Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pilates.....anyone?


Written By Wendy Joy


I have worked out my whole adult life.  I was always active as a child and I never had a weight problem.  I was never super skinny, but I had a lean athletic build and that was just fine with me.   There was less pressure on girls back then so for me what I weighed was never an issue.  When I got into my twenties I started to work out.  The truth is that I became really serious about staying fit when I became engaged to my husband,  I thought,  Wow this man that I love just asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.....I need to take care of myself in every way and give him the best me that I possibly can. I know that sounds corny but that's what I thought!  So I joined a gym and became a workout maniac.  I would leave work and after a one hour commute, run to the gym as if I were running to brush my teeth. I was young and it was easy.  No problem!
Then I gave birth to two beautiful boys and had gained  64 pounds with each pregnancy.  Besides the morning sickness and the discomfort I could care less about the weight as I knew it was a temporary situation!?!  After the birth of my first son at 27 years old, the weight came right off.  I waited the usual six weeks to work out and when I began my program again, it was easy.  I would take my son for long walks in the baby jogger, use a broken old bike that we had for years, and I was lucky enough to go to the local gym when I had someone I trusted to watch the baby.  I weight-trained twice a week and became so good at it that I won a contest at the gym.  It was simple and I couldn't understand why it would be any other way for anyone else.  Then at 30 years old I gave birth to my second son.  
  The second time around was not as easy for me,  but too bad.  I worked out harder for half the results but I got close enough to where I wanted to be.  I felt strong, healthy and lean....again......never skinny.  I loved my body and felt very comfortable in my skin.   It wasn't perfect, but I loved it.
 Through the years I did every kind of workout imaginable from kickboxing, (I loved that!) to weight training, to weight-training "super slow", to yoga, to ballet classes and of course the treadmill. All of these exercises were good to me, but for various reasons I would switch out of one after a few years and move to another.
As time went on and life happened I hit a bump in the road at a job I was working on and I got a bad case of double pneumonia and we moved twice.  So,  I just stopped working out.  At first it was weird and fun to have this extra free time to myself and not have to run home and shower at odd times of the day, or walk around looking like a mess (I sweat a lot when I work out).  I had been sick for a while before I got full blown pneumonia and I was weak for a long time after that so I had what I thought was a great excuse to not work out.   It was working just fine for me until it wasn't!  I started to get back pain in my lower back and my once tight abs were not so much anymore!!!  I remember looking at my abdomen in the mirror one day and thinking, it is no longer connected to my body.....it is on its own!  Still, I looked good enough so I was fine. My eating was always good so nothing was scaring me yet. But it should have been.   Little things started to fall apart here and there but the worst thing was that I was no longer feeling like myself.  There was a confidence and energy that I always had and it felt diminished in some way.   So I went to the doctor for my yearly physical. My doctor examined me and asked me a few questions and I told him what I was doing and how I was feeling.  He said you must start to work out again!!!  "What....why ?"  Look I'm still in good shape, I'm not falling apart that badly. I had only gained about 7 pounds.  My doctor was adamant that I had to get physical again and do it quickly.  It was time to get back in shape but what would I do???  I hated everything at this point and everyone needs to do something they love so they stick with it.  O.K.  I know I have to get back on the treadmill and do my cardio.  There's a small gym near my building and I figured I would go there.  I asked my doctor to tell me one thing to do...only one thing that I could focus on that would make me feel strong and healthy again and get me back into shape.  He said: "Pilates!"
 I had done pilates before and I hated it.  It was so easy and I did not even break a sweat (remember, I sweat a lot).  I did it about three times and figured it was just a waste of time.  Then my husband and I had dinner with friends and one of my friends could not believe I thought pilates was easy and said that I must have gone to the wrong place or had the wrong instructor.  I asked her so many questions about pilates during dinner.  I mean just go do it!!!  I used to just go and work out but now I had to get opinions and really think about it. For some reason I was scared.  O.K.  I had enough information and I was going to go to this pilates place right down the block from my apartment called "True Pilates".   Another friend (yes I kept talking about it) went there and loved it.  I was actually nervous!  That's okay!  But now I get why it's difficult to start or restart an exercise routine. It is not always so easy to make that first step.  So here I was calling the place on a Monday morning.  You would think I was finding the cure for something....but no, just making my first appointment at "True Pilates".  The owner said they had a cancellation and I could come in that same day at 10:00.  I was available. No excuse here.  So I went and proceeded to tell my instructor how completely out of shape I was.  I've gained weight, my lower back hurts, I used to be in great shape etc....I think he just plopped me onto the Cadillac (a piece of pilates equipment) mid sentence.  He was kind but strict and off I went.  It was a tough workout and I was sweating like a pig!  It was exciting, different and difficult all at once.  There were so many moves and so many things I had to remember. I got nervous again..."ill never remember all of this, I'm sorry Im going to be your worst client ever".  He assured me that I was doing just fine and I went back to focusing on the present.  I loved it!  I left that day with a big smile on my face like I had just conquered the world.  All I did was start exercising again.  I felt strong, confident and lean, (even though my weight was the same as when I got there an hour ago).  I was back!  I have been going there for over six months now and they tell me I am doing things that very few clients can do.  I'm standing on top of handles and doing splits with a big smile on my face.  It's fun and scary. A different kind of scary.  This is the scary where you are in the game actually doing something.  Not afraid to go in.  This is the best scary ever!  I am not saying that everyone should do pilates, even though I think they should, but do something that you love and if that gets old do something else that you love. Don't stop working out!  I never will again.  And my back pain....what back pain?

Joseph Pilates was a genius who was way ahead of his time. He was born in 1880 and was a very weak child who suffered from various illnesses. He was determined to become strong, healthy and physically fit. Mission accomplished. True Pilates East (there is also a True Pilates West), focuses on Joseph Pilates method. He and his wife Clara eventually handed it down to his protege' Ramona and her daughter Sari. This method works your whole body in a very safe and effective way.
 Through each exercise I am focusing on my core and my spine and my instructor makes sure every movement is done with precision. I've been to gyms before where the trainers are not focusing at all and I feel like I am paying someone to count. It is the complete opposite here. As he or she is making sure that I am doing each exercise correctly, I am continually being introduced to new and exciting moves. This constant introduction of something new, keeps me forever interested and appreciative. I find myself marveling at Joseph Pilates and his genius every time I am there. This man thought of everything and it never ceases to amaze me. There isn't any part of the body that is not stretched, and worked out, yet the motions are gentle and easy on the body. A body that I am now reconnected with.

When I am in the studio, I spend most of my time on two pieces of equipment called "The Cadillac" and "The reformer". When I saw them for the first time they looked like two different kind of beds with pulleys, springs, and straps everywhere! Now that I know what these strange pieces of equipment can do, I can't wait to get on them every week! Pilates can also be done on a mat (not so strange looking) and be just as effective. Again, you need the right instructor.


There are other forms of Pilates out there as the method has become very mainstream. Make sure you find an instructor and a studio that you trust. Most places offer one on one instruction as well as mat classes. Many gyms offer Pilates classes as well. True Pilates offers both.

1 comment:

  1. Pilates is the best! It got me back into great shape and I will never give it up. When private sessions become too costly, the mat classes really do work. I'm glad you like it...don't stop. I also take yoga classes and ride the treadmill. Whatever works!!!

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