Here’s a gift from Chip, the ballet-dancing Pilates instructor at Body Dynamics:

Sit up straight. (Or you can stand; whatever.)

Put your right hand on the back of your neck, as low onto your back as you can reach, so your elbow is pointing at the ceiling.  (If you have a small child around, this is where they will inevitably tickle you. Banish them from the room posthaste.)

Now swing your left hand up and over to land on your right elbow. It’s the job of the left hand to push down gently on the elbow. The goal is to lower your shoulder down. (You hiked it up when you swung your right hand into place, but don’t worry—you can lower it back down again.) Maybe your elbow could point higher? You want that right arm back by your ear if you can.

Left hand now drifts down to point at something at shoulder height. Not directly to the left of you; not directly in front of you. You’re pointing at something exactly in between. (I have no parenthetical comment for this direction.)

Now look at your left hand. (Turn your whole head; don’t just roll your eyes. You do that enough already. Your eye-rollers are the best-worked-out muscles in your body!) (And you thought I hadn’t noticed.)

Left hand up again, to cup the top of your head. (You are now susceptible to tickling on both sides. Hope you banished that kid as instructed.)

VERY GENTLY use the left hand to tug your head downward, as though you wanted to point your right ear at the floor. (You can’t get it pointing at the floor; don’t try. DON’T FORCE IT. But ear toward the floor is the direction you want to go in.)

Hold. Drool. Take a moment to identify the back/shoulder/neck muscles that are crying out in pleasure-pain. Feel the starch in those areas begin to surrender. Consider how much they do while they hold you upright in front of the computer for hours on end.

Now do the other side. You don’t want to be lopsided.

You’re welcome!

Too Many Apps Open


As the quarantine has dragged on, I seem to spend the first five or ten minutes of my sessions with incredible trainers Barbara and Chip at Body Dynamics by bitching.

Just out and out complaining about my state of looming discontent and feelings of isolation and distraction and self-pity for consuming anything even remotely considered foodstuffs. Both Chip and Barbara—because they are kind, compassionate humans but also because they deal with clients five days a week—have told me that I am not alone.

A lot of people are trapped in an endless February. The vaccine is coming, but it isn’t here yet. Hope’s right around the corner, but new varieties of COVID are even more catching. It’s chilly and grey in Virginia, but across the nation the cold is actually dangerous.

There are reasons to be overwhelmed.

Chip told me about one of his clients. She was having a tough time getting an exercise right, and I can relate to that. It’s taken me three years to actually feel anything at all in my glute mede—so the idea that I can’t always make my muscles move the way I’m supposed to? Yeah. That rings in me like a bell.

Chip’s client apparently sighed and said to him, “My brain has too many apps open.”

He told me this and I came to a complete halt. Just locked in place, lying on the matt doing bridges.


That’s exactly the feeling I have when I can’t sleep for all the ideas in my head—or the To Do list is long and growing. That’s what it feels like when I’m trying to use my glutes and abs but the shoulders are somehow trying to help, or a diamond-shaped cluster of various muscles at my low back, or my feet, or anything else miles away from where the center of effort is supposed to be.


Does it ring with you, too? Can we figure out the way to hit that tiny X at the corner of the app and shut down a few of them? Most of them? ALL of them? God knows, we can fire them up again tomorrow. What do you think?