathing.
On my recent holiday to America, I found myself missing the regularity of Pilates at PPP. After thousands of miles of driving around on the West Coast and a red-eye flight across to New York, my body was crying out for the stretching and core activation that only Pilates can provide. Plus, it would be handy to gain some new ideas to bring back to PPP.
New York City is the birthplace of Pilates. Joseph and Clara Pilates opened their first studio on 8th Avenue Manhattan in the 1920s. These days, there are Pilates studios on every corner. I was lucky enough to stumble into the 8th Avenue studio at a quiet point in the day and line-up a session with the current owner, Roberta. Roberta is a ‘third generation’ instructor who learnt the ‘classical’ method of Pilates from the likes of Carola Trier, a renowned protege of Joseph Pilates himself.
The studio was packed with equipment, eight reformers, four ladder barrels, five compact half trapeze/mat combos. There were variations on the multi-chair that I had never seen before and some pieces of equipment I can’t even begin to describe – let alone figure out how to use! Roberta wanted to take me back to basics and pass on a few of the finer points of the classical method. After rolling and massaging my feet on three different types of spikey balls and foam rollers, Roberta did a quick analysis of my problem areas, posture and quickly identified what I needed to work on.
We started with breathing – I was breathing mainly into the upper and front of my chest. Roberta had me sit and breath into the back and sides of my ribs, starting my breath out from my lower tummy and using my breath out to elongate my spine. I felt taller and more relaxed already. We then progressed through some of most classic Pilates exercises – footwork on the reformer, cat and cow, and reverse swan on the multi-chair. We spent a long time on footwork and Roberta had me reverse my breathing from what I was used to doing, it was like being a beginner all over again – I concentrated hard on trying to feel what Roberta wanted me to feel.
If you find yourself in New York I highly recommend visiting a Pilates studio – it’s amazing how much they can cram into a small space and if you take a class, be prepared to reverse your breathing!
I walked out of the session feeling taller, lighter more relaxed and ready to head off and see a show on Broadway!