Ahh, the pre-COVID days, when I flew to the Bahamas to experience a swanky wellness retreat hosted at the luxury resort Baha Mar. It was a heady three-day weekend “working” with editors from Goop and Byrdie; enjoying full moon ceremonies with shaman Fernanda, who flew in from Rosewood Mayakoba; and daily Pilates workouts with Tara Gordon, owner of New York City’s 212 Pilates.
This over-the-top weekend experience gave me an arsenal of tools that have helped me survive these past several months. Baha Mar isn,t set to reopen until October, but Tara’s wellness is thankfully not Bahamas- specific. So this month’s travel section takes you to a place of better body balance.
Working at home is not new to a writer—this is our sweet spot. The rest of the world has just joined us here in introvert land. But not leaving the couch? That was new to all (well, most) of us. After about six weeks of our new mandate to stay home, I could not lift one of my legs without searing and excruciating pain. I reached out to Tara for some help, and she,s become my virtual coach saving my body and my mind.
Tara sees many clients who are struggling with newfound pain. Many of us have traded in ergonomic office chairs for overstuffed sofas or chairs not meant for eight-hour days. Some have taken the opposite tack, deciding that all work will be done standing. Both can cause problems. Tara explains that posture is one of the biggest issues of working from home. “We naturally sink into our less-supported joints. It’s relaxing, and we don’t have to think about it or overcompensate. People with back pain develop more back pain, tight hips, neck, shoulders and so on.”
So, I asked Tara for some advice on keeping our bodies healthy and pain-free.
SIMPLE ADVICE ON ENSURING BETTER BODY BALANCE
No need for fancy equipment, a subscription, Pilates knowledge or even workout clothes to get started.
While at Baha Mar, Tara wove in exercises throughout the retreat, to the point I wasn’t even sure that we were working out. One day we did small muscle exercises while wading waist-deep in the reflecting pool. The next we used the sand itself as a resistance tool to work our legs while on the beach (who knew you could do leg lifts with a bottle of rosé?). We even stretched fully dressed before dinner with elastic bands and small balls. I learned that exercise should be a part of your entire day, not just a one-hour class or gym workout.
Working out to a video is fine, but without occasional check-ins with a qualified instructor, you can do more harm than good. Just because they say “you’re doing great” from the TV or computer screen, it doesn’t mean you are. “Whether it’s a one-on-one or a small group Zoom, you want to work with a teacher who is teaching movement, not just instructing choreography,” says Tara. “The teacher can choose the most beneficial moves based on the specific body types. One-on-one sessions take this a step further, because the session is tailored to your specific imbalances and needs, combined with your individual goals.” Go to 212pilates.com for a list of small group classes or to schedule a one-on-one.
Remember to breathe. It seems like this should be the one thing we are good at, but we aren’t. And for anyone who has COVID, or has had it, 212Pilates has created a free program called 212Breathe. According to Tara, “People suffering from this virus need mindful breath, and so do people experiencing anxiety. The simple act of deep breathing can decrease stress, reduce depression and lower heart rates.”
INVEST IN 2 SMALL ITEMS
Improve your work-from-home life
A stability disc for seated work will encourage proper posture.
Pinky ball (yes, the fun, super-high bouncy ones) to roll out your feet. You’ll be amazed at the stress you hold in your feet and the full body benefits of rolling them out.