Mind & Motion

A Form-ula

Posted in Fitness Tips, Pilates by Meghan Pickrell on April 28, 2010

After continually exercising with a personal trainer, it can sometimes be daunting to head into the gym for a solo workout. The job of a trainer or exercise specialist is to educate, motivate and cue specifics on form. In the fitness world we refer to “form” as the position of the body and limbs during a specific exercise. Keeping a particular alignment or “form” when performing a movement can increase muscular load, producing maximum results and reducing potential injury. It can be difficult to sense specific positions. Consequently, a trainer will often cue a client, making sure the body is balanced and supported. So, the question is raised: without an external perspective, how can you tell if you’re keeping the correct form? There are several tools you can use as feedback in the absence of a trainer.

The Mirror:
It sounds obvious enough but using the mirror can help you check your positioning. If you often work with a trainer ask for feedback on appropriate alignment. Notice in the mirror if you’re performing what they are describing. Let them help you while observing yourself. This way you can start to notice potential patterns. You will then know what to look for while exercising alone.The visual information provided by the mirror will help tenfold over trying to simply sense the movement internally. Remember, two senses are better than one when working toward proper alignment.

Your Hands:
If you do not have access to a mirror, you may need to resort to other senses in order to understand your alignment. Feeling for bony landmarks with your hands will give you information about your positioning. For example, when performing exercises while laying on the floor check to see how your pelvis is situated. Place your hands on either hipbone to help you determine if both sides are symmetrical. The hands can provide further information about how the bones are positioned.

The Environment:
Working with a structured piece of equipment (such as a pilates reformer) will often get you situated into the correct position. The more your body is in contact with the tactile environment, the more you will be able to feel your alignment. While lying down, you have the ground to give you feedback, while sitting you have the chair, etc. You are always in contact with some part of the environment (thank goodness for gravity!), provides feedback about your weight. Make sure you are sitting or standing symmetrically and balanced. The more understanding you have of the skeleton the more such feedback will serve you.

These tips will help you understand ways to check your alignment while exercising alone. Start with the mirror, your hands and a piece of structured equipment in order to receive feedback thus maximizing your workout.

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