We just finished Week 1 of Summer semester at my studio in Portland Oregon, with LOTS of new folks getting started on their love-affair with Pilates. (yay!)
The first concept I teach everyone is how to do a “Pilates Scoop.” Many Classical Pilates teachers use the phrase “scoop your navel in and up,” but how do you know that you’re doing it right?
Try using the Pregnant Cat exercise to learn and review the concept of Scooping.
- Start on all-4’s with your spine long & strong. Keep the bones of your spine still.
- Without moving your spine, allow your belly to hang, like a pregnant cat with a belly full of kittens.
- Without moving your spine, move the flesh UP…Scoop up the Kittens!
- Important: don’t “grip” in your low back when you scoop up. Have someone touch your low back — they’ll feel it.
- Practice this 10x per day. You can scoop in any position. It’s easiest to keep your low back out of the exercise in all-4’s.
- Keep practicing — within a week or two, you’ll be able to scoop deeper without using your low back muscles.
A note on starting Pilates training…
Many people think they ‘have no abdominal muscles.’ They often feel like they’re forever doomed to feeling uncomfortable. Forget about possibly attending a Pilates class… If you’re in this boat, I have three messages for you:
- You are not doomed
- You do not need to live with discomfort
- Pilates is exactly what you need. If your stomach moved at all during Pregnant Cat….you’ve got abdominal muscles!
Do take the time to interview Pilates teachers, to find one who is compassionate and who will take the time to help you fine-tune your exercises to make sure you’re getting the most out of them. If you can get to the studio, you can do Pilates! In the meantime, remember to Scoop up the Kittens whenever you are:
- Getting into or out of your vehicle. This requires more adept movement patterns than you’d guess.
- Picking something up, whether it’s a child, a bag of golf clubs, or a gum wrapper.
- Exercising. Pregnant Cat will give you a strong Anchor Point at the center of your body, so that all of your other muscles get the correct message about when to exert energy. There’s no need to Scoop 100% of the time; use your Scoop whenever you need some extra ooomph.