Pilates, Not Perfection
|Sunrise over Pleasure Point 1/29/13|
I started doing Pilates about two years ago when I was applying myself in earnest to doing regular workouts for health and weight loss. At the time, I had fallen out of the habit of working out on a schedule, and chalked it up to being too busy at work. But at the start of 2011 I wanted to find a space for regular yoga practice in my life to improve stress management and physical flexibility, so I decided to make the time and started getting up at 4:30 each morning to do 30 minutes of yoga.
I began following along to videos from the Comcast On Demand "Sports and Fitness" station. As an aside, this channel still has a great selection of videos ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour in a variety of categories including yoga and Pilates. This is a great way to try out new workouts if you already have On Demand with your cable TV, since they are included in the subscription and so you can watch a large number of workout videos for "free". The offerings do rotate on a regular basis, however, so if you do fall in love with a certain routine don't be surprised to see it disappear within a few weeks or months.
Using this free resource, I began alternating yoga and Pilates videos Tues-Fri mornings and eventually in May I went to my first hour-long "mat" class, which is a group Pilates floor class at the gym. I immediately fell in love with the challenge of Pilates with an instructor right there to push me and keep it new and exciting. Still, I was way out of my element and could only do a fraction of what the rest of the class could do, despite having been doing 30 minutes a day, twice a week for 5 months. I became addicted to the feeling of increasing strength and flexibility that comes with regular practice of Pilates, and was amazed to watch my own body change. Soon, I was doing things I never thought imaginable. Touching my toes! Holding a 3 minute plank! Crazy "teaser" exercises that are like full boat on crack!
Fast forward nearly two years, and I am still in love with Pilates and attend the same class with the same instructor twice a week. My instructor is amazing, funny, irreverent and kind of a rebel. She is inspiring, entertaining, and always pushes me to the next level. I love the atmosphere and camaraderie of a group class. Much like Zumba, which I will wax poetic on in a future post, Pilates classes have become a cornerstone of my health and fitness routine and are without question a way of life for me. Whenever I think about lifestyle changes I might make, one of the first questions that pops into my mind is, "will I still be able to attend Pilates and Zumba?"
New, here is a special treat. My Pilates class is so insane, my instructor actually choreographed an ab routine and we called it the "flash mob ab dance". You can definitely see me on camera. I'ma complete ham when it comes to these things.
Woo hoo! Ab dance!
I think my Pilates story is a testament to a few things I have found true in my fitness journey. First, I had to make initial changes to incorporate fitness into my life which felt like a sacrifice at the time. Soon, however, fitness became so important that I was willing to rearrange parts of my life to maintain the commitments I'd made to working out. Second, think you have to start small and work your way up to where you want to be. In 2011, I couldn't touch my toes. Now I can reach past them with little effort. "Progress, not perfection" is the rule. Finally, I believe you have to LOVE your fitness routine if you are going to make it more than just another chore to cross off the list. Pilates is part of my lifestyle and is as crucial to my health and well being as food, sleep, and vitamins. If you don't love your workout, you are much less likely to commit to it at the level necessary for long term fitness and weight maintenance. It might take a while and you may need to look outside the box at what inspires you to move and be active, but eventually something will click and fitness will become not a chore but an effortless extension of life.