Up in the air this summer – D4 Pilates

When I attended ballet school then went on to dance professionally, summertime always presented a slight conundrum; how could I take in the rest and relaxation I needed, but still stay in shape? It was never fun returning to ballet class feeling like my legs were less flexible and my balance was slightly off.

Summer holidays from my Pilates teaching schedule brings up similar issues, but this summer I’ve experimented with new, exciting forms of movement that I’m excited to integrate into my classes!

The more familiar Iyengar and hatha yoga have helped keep my breathing going while feeling centered and grounded, but the aerial workouts I have tried have introduced an entirely new, thrilling feeling to exercising.

Amy Ell once owned Core Fitness in Houston, where I took my first reformer classes in 2001. She has since become a master trainer in Gyrotonics, and now has trademarked her own aerial workout called Air-Tone, which is like a carefully choreographed Pilates class done while hanging from a swath of silk.

Sitting into what starts out as a silk-like swing, class members find their center and eventually turn sideways, diagonally, then upside down in a workout as challenging for the upper body as it is for the abs. Truthfully, in this level we never get so far off the ground that a fall feels dangerous, but the sequences still push the boundaries of what feels safe and comfortable. Seeing the more advanced classes on the other side of studio provides motivation: I want to learn to hoist myself closer to the ceiling, then tumble down, unrolling in the material!

But I must wait until next summer for these daredevil acts, and meanwhile practice the core-strengthening, head-clearing Pilates moves that makes the upside-down ones seem possible! I look forward to getting back to the studio. Planks and hundreds, here I come!

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