The Balanced Body Pilates on Tour Conference in Chicago was amazing. Imagine your favorite hobby, interest, or past-time and being surrounded by experts within these fields as well as hundreds of passionate participants. A positively inspiring environment.
Tom McCook, is an internationally recognized fitness and movement specialist. Tom designs programs for health and life performance for working professionals, people rehabilitating from injuries and World class athletes including Olympic Gold Medal swimmers Natalie Coughlin and Jenny Thompson. Tom has an extensive background in Pilates and the Franklin Method of Movement. Through skilled imagery, concise communication and a deep understanding of the body's incredible design Tom provided hours of education. His presence is so strong and his method of teaching client-centered and instinctive. Here he demonstrates on a student a method to facilitate thoracic rotation and mobility. Note how square her hips are. The lumbar spine is not designed for rotation...watch Tiger Woods swing a club and note how the majority of his mobility comes from above the waistline. If your thoracic spine and rib cage is stiff more forces and demands will be placed on the lumbar spine. Or if your thoracic spine is stiff and you swing a tennis raquet you might find you are swinging too hard with your shoulder causing shoulder pain. Rotation should come from the center--not the low back.
Want to stretch and strengthen your obliques? Try side sit-ups on the reformer short box. Adding side bends, lifts, and rotations will challenge your entire core cylinder. Strengthening your body should come from the inside-out---the deepest layers are what provide the structural foundation. Pilates targets these regions comprehensively.
Here I demonstrate a challenging exercise called "sitting!" ha ha. This particular piece of equipment is called the EXO Chair and the pedals have a weighted spring resistance so maintaining a tall torso while pushing down through the weighted foot pedal actually feels like work...plus the eccentric control necessary to return the foot pedal without crashing! The EXO Chair also has a system of weighted elastic attachments to add resistance training to any motion. Bridges, roll-downs, lateral side bends, and plank positions are all performed on the chair.
Arlene Bass and her business partner Sharon Gawin (physical therapist) own Body Evolve in Chicago. They provided a 6 hour course Friday of Pilates for Serious Spinal Diagnosis. The focus was on appropriate Pilates exercises for clients with spinal stenosis, spondylothisthesis, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and spinal fusion. It was a nice combination of anatomy, biomechanics, and Pilates application for my particular background of occupational therapy. In addition, Arlene taught the EXO Chair workshop on Sunday. The EXO Chair is the latest addition to my Home Training studio! Arlene is demonstrating a prone plank position with the added challenge of a chest press. Notice how she maintains a lengthened torso supported by a strong core. She never arches her back in this position but maintains a healthy, neutral spine.