100 Things to Think About While Doing a Plank

Or: My relationship with my abs and beyond

It’s not easy to plank, but it’s one of the best exercises you can do without any props. Just you and the floor and your focus. That’s the hard part, the focus. I always say that exercising is not just physical, it’s also mental, and the plank is a fantastic example. When I plank with others, I often say “go to your happy place.” That’s my way of saying, take your mind off the exercise itself because your body can do it—it’s your brain that’s saying “I’m tired, I’m bored, I’ve done enough for today…” Transport yourself through conversation (as we do in class) or reading (as I sometimes do alone) or thinking about something other than holding yourself up in an admittedly uncomfortable position, and you CAN do a plank for a minute, or two, or even three.

Since I love to plank (or rather to have planked), and I certainly love to make others plank, I intend to share here 100 things to busy your mind so it won’t sabotage that wonderful plank.

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Pilates Shouldn’t Be a Pain in the Neck

Are you feeling neck strain during or after practicing Pilates? Then this is for you.

One of the hardest parts of starting out in Pilates is learning how to hold your head up without straining your neck. What’s frustrating is that until your abdominal muscles are strong enough to take the brunt of the work, your other muscles are going to try hard to help out—thus the strain in your neck. So my advice: don’t try to keep your head up just because others in the class are doing it. Listen to your body, and do what’s right for you. If you get enough of a strain, you’ll be unable to practice for a class or two, and that would be worse!

Try to lift your head each time you do Pilates, even just for a few exercises. Make sure to keep your focus on your thighs or abs—not the ceiling. That just adds to the strain. And when it’s too much, try these modifications:

  • Complete the exercises with your head down on the mat.
  • Put one or both hands behind your head for support, depending on the exercise and what your arms may need to be doing.
  • Bend your knees. This takes some pressure off your back, and may help alleviate some of the strain you are feeling.
  • A combination of any of the above, such as putting a hand behind your head and bending your knees.

With time and practice, it gets easier to hold your head up, I promise!