While it’s easy to think that gym workouts should consist of nothing but heart pumping cardio and muscle burning weight-training, there’s a lot to be said for a little fine-tuning. Pilates sometimes gets thrown into the yoga category as something occasionally done when you need to stretch, re-align and even recover from more intense workouts. Contrary to those beliefs, after taking Todd Rhoades’s Mat Pilates class at Equinox Lincoln Park, I was reminded that it’s these types of workouts that should be done more than in a reactionary manner. They should be done as a preventative measure as well. And in fact, it’s sometimes these workouts that are the hardest.
Not having done Pilates in several years, I found myself mildly anxious. After twelve years or so of running, dancing and boxing, and then another ten years working in the fitness industry, exercise has taken a bit of a toll on my body. Enter Todd Rhoades. Let me just say, Todd has a temperament such that, when you are in his company you feel calm, confident and eager to learn.
One of the first things we did was lie on our backs in a hip bridge with a yoga block between our thighs. We’d isolate the muscles by rolling our upper, middle, then lower back down against the mat. This felt amazing on my low back. Fourteen years of taking or teaching indoor cycling have left my low back slightly arched and my hip flexors guitar string-tight. Because of this, relearning how to operate from my torso and not from the hips or shoulders is incessantly important.
Over the next hour, we rolled like a ball, held plank, twisted, turned and squeezed a Magic Circle until our inner thighs screamed. It is important to note that if you are suffering from an SI (sacroiliac) issue, working your adductors (inner thighs), will help alleviate the compression of the SI (where your sacrum sits in between the two iliac bones that make up your hips, or where you hips connect to your spine). This is a very common condition brought on my pregnancy, difference in leg length or inury. Moves like Todd’s Magic Circle squeeze also help re-align your legs so that your feet will turn forward again and your external obliques will turn on. All of this I was reminding myself while working
up a sweat and wondering when the pain would end.
Thanks to Todd, I walked out of there taller-toes forward and without the low back tightness I had come in with.
Making a Comeback: YES No Maybe
1750 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
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MON-THU 5:00AM TO 10:00PM
FRI 5:00AM TO 9:30PM
SAT & SUN 7:00AM TO 8:00PM
Photo of Pilates equipment by: Brooke Becker. Shutterstock.com