My love affair with the Pilates Method began with 3-4 months of practicing only the Mat. I was desperate to fit into the skimpy costume the theatre had bestowed on me for an acting role and therefore willing to try anything.
I enrolled in a six-week mat course at Excel Pilates in Washington, DC. (A big shout-out to all my fabulous Excel peeps, past and present!) I made a couple of fantastic friends in class and we decided to form a trio for weekly apparatus work with our instructor, the lovely Lesa McLaughlin. To this day I hold the Mat as my favorite apparatus with the Reformer a crazy-close second.
But back in the Naughty Aughties my first carriage ride was a bumpy one. Not used to being encumbered by straps, springs, BOXES, etc…, I stared down at my flailing arms in the Hundred…oh the carriage should stay still, eh? Ce n’est pas possible! I quite enjoyed the Teaser until I had to haul myself up atop Mt. Long Box dragging pesky straps and handles. And whose bright idea was it to turn that perfectly good Long Box into
The. Short. Box.
All I can say is “My Kingdom for the Tree.” Otherwise I don’t know what all went on there. I am pretty sure it went something like this:
Ooooh, I like this first exercise (Round)….it gives a nice backbend and back massage…until I must…get…back…up. Ooof. Then the Flat Back helps me find out I have ribs ribs ribs that shall not be silenced! Um, what’s next…? (Stall stall stall…my brain does not want to remember the next bit of torture.) Oh yeah, Side to Side, right. This is the one where Lesa comes to fix me… I have not a clue what is going on here, whatever I do is clearly the wrong answer…and as if it could not possibly get any worse I discover that somehow I live a life devoid of twisting because it is surprisingly damn hard. Yay! It’s time for the Tree! Yeah, yeah, it’s not about my leg…sheesh!
Not that Lesa let us do the other Reformer exercises any old way but is it my imagination? Why and how are these Short Box exercises so exacting? She is super particular about all the different positions. Does one ever advance to the point where one can banish the @%$#^@**! Short Box??!!!
And now it’s 2012 and I. Friggin’. LOVE. It.
Thank you Lesa, I hope I can see you in person very soon and present to you my Short Box 12.0. See Andrea lift! And Twist! See her reach from Side-to-Side and take a trip Around The World! I might even Go Fishing for you!
Enraptured as I am, let me extoll a few of the virtues of my newly beloved Short Box:
1. Posture, posture, posture. Again one of the reasons I love Pilates is that left to my own devices I have terrible posture. Someday I aspire to sit up as tall as I do in the Flat Back while using my laptop!
2. Stomach for Days: Yes for sure the Tree is not about your leg, but again another Aha/Duh! exclamation at this crazy stomach exercise…We are doing Pilates, right? What are the chances of encountering a stomach exercise? Say it with me: Duh! Make yourself a sweaty mess with this one.
3. A Corkscrew for the upper body: You can be the tree before the Tree! Use your wonderful flowing Around the World to root legs in the strap and let your beautiful supple strength branch out in the breeze in this challenging Twist variation.
4. Don’t even get me started on the virtues of the Side Sit Ups here That could be a whole post unto itself!