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Sculpt Your Body’s Posture
“Be realistic,” a physical therapist named Rick Stebbins once told me. “It’s impossible to stay focused on your posture every moment. A good strategy would be to spend about 20 minutes a day trying to sit or stand correctly.” Dealing with bad posture, Rick warned, can cause joint pain in the back, neck, knees and hips, in fact just about everywhere. Unfortunately the way we hold ourselves gets instilled in us by our parents from age zero on, and changing it once we’re grown can be harder on some levels than learning to speak a foreign language.
As an exercise teacher I’ve witness the posture quagmire on a regular basis. After teaching classes during which my students hold themselves perfectly, I routinely notice them chatting among themselves afterwards all happily re-slumped. We exercise teachers can nag like parents and barely make a dent in this sphere.
The Bar Method does have one unique weapon in this realm. I call it “posture under pressure.” While some techniques such as yoga and ballet require students to stand properly during the workout, the Bar Method has its students do it while dealing with intense muscle burn. Bar Method exercises demands not just a mental toughness similar to body-building but also the mental focus to persevere while maintaining a precise vertical alignment, and this task, when learned, make a mental impact. Beginners in a Bar Method class tend to drop their heads, stick out their rears or lean on the bar. Seasoned students know that if they even think of flagging the teacher will call out “head up!” “back vertical!” “light touch on the bar!”
These lessons in tough love pay off for students who are motivated to change the way they stand. If just for the relative ease of doing so, some students will carry themselves straighter after class. Over time and with intent these students can build on their gains. I’ve witnessed dramatic posture remakes on the part of students who’ve looked at themselves in the mirror and decided to make it happen.