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Kathy's pilates challenge: Bend ... less?

Kathy Michaels and Jennifer Smith may not have the same take on their experiences, but they
Kathy Michaels and Jennifer Smith may not have the same take on their experiences, but they're never shy about sharing it. Hear about their latest adventures in She said, She said.
— image credit: Kelowna Capital News

Call me Jacques Cousteau.

Just as that French icon explored the depths, giving the world a better understanding of the great unknown—the women at NeuMovement physio and Pilates have given me tools to understand the workings of my body deep beneath skin level.

Said self discovery was less awe inspiring than a sea faring vacay would be, mind you. But it did teach me why I've had some challenges, and how NeuMovement differs from average fitness factories

In a lesson called  integration you're taught what may need tweaking through a physiotherapy appointment, and offered the tools to create a masterpiece in a Pilates setting.

In my case, physiotherapist Jen Gulley also offered an answer to a long unanswered question: Why do I smile during yoga while my friends look pained?

Turns out it's not because I'm a sadistic genius in one particular field of fitness.

"Do you feel this stretch?… This one? What about this?" said Jen, as she yanked and pushed my leg around.

"No, no and no," were the responses I offered.

"You're a Gumby," she said, reconfiguring her path, explaining the green fellow who can bend every which way has nothing on me, except a cool orange horse.

It's likely that I have a load of Elastin in my ligaments, which makes me looser. It's great when I'm busting a move on the dance floor—regardless of what my friends say to the contrary—but it's offered a few challenges to the way my body came together.

My lazy ligaments aren't holding me in place as they would your average Jane, so my muscles work overtime to keep the status quo. Thing is, muscles aren't too fussed about alignment, which explains the slightly off-kilter way I move through life and corresponding knee pains.

To move from realization to realignment,  I was passed off to Paula, who consulted with Jen about my  damage.

They then whipped together a little workout that payed exacting attention to my form.

Paula's lesson highlighted that Pilates is focussed on quality, not quantity. You don't need to do a 100 repetitions for the work to take effect. In my case, I did simple steps using a straighter formation, some recumbent leg loops and pointed my "sit bones" out, not under.

Paula explained when we are going through days activities, the tendency is to turn your tail in like a subservient pooch, and that's the first step to an unhealthy form. Just being aware of that change is key to creating a better form.

In general the tasks were about controlling my muscles in a new way,  while paying particular attention to how every inch of my body was aligned.

The machines and a personal instructor help that aim. Together they guide you into certain positions and by the time I left, I was even walking differently.

Straighter, perhaps, and definitely a bit less wiggly… unless I'm on a dance floor, of course. Then watch out for Gumby to get her groove on.

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