Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pilates, of course, but what's this Springboard thing?

IE has been bombarded with tons of exercise classes lately. Those purporting to address the "holy grail" muscles of the core: lifting and toning the seat, abs, and thighs are especially intriguing. (swimsuit season--sigh) IE loves a thrown gauntlet, so here we go--getting out there--exercising.

IE decided to test out Pilates Mat Springboard class at Synergy Pilates, a local studio here in lovely Marin. Synergy Pilates

You've seen Pilates classes reviewed here before: intrepid exerciser: pilates and yoga go head to head. The technique is so multi-layered and diverse it deserves multiple examinations. Here is another site to look at for more information on Pilates. more info on Pilates. But as the practitioners at Synergy Pilates succinctly put it:

"Pilates is a form of exercising that works to change the shape of your body by using core based movements. Pilates strengthens and lengthens muscle; it does not build muscle mass. Adding this type of strength exercise to your regular cardio workout will help to give your body a better transformation."

IE is heeding their advice and taking some Pilates Springboard  classes.
The Pilates Springboard was developed by Ellie Herman and her business partner.

Ellie is a dancer who turned to Pilates after an injury--and kept turning to the training--and kept innovating. ellie herman pilates.

"The best thing about my short stay at NYU was the morning Pilates mat class with Kathy Grant, a disciple of Joe Pilates...She taught me that depth and creativity could be brought to the Pilates Method.. "

Ellie's Pilates Springboard is a 6-foot-high wall-mounted platform, with easy-to-adjust arm and leg springs. The exercises are the same as those done on the larger and more expensive Cadillac or Trapeze Table so it delivers the same total-body toning benefits.

ID (inveterate dancer--was totally "hooked" when she saw the wood plank bolted to the wall, with it's spings and pulleys. It made her remember the funky modern dance studios with their cracked mirrors and oddly placed poles holding up paint-peeled -ceilings.)

But watch the below videos. These exercises are challenging! IE will not be floating down memory lane!! Stay tuned for the post-class-wrap-up. This week Pilates Springboard. Next week...You'll see!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Intrepid Exerciser takes on the beach, the boxing ring, and the ballet studio (of course)

SurfSet and Piloxing at Bay Club Marin

Turns out hybrids aren’t just cute little cars on four wheels. The latest hybrids are exercise classes designed to combine the "best" workout tricks from several disciplines, such as boxing, ballet, or surfing. The result is a workout that's accessible but different, fun but challenging.  While not exactly for the purist, it's the perfect change it up prescription for the exercising mom-on-the-go, the super-fit indoor/outdoor jock and of course, the gym rat.

Perhaps the hybrid's greatest benefit is to get you to see your own favorite discipline in a new setting. For IE it was a revelation to finally be allowed to do 25 attitudes derriere. Perhaps for the kick boxer it would bewhat if you could jab, hook, and shake your hips?

Let’s start with Surfset. For the lowdown on the company and its founders see: surfsetfitness story
Class is taught on what looks like a surf board, only it has these balls underneath it that make it wobbly, mimicking a board on waves.  The instability factor constantly challenges your core, and then on top of that you are doing intervals and going for speed--think burpees on a surfboard. IE was definitely challenged and needed more time to complete the moves. Some of the standing balance moves: doing bicep curls with my arms in  rubber cords, while standing on one leg--I struggled with, but that gives me something to shoot for next time.

The next day I felt the small muscles in my back and legs that I haven’t felt in a while. The only drawback for me, IE, was the lack of class camaraderie. IE likes a certain group-bonding-vibe even if its subtle, and maybe because it's so difficult to balance and move, while not falling onto the hard gym floor, there wasn't much back and forth between students, or even between students and instructor. However, IE knows you  have to try a class more than once to really get a feel for it. So stay tuned for more updates!


Now Piloxing is a different thing. And I have to admit that I like it more. But then it’s easier for IE to grasp because its ballet, Pilates and boxing. Founder,Viveca Jensen, is a dynamo on video, and I can only imagine in person see SF Gate Article on Piloxing

The class mixes boxing moves: jab, uppercut, and hook with ballet and Pilates moves: standing leg work "serve the platter" (passe/attitude in ballet-speak) and traditional Pilates on the floor abdominal work: variations on the "hundreds."

They mix in some short boxing sequences that get the heart rate up.We also add in this funny "whoop-whoop" thing while we move so no one can take themselves too seriously.

IE likes it that the aerobic sets are broken up with standing ballet moves,which improves balance and tones the muscles.  It also makes the mind more flexible, as it has to stop and concentrate after an all out jumping or punching sequence.

I’m not giving either of them up--I love my Piloxing. I’ll keep at the Surfset and see what I can learn. Let you know!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Inveterate Dancer (ID) does Dante as a ballet

video of dante's inferno

A tour of Hell with Paolo and Francesca by SF Ballet April 2013

Choreography is a fascinating process. What inspires us and why? Plie Releve Life’s ID wants to know more.  Last weekend I went to see San Francisco Ballet’s “Paolo and Francesca” a piece choreographed by SF ballet’s Choreographer in residence and former SF principal dancer Yuri Possokhov.  I wanted to look at the program notes by Cheryl Ossola, and see how they compared to my experience of the performance and my own particular love of Dante.

I studied Dante’s "La Divina Commedia" as a college student in Urbino, Italy.  

I remember the moment when I understood more than the translated words (and the copious footnotes). At some point, for a second, I swore I heard the voice that wrote the story. And even though it was of another time and place, I still got something, and loved it. So I was looking for that moment for  the words to fall away and, since it’s dance, the movement to take over. It’s what Frances Chung calls in her brief interview “the wind rushing in my face” That ineffable magic when the body can make a story immediate, fresh and full of sensation.

Frances Chung was Sunday afternoon’s Francesca. She's a beautiful dancer with a natural verve that animates her technique. My fellow balletomane companion for this performance says she can “dance beyond her bones.”  I agree. Watch her in her video and see if you are not taken by the strength and length of her lines.

However in this performance the story seemed to overwhelm Frances. Perhaps she took too literally Dante’s words “There is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time in misery,” because she seemed mostly dejected. She kept her eyes almost continually downward. This made her dancing seem fatigued and defeated even though it was pure and flawless.

There were a few moments of brightness and spark. In one section of the 10 min pas de duex she ran forcefully away from him (on pointe is not as easy as it sounds) and as she came downstage center she performed a series of passé turns and pirouettes that evoked the swirling passions of hell. She then fell to the floor and rolled over him, showing us the abandon that carried the lovers to the Inferno.

Now for a taste of the agony of Dante and Possokhov's interpretation of passion, we don’t have Frances, but let’s watch Maria Kochetkova's “Francesca.”

What about our choreographer, Mr Possokhov?  What was he going for in the piece? What was his inspiration or interpretation?  In the notes he says he makes the movement from an ideal, something he sees in his own body—and then fits that ideal to the dancers. “I adjust to my aesthetic and my musicality,” he says. “I have to find another way for [the dancers], with my aesthetic but different execution.”

Frances, in her video, talks about how closely he works with the dancers. He even takes class with the dancers while setting the piece on them. I think this allows him to translate the movements he comes up with into the bodies of his dancers. Watch how he transforms the classical port de bras arms of Maria Kochetkova. Her perfect Russian training is subverted as she elongates and swirls her arms like seaweed fronds, around Paolo.

In his Francesca da Rimini, Possokhov says, “the marriage, betrayal, murders, condemnation are merely the “frame of the painting.”

So that is perhaps why the depth of our heroine is never explored and she resides more in the agony of her passion than in restless desperation for her lover. It’s hard to believe she ever enjoyed her passion, because she is too resigned to her damnation.

That is the tragedy of this ballet. Still it was beautifully danced, the music was charged, and the set exquisite. ID would definitely go again.

dore and dante