Week 8: One step forward, two steps back…

By Tina Paul

The Pull Up on The Wunda Chair. This is the down part.

The Pull Up on The Wunda Chair. This is the down part.


This week began with a series of exercises on the Wunda Chair that I thought were nearly impossible. Almost immediately I was out of breath and fatigued. The powerhouse strength that was required was so deep in my abdominals that I wasn’t sure I had any left to give. My balance was also quite challenged in some of those exercises. You know when they give you their hands for peace of mind, just in case you think you might fall? At one point I held onto Valerie’s hand to keep stable! While I was fatigued and it required a tremendous amount of focus, Valerie expressed excitement in what I was able to accomplish! 

The Pull Up- the "up" part. Waaaay harder than it looks. You have to float that 'step' (the pedal part) up using your abs!

The Pull Up- the "up" part. Waaaay harder than it looks. You have to float that 'step' (the pedal part) up using your abs!


Then I said, frankly, but I feel so weak! I didn’t do any of those exercises with ease. And I realized then, that other than instructor demonstrations, I’ve never actually been in a class or witnessed other Pilates students on the apparatus’. With that being said, I don’t have much to compare myself to. I am a visual learner, like I’ve mentioned, and I’ve come this far through mainly verbal prompts and hands-on adjustments. It’s stimulating to imagine what I could also learn from others around me when apparatus’ are being used. Or even from different instructors. This is something that Valerie had suggested to me this week: wherever I travel next, take a Pilates class. I might be surprised that I know more than I think.

Our vicinity to New York City is in our favor. We are so close to the source, per se, of Joseph Pilates and those that were trained by him or Romana that the original theories and interpretations have not been skewed too drastically. 


I felt tired in mat class this week. Fatigued, but still determined to correct my feet and get deeper into my powerhouse. I felt the correct muscles working. But I was definitely tired.


Erin had me power through the reformer series on Wednesday. It was without a doubt the fastest I’ve moved through the series yet. We still cannot make it through the entire advanced series, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was last month. The transitions are coming smoother and the correct muscle groups are being accessed. I generally felt stronger that day and even focused on smiling during the exercises. 


It’s interesting that I can feel strong one day and weak the next. This week was a roller coaster like that. I’m being challenged physically more than I can ever recall, though I wonder sometimes if I’ve hit a plateau of sorts. Is my body still changing? Because I can’t see it. I still have days where I feel stiff, sore, and weak – intertwined with those where my body feels flexible and strong, and my spine healthy. Day to day work with Pilates equals small growth, but over time the muscle memory builds and the powerhouse gets stronger. To me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, it is a daily struggle to keep motivated when you don’t see or feel immediate results – but reminding yourself of the progress made thus far is key. 


2 more weeks of near-daily training. I’m conditioning myself to continue my daily practice on the mat at home, intertwined with some studio time, after this program ends. I am proud and still a little surprised at what I’ve accomplished for far, but because the possibilities are endless within the Pilates method, it’ll be a lifelong devotion to the method to reach a point where I feel truly advanced and comfortable. Either way, this program has allowed me to work through personal doubts that I’ve had regarding commitment to a (semi) long-term goal. I’ve held to my own personal commitment, and if nothing else had come from this program (which of course there has been so much), at the least I didn’t back out of a goal that I was scared to work towards.

Authorvalerie lopata