Underground Movement - Subway Secrets 
George Russell, D.C
June, 2011
You can spend a long day's journey on public transportation cursing the tattooed musclehead who stole your seat...or you can replace that unhealthy rage and hate with invigorating superiority by building yourself a hotter, more balanced body.
 
Commuting, like prison, is what you make of it. You can't escape the assault of elbows and giant backpacks, but you can learn to stand your ground with dignity. My prescription for your aching back, sagging shoulders, and frayed nerves is a surreptitious subway workout. It's designed for crowded moving vehicles. No outfits or equipment to buy. And so subtle you don't have to worry about those "if you see something, say something" vigilantes. Entertain yourself without juggling your iPad, iced latte, and newspaper. Here's how: Embrace the Pole...
 
If you've ever crossed paths with a professional pole dancer, then you're familiar with the amazing core strength, imposing head-to-toe stability, and enviable posture that comes from a close personal relationship with the pole. You can have the same power without the notoriety. Using either the horizontal or vertical pole, you can strengthen your shoulders and core with these exercises. I myself have a shoulder injury and I've been rehabbing it, in part, on the subway. And so far, nobody has even noticed.
After reading these descriptions, click here to see an entertaining "reality video" showing how these exercises are performed: Subway Exercises in Action  
INSTRUCTIONS
 
Vertical Pole:  Grasp the pole firmly in both hands, one on top of the other, at chest level or thereabouts. Plant your feet on the floor, keeping them soft and your knees straight but relaxed. Remember to switch the positions of your top and bottom hand from one exercise to the next to ensure you work both sides of your body evenly.
 
  1. My Secret Garden:  Without moving your trunk or your legs, pull the pole straight up as it were an invasive plant species that you're uprooting from your rose garden. You'll feel your feet press into the floor, and your core will engage.   Keep your collarbones wide.  Automatically, your shoulder blades slide down your back and the top of the arm moves deeper into the shoulder. You'll feel your shoulder, arm and back muscles engage. You'll also be standing taller and improving your balance.
  2. The Ann Rice. Push down on the pole as if driving a stake into a vampire's heart (you know the feeling, yes?) while staying relaxed and still in the rest of your body. Has all the benefits of a pull-up using different muscles.
  3. Godzilla's Revenge. Pull the pole to opposite sides as if you were Godzilla and could rip it in two-but keep your jaw relaxed and your face neutral so they won't call in the Japanese police.  This exercise strengthens muscles that rotate your arms out and pull the shoulder blades together. Imagine pulling the pole to your left and your right at the same time. make sure the collarbones widen so that the shoulders and chest don't cave in.
  4. I'm Bad.  You Know It. Still gripping the pole, press inward on the pole (the opposite of exercise 3), keeping your collarbones wide and your arms in place. Soon your upper body will be so strong and buff that gropers, pickpockets, and armed assassins will think twice before they mess with you.
  5. Vertical Godzilla. Pull the top arm up and the bottom arm down. Then switch hand positions and repeat the movements in the opposite direction. This technique strongly coordinates your shoulders with your body.
 
Tarzan in Rehab
 
Those of you hanging from the horizontal pole can do all the same exercises, but they will be harder to do with your arms over your head. If you can hold an overhead pole without pain, you can work to move the overhead pole all the same ways as the vertical one, stopping before it hurts, of course. Pushing the horizontal bar up is especially helpful for various conditions that cause pain right at the tip of the shoulder where your fringed gold epaulets or the shoulder pads of your cocktail dress normally rest. (I'll let you decide whether you're pretending to be Ferdinand Marcos or Kathleen Turner on this one.)
 
Daredevil's Delight
 
Do you feel lucky? Then trying standing on one leg while grasping the pole. Then loosen your grip, tighten your leg muscles and see what happens when the driver accelerates while negotiating a hairpin turn or some fun-loving passenger pulls the emergency brake. If your balance is okay, you should be fine as long as both hands are on the pole and the lifted foot is just slightly off the floor. (Warning: Performing this move while, blindfolded, naked, and slathered with baby oil may cause complications.. Trust me on this one. A doctor sees many things...)
 
Possible Side Effects, Etc.
Don't be surprised or embarrassed if you find yourself "falling in love" with your pole. It's natural to feel gratitude and sensual communion with the unassuming piece of public infrastructure that has changed your life. You've saved yourself the cost of the Soloflex System, and you've turned a dreaded interval of the day into a workout (whew!). Don't panic if you start to enjoy your commute: where else can you listen to your iPod and scan ambulance chaser and Botox ads while firming and strengthening your body?
 
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The Return of Podcast.  There are three new podcasts on my website.  There are two relaxation meditations that use the chakras as metaphors for distributing and renewing energy in the body, and one podcast discussing orthotics.  Click here: Podcasts 
 
I'm in a show. Come see me!  I'm involved in a performance, Dances for a New Diagonal, on Saturday, June 11th.  It's easy to get to from Manhattan and the whole show is an hour and ten minutes long.  Make the evening more entertaining by coming early to enjoy the many restaurants right near the theater.  Click here for information on the concert and nearby restaurants: Performance Information 
 
How Things Work in the Body. Aren't you curious about how the body works? I've been wanting to teach simple, clear lessons for beginners to describe the function of the organs, muscles, joints and all the other stuff that makes up a human.  If you're interested, let me know what you'd like to learn more about and what day of the week -- and time of day -- is good for you, and I'll see if I can set it up. 
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Anniversary!  As we approach Bastille Day, aka my eleventh anniversary of practice, I am happy.  I've seen almost a thousand patients and I'm still in touch with my very first patient (whom I affectionately call "0001").  I'm working in a new office at 26th and Broadway.  I feel settled and at home here, and I hope that if you haven't seen it, you'll come up and see me sometime.  I'm so grateful to have work that I love.  Thanks.
 
Questions? Comments?  george@georgerusselldc.com
George Russell, D.C.
New Office!
1133 Broadway, Suite 1125
New York, NY