Lisa Bloomquist is one of a select group of trainers teaching the CoreAlign method of exercise in the United States, and the only one teaching the technique in the Greater Los Angeles area, she said.
The CoreAlign method is taught using machines manufactured by Balanced Body, a Pilates manufacturing company based in Sacramento. They were invented by physical therapist Jonathan Hoffman.
Bloomquist has been teaching the CoreAlign method since April 2009 and opened her studio, Vertical Reality CoreAlign Training Center, a month ago in the Burbank Athletic Club.
The CoreAlign machine is divided down the middle by two rails, upon which sit independently moving carts that the user stands on. The carts move up and down the length of the machine. At each end is a non-skid standing surface. Plastic resistance tubing, sort of like a rubber band, can be attached to each cart for low- or high-intensity resistance training.
At the front of the machine is a wide support ladder that allows the user to bend and twist from the feet up, using the carts for mobility.
"We're getting some really great range of motion in the knees," Bloomquist said. "The weight is distributed, so you're not hurting yourself, but you're still going to those end ranges where you might not be able to go without a machine."
Performing maneuvers in a standing position allows for more intense mobility and stability training that focuses on the body's core, from the neck, down to the arms, ribs and hips, legs and back. CoreAlign makes people more aware of their alignment during exercise as well as their everyday alignment, which Bloomquist said is pretty poor.
"I hated exercise all my life," said student Patty McCarthy of Burbank, who has been doing CoreAlign for about a month.
A former Pilates student, McCarthy used to suffer from chronic neck and back pain, but said she has seen her symptoms disappear since she started CoreAlign.
Bloomquist touts the exercise as a way to improve a person's presence and posture. She feels CoreAlign may someday eclipse Pilates in popularity given that CoreAlign is more functional. You are able to do more standing up, she said, whereas in conventional Pilates, most maneuvers are carried out lying down.
"This is great for pregnant women because they can't lay down after a certain point in their pregnancy," Bloomquist said. "Think about in your life and when you're moving; more often than not you're standing up than laying down."
Using the machine requires a lot of concentration, because the feet are not necessarily secured, as with other machines. So new exercise maneuvers are taught slowly, and it is only after the user has mastered a certain technique that they will be ready to try a more advanced exercise, Bloomquist said.
"It's something you have to build up," she said.
As a flying trapeze artist, Jo Mion of Sydney, whose first CoreAlign class was Wednesday, the technique allows her to focus on just how her body is moving and aligned, she said.
"For me, it's about knowing where my weaknesses are and being able to bring my body together as one piece instead of several different pieces that aren't working together well," Mion said.