2 Essential Pilates Moves at 30,000 Feet

2 Essential Pilates Moves at 30,000 FeetThe good news

I flew direct from San Diego to Baltimore.

The bad news

I flew direct from San Diego to Baltimore.

5 hours of sitting BADLY…

When I fly I have a great empathy for both the tall and the ample. At 5'2″ I have barely enough room for myself and an iPhone. The flight to Baltimore was an early one so I slept through nearly all of it. Later that afternoon during my Mat workout I realized just how long I'd been sleeping (read this as ‘slumping').

2 Essential Pilates Moves at 30,000 Feet

Jus' sayin'.

Stay classy, San Diego

My return flight was interminable as I was awake for all of it. Awake and fidgety. A fellow San Diegan, a young woman also in perpetual motion, sat to my right. She spent the flight playing an action game, steering her virtual motorcycle by moving her iPad wildly in the air in front of her. Her travel companion, a terrier sporting pink highlights and a ponytail, rustled inside a bag (also pink) at her feet. I did my best to remain calm despite a mild allergy to dogs and often full-on hypochondria on airplanes. Hold on, I just taught a Pilates workshop this weekend. I'm invincible…Nam myoho renge kyo…

I live in a city where it's just fine to paint your dog pink.

The woman to my left in the aisle seat explained that she took a Xanex and would be asleep throughout the flight. Should we need to use the lavatory we were just to give her a poke to get out into the aisle. Okay…

Slumping and reading Game of Thrones for 5 hours I fantasized about Pilates exercises I would do if I had opportunity. I stood awaiting the dog owner's return from the loo and eyed the darkened aisle.

The Hundred is definitely possible.

Couple things though:

  1. The ‘ick' factor
  2. The ‘freakshow' factor

Let's be reasonable, shall we?

1. In-seat Spine Stretch Forward


“I'm not ill, I'm returning to life!”

You may be able to upgrade this one to an In-seat Roll Up if it's possible to extend your arms straight out in front of you. However, for myself, not so much.

Reaching down toward your carry-on bag is expected activity though so you may not even look weird, although the flight attendant may hand you an air-sickness bag…

  1. Pull your stomach in until you feel your back firmly into the back of the seat. Inhale.
  2. Plant your feet on the floor as wide as the space will allow. Mine got to be about hip-width apart. Push your heels into the floor and squeeze the bottom.
  3. Scoop in and reach toward your carry-on bag and keep your stomach and ribs as far away from your legs as you can. Exhale. Repeat 5x every hour or so.

Reach from way down in the low back as you stretch the back way over the stomach pulling in. You're trying to lengthen that slumpy part, which should feel good. Come back up with a book or some ear buds and no one will be the wiser.

 2. Water Closet Wall

Take a moment of quiet time for yourself in the most spacious place you'll find on the airplane. Seriously, you may be able to extend your arms in front of you, but I dare you to circle them. So for the Wall exercise, I didn't have room for the Circles. I thought about the Roll Down, but I'd already covered that with the Spine Stretch in my seat. Given the confined quarters and the proximity of your head to the plumbing, well I stuck with the most appropriate part of the Wall for the space, Skiing, or Squats.

  1. Use the lavatory door as the Wall. Walk the feet forward and hip-width apart until you can feel your entire back on the Wall.
  2. Reach the arms forward and up as you slide down the Wall. Keep your hips above your knees and pull your stomach deeply in and up as you reach toward  the ceiling with the fingertips.
  3. Push the wall away with your stomach as you slide up the Wall. Imagine you are pressing the air down as the arm press down and return to your sides.

It's really the same lengthening and lifting of your back that you were doing in Spine Stretch: stomach in and back stretching long.

And if it skeeves you out to slide up and down the door of an airplane lavatory you may want to rethink the whole flying thing in general…maybe I shouldn't have spelled it out like that.

At the very least you'll arrive home hungry for the Reformer. Your carriage awaits…

2 Essential Pilates Moves at 30,000 Feet

Serendipitous Bonus (for those of you who do speak yoga)

Share your travel survival tips in a comment below. Anyone manage to do the Teaser in-flight?

Inside the Pilates Studio: Jennifer Kries

Inside the Pilates Studio: Jennifer Kries

Jennifer Kries. Simply the best Pilates news to hit San Diego since Junghee Won. I first encountered Jennifer via her prolific video workout library. We may be even talking VHS here, folks. Back in the day when my husband and I were egocentric 20-somethings we decided we'd give Pilates a go and promptly rented – if memory serves me – some Jennifer Kries. Thus was our first introduction to the Pilates method. We decided to dip our toes into the water with an Intermediate Mat. Quite confident of our general fitness, and with no tangible expectations we began. Jennifer was amazing. We sadly, were dusted by the Roll Up. By the Neck Pull we did not have a lot of love for Ms. Kries and her seemingly endless poise and control. And by the Teaser we had fully descended into the murky depths of hurling nasty epithets and F-bombs at the screen. We received a healthy dose of humble courtesy of the Pilates Method and the now-glistening-but-barely Madame Kries.

Now I feel like my Pilates world has come full circle. I introduced myself to Jennifer via Facebook and shared my vivid memory of her workout when I got to meet her in person at a workshop at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles. I was immediately struck – or should I say enveloped – by her warmth and humanity. She could not have been lovelier or more gracious as I told her of our first “encounter” and why it had been so memorable for me.

Southern California, get ready to catch one of Jennifer's Workshops. They are not to be missed!

1. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

Jennifer Kries: Not a fair question, because I really don’t have one favorite. The entire syllabus is amazing and a world of continuous challenge and discovery, but for today, I’ll say the Tower. 

I love it because it is an exercise that requires a level of true mastery and control in order to rise up gracefully and effortlessly on the shoulders, while carefully controlling the legs. It yields all of the benefits of a yoga inversion, where the internal organs get relief from the effects of gravity as well as a new influx of fresh, oxygenated blood; it provides a full body massage, and the opportunity to release and open the body in a way you that you never thought possible- an exercise that when I first performed it at Drago’s with Romana literally on top of me, sinking her knees into my hamstrings, I recall thinking to myself that this was what heaven must feel like …

2. What exercise is your least favorite? Pick only one.

JK: That’s easy: Hip Circles. The exercise has always made my dancer’s hip flexors scream, and leaves me feeling quite grumpy and looking for the nearest reformer so that I can follow them up with front thigh splits to get some relief.

3. What turns you on creatively, mentally or physically about the Pilates method?

JK: Everything about it turns me on creatively, mentally and physically. I can’t separate the three, as they are all so completely interconnected and positively enhanced by the work. When I work out, because I am utterly and completely engaged and focused, in tandem with the abundant, conscious breathing, my body’s systems are refreshed and reinvigorated– I always feel new when I have finished a session.  The work itself sets off a catalytic chain of marvelous events that lead to powerful mental acuity, feelings of empowerment, inspiration and possibility on all planes of existence. It has always been this way, and I know in my heart that it always will. 

4. What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Jennifer Kries teaching on the Reformer

JK: Feeling healthy, easy and empowered in my body, calm and focused in my mind, peaceful and grateful in spirit, yet set aflame by the simplest things– a shared smile, a beautiful turn of phrase, feeling deeply connected to and understood by kindred spirits, getting lost in the transcendent flow of creating, a rose, the sky, a bird taking flight.

5. What to your mind would be the greatest misfortune?

JK: Not honoring the body you were gifted with to fully embrace yourself, go beyond yourself by serving others, and make the most of this life by celebrating it and all that it is capable of–loving, giving, learning, growing …  

6. What is your favorite Pilates word?

JK: Contrology. It says it all. It’s how it all began. It IS the man and the philosophy. It IS the Method: “Complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” 

Jennifer is launching her Pilates Mentorship Program in Spring, 2013, “Teaching to Inspire.”
For more information on how to study with Jennifer, please contact Charles@jenniferkries.com
Master Trainer Fan jpeg

7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?

JK: Scoop. 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike it. Used once or twice is fine. However, there are so many other words that can replace the word, and I always like to encourage the people I teach to look deeper and use their minds to produce equally effective, clear, concise, perhaps even better metaphorical language when trying to inspire the “navel-to-spine connection” and related movement in their students. The word “scoop” is like a default that is overused. 

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

JK: Oh there are a few, but today, I’ll say Astronomer. I have always been fascinated by deep space, and the idea of actually peering into it with the most refined scopes that science has produced to discover new realms, in order to really understand dark matter, black holes and life beyond what we know here on earth, pretty much thrills me.

9. If Heaven exists, and by some chance when you arrive at the pearly gates Joseph Pilates is also there, what would you like to hear him say to you?

JK: That he wants to return to earth to teach again and show ‘em all how it’s really done, and as luck would have it, I’ve won the Pilates Lottery and I’m first in line for a lesson.

10. What did you learn today?

JK: That our new congress, the 113th now includes a record number of women- 101 in all, and perfectly timed with 2013, our New Year, heralding the true Return of the Divine Feminine on Planet Earth! Hallelujah!

Jennifer is featured in the cover story of American Fitness magazine, January 2013.

Jennifer Kries American Fitness

Read the full article “Tap into your Waking Energy.”

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