Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pillowcases, Picnics, and Pilates

Lately I have been sewing special pillowcases for my grand-daughters. I make them out of novelty print fabrics with ballerinas and dolls. My idea is that I will make them each a set of 12, one for each month, in fabrics that are specific to that month. I plan a snowman print for Jan, Hearts for Feb, Irish for March, etc. starting with Back to School for September. I even found "Happy Birthday" fabric for their birthday months. The girls love them, which sort of surprised me. They love going to sleep on a pillowcase that has fun pictures on it...(I secretly hope it's because Nana made it for them).

G-Pa and I had a picnic in the park last night with two of our grandchildren. We learned that Alexandra likes her strawberries "closed." and Cade likes his cut--would that be "open"? I wonder.

Alex has to show us her fireman's pole descent on the play equipment. And Cade tries to walk UP the slide....not a good idea for a wobbly 18 month old. Alex brought her "bunny blanket", without which no picnic can occur. That is because in her favorite video, a little girl rabbit named Ruby (and her little brother rabbit named Max) always have picnics on a blanket. Our Alex is nothing if not a child of routine. So the bunny blanket was a must, even though it doubled as a tablecloth. A good time was had by all.

Though I have been a regular walker for years, what is now referred to as "strength" training has not been something I liked. I have probably joined 8 different gyms in the past twenty years, and my record for attendance is three weeks.

I have tried all sorts of different kinds of classes for cardio. In the 80's it was Aerobic Dancing, which I liked and did for several years. In the 90's it was Jazzercize, which I liked less. I tried yoga, which I enjoyed, but never got any better at. The only thing I continued to do regularly is walk 2-3 miles a day.

But a few months ago, I tried Pilates. (pronoumced Pi Lah' Teeze, for people from Texas) Voila! Something clicked for me. Because I have a bulging disc, and osteopenia, I started with private lessons, which I highly recommend. I love it, and can see strength and form improvements after two sets of lessons. The core strengthening helps your whole body. I look forward to my twice a week lessons, and even practice on my own inbetween.

The Pilates studio reminds me of a medieval torture chamber. When I first walked in, I expected a hunchback guy in a black mask to appear and tie me down to one of the wooden bunkbed-like contraptions that line one side of the room. These are hooked up to big springs with straps and trapeze bars, looking like something out of a Monty Python movie.

I soon learned that one of these "bunkbeds" is called a cadillac. Seems a strange name for what is basically a mat with adjustable resistance devices attached. On the other side of the studio are what are called the Reformers. These consist of shin-high bed frames with moving platforms also attached to adjustable springs, straps, and handles.

There are other pieces of equipment, built to fit the curve of your spine and offer support for various movements, but the reformer and cadillac are the two main items that Joseph Pilates designed when he created this method. It began during the First World War with the proposal to improve the rehabilitation program for the many returning veterans. He used what was at hand-- beds and bedsprings.

Pilates created "The Pilates Principles" to condition the entire body: proper alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement. So says the brochure. And I am beginning to believe it.

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