Given that my theme for 2014 is ‘challenge’ – in fact, I might not have shared that with you…because I have only just decided that this IS my theme – I finally manned-up and got to a Pilates class.
Now, I am not a fitness snob in the slightest…my holey leggings and over-sized t-shirt back that statement up…but I do like to take it seriously. By ‘seriously’ I mean that I like to seek advice from qualified and trusted people. I have done the whole fitness DVD thing in the past and ended up doing myself a mischief…so I do use personal trainers and speak to the gym bods to ensure that my technique is correct when lifting weights for example.
You can even use a treadmill incorrectly…I have lost count of the number of people I see who have the treadmill on an incline and then hold on to the handles and lean right back – arms stretched straight out and clinging on for dear life. I remember one trainer telling me that the whole point of an incline is to use your ass and leg muscles – and to imagine the treadmill disappearing from under you…if you aren’t in a position where your body is in balance without a treadmill, then you should change how you walk/run on it as you are using the wrong muscles and likely causing damage elsewhere. So this is now one of my pet-hates and I always want to tell the offending treadmiller…but don’t want to be an annoying gym fecker. Plus, are they likely to take advice from someone who looks like a gym dodger…I don’t think so!
Anyway, when it came to Pilates there was only one choice of instructor for me. She comes highly recommended and has been training for over twelve years. I have tried Pilates classes in gyms but, to be honest, I knew that they were barely scratching the surface…and in a class of over twenty five people – which is quite common in gyms – how can you get that special attention that Pilates requires? Maybe I am a fitness snob after all?!
Seriously though, Pilates is a specific series of movements that need to be conducted in a very specific way – technique is incredibly important. I feel that more progress is made when you seek specialist support. So this is what I did. I had spoken with the instructor over Facebook – she is a reader of my blog and a fellow Slimming World goer – and really liked her style and approach. She actually wrote, “We’re not one of those cliquey places with size 6 skinny-minnies in tight crop tops prancing around with full faces of make-up; we’re NORMAL people, NORMAL shapes and sizes with NORMAL wobbly bits, just wanting to get ourselves moving, stand taller and to banish those aches and pains!” I don’t have anything against size 6 skinny-minnies…but my holey leggings, over-sized t-shirt and very bloody wobbly bits might have been a little more intimidated if I had walked into a room full of peeps like that…I think my right knee is a size 6!
Anyway, I took Mr WLB with me – he could do with a bit of core work and his co-ordination is the subject of much amusement amongst the family…we all love him dearly, but let’s just say that we wouldn’t entrust him to carry a family heirloom! He asked me on the way there, “Who set this Pilates stuff up then?” I knew it was a chap called Joseph, but other than this, I didn’t know much more…so I thought I would consult the expert…
Pilates is actually named after Joseph Pilates – I got that bit right! Around 1914, Pilates was a performer and a boxer, living in England. During the outbreak of WWI Pilates was held in a German prison camp, where he taught a health system, based on yoga, Zen philosophy, and a number of exercises taken from the Romans and the Greeks. This health system helped the prisoners to fight off illness and maintain their strength. The system that Joseph Pilates taught the prisoners was the start of the current Pilates movement. This modern version of the workout is a series of exercises that improve strength and flexibility through a series of stretching and balancing exercises.
The guiding principals of Pilates are:
* Centring & Neutral
If you think Pilates is one of those exercises in which you can lose yourself and let your mind wander, think again! It requires total concentration and, whilst the movements may be small and slow, the mental strength and physical strength required to keep the control of body position is awesome.
We got started in a standing position and carried out some posture checks and I followed the movements of the instructor…nothing too taxing here. I was actually more able and flexible than I thought. That was until we moved onto the knees…my poor, poor knees. They have carried and supported this lump of a body and they need some TLC…which Pilates will absolutely help with! It just meant that I was able to do the majority of the movements until I had to surrender and give me knees a little rest.
It was then onto all fours – thank goodness I was in the corner as I discovered another one of those marvellous holes in my leggings after the group! I managed most of this work, but my body was not playing ball at times and kept falling out of position…this will be helped by further Pilates sessions and as my core strength increases. The instructor was lovely and came and showed me a more gentle movement, which I managed a few of…before almost collapsing on the floor. I think I was the only one to have a sweat on!
Finally, the floor work arrived…lying on my back is great – no jokes or rude thoughts please…it’s serious stuff this Pilates! These movements were fab. I could really feel my stomach muscles and my legs – particularly the thighs – working hard. I engaged my core, found my neutral position, and got to work. It was not taxing in the typical ball-busting gym way – but I could really feel my body working…it was marvellous.
The only moment that I giggled was when we got up off the floor…everyone else was fairly graceful and fluid in their movement…I looked as if I needed serious assistance!
But I did it – I completed my first Pilates session. I enjoyed it so much that I am having – with Mr WLB – a private session this week so that the instructor can work out my tolerance and strength levels (I think!) in order to help me tailor some of the movements that bugger my knees up. I am a convert…so far!
I had to laugh when I got in the car as my leg was shaking when I was using the clutch…it had obviously worked my poor muscles into submission. Stupidly, I decided that heading straight to an aquafit class was a good idea! I felt it then, I feel it more now, and I know I will feel it when I am babysitting later too!
So that has been my day – something old (my poor body), something new (Pilates), something borrowed (the Pilates block) and something blue (my face during position hold!) – not that I have weddings on the mind. A chat with a lovely lady last night got me thinking about them, and then Mr WLB has found some funky Scottish bagpipers that he wants at our wedding…’if’ we get married he stated – I said that it wasn’t a case of ‘if’, it was a case of ‘when’ – as I have my eye on a rather stunning Vivienne Westwood dress!
A wonderful day, spent with wonderful people…and now for the wonderful food…
Breakfast: Total Greek yogurt with cherries and banana.Lunch: Couscous with veggies and chicken.Dinner: Chicken, apple and veggie quinoa.Snacks: Two cheese, spinach, and red onion toasties (HEA and 2 x HEB) and three mini Green & Blacks bars (12 syns).A gorgeous food day. Brekkie was just something light before my exercise – yogurt with berries and a banana. We then tried a couple of the recipes from the new Extra Easy cookbook – very similar ingredients – grains, chicken and veggies – but lush all the same. The first was a summer couscous dish – couscous with herbs, pepper, courgette, onion…I added mushrooms and spinach as I can’t help but tweak – and then some chicken. And dinner was a quinoa dish – which is cooked and prepared a little like couscous – with celery, apple, spinach, spring and red onion, syn free dressing and chicken. And my snacks were delicious too.
Exercise: 60 minutes Pilates and 60 minutes of aquafit.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx