Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Strip Pilates and Belly Dancing in PT

Yesterday I accidentally wound up in a Strip Pilates class. It didn’t start out that way. It was a sort-of impromptu. We had already stripped down to our thermal underwear for flexibility. The teacher started talking about the importance of not letting a groove form between the shoulder blades. She took off her shirt to show us her back. The only way she could check our backs was if we did the same.

Then we watched each other’s backs as we learned to move our arms like vertical snow angels, using muscles only. I was the only one wearing a tan bra. Everybody else (this was an all female class) wore white. It was truly amazing to watch the teacher stretch her arms to the side without moving her scapulas.

She can move her upper arm bones as if they float freely in the joint sockets. We all tried to copy her and laughed when she repeatedly tried to help us hold our scapulas still with her hands. The classroom does have front mirrors and a side mirror. We may need to install an angled back mirror on the back wall/ceiling juncture.

My left shoulder looks almost normal now, but it does not move normally. I’ll try any exercise. If Strip Pilates can increase my range of motion and reduce pain, I’ll be back.

Then my Physical Therapist, Young PT, decided to tease me about belly dancing, as if women my age didn’t do such things. I took Belly Dancing for Physical Education about 40 years ago, and I still remember some of it. One thing I like about Young PT is that he treats my body like the tool that it is. Even though he has to ask me to get into gross-looking positions and has to hold me in ways that could be embarrassing, he is always businesslike.

So, I had no hesitation lifting up my t-shirt almost to bra height and demonstrating rib-cage isolations. Pick up the ribs (which makes the waist look smaller) and slide them to the right, then to the left. After everything is sliding smoothly, rotate the ribs in a circle: right, front, left, back. After a few rotations in that direction, reverse.

For a flash, just for a flash, Young PT looked at me appreciatively, as if I was a woman, and not just a body injured in a car hits bike accident. I heard my girlfriend from 40 years ago saying, “You’d better not do that in front of any man but your husband.” My skin is no longer elastic. The muscle definition is marked. But I’ve still got the smooth moves. Young PT made a quick recovery. “That’s good exercise.”

When I got home, I checked myself out in the mirror. I was impressed. I could also see where some of my abdominal muscles need work. I went to Amazon and ordered the least expensive belly dancing video. About $6.

Those abs will come in handy at Strip Pilates, too.

Kathy Smith: Flex Appeal - A Belly Dance Workout

Note: if you buy from this link, my friends at simegen get a cut of the profits.

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