Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Hello dear readers! Gosh it's been a looooooong time.

If you're a new subscriber, Welcome! Thanks for exploring my archive of posts and signing on for the long haul. I hope to share even more of my experience of the Pilates Method in my own body as we finish out the year.

It's been a wild ride lately.

A big thank you to those who expressed concern at the lack of new posts in their inbox each week. Your sweet messages warmed my heart.

As for my disappearance, the short answer is I have been traveling and guest teaching since September.

How the Bicycle On the Small Barrel Fixed my Back

Cake-filled Vienna was lovely. Thanks to Andrea Seipel at Pilates Modling for a fantastic event!

I landed after at my usual haunt, Everybody Pilates in Portsmouth UK with the lovely Amy Kellow (where evidently I was all workity-workity and took no photos…boo…).

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Seoul fused the ultra-modern with beautiful tradition. Thanks so so much to Nan Young  and your lovely teachers at The Control.

Oh and so delicious as well… too many food photos to show here but indulge me a bit…

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

And if Los Angeles and the French Riviera had a baby it would be Busan.

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Where of course there was more food (and Pilates at Studio Define – Thank you Kyung Hye!).

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

The longer, more-involved and truthful answer for my absence is twofold:

  1. I indulged in a very satisfying closet/wardrobe renovation. Organizing and nesting pleases me greatly and I did nerd out HARD in this process.
  2. I discovered a little Pilates mystery going on in my body that I wasn't quite able to figure out. Honestly it was making me lose a bit of my Pilates mojo. I was cranky and Pilates wasn't helping.

#wtf?

Oh Small Barrel, are you my only friend?

Let's Recap

Lately I've been sharing my personal workout with you. I'm sure you all remember my Small Barrel Project – woo hoo – I had a big successful run on this 30-day challenge.

I couldn't get enough of it – I was invincible!!

Yeah! Bring on another one – how about a 30-day Wunda Chair Challenge!

Sadly, on the Chair I didn't fair as well. No matter how many times I mounted my Wunda I couldn't make the exercises feel as delicious as on the Small Barrel.

And as I like to say when confronted by a new Pilates mystery in my body:

Hmmmm…

Where's the juicy-feel-good-post-workout feeling I crave?

How/Why have I become so stiff? What gives?

Small Barrel 2.0

How the Bicycle On the Small Barrel Fixed my Back

Yes.

I must return to the scene of the crime to make my body feel like a real person again.

2-3x per day I practiced all of my Small Barrel exercises hoping for a miracle.

If you've been reading for a while you know I am very reluctant to blame the Pilates exercises for any discrepancies in how my body feels.

#dontblametheexercise

It's not you, it's me.

Perhaps the Small Barrel had more to teach me.

The plan:

I began each workout with my #usualsuspects: Foot Corrector and Small Barrel. After a couple days I added just a bit of meat and potatoes exercises on either the Reformer or the Mat.

As much as it pains me not to do every exercise I do on the Reformer (cause if you skip them they don't get better) I must revisit the basics for a new(ish) reason:

I am cultivating a new skill and I want to visit it in as many straightforward uncomplicated exercises as I can – because they'll be easier to wrangle than all the snakes and backbends right now.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Please imagine me talking sternly to myself about this.

At first my Reformer workout looked like this:

  • Footwork
  • 100
  • Frogs and circles
  • Overhead (because I just can't stop myself)
  • Coordination
  • Stomach Massage Series
  • Short Box Series
  • Elephant 
  • Knee Stretch Series
  • Running 
  • Pelvic Lift

At first.

After about a month I added in Long Box 1: Pull Straps, T and the Backstroke.

Now a few months in I have added in nearly all my Reformer exercises – nothing super duper yet- no Backbends, no Headstands – but everything else is coming along nicely.

I may even figure out how to keep length in my back during extension exercises – holy cow that would be awesome!

Baby steps.

Repetitio est Mater Studiorum

Using the gift – GIFT I tell you! – of repetition I diligently work through my Small Barrel exercises. Slowly the more straightforward ones – Circles, Walks and Beats – help me to find length in my back.

Long the Back! Right? OMG what's that amazing sensation of ease in my hips and legs?? Excellent…

Each day doing my exercises hones my Long the Back! skills into the Scissors and – eventually and miraculously – into the Bicycle.

It's truly an amazing progression in this Small Barrel series. Each exercise building on the next, each subsequent exercise just that much more complex to challenge my new skill. Or at this point should I say “skill?”

Armed with my willpower and my Pilates Mantra I forge ahead!

I work to make each subsequent exercise feel exactly like the easier ones which precede it. 

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

And one day it comes to pass that I have an epiphany in the Bicycle

A word about the Bicycle

The Bicycle – done anywhere in the studio really – falls into the category of exercises I find to be problematic. Lots of flashy leg moves right in front of your eyes which distract you from your main goal of length in the back and connection in the center.

Choreography be damned! Who cares if I know what a Bicycle is supposed to look like? ONLY. CARE. ABOUT. THE. CENTER.

My discovery is, on the surface, so lackluster. However, this move is a crucial component of nearly every exercise.

With the Bicycle I learned I could bring my leg closer to my body by opening up my back. Not by overusing my hip and leg, but by a forlorn and neglected region of my powerhouse.

And you know what that means?

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Back to the Elephant.

AGAIN.

Time for some sad trombone

Cast your impatience aside for it does not serve you…

I now have a tiny window into just how much repetition it takes to create change.

A f*ck ton.

Every. Day.

The Elephant is our very first quintessential Pilates exercise meant to open the back of the body with every close of the carriage. So simple right?

Uhm, clearly chock full of Pilates goodness this one…

Have a basic exercise you return to time after time?

Share your Pilates strategy in a comment below.

And thanks for reading!

Stay tuned here for my workshop schedule for 2018…