photo credit: www.fitforfun.com
One of the first forms of exercise that I fell in love with was Pilates. My relationship with exercise began at an early age when I was involved with sports and has been a consistent part of my life. Exercise is a very personal thing and can illicit different feelings depending on who you talk to. Those who use exercise as a stress reliever or as an occupation tend to be avid fans and can’t get enough. Those feeling obligated to exercise in order to lose weight or follow doctor’s orders may view it as a chore. My philosophy, which hasn’t always been the case, is to do what works for you and to STOP worrying about the “should” and instead spend your energy on what you want to do.
I first came across Pilates with Denise Austin DVDs my mom would work out to in the mornings. The bright and cheery blonde on the screen chirping about “powerhouses” and “tilting pelvises” was almost too much for me to take seriously as exercise but I went along with them in hopes to achieve the long lean muscles and strong core they promised. While these DVDs were a interesting change in my current exercise regime, I didn’t have the opportunity to talk with the instructor about why it was important to tilt your pelvis and how strong your powerhouse can become. There is so much more to Pilates than going through the motions. Understanding why you are going through these moves and activating numerous muscles at once is key. I can relate this to watering your plants regularly but never exposing them to sunlight. You are doing mostly the right thing but without that important use of sunlight, you are not going to see growth.
College came and went, and Pilates via DVDs was still the only exposure I had to the workout. I joined a gym when I moved back home after college and voila! My first in-person Pilates class, i.e. my first real introduction to the power of Pilates. My instructor was a lean, well-spoken lady in her late thirties who was in constant motion throughout the class lifting our lower-backs, tilting our hips and emphasizing breathing. When I am uncomfortable I find the humor in a situation and thought her powerful “tuff” “tuff” sound when emulating how we should be breathing was hilarious. Keeping my smile to a minimum I tried to mimic her breathing, hold in my ribcage and keep my shoulders back for the entire class. Boy was this stuff exhausting! I couldn’t believe laying on a mat for 50 minutes could make you sweat so much. I was hooked.
After that class I continued to frequent mat Pilates classes as much as possible and started to attend reformer Pilates (similar concepts to mat Pilates just practiced on a machine called a reformer) when I moved out west for work. I welcomed the strong arms and core I began seeing from regular sweat sessions and most importantly the low back pain I had been accustomed to had disappeared. I had found my powerhouse and my viewpoint on the power of exercise would be forever changed.
Have you found Pilates yet? If not, I urge you to run to the nearest class. Let me know your thoughts!