Dancer pose

How Pilates Prepared Me for Iceland

Airborne for five hours in a seat that didn’t recline –  that was me last weekend. The air conditioning was broken and I was a total sweat mess.  (This is a lot coming from someone who is perpetually cold) I was bending in ways one shouldn’t bend in a futile effort to squeeze in 30 minutes of sleep during the red eye.  My back and neck were stiff. My legs didn’t reach the floor so they were tingling and threatening numbness. Aside from arriving in a destination I was excited to explore, I felt like crap.  My body was unhappy with me and my brain was very, very tired. But there was no time for rest! We had excursions planned that cost $8 Million (not really, but it seemed that way!) and I wasn’t about to back out for a little nap.  I needed a short travel workout to get me going.

 

Travel Workout

Group Plank

Get Moving and Stretching

So, I started practicing some Pilates right away.  I propped my leg up on my suitcase and did some stretches – trying to square up my pelvis to relieve not only my hamstrings but also my lower back and any muscles that attach to my hips.  For the next hour, we rode to our hotel and as much as I would have loved to squeeze in a few spine twists, that obviously wasn’t happening. I did a bunch of neck stretches, elevated and depressed my scapula and noticed a remarkable release in neck tension right away. My sleep deprivation headache began to subside and I was in a better mood. I repeatedly did Imprints and Releases to stretch and comfort my low back and by the time we checked in, I was feeling good as new.

 

Hiking Underground

Hiking Underground

I’ll start by saying our weekend was a non-stop outdoor adventure. The right clothing (base layer was key!) and footwear made a huge difference, but the key was that my body was ready for movement.  The day we spent inside a cave formed by 3,000 year old lava was challenging – both mentally and physically. If you don’t suffer from claustrophobia, you might develop a small case as you head inside spaces underground that are pitch black and require near-crawling postures.  Once I convinced myself I would make it out alive, I found that I could hike over the uneven terrain with ease. I felt balanced, strong and nimble as I navigated the small cave. 

Travel Workout

Our hotel gym was underwhelming to say the least.  Two cardio machines, a stability ball and a handful of weights required some creativity.   I drew on my Pilates expertise to create a short, yet effective strength, stretch and cardio workout that re-energized my body.  Short intervals using burpees, planks, push-ups, squats and a variety of ab sequences from the Matwork elevated my heart rate in no time and got me back to sightseeing feeling fresh.   This heart-pumping mini travel workout only took about 35 minutes, so try as you might, the excuses that you don’t have time for a workout while on the road are lame.  

 

Dancer pose

Dancer pose

Now this is Outdoorsy

We rode ATVs up mountains the day following our cave tour.  This was not your ordinary ATV – these were serious, powerful machines, built for scaling mountains and glaciers. During the ride, I noticed how strong I felt guiding the ATV over and up sharp rocks.  They were heavy duty and required considerable effort to turn sharp corners and navigate the terrain.  Continual mental reminders to sit tall in my seat got me out of the natural “slump” while riding and gave me more physical strength to control my machine.  This postural awareness went a long way – not only could I see better, but I also felt more control when my back muscles were activated.  When others complained of soreness afterwards, I was thankful for all of the Pilates and strength training I do on a regular basis.  I was definitely prepared for just about any activity and was grateful for a healthy body and spirit to take me there. 

Teaser

Teaser

And of course, when we reached the summit, I had the energy to do yoga poses (stretch and fun!) and Teasers despite the wind and the heaviness of my hiking boots!  

 

Share your Stories

As an instructor, I love hearing stories from clients about how their travel experience has changed since Pilates – whether it’s in the form of stamina, balance or mobility.  Pilates changes bodies and enables you to live your fullest life. Whether you embark on an outdoor adventure like me or hit the French Riviera, you’ll find that Pilates has your back.  Please share your stories about how Pilates has helped your travel!  

 

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