The varying temperatures inflict minimal involvement on my part, for the majority of my days are still spent before spreadsheets and screens. A persistent unwellness lingers about my mind and body, urging meals of congee and lean red meat. Pickled cabbage stimulates a tenantless appetite, while Salted Pork Congee reigns at the top of the Most Wanted list. Blanched leafy greens and delectable beef brisket from Wonton Chai are also procured.
The Harvest Festival menu unfortunately excluded the skewers and Pulled Pork Bun I had hankered for so desperately. Instead was the availability of SPAM musubi, a popular Japanese-Hawaiian street snack, and an Aloha Plate. The set comprised of rice, macaroni salad, barbecue chicken, short ribs, and their infamous kahlua pork. A no-tax discount was offered for cash payments for a total of $30 for two Aloha Plate boxes.
For Halloween summons the long-awaited usage of cookie stamps purchased nine months prior, I hopped on the opportunity for cute-creepy sugar cookies. At roughly the halfway mark, the stamps began to crack. I settled for the ghosts, houses, jack-o'-lanterns, and witches' hats I had managed to produce in cocoa dough. Sturdier, thicker blocks were formed in houjicha dough, earning the title of "mahjong tiles" after baking.
I had arrived roughly ten minutes prior to the class start time and hobbled about the waiting area, contemplating whether I ought to dash onto the floor and use the bathroom. I did it anyway, then soon realized they were out of toilet paper (again). My new instructor bumped into me in the hallway, "Hi Natalie!" She had just completed a private session of her own.
My old instructor was lead the group class. She seemed a tad exhausted and even a bit short, but made sure to check in with her students' pre-existing conditions throughout the class and offered modifications to prevent further injury.
Proceeding with core warmups, a partially deflated ball was squished between the shoulder pads. The ball would provide elevation to conduct crunches with the feet placed onto the Cardio-Tramp, and then more jumps while maintaining the infamous "pilates stance". My ball had rolled back during the move, causing my body to shift upwards and the Carriage to slam into the Reformer frame due to insufficient length - or rather, height. I addressed my concern to the instructor after a few reps, realized my error, then compensated with several makeup repetitions as the other two participants awaited my completion. The instance made me realize the difference in level of attention granted with private classes.
Another aspect worth noting was the constant reference to Reformer terminology. While the instructor would provide assistance and prepare props for the routine in a 1:1 setting, adjusting the Reformer was the responsibility of the student in a standard group format. When verbal instructions lacked clarity, consequences would materialize as confused expressions or proceeding into a different exercise than intended. In this sense, it was typical to glance over at your neighbour for context. (I know I did.)
Moving onto Hundreds variations, the other two girls were told to reach behind for the wrist straps. My shoulder-safe modification would be to simply raise the arms into the air and lower them down, sans tension. As the Carriage did not shift back and forth, there was reduced space for the legs to move. It mattered not in tabletop position and not tremendously in the extended position of the legs either, for they could be lengthened and held above the footbar, which had been affixed to the highest position. At the conclusion of this portion, I was praised a supposed improvement in strength: "You got stronger." She remarked.
"I did?" I responded, surprised.
"Yes. It's harder to do it without the straps."
"Oh. Why, thank you."
Though, the reality was that my arms would likely have shook with the added tension looped about the hands. While the others proceeded with drawing circles in mid-air, I was told to continue with the lateral raises/lowering.
Standing perpendicular on the Reformer, one foot was placed on the platform extender, while the other on the Carriage, pressed against the Reformer Box attachment. Feet were placed at hip distance apart with weight equally distributed. We proceeded with squats, squat pulses, and sliding side squats (with one leg bearing majority of the weight). Under normal circumstances, the moves were quite harmless; on the Reformer, any shifts in weight would be indicated by shifting of the Carriage. It was a telltale sign of inconsistent control.
More variations were introduced while in the same general position. Dropping onto one knee on the Carriage and the other on the footbar, one would extend the stationary leg to target the inner thigh. We would then keep the stationary leg extended and use the knee to push out against the Reformer Box, allowing for isolation of the other inner thigh. The spine was to be kept as still as possible for the duration of the move. Continued work on the thighs involved lowering one elbow onto the Box, then raising the extended leg to hip height for several counts; pulses would follow afterwards. A grimace on one of the class members could be observed from a distance.
Oblique stretches and a spinal rolldown and rollup concluded the class at 11:55 AM.