A few weeks ago I took a Wednesday off and went to a Pilates class at my gym. I’ve been doing yoga again since early March, but I had not ventured back into the world of Pilates.
My abs were sore for an entire week afterwards. Sneezing was torture.
I was first introduced to Pilates when I was a dance major for a while in college. This was around the year 2000 when Pilates was still primarily used in the dance and modeling world for strengthening, lengthening, and core toning, but hadn’t yet exploded into the mainstream market.
What is Pilates?
According to the Mayo Clinic, Pilates “is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements. Pilates emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance.” While it was first adopted by dancers and athletes, Pilates is a method that can benefit people with various body types and abilities. It’s named for its creator Joseph Pilates, who developed the body-conditioning method in the 1920s. He suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever as a child and later helped to rehabilitate patients during the first World War. This influenced how he developed the Pilates Method.
I always enjoyed doing Pilates and kept it up after college, but like many other things, it fell to the wayside as I recovered from ACL reconstruction surgery. As I’ve become more mobile I’ve had to re-learn what I’m capable of doing and what I need to modify. I’ve also had to overcome apprehension about re-injuring myself as I do higher-level movements.
And so I found myself in a “POP! Pilates” class at 24 Hour Fitness with an instructor who recognized me (and my roundhouse kicks) from her old Body Combat class. We did a series of exercises for our core, legs, and arms that rotated to a new activity with each song, so about 3-4 minutes per set.
Oh how PAINFUL those sets were…and how refreshing.
As my body slowly wakes up from surgery recovery I’m re-learning the delicious feelings of burning biceps, lengthening quadriceps, and crunching abs.
I didn’t feel much like an athlete when I was stumping around on crutches, using a shower chair, or delicately walking down the stairs one step at a time. But like my abs, which have been a bit hidden by pandemic and post-op weight, my inner athlete has been waiting, ready to pounce. I’ve dusted off my favorite Pilates DVD and have been doing exercises every few days.
So Pilates, along with yoga, swimming, light cardio, and the scary jumping I’m now doing regularly in physical therapy, is one more outlet for me to let my inner athlete shine.
I’m coming back, one leg lift at a time.
Learn more about me and the story behind the black belt in my book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts
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