I love Pilates. Crazy, ridiculous amounts. It is, hands down, my favourite form of exercise. If, hypothetically, I was only allowed to do one type of exercise for the rest of my life, that would be it. (That was kind of a variation on “If you were stuck on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?” question).
I started doing Pilates in May 2007, so it’s been almost five years. I haven’t been doing it regularly for the past five years, because things like Cushing’s, a stroke, travelling and living overseas kind of got in the way. I’ve started doing it again since I’ve been home and I’m reminded every time of how much I adore it.
Pilates is all sorts of amazing because when you leave after a good session, you feel like you’re floating. You come away feeling taller, stronger, more flexible and more alive.
There are a lot of points during a session where parts of your body are burning and the only thing keeping you going is the instructor saying, “one more breath” and the fact that everyone else in the class seems to be doing the exercise with ease. There are also points where the instructor is telling you which muscles you’re supposed to be working and you have no idea what he or she is talking about. There are countless times when you inhale when they say exhale, or exhale when they say inhale.
And then there are the moments when you surprise yourself. When you hold the plank longer than you thought you could. When a side plank is easier this time than it was a month ago. When you *can* feel each vertebrae as you roll down or lift up into a bridge position. When you successfully find the balance point when you’re doing ‘rolling like a ball’ and seal. And when you inhale when you are supposed to inhale, and exhale when you are supposed to exhale.
Ten years ago, I could not reach my toes. I was ridiculously inflexible (not to mention unfit), and now I can do all sorts of cool things. Like reach my toes. Control my roll downs. Be aware of my body in space. And this is all because of Pilates.
I think it’s a bit of a shame that Pilates is so gendered. I *have* seen men do Pilates, and it was even a man who created it. But in pretty much every class I’ve ever been to, women outnumber the men. Often it’s only women. A lot of the guys I’ve talked to about it seem to think it’s not macho enough. It’s not lifting weights that are heavier than them, or it’s not a hardcore cardio workout where you sweat by the bucket-load, so it’s something that they wouldn’t even consider doing. Which seems a little silly, because surely core strength and flexibility should be important to both genders?
TL;DR: Pilates is awesome. If you haven’t tried it already, you should give it a go