Each time I hear a delivery truck I look out the window because I’m waiting for a package. Not the typical package associated with the holidays—a fancy wrapped present or gourmet food—I’m waiting for a pair of handles I ordered to use with my exercise equipment.
Over the past 9 months I’ve assembled enough equipment to create my own home gym.
In Pilates lingo, we call them “props”. Anything that can help you achieve the correct posture, the right position, or provide feedback is loosely referred to as a prop. So, when I grab a pillow to sit higher on the mat when seated with outstretched legs to touch my toes, the pillow is my prop.
During a global pandemic, we all need “props”. Not necessarily for exercise, but to face the challenges of living and working confined within a limited space. Any device that can provide help in getting work done or maintaining emotional balance is an aid, a prop.
What props do you use? I know the ones I’ve come to rely on, my computer for one. We lost power a few weeks ago and I was pleased I’d fully charged my laptop. No internet for a while, but at least I could work on pieces of writing I had in my files and read old emails. My second go to prop is the internet, crucial for connecting to the outside world with video calls, texts, and emails.
The third prop is a list. The list of professional work duties to accomplish, to be checked off as they are done, is fundamental. Working alone, one tends to get distracted by the sounds of the washing machine and squealing wheels of delivery trucks.
For indoor exercise I started out with a yoga mat, large exercise ball, set of weights, yoga blocks, foam roller, and a couple of resistance bands. My favorite Pilate’s Studio, Chesapeake Pilates in Annapolis, Maryland, launched virtual classes in response to the temporary closure of gyms and work-out studios. Owner Stefanie O’Rourke got busy purchasing camera equipment and thinking up new props she could make herself that would simulate the work-out achieved in the studio. Her creations include a two by four piece of wood covered with foamy material, to help students work on their balance and strengthen toes and feet.
After borrowing one from the studio, I purchased what is called a Magic Circle. Its purpose is to help you focus on using the muscles in your legs and buttocks as you bend and stretch and do a series of exercises that include the jack knife and roll over. Then a few months ago, several “Virtual Students” were encouraged to purchase what is called a “Pilates Stick”. Held in place by the pressure of a locked door, two bungee cords approximate the tension of the springs on a piece of Pilates equipment called a Reformer. It’s not the same, but it reminds your muscles of what they are supposed to be doing.
And that’s what we’re all doing, reminding ourselves of what used to be normal, as go through the activities of each day. Most of us are trying to be the best humans we can be, while waiting for the doom and gloom hovering over us to dissipate. Today I plan to bake more holiday cookies because the smell of warm cookies in the oven lifts my spirits. Tomorrow I’ve got another virtual Pilates class. Hope the next delivery truck brings me my new handles.