MELTing away tension: Fitness class helps increase mobility, reduce painFARGO - In a quiet dance studio, half a dozen women roll a small rubber ball under their feet and hands and shift a large foam roller down their back and legs.
By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM
FARGO - In a quiet dance studio, half a dozen women roll a small rubber ball under their feet and hands and shift a large foam roller down their back and legs.
They spend about an hour going through a series of guided techniques to improve flexibility, mobility, and range of motion, and reduce tension, aches and pains.
“Just notice the difference in how your foot feels, how your leg feels, maybe how your hip feels,” says their instructor, Lori Hill, as she guides them through the movements.
The program, called the MELT Method, addresses connective tissue using compression and lengthening, unlike most fitness classes, which involve cardio or muscle exercises, Hill said.
Hill, who has been an aerobics instructor for more than 20 years, went through training to become a MELT instructor with Sue Hitzmann of New York City, a former group exercise instructor who created the program.
Hill is the only MELT instructor in North Dakota and the only one within 175 miles of the Fargo-Moorhead area, according to the company’s website.
She teaches ongoing MELT Method classes at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays at Inspire Dance and Wellness Studio in Fargo. She also offers one-on-one sessions in homes and businesses.
Hill’s fee for three sessions is $120 and includes the balls and roller required to do the exercises.
Hill had done yoga and Pilates training, but says she had always been looking for something to help people get out of pain when she read about MELT.
“I liked the idea that MELT was a self-treatment technique that people could learn to do and then do on their own at home,” she said.
There are different levels of MELT techniques and it can be done in as little as 10 minutes, Hill said. She has even had a client who did MELT from a chair.
Susan Shannon of Fargo has been taking Hill’s weekly MELT class since she started offering it about a year and a half ago.
“It really helps prevent injury,” Shannon said.
Shannon says she had a broken wrist and had finished physical therapy, but she did not have a full recovery until after about a month of MELT classes. She also used to have occasional shoulder pain she says she hasn’t experienced since starting MELT.
Cynthia Baumgardner of Fargo has also taken the classes since Hill started offering them and says MELT helps relieve tension in her shoulders, it makes her feel more relaxed, it has helped relieve foot pain, and it helps with her balance.
“As we age, balance is critical for our health,” she said.
Hill says the MELT Method complements physical therapy, reflexology, and massage but does not replace any of them.
Even when she’s not teaching, Hill says she practices MELT on a regular basis.
“If I have been on the computer, it is so nice to get on the roller and think about the mass of your head and the space of your neck and the mass of your upper back,” she said. “I can take a mini-MELT break to do something to alleviate any fatigue that I might have and then get back to my work.”
The hand and foot treatment is a nice mid-day break that wakes you up and helps eliminate tension, Hill said.
She hopes that by practicing the MELT method, people will be more likely to pursue other avenues of fitness as well, she said.
“If you’re in pain, you’re probably not too interested in exercise,” she said. “If we can find ways to help people decrease pain and improve movement, then they’re probably going to be more excited about getting out and increasing their activity.”
Running and fitness websites also tout the benefits of foam roller exercises for myofascial release, stretching and soothing tight muscles.
She will offer MELT for Runners March 9 and an introduction to MELT Method class March 3, 10, and 17 at Inspire.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526