Row, row, row your boat
I will spare you and refrain from writing out the lyrics because I'm certain they automatically started running through your head.
Here we are, in the month of June, (I can't believe it either), and
we continue our journey through the 12 Days of Fitness to day 6. What did we get on day 6? Rowing! And 6 types of rowing to boot. The overall purpose of the Rowing Series is to strengthen and stretch the arms, shoulders and upper back. Let's get to the nitty-gritty...but first, a video demonstrating the complete Rowing Series on the Reformer:
Rowing 1 & 2
The first two exercises are a wee bit different than the other four. How so? For starters, Rowing 1 & 2 require that you be seated facing the back of the reformer. And, while they are sequentially the first two exercises in the series, they are generally the last two to be taught. The reason being is because of the choreography of the movements. In both 1 & 2 you are working away from the powerhouse in multiple directions, so it is most important to make sure that you have the strength, coordination and stability to safely move through the exercise.
Rowing 3 & 4
These, and the remaining rowing exercises, have you facing forward on the reformer. Both Rowing 3 & 4 have you sitting upright with your legs extended in front of you to start AND have coordinated breathing!!
In doing Rowing 3, also called from the chest, you remain sitting upright for the entire exercise. You engage your powerhouse to stabilize the body, lengthen the spine and isolate the movement to the arms. The tendency is to work from the shoulders instead of the sides of the back.
Rowing 4, aka From the Hips, starts with your hands by your hips with legs extended and feet flexed. This bad boy starts of with a big ol' hamstring stretch as you slide you hands alongside your legs and stretch to reach beyond your feet. From there you articulate up to sitting bringing your arms up in the same manner as you had in Rowing 3.
Rowing 5 & 6
Shaving and hug, two things that most people do on a regular basis in everyday life. Leave it to Joe Pilates to have exercises named after semi-mundane actions that are anything but mundane. For the final two Rowing exercises you are sitting cross-legged with a slight variation in leg position between each exercise.
Shaving, as most know it, is done in an attempt to get your skin as hair-free and smooth as a baby's bum. In a surprising twist, the movements of Shaving, (Rowing 5), is meant to mimic using your hands to "shave" off an imaginary ponytail or hairs at the base of the head. That doesn't mean you also need the ability to mutate into Edward Scissorhands on demand, just visualize as a means of doing the exercise...on a side note, if you can morph into Edward Scissorhands, when can we meet? I am due for a trim.
The 6th exercise of the Rowing Series is Hug. How fitting that the last exercise is also a common sign of affection when departing? Before you start hugging it out, you need to switch which leg is crossed in front. Sounds simple, but try it yourself, sit with your legs crossed and switch legs without using your hands or rocking to one side like a Weeble,
bonus points if you hold your arms out to your sides as if you are going in for a hug. Go ahead, I'll wait...
After humbling Pilates experience #6,342, you can hug the heck out of that imaginary tree trunk! Again, this is also a breathing exercise, so ideally your breath coordinates with movement. God only knows if you just fell off your couch trying to switch your legs, so before you start huffing and puffing in unison with your arms, just remember to breathe. If nothing else, Pilates is all about baby steps. Baby steps to the elevator, baby steps get on the bus, baby steps down the aisle, baby step to four o'clock...
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