Oh, the Roll Up. I loathed this exercise for most of my life. I had to modify FOR YEARS. I am talking decades. I tried it all sorts of ways and then one day it finally happened without modification. For me, Kindness is a few things. Kindness is being kind to your spine by practicing Pilates. Kindness is modifying exercises to work for YOUR body.
Many people do not want to modify. They don’t want to do something differently than the people around them. I was one of those people. If I had continued to struggle and jump through this exercise, I would not have developed the strength in the back of my legs that was missing. I would not have eventually been able to feel the full length of my abdominal muscles. I would not have developed the strength to overcome back pain. Kindness is acknowledging your own process, whatever it looks like and however long it takes. Kindness is honoring your body by giving it what it needs. Kindness is celebrating our differences.
Pilates might look easy but this exercise is the perfect example of the challenge that can come with only three to five repetitions. One of the modifications that helped me to strengthen my body to do the Roll Up without modifying was to support my legs higher than my hips. I would use the foam roller or TRX straps to do this. The lift helped me to press through the back of my legs where I had some muscle atrophy from Lyme Disease. Putting my body into a position where I could work all my muscles strengthened them so I could do the exercise without modifying and even without a strap! I also used a two pound weighted bar or hand weights to get extra work for the upper body when I had a strap and wasn’t modifying the lower body.
I now enjoy doing the Roll Up. I love the strength and stretch that comes from doing this exercise. I also love how it prepares you to flip this exercise overhead and do tomorrow’s exercise the Roll Over.
Photography by Jennifer Gouge