It’s Coming Together, Sunday, December 30, 2018

Whaaat!!! More than one blog post in the same month? Yes, it’s’ true–just days after my last post I am cranking out another!

This one is more of a status report. I am planning on making a push to finish my Pilates/Dance Conditioning certification from Orange Coast Community College this semester. This means taking another 8 classes, six of which are academic. The other two classes are internships, one requiring 62 hours of observation and the other 62 hours of teaching. It’s  good thing I am retired and don’t have to work as well!

Class Schedule

The

The observation hours should be no problem, but the teaching hours are more challenging. I have several places that have reformers that I should be able to use on an occasional basis, but in general finding apparatus to use is a challenge. Last weekend I made a big move to address that challenge by purchasing my very own home reformer.

I purchased it from a gentleman who is going through the Basi Certification program. He purchased it last year to facilitate his own program. He is doing an apprenticeship at a studio close to his home and he has a key to it, so he didn’t really need the reformer and his wife needed the space. The stars were aligned–I checked Craigslist, saw his ad, saw that he was only a couple of miles from my home, contacted him, borrowed a truck, and picked it up.

Reformer_1

I think that there may be some history. It was advertised as a Teague reformer, but I could not find any such manufacturer. What I did find was a YouTube video titled “Teague Legacy Gerald Teague of Teague Pilates & Equipment” about a gentleman named Gerald Teague.

The video portrays him as a kind of Renaissance man in the mold of Joseph Pilates, or Julio Horvath (creator of the Gyrotonic Method). One of the segments casts him as an inventor and craftsman, showing him working in a very well-equipped woodshop, and my guess is that he built my reformer. He and his wife have Teague Classical Pilates studios in the Thousand Oaks area, and pictures of the reformers used in their studio have definite similarities to my machine.

There are some design deficiencies, however, and this makes me suspect that mine may have been an early experimental or prototype unit. The main problem is the positioning of the springbar. There are three carriage stops, but when the carriage stop nearest to the footbar is used the springs go slack when the carriage is all the way in (pictured below).

Slack Springs

Springs are slack when carriage stop is closest to footbar

The next picture compares the springbar setup for a reformer in the Teague studio (left) and the setup on my machine. Note that the Teague bracket has three slots, but mine only has two! Aye, there’s the rub! I have a plan for addressing that problem, and that is to use the space between the existing proximal (relative to the footbar) end of the bracket to cut a third slot closer to that end. Now what I need to do is find someone who can cut notches in stainless steel brackets.

Compare Slots

Current Teague reformer on left, mine on right

I also need to get some longer ropes, and the rope locking mechanism on one side is not working.

Cadillac

Not my Cadillac!

You may have noticed that there is a tower, and I believe that was added on by the fellow I bought the reformer from, hoping to use this as a Cadillac. Once he installed it I suspect that only then did he realize that without a surface to lie on the tower is pretty useless. I think that may have what prompted him to purchase the Cadillac that he hung on to. The Allegro reformers are convertible, and have a platform that joins with the carriage (sans shoulder rests). A platform could be easily fashioned, but the shoulder rests are not removable which is a barrier. My plan is to get back on Craigslist to find a light weight portable massage table that I can remove the legs from and then lay on top of the frame with the carriage removed.

I christened my setup this morning by giving my training partner Anna the first of what will be a series of private lessons. Onward and upward. If anyone else would like to get some free Pilates training please contact me!

Mr Little Jeans, Wherefore Art Thou?, Friday, December 28, 2018

One of my favorite new musical artists is Mr Little Jeans. Name notwithstanding, Mr Little Jeans is actually a lovely and outrageously talented young lady named Monica Birkenes. Monica is Norwegian but currently residing in Highland Park where she and her husband recently purchased a house.

Mr Little Jeans (MLJ) is an electronic artist and has been on the local scene for several years. She has also attracted a good deal of mainstream interest and airplay. Her breakthrough hit was a cover of the Arcade Fire hit “The Suburbs”. Other songs like “Oh Sailor”, “Good Mistake”, and “Runaway” appearing on DJ playlists, soundtracks, and commercials. I like her music a lot (big smile emoji here)!!!

For most of the month of October I had been tormented by reminders of an up-and-coming performance by MLJ! She was going to be playing at The Lodge Room in Highland Park on Thursday, November 8. But why the torment? Well, first Highland Park is not easy to get to on a weeknight in general, and Thursdays I had class at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa all day until 3:30. I did not feel like I would have the energy for such an endeavor.

Announcement

That Tuesday evening I was chatting on Facebook with my friend Pinksu, trying to nail down our Runyon Canyon hiking date for that Saturday. Pinksu (aka, Johanna Marjomaa) is a lovely young makeup artist from Finland who is both insanely talented (see her work on Instagram @pinksumakeup) and game for adventures. Just then, that fateful announcement appeared in my feed, and on an impulse I asked Pinksu if she would/could like to go. She said yes, I got tickets, and the plot was afoot!

 

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Thursday was a long day! I was up at 4:30 am, and in Costa Mesa at Orange Coast College (OCC) by six. Took a power walk and did some studying. Then it was Kinesiology from 9-10:30, Pilates Methodology from 11:10-1:15, and Pilates Apparatus/Mat from 1:30-3:35. It was also a pressure-packed day as I was doing my first stab at teaching Reformer in the Methodology class. I survived, and then headed home.

The freeway was pretty busy and that trip took 45 minutes. Got home, grabbed a quick bite to eat, showered, dressed, and then it was off to Hollywood to pick up Pinksu. That trip was a nightmare and took an hour and a half. I picked up Pinksu and then found out that the trip from Hollywood to Highland Park was also a non-trivial endeavor that took about 45 minutes! Still we arrived at the Lodge Room at about 8:15, where we found that the start time was 8:30, and that there would be two bands up before MLJ. I was starting to fade, so we went in search of some caffeine.

 

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The Lodge Room is a very cool venue that occupies part of the former Masonic Lodge on Figueroa in Highland Park. There is a restaurant that shares the space so food is available. What is not available is coffee. I then found out that there are no coffee shops in that area that are open in the evening, and I finally wound up getting some coffee at a Mexican restaurant down the street. To my mind, there is a glaring need for a coffee shop with extended hours in this area.

We got back just as the first band, named ‘Taken by Trees’, began to play. I am writing this almost two months down the line, so my recollections of the night have faded and I don’t remember much about the opening bands and even had to search to find their names. The second band was named ‘Tiny Deaths’, and they played some music too.

Monica Birkenes

Mr Little Jeans on stage at the Lodge Room

After what seemed like forever it was time for the main event, and Mr Little Jeans took the stage. Just her, and some dude hiding in the corner behind some consoles. I don’t recall any introductions, but if I had to hazard a guess I would say that the dude might be  an LA producer named Tim Anderson who she has collaborated with extensively.

Any initial fears that Mr Little Jeans’ live performance would not live up to the quality of her studio work were quickly set to rest. Her vocals were sparkling and the computers provided the rich background instrumentation and vocals that make her music so special. What I was not prepared for was what a powerful performer she is. Her presence fills the stage and energy positively radiates from her. I was completely captivated by her, and her performance made all the effort getting there so worth it!

 

Luckily, by the time we headed back traffic was a lot clearer. It only took 15 minutes to drop off Pinksu, and then I hit no CALTRANS surprises (like closed lanes) on the way home, arriving just about midnight.

I have a new problem, though. I am now addicted to Mr Little Jeans, and lately I have found myself playing her soundtrack for hours at a time. I want to see her perform again, but this is what I see on her Facebook page…

No Dates Scheduled

Please, Mr Little Jeans, get out and play!!

 

Status Report, Monday, December 10, 2018

Okay, I am determined to not let December slip by without a new blog post, so it is time to make that determination manifest!! So, here goes!

I have been quite busy with school, and the semester is now coming to an end. I am in the Pilates/Dance Conditioning program at Orange Coast Community College (OCCC) and am enjoying the heck out of it!

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I have been doing Pilates for several years now, but almost all of my experience prior to this semester was in Mat Pilates. I had been on the Reformer a bit before, and the Cadillac once or twice, but my experience with the apparatus was very limited. That has now changed and I have been spending a lot of time on those devices along with the Wunda Chair, and that accelerated work has done wonders for my core control. As I sit here writing I am also enjoying a level of engagement with my core that I have not felt for many, many years!

I am working on my certification not so much as a career objective but to enhance my own personal development. This is a great time, however, and the OCCC program is a great avenue, for those who are interested in a career in Pilates. I already have two studio owners who have expressed a desire that I teach for them, and the Orange County LA Fitness locations have all installed Reformer rooms and are looking for teachers.

I looked at the schedule for the Anaheim Hills site and saw that they have 43 reformer classes a week, and that is going to require an infusion of new teaching talent. You cannot beat the price of the OCCC program–private certification programs cost on the order of $5,000 for certification just for Mat Pilates, but you can get a full certification through OCCC for under $1,000! Pretty amazing! I was planning on finishing up next Fall with this program, but Ms. Amelie (Hunter) is encouraging me to put my nose to the grindstone and finish up this Spring. Will see how that works out!

Speaking of my own personal development, the other big focus has been the rehabilitation of my right foot and there have been some promising developments on that front too! I hurt it pretty bad back in mid-August to the point where I couldn’t even do minimal walking for several weeks. I have been back to my ultramarathon training with my hiking/running partner Anna for about seven weeks now.

Anna and the Pipe

Anna, channeling Kerry Ward, in Chino Hills State Park

Up until this week there was no running, and our longest excursion was just under 8 miles. Last week I was on the treadmill, trudging along at a 15% grade, and when I got my speed up to 3.1 mph I spontaneously broke into a run, and I was able to keep up a 3.5 mph pace at a 15% grade for 5 minutes without hurting myself!! Yesterday I also found myself breaking into a run going up the steepest sections of our weekly hike. I was kind of sore when I got to the top, but that soreness did not increase on the descent, and an hour of rest later was enough to dissipate that soreness.

Anna and I were registered to do the Ray Miller 50K ultra that was scheduled for last weekend, but that was, thankfully, canceled due to the Malibu fires. Thankfully because I was not ready at that time. The next target is a 50K ultra that will be run in Griffith Park in early March. I think I will be ready for that one!

I also scored my own Gyrotonic tower last month, so now in addition to the Gyrotonic Foundation classes I have been taking with Veeseuth and Rachelle I can do my own home practice. Also on the Gyro front we will be wrapping up our introductory Gyrokinesis class (another OCCC benefit) at Orange Coast tomorrow. That class has also made major contributions to my core control.