• Jena

Pilates: my personal journey Part 2

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

For those of you who started reading my pilates posts, this is the second in a series.  The first post was Somewhere between Rehab and Rockstar--just giving an overview of the pilates system.

So, now I just want to talk about my personal pilates journey.

It started about 8 years ago.  I was almost ready to have my baby.  I had been hospitalized twice during the pregnancy and was faced with the stark realization that if I and/ or the baby survived that this would definitely be my last pregnancy.  

Being a dancer my entire life and having relatively easy pregnancies thus far, I was faced with the conclusion that the required C-section and inevitable surgery to remove the fibroid following the pregnancy would leave me with two things–both of which would take some getting used to.  The first and obvious reality would be the finalization of the ability to bring life into the world.  For someone who (at one point) thought she would have 12 children, this was a little something to get used to.  But God gave me a peace and a thankfulness that far surpassed any feelings of grief.

The next obvious hurdle was the reclaiming of my strength and body control.  I could not forsee myself in a state of physical weakness for the rest of my life, but I knew that all of the traditional ways of getting strong were not going to be available to me for a long time.

It was then that a flyer came in the bulk mailing advertising a video about “pilates” this amazing method of getting people strong.

I thought about it for a while before ordering it the next day. 🙂

Seriously, I was probably “chomping at the bit” to start this thing, but I knew that I had to have the baby, wait three months, have the next surgery and THEN I could start it.

It was probably six weeks after the surgery (to the day) that I excitedly unwrapped the VHS tape from its wrapper.  I put it in, and… it was not anything like I expected.

It was hard.  very hard.  I affectionately referred to it as “20 minutes of pure pain”

I could hardly do any of it, and why did they make it look so easy?  And why did it go so slowly?  And why do they talk so much?

One of the first things they do is called a “roll up”.  The roll up is something that I may not ever be able to do, but I didn’t realize it at the time.  I thought it was because of my large vertical incisions.  (It wasn’t until later that I realized that it was because of scoliosis)

So, despite the difficulties with trying to learn pilates through a video (which I do not recommend) I was actually being helped by it–a lot!

So, if I was being helped by it, why do I not recommend it?  Isn’t that cheaper, easier, more convenient, etc??

Well, this is my surmising of what happened.  The breathing alone probably helped me recover from my injuries more than the core work.

Fundamental to pilates is the ability to connect movement with intentional breathing.  Moving air through my body while doing even basic moves is what really facilitated the healing process.  I was moving every day and breathing.  It was very rewarding, and I was healing very quickly!

So, I was doing pilates, however incorrectly, and it was really working on something.  I was gaining strength and control and enjoying life a lot quicker than I would have otherwise.

Which is a good lesson for anyone.  Sitting still does not do anybody any good.  Movement is good for you.  And I know that very few people who read these posts are going to drop everything and run out and buy a video or book on pilates, but a few people will.  And that may be as far as you go with it.

In reality, you will be helped.  But this is not the final story.  One of my friends followed my enthusiasm and ran out and got her own pilates video and promptly injured her lower back.  And then began my long process of figuring out why and how to modify pilates methods to the rest of the world.

In essence, my pilates teaching career started the moment my friend got injured.  I didn’t know it then, but I was determined to get to the bottom of this.  Seven years later, here I am.

Next post: Learning what your body needs in pilates.

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