By Tina Paul
Week Three: It may not be perfect, but it may be your best.
I’ve found that there are many misconceptions out there about Pilates. “It’s just like yoga, right?” or “Won’t it make you bulky?” Pilates is in its own category. It’s completely different from all other forms of exercise I’ve ever tried – it’s the most efficient, targeted and whole body workout I’ve ever done. Pilates for me is a dance. It’s beautiful, graceful and controlled…. Even if I don’t make it look that way… yet.
Romana once said “If you’re not a dancer and if you would have liked to have been one, that’s nice; and if you’re not a dancer and you didn’t want to be one, that’s still nice.” If I could go back in time, I would have been a dancer. So when Valerie cued me this week on the mat, it really resonated with me. She mentioned that ballerina’s often think of gears turning under their costumes, but what is above the shoulders is graceful and completely without strain. This cue is helping me relax my shoulders and those terrible strained faces I make, while I just keep telling myself to fake it until I make it!
I’ve been learning more and more types of exercises lately. It’s amazing how creative Pilates can get on such simple apparatus’. Some of which are really exciting because before now, I’ve only seen them in photos on Pinterest and just wished I could do them! This week, I was able to try a Russian Split on the Reformer. It’s always bothered me that I’m not as naturally flexible as I’d like to be. Before even trying the Russian Split, I told Valerie that there was no way I could do this. But, damn it, I did it. It wasn’t the best (my hips kept trying to turn out of my box), but it was the best that I could do. And I was pretty freaking impressed with myself!
But even when I’m improving in some areas, others (and sometimes the most basic) need to be adjusted. On Wednesday, I was visibly shaky (likely a combination of not eating enough and being fatigued). We were working on flow; fixing the tiniest of movements to make them as perfect as I could. However, during the reformer series, we took a break to add extension straps and work on leg circles. Very basic, but it was because of those damn quad’s. Erin tapped and pointed to the areas in which I needed to turn on (my ‘thut’ or where my thigh meets my butt), and the backs of my legs. So incredibly hard. How can I not have been performing this exercise correctly for so long?
My ‘thut’ could feel the work I put in the next day! I am so happy about this. But have I really been not working the correct muscles this entire time? I seem to rely on constant cues to ensure that I’m doing the exercises correctly. I still easily tense my neck or quad’s. I forget to work my hamstrings when I’m paying attention to my balance on the Wunda Chair. To be honest, sometimes this makes me feel defeated. It’s so hard! There is so much to remember! But, I know that I have the ability to continue to improve; I have the focus, drive and passion for the system and these challenges won’t stop me. Soon, all cues will come as second nature to me and I will even be able to count on my own! Haha, yes that is hard too!
This was a good week; it’s hard to believe I’ve completed three weeks so far. I am feeling more flexible already, even though I have a long way to go to get where I want to be. My body feels strong and I have fewer aches in my hip flexors from my desk job. And I can see definition! My arms are looking more sculpted, my shoulders, back and abs. Even if it is ever so slight, I can notice it. And whether or not anyone else does, it makes me feel better about myself, and that’s what ultimately matters.