Following my cancer operation, I have had plenty of time to think about getting back into Pilates. Due to exhaustion it has been almost impossible to exercise but I managed to improve my strength by walking around the garden, then around the local area, slowly increasing the distance by 200 yards per day. Within four weeks I walked a mile a day, and two months in I am now managing three miles a day and a few exercises. As a result of surgery, I no longer have a proper stomach and my lungs have not yet recovered from being deflated, so at the moment I am unable to lie down to do any of the mat exercises. Here are a few seated exercises I have been using to improve my flexibility and to strengthen my core muscles. Anyone can perform this workout, however, as with any exercise, consult your doctor for advice first.
UPPER BODY TWIST
Place the hands in the position shown, with the wrists aligned, and breathe in. As you breathe out, rotate the upper body turning the head to look over the shoulder. Breathe in again, then as you breathe out rotate the body the other way. Keep your wrists in line with the centre of the body as you twist. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Sit tall at the front of the chair seat and breathe in. As you breathe out, pull in your abdominal muscles and tilt your hips, slowly lowering your back towards the chair, vertebrae after vertebrae, as far as you can. Breathe in again, and as you breathe out, slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Stretch your right leg away from you and point the foot so that the toes just touch the floor. Breathe in, and as you breathe out, raise the leg bending at the knee. Breathe in again as you lower the pointed foot to the floor.
Repeat 5 to 10 times, alternating legs.
For a more challenging version of this exercise, place your hands behind your head as shown. As you raise your leg, rotate the upper body, bringing your elbow to the opposite knee, as if doing criss-cross. Take care not to lean forward.
Repeat 5 to 10 times on each side.
Breathe in to prepare, then as you breathe out raise the right arm and lean to the left as shown, holding the stretch for 5 seconds. Breathe in as you return to the vertical position, lowering your arm. Now perform the stretch on the other side. Repeat 5 to 10 times each way.
SINGLE STRAIGHT LEG RAISES
Lean back in the chair and hold on to the seat. Stretch both legs away, pointing the feet. Breathe in, and as you breathe out raise the right leg to 90 degrees in front. Breathe in as you lower the right leg, and raise the left leg as you breathe out.
Repeat 5 to 10 times, alternately raising a leg with each out breath.
SINGLE LEG STRETCH
Breathe in to prepare. As you breathe out, stretch the left leg away and raise the right leg bending it at the knee and bringing the thigh towards your chest. Hold on to your knee with both hands as shown. Breathe in, then as you breathe out, swap the legs so that you stretch the right leg away, and bend and hold onto the left knee.
Repeat 5 – 10 times with each leg.
Lean back in the chair and hold on to the seat. Raise both legs off the floor and move your feet in a cycling motion, holding on to the seat. Continue for 5 to 10 circles with each leg, then cycle in reverse, 5 to 10 times with each leg.
JOHN APPLEBY’S MAT PILATES
Classes are back in the following locations: Rudford & Highleadon Village Hall, Pauntley Village Hall, Sellack Parish Hall, Larruperz Centre, John Kyrle High School and Aston Ingham Village Hall. Please contact John for more detailed information.
Tel: 01989 567 505 or 07760 341 543 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org