By Tina Paul
Week Five: “It is the mind itself which shapes the body” – Joseph Pilates
Pilates is most definitely the most challenging exercise regime that I’ve ever attempted. While some people that don’t have a full understanding of Pilates may think it is easy and just targeted resistance work – as opposed to lifting heavy weights, running marathons or completing triathlons – it delves so much deeper. Maybe that’s why it is so easy to get scared off after trying Pilates just once or twice. There is so much to think about and that can become frustrating. You can think that there is no possible way to train your body to lie perfectly still while targeting only your lower abdominal muscles. While I certainly have not mastered anything in Pilates (and I may not ever), the funny thing about it is that it is the most efficient whole body workout I’ve ever tried. It does what my body needs and what I want. Its results oriented.
We’re already half way through this Pilates Intensive. I think I have progressed more within the last five weeks than I have in the last few years. The consistency in training my mind to find my muscles is what’s most important to me. My body will follow once my mind understands what it needs to do. I’ve been learning classical Pilates transitions, bringing me through the classical reformer series as if I was a dancer! What’s amazing is that though I think I am moving fast (even though we do stop sometimes to review, correct, TALK, etc.), I am not moving fast at all. The flow and rhythm of the reformer series is beautiful. I encourage you to look for videos to see it for yourself. Just for effect, Erin showed me the list of the full classical reformer series on Wednesday at the end of my session. I was sweaty and fatigued but I felt accomplished. Then I realized that I had only completed HALF of the full series within my session! HOW can that be? But hey, one month ago I was only able to complete a quarter of the series, so I guess I’m improving… slowly, but surely!
Working through this Pilates Intensive has not only been good for my body, but for my mind as well. See, I haven’t yet mentioned WHY I signed on for this slightly masochistic journey. On July 23, I get to marry my love! So, of course I want to be in the best shape I can and feel great at the same time. What I didn’t realize this would also help with is my sanity in these last few months of wedding planning. While I am so incredibly busy with being at the studio four days per week, working more than full time at our business and keeping our home running – the studio time keeps me grounded and focused on something bigger – my health and wellness. I am determined to enjoy these last few months of engagement while preparing myself for the big day.
And the commitment itself has been good for me. I am proud of myself for not giving in or giving up. I refer to this as “commitment guilt.” I have always been like this. I give myself a goal, set up my schedule to achieve said goal (i.e.: boot camp, running, etc.), and I never even begin it! I suppose I over-commit myself to something that I don’t necessarily enjoy doing, and it never happens. While Pilates is extremely hard and as far as I can tell, never actually gets easier, the physical exertion acts in spurts of three. I get to rest, albeit slightly, while transitioning. This past Tuesday, I came into mat class and was the first one there. I said to Erin, well I’m still tired from the Ride for Missing Children… If no one shows up, maybe I’ll just go home tonight. Erin said, well I have another client after mat class so you’re not going anywhere! I didn’t get let off that easy. I feel like I’m preparing for a teacher training or something!
Throughout this series, I’ve noticed a change in teacher-student communication as well! Erin and Valerie know me and my body so well now. They know where I’m less flexible and where I’m strong, what areas like to cheat and give in and how to access those tough spots. There has been a lot of hands-on training and cues that keep me right on track. They take notes and talk with each other so we’re all on the same page and progressing smoothly. I don’t want to speak for them, but I do think this has been a great learning experience for all of us. Not to mention that I think they secretly enjoy torturing me!
Thursday’s double whammy rounded out week 5. Lots of work on the chair and some reformer work. This was intended to followed by mat class, though I was the only one there! So, Erin ran me through a fast mat series on the classical mat with some leg springs thrown in there. I was so tired I was shaking and could barely complete rolling like a ball. I can’t imagine how hard the teacher trainee’s need to work! Lots of cues running through my mind, continuing to train my brain to train my muscles. Continuing to zip up my legs… and keep my “tight seat, loose feet!” Until next week-