By Erin Whittaker, Core Pilates Newbie
Exercise is a dirty word. At least, that’s the sardonic excuse I’ve used since discovering my lack of sporting prowess in early childhood. Now, as a grown woman, my avoidance of red-faced, jarring exercise in a room full of sweaty strangers on protein has reached an all-time high. I just don’t like it…okay?
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s important to me that I’m healthy and active…primarily because I want to look good (call me shallow). So when my fiancé proposed recently and I had a nightmare about my flabby arms in a wedding dress, well, even I had to admit my gentle morning walks weren’t going to cut it anymore.
So here I am, at my first Pilates lesson.
Pilates has a certain style and grace that has always intrigued me. The enthusiasts I know have incredible bodies, and they swear by it. Despite this, I’m nervous. A quick glance around the studio at contraptions that remind me of medieval torture equipment doesn’t help. I take a deep breath. There are people of all ages here, seemingly enjoying themselves. I’m going to be okay…right?
My instructor, Lisa, starts with my goals, and then works with me to discover my body’s nuances…a weak left hip and tendency to slouch thanks to years at a computer. Lisa explains Pilates is completely personalised, so she’ll use this information to tailor a program specific to my needs. She also promises me sculptured arms (tick) and a lifted booty (nice) in time for my wedding. I relax. So far, Pilates is awesome!
We move to the mat, where Lisa walks me through the foundations. I learn how to neutralise and engage my core. My brain is working overtime as I imagine a belt tightening around my waist, and then zipping a pair of skinny jeans. I’m beginning to understand why doing a million crunches has never worked.
Soon, I’m up on the “reformer”, which I’m happy to confirm is NOT torture equipment. In fact, it’s kind of fun! Oh hang on…and challenging. Wow. Lisa’s meticulous guidance is like some kind of magic…I’m feeling muscles I never knew existed.
A heavenly stretch and I’m done. The hour has literally flown by. I didn’t even get a chance to think, “when will this end” or plan my crafty escape. In fact, I find myself eagerly booking in my next session and walk out feeling a little taller than usual.
On reflection, the best part was that for one hour, I was completely removed from my chaotic existence. Like a mindfulness technique, the lesson required such a high level of concentration from me, that I’ve left feeling refreshed and relaxed…but strong and healthy all at the same time.
Finding Pilates has been like finding the man of my dreams. It took me a long time to get here, and I made a lot of stupid decisions along the way. A boxing class here, an emotionally unavailable man there. Now, there’ll be no turning back. To my Pilates (and to my man) I say, “I do”.