I have never been so bad at something that brings me so much joy as my Pilates reformer class.
I’m a dabbler. I like to do stuff. And, I love learning something new. Sometimes I’ve dragged my friends to join me (who can forget our kickball team: The PYTs), and sometimes they flat out refuse (Zumba dancing). The focus of my latest obsession is my Pilates reformer class.
The only teeny-tiny problem is that I am terrible at Pilates. I’m the clumsy one in the room fumbling my way around the reformer. The tall clumsy one, I should say, with long arms and legs occasionally flailing with all the grace of a baby giraffe.
“Class grab the right strap and put your left foot on the carriage”, says the instructor. It doesn’t help that I’ve made it well into adulthood without any instinct whatsoever for left and right. Every time someone says left or right, it requires a ridiculously long pause from me to really think about which is which. Its not uncommon that three reps into a movement the instructor comes by and suggests I try my other left foot. (BTW that joke got old about 20-years ago for me).
Two months into my Pilates obsession, I can see a noticeable difference in my stability. Where I was once doing 5 reps to the classes 20, I am closing the gap. I have weak legs, but I have strong-ish arms, so that is something at least. My 30-day plank challenge did a lot to help with my core strength too.
The movements in Pilates have great names like mermaid, bear cub and sexy back. I wonder who comes up with this stuff? In one move, the instructor suggests we imagine we are a dog lifting our leg to pee on a fire hydrant. Now, that takes imagination!
At this point, my two most feared words in class are “hold” and “pulse”, both send a shiver of terror down my sweaty spine. To hold means to freeze in an uncomfortable position where the muscles are freaking-out they are working so hard. Sometimes I have to give them a pep talk like, “Come on quad, you can do this, stop shaking, people are starting to stare”. Pulse is when you take a hold and add 1-inch mini movements which sometimes is a relief like hinging from the shoulders in a plank, and sometimes is a torture like tiny carriage pulls while in a lunge. “Hamstring, pull your shit together, there are only 9-seconds left”.
Pilates isn’t for wimps. The class I go to is a serious all body workout every time. What I lack in skills and stamina I make up for in enthusiasm and wardrobe. So what if I’m not on pace to be an instructor, as long as I’m having fun and making progress, I’m going to keep trying. In this case, my happiness doesn’t come from mastery, it comes from the challenge.