"I thought exercise classes were for pretty young girls with great ponytails".
“Hey, Dirk, your wife teaches yoga, right?”
“Yeah, right, pretty much the same thing, right?”
That was how my journey with Kate at Pine Street Pilates began.
For most of my adult life, all my focus went into my mental health, leaving my physical self desperate for attention. After thirty-seven years of neglect, my body was screaming “Hey! When is it going to be my turn?”
I have never been one for the gym, running, exercise, sports, or really anything that involves physical activity. When someone said that they got up before work to go to the gym, I would hand them my therapist’s card because they must need mental help. I got by on a good metabolism and crash dieting; which was all well and good during my twenties, but my thirties have been a bit of a rude awakening. It seemed like my waistline was trying to keep up with my age. I needed a change.
For the past five years, I have spent my summers in Gananoque and although I always knew about Kate’s studio, I was always “too busy” to try it. Really, I was afraid. I felt intimidated. I didn’t want to be judged for being too fat, ungraceful, uncoordinated, and a big ol’ lump of a lead-footed giant. I thought exercise classes were for pretty young girls with great ponytails.
In a moment of heavy optimism, I sent Kate an email to inquire about class times and prices. I told her I was thinking of using August to get back in shape. I immediately regretted it. Very quickly, I received an email back outlining Kate’s plan for my August “reboot.” Twelve sessions in three weeks!
Now, if you are like me, you immediately did the math and figured out that that was four sessions a week! I still didn’t even know what Pilates was!
Kate and I met the next morning to set-up a schedule, while I tried to think up any excuse I could to back out of the whole thing. Maybe I could invent a time machine and go back to stop myself from sending that email…
Alas, before I knew it, I was in my first Pilates class with one other woman wearing the yoga pants I wore for pyjamas because it never occurred to me to pack workout clothes. Kate had all the equipment we were going to need laid out beside the mats. She asked us if we were having any issues with our bodies and based her exercises on our responses. She led us through a gentle warm up, progressively getting into more core-focused, challenging work, then an amazing cool down, that felt more like a neck massage than exercise.
In a flash, Kate announced that class was over and I was stunned. It was nothing like I expected. I felt great. My body was singing, it felt so good. I felt stronger and was aware of muscle groups I didn’t even know existed. It felt easy and I felt successful. And best of all, it was actually fun. Kate had all the toys (actually, called “props”) that you could need. The Reformer Pilates Machine quickly became my favourite.
Pilates is a strange beast. I’m still not sure what it is, but I do know that it is wonderful. It isolates specific muscle groups, through tiny movements. You lengthen and tone various areas of the body, with a focus on the core (without doing a million sit-ups).
The exercises were shockingly simple to execute yet extremely effective at strength
ening the body. I couldn’t believe that putting a rubber band around my calves and doing the slightest rocking from side to side could be so intense. That’s the thing with Pilates: it’s not about big movements, most of the time, the small, precise movements are more effective; it's about isolating and working one group of muscles at a time. AND, half the time, you are lying down! Why didn’t someone tell me I could exercise lying down?! It’s what I’ve been dreaming of my entire life.
All joking aside, by the end of our twelve sessions together and my stay in Gananoque, I had already signed up for more at a Pilates studio in Toronto. I'm taking three classes a week now, but when my schedule gets lighter, I may go back to four. I miss it on the days I don’t have a class. My body feels so great. I stand taller, I move better, and I feel good. My back pain has lessened, and I can feel my hips again. My body is thankful.
I am now officially a Pilates junkie.