Week 10: “Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” –Joseph Pilates
This Pilates Intensive has taught me that if I set a goal, with focus and commitment, I can achieve it. Now, I should have already understood this concept, with having seven years of college under my belt, but this goal was different. Not only was the time investment a factor, but the cost as well (in relation to my desire to reach said goal). I know, I know, same goes for college, but still. Considering the fact that I work full time as a co-owner of a local business, I don’t get vacation time, or days off. I squeezed my studio time in whenever I was able, not allowing any menial excuses to cancel or reschedule my sessions.
Completing this Intensive was different than previous goals in my life, mostly because of those practical reasons stated above, but also because this was a physical goal. It was a goal that required the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. Our lives get so busy with our day to day activities and responsibilities, that taking time for ourselves can be considered foolish or selfish. And I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people that are so generous, they put themselves last. So when I embarked on this personal commitment, I knew I was being selfish and I was okay with that. I needed time for myself, to work my body into better physical condition and correct alignment and strengthen muscles and joints.
There were days that I felt too tired to go. Once I got there and entered the studio, my mindset would change. As I entered, I’d feel rushed to get back to work, or home to make dinner, but once I began, I’d forget about the clock and my mind would be completely inside my body, my powerhouse. It still amazes me that an hour in the studio can feel like ten minutes. I never watch the time and am always disappointed when my time is up.
Ten intensive weeks in the studio is not enough. While I am thankful that I learned more and built more strength within that time frame than I have in the past 3 years of working with Bodywise, there is still so much to learn! There were some exercises, like the traditional Cadillac ending, that I was only able to try just a few times. I’ve learned that it takes consistent practice, and a lot of hours in the studio, to find the muscles that allow you to complete an exercise correctly. Since this is not always attainable, developing my home practice is a must. I’ve worked so hard for tone and alignment, and I do not want to give it up. The practice will come with its share of discipline, however. And that discipline is the same concept that I had commitment guilt with about this Intensive. Setting aside the time, removing all of my distractions, and focusing on me. Moving forward, this will be incredibly difficult for me. How do I hold myself accountable for this practice? No one will know or nag me about it, and my couch is just so much more comfortable than my mat. And how do I remember the traditional mat-work order, when I don’t have someone telling me what to do, when to do it, counting for me, and reminding me to scoop more! I haven’t quite figured out this next step, but I must soon.
But let’s focus on the positives for a moment and not worry about the future. First off, I cannot believe that it’s made such a noticeable physical difference in my body! After only ten weeks; really, it wasn’t long at all. I am proud of myself for pushing through much of the advanced reformer series. Getting stronger every week was exciting, and feeling the difference and the attention to specific muscles was surprising! My neck and shoulder alignment is significantly better, my posture is consistently better and above all, my mind is calm. Pilates is my therapy, and it’s kept me sane during the busy months of wedding planning. I am happy and thankful that my body has allowed me to push it to this extreme.
This Intensive has taught me that my body is capable of more than I thought it was. Yes, I am generally fit and healthy, but if I had a dollar for every time I told Erin and Valerie: “no, I definitely can’t do that,” I’d have made my money back! I learned that Pilates never does just easier, you just get stronger. When an exercise looks impossible, it’s more advanced version is always incomprehensible!
When I think about my achieving those very advanced versions of the exercises that I can do now, I don’t worry about my physical ability, because I am confident that with enough studio time, I can reach those goals; what I worry about is my discipline to get me there. Who has any suggestions on self-discipline? Granted, as “contrologists,” Erin has mentioned that we must all have a little bit of Type-A in us; for me, a lot. So I am good at self-discipline, but its prioritizing the goal and making the space in your life for it.
So to round out this Intensive, I want to say thank you. I’m not sure who or how many of you have read this, but I hope that my journey has inspired you to try the Pilates method. While your powerhouse may feel it, your wallet it will not. Your first class is free if you sign up online. So many try exercise regime’s that promise you quick physical change with fast cardio, but if you want to tone your body, lengthen your muscles like a ballerina, become more flexible, get stronger, correct your alignment and calm your mind – classical Pilates is the only way to go. It is the most efficient and effective exercise regime I’ve ever tried, and I’m so confident with the method, that I have no interest in trying anything else (that’s not to say that cardio is bad for you, I don’t believe it is; and I still run and bike). But, Pilates as a base or supplement will no doubt give you the results you want. Please remember that it may intimidate you at first (there is SO MUCH to remember), but the instructors are always there to remind you what is next and what to do. If you can get past the intimidation of your first class and come back for another, you won’t be disappointed, but rather proud of yourself and the power your mind has over your body – and then you’ll keep coming back for more.