Michelle Luth, Pilates Instructor at Pure Pilates, recently completed a grueling 43 mile hike through the Appalachian Trail. She shares her experience with us and details how Pilates helped prepare her physically for the challenges she experienced walking mostly uphill and carrying a very heavy backpack for four straight days.
If you’re from Florida, hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail (AT) is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. You’re more likely to think of activities that involve water, sand and sun, and possibly a paddleboard, surfboard, or boat. The closest thing we have to a mountain around here might be the hill my house sits on in East Hill. And even though it’s no substitute for a mountain, that’s where my training started. That hill in front of my house AND Pilates were my training. I walked up and down that hill and all over East Hill, but nothing in Pensacola can equal the mountains on the AT. That’s where my Pilates training made the biggest difference. Pilates is nothing like hiking the Appalachian Trail, but exercises like jump board, lunges on the chair and hip and knee stabilizing exercises gave my legs the strength to hike 43 miles in four days. Pilates mat exercises (the hundred and abdominal series) allowed me to carry my 50-pound pack the entire time without straining my back.
My group began our hike in Damascus, VA, and hiked south into Tennessee. FYI, hiking south in that part of Tennessee is all uphill! An added challenge this year was maneuvering over, under, and around downed trees on the trail because only a week before our hike, a tornado tore through parts of the AT. Massive trees were uprooted, and we had to get past them to complete our hike. I’m glad nobody videoed me going over or under because I know it was not pretty…but I had the strength to do it – strength and some competitiveness. I had to keep up with the teenagers in my group, two of whom were mine!
Our last day was definitely the most grueling, but it paid off when we reached Watauga Lake in Tennessee. After a refreshing and cleansing swim in the lake we watched the full moon come up from behind the mountains and light up the lake. In that moment, sitting there with my daughters, all the preparation, bumps and bruises were worth it.
– Michelle Luth
Are you preparing for a hike or another physical challenge of your own? Pilates is a great place to start! Jump into Michelle’s Cardio Equipment class today.