At the beginning of the year, I had this crazy idea that I would do the Pilates 100 exercise once on the first day of January, twice on the second day, three times on the third, and so forth, seeing how far I could get. I started to video my 100’s, partly to keep myself motivated, partly to entertain. I did the 100’s in the snow, with the dogs, all around town. I was having fun.
I posted my endeavor on a Pilates discussion group. Wise Pilates instructors from around the world told me it was a bad idea. It was not Pilates. It was not true to the Pilates idea that you should do a lot of different exercises a limited number of times to strengthen and balance your whole body. I was told I would blow out my pelvic floor doing the 100’s that many times, that the pressure of my diaphragm would cause bladder prolapse out my vagina. A friend said, “Why would I want to watch you doing the hundreds? That’s not motivating.”
The wind was knocked out of my sails. I was no longer having fun. Was I really stupid to try? Was I going to hurt myself? Was I setting a bad example? Was I really flaunting the principles of Pilates so much that I should not be allowed to call myself a “Pilates” instructor but rather an “exercise nut.” And what’s more, does everything I do have to be motivating for others? Can I do something and have it be interesting without necessarily being a leader? Just being me.
Being a bit of a rebel, being an experimenter, and yes, being a bit of an exercise nut, I didn’t stop. I wanted to see what changes I would feel in my body. I developed an idea that I would see how far I got, and if my body needed to stop, I would. As the numbers got higher, and my days did not lengthen nor my work load lighten, I realized that I was going to run out of time. There just wasn’t enough time in my day to do this, especially because I did notice some imbalances occurring. As I increased forward contraction time in my day, I realized that I need more back extensions too. I did other exercises in between the sets of 100’s to keep my spine and body moving around in all directions and hopefully balanced. This was in addition to any regular workout I already did, or lesson planning, or demonstrating in classes. I was getting tired.
I made it to 16 sets of 100. At that point, I felt like I was walking around in the 100’s position flapping my arms like a crazy penguin. My muscles were strong, inside and out. They were not in pain, but I felt tight, tightened down in that position. I noticed that the tightening along my spine also seemed to exaggerate the curve of my scoliosis. My pelvic floor was not ” blown out” nor weakened, nor do I think it would ever have been, but who knows if I’d actually done 3100, maybe I would not have been able to do a sustained Kegel that long?
A side note about the technique of the 100’s position: I began the exercise before I moved my spine, legs, and arms into position, by pulling the pelvic floor upward, the feeling of contraction being up the front of my spine internally. From that upward contraction of the front body muscles, I contracted and reached my back body towards where my legs were pointing, forming a sort of muscular hammock for the upward lift of my pelvic floor. The more I engaged my upper abdominals, what Pilates instructors refer to as “knitting the ribs,” and pump my arms from my back muscles, the less work I felt in my neck. This proved to be a very comfortable, non-straining position.
So on to February, I will continue to do the 100 every day. Such a nice easy number! I would like to try my experiment through the months with the rest of basic 10:
2. Roll Up
3. Single Leg Circles
4. Rolling (Like A Ball)
5. Single Leg Stretch
6. Spine Stretch
8. Single Leg Kick
9. Side Leg Kick
However, I think I need to do a back extension next, so February will be the month of the Preparation for Swan. Something basic, something stretchy. Okay…let’s see how far I get!