I’m getting pretty good at mat Pilates. Roll-ups. Seal. I can even sort-of do Teaser, which is a kind of sit-up where you pretend you have helium balloons attached to your chest that pull you up to sitting from lying flat on the floor.
Mat Pilates is primarily work with the 4 layers of abdominal muscles, which Pilates students like to call “the core.” And mostly it is done lying on a soft mat.
Pilates teacher can’t make it, so in walks Dance Teacher as substitute teacher. (Unlike grade school where substitutes were fair game, we exercise junkies are grateful to anyone who will teach us.)
“We’ll work the core” she promises. Dance teacher get us up off our mats. She does wide sumo squats, but on her they look graceful. She treats the body like an X with arms and legs serving as the 4 spokes on the X.
Since the accident, I can’t straddle my legs. My triangle in Yoga is a sharp acute isosceles. Not the equilateral or obtuse triangles that most students achieve. X is not my favorite letter to imitate.
Dance teacher leads us around the room stretching her X, low to the floor, wide to the side. I feel like the tin man in need of oil. She takes pity on me and leads us in a grapevine. I thought I could do grapevine, but I watch in the mirror. She makes it flow. I’m more like a wobbling clothespin.
I couldn’t get enough movement, following her, to work my core. It was hard enough to work my legs. And if I don’t have weights is my hands, my arms can go all over the place with ease.
I think I worked a different kind of core – the one that has to deal with what I can and cannot get my body to do. I’d narrowed down the classes I take to things I can do – bicycling, trampoline, yoga with props, Pilates on a mat, swimming, Feldenkrais, free weights. I even signed up for a rowing class. If I don’t have to move my legs to the side, I can do it. I can keep up with the 20 and 30-somethings. I was starting to think of myself as being in good shape.
I’m no dancer. Then again, I wasn’t much of a dancer before the accident, either.