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What I’ve Learned by Lying on My Back

written by Carol Crincoli, Pure Pilates Director

I love to swim and I have the great fortune to swim multiple times a week, all year round.  As a child, I swam competitively, but now getting in the pool is the exercise I choose to reset, relax and relieve stress.  I always swim 10 laps at a time, mixing it up between breaststroke, freestyle, and sidestroke. This allows for less counting and more problem-solving, creative thinking, and dreaming. In 30 to 40 minutes, I can create a rough outline for a future workshop, finalize the menu for a dinner party or learn something new about myself or a situation.

My swimming groove came to a screeching halt, when I developed an issue with my knee.  The inside of my left knee to be exact. I took time away from the pool, consulted with a few doctors, increased my strength training, and cultivated a solid foot, ankle, and calf routine to assist in relieving the pain. It was also recommended that I stay away from breaststroke for a while because it was obviously aggravating my injury.  My favorite stroke is now forbidden and just increasing freestyle sounds boring. I’ve had enough of swimming butterfly as a kid and I hate backstroke.  

I can swim backstroke, but I hate it because I never learned how to relax into the stroke and I am fearful of cracking my head into the wall. When I swim, I like to see where I am going and what’s happening around me.

But after a few attempts at sticking to freestyle, I decided to flip over and figure out this lifelong hate-fear relationship with my nemesis Backstroke. 

 

What I’ve Learned By Lying on My Back:

 

  • Fear will not prepare you for the unknown.

My biggest fear while swimming backstroke is when your head hits the pool wall before your hand touches.  It has happened to me in the past, it does hurt and depending how hard and fast you’re coming in will depend on the level of pain. In swimming and in life, I like to anticipate my road ahead. I am reminded not to invest in the outcome (hitting the wall) but focus on the journey (lap) and trust that you will land on your feet, or at least not head first.

  • Having a plan and being flexible helps prepare you for the unexpected.

Flags are hanging over my head near both ends of the pool.  90% of the time, I can count 7 strokes and my hand touches the wall.  The other 10%, it will take me 8 strokes. Being perfect every time is unachievable and I would argue that it doesn’t prepare you for the unexpected. I understand and accept that I may take 6, 7 or 8 strokes from the flags to touch the wall. I also have a backup plan, so if I lose count (which I do) or I don’t trust my countdown, I see that ladder and know I have one stroke to safety! 

  • A change of scenery can open your mind to a different perspective.

Do I miss swimming breaststroke? Sure do! But do I really hate backstroke? I do NOT hate backstroke, and I found out that I am pretty good at it.  As I have gotten over my fear of hitting the wall head first, I have relaxed into the stroke. I enjoy having my face out of the water, figuring out a different breath pattern and the sounds in my floating head are different, actually peaceful. It took an injury to force me out of my comfort zone. I am grateful for the new perspective I found while lying on my back.

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Katie is a passionate mover who was brought to Pilates through dance. After a professional dance career, Katie discovered her love of teaching-connecting the mind and body, and working with students of all ages and levels. Her appreciation and understanding of everyone’s ever changing body and needs only became greater as her own body went through pre and post natal stages, an experience which has helped Katie navigate problem solving, and bring a freshness to each session making them feel personal and specific to each body’s needs. Her sessions are full of flow and aim to challenge clients with a sense of comfort, and often a little humor, all of which she has brought to Pure Pilates since 2016. Katie thinks the gift of movement and self care is one of the best things one can do for overall wellness, and is thrilled to seek and fulfill milestones and goals with each of her clients. When she’s not at the studio, Katie is taking care of her three little humans- another job that also makes her smile, laugh, and challenges her on the daily.
Eighteen years ago I discovered my love for Pilates. After having my two children, I felt the need to move my body again. At the time I was living in North Carolina, and worked through many different exercise and training programs. I discovered Pilates, and instantly knew it was right for me. Forteen years later, and a move to New Jersey, I decided to share my love of Pilates with other people looking for some way to move their bodies. Pilates has also been a way for me to keep me strong and flexible to continue many activities. My family loves to be active, and I often find when we are all together (mostly vacations) our days consist of activity and movement such as hiking, kayaking, or skiing(more on this later). As I have gotten older I find it even more imperative now that I keep my body strong. Recently I was in a skiing accident that left me with many knee injuries and ultimately having to go into surgery. I found being able to do light Pilates a few weeks after surgery kept me sane and ultimately helped with recovery time. Pilates has not only helped me be able to keep up with my children, but has also provided me with a body that is able to function at peak performance. My approach to Pilates can be described in one, simple word: movement. Movement can help you, both physically and mentally. Movement, and Pilates, is ultimately about self care. Having a built in time to focus on your body and movement can help relieve yourself of feeling tired, anxious, and stressed. Movement awakens you. Even after one session you can leave feeling calmer and energized.
Enjoyment of life through movement is a vital part of Kathy’s philosophy. When not in the studio she leads an active lifestyle trail running, cycling, skiing and hiking. She also loves connecting with people while traveling with family and friends. One of her favorite cycling trips was riding along the coast of northern California. Learning new things and sharing knowledge is also important to Kathy. She has a passion for food, likes to cook for her family and experiment with new recipes. She is currently trying to achieve the perfect pizza. She is also an avid reader of historical fiction and biographies. Her latest endeavor is learning to play golf.
Carol M. Crincoli, owner Pure Pilates studio, has been in the fitness industry since 1990, with experience in corporate and commercial fitness, recreational programming and teaching as an adjunct professor. She began practicing Pilates in 2003 and received Pilates training through the PhysicalMind Institute in New York, NY. She holds certifications from the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a group exercise instructor, personal trainer and lifestyle and weight management consultant. She was also accepted into the IDEA-PFT Recognition System as an Elite Level Personal Fitness Trainer. She is the only trainer in the NY-metro area for Trent McEntire’s Arcus equipment. Carol graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music with a BFA in musical theater and a minor in dance. Opening Pure Pilates is the culmination of a lifetime dream, and her mission to "inspire life from the core" is a holistic approach to health and wellness—from exercise and nutrition, to stress management and self-care. Carol is also the inventor of 8th Avenue Rail, an organizing solution for Tower springs.