I have a confession to make. I hated my first Pilates class.
I only went because someone told me it would be good for my chronic back pain and that it would balance out all the high-impact aerobics and adrenalin-fuelled, joint-pumping exercising I was doing.
I had been battling with back pain since I was a teenager, made worse by all the heavy lifting I did during my nursing training. No matter how many times my mother would poke her finger into my back and tell me to sit up straight, I still had the worst posture and a weak core.
As the years passed, I would walk out of a step or spinning class in agony. I couldn’t run or jump anymore and I considered camping out at my Physio permanently. I was on a fast track to back surgery or walking permanently with a zimmer frame but I was hard-headed and continued to ignore the pain. I was young, dumb and invincible – or so I thought.
I finally caved and tried a Pilates class.
It was the most boring thing I had ever done in my life!
Maybe it was because I couldn’t do half the exercises without pain shooting through my back. Maybe it was my pride getting in the way when the instructor showed me modified poses that not only made me feel inadequate in a room full of regulars but which also didn’t challenge me enough. Maybe it was my annoyance that the instructor wasn’t paying enough attention to me, the newbie (although I know now that it’s impossible to give 20 people in a class the individual guidance they need).
Whatever the reason, I swore never to go back. I was even more convinced that Pilates was for grannies and unfit housewives, not for competitive athletes like myself. I wanted nothing more to do with it.
I needed something that would boost my ego and improve my strength, flexibility and fitness. I wasn’t going to find that in Pilates. Not for a few more years, at least.
That dreaded word – ‘Pilates’ – reared its ugly head again in the middle of a relaxing pedicure a few years later. I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life – still living with back and now knee pain – and now had the added stress of learning how to stand on my own two feet financially and independently.
I was pretending to relax with my eyes closed but was actually eavesdropping on a conversation between a future Pilates coach and the head of a well-known Pilates and fitness training institution. They were talking about the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of Pilates – stuff I had no clue about.
The more I listened, the more everything started to click into place. Pilates wasn’t just another exercise form. It was an avenue to help people heal, to help them build strength. It combined my passions for exercise and helping others with my medical knowledge. Pilates, it would seem, was my destiny. I decided to give Pilates another shot.
That conversation changed my life. Pilates took on a whole new meaning for me.
And so my journey began.
I started out with so much self doubt. Could I really manage this new training when my back pain was at an all-time high? As a second language English speaker, would I be able to learn and understand the theory, which was taught in English? Would I pass the physical and theory exams? Had I just wasted my money paying for an instructor course at a time when I needed that money the most? Surely, as a fitness instructor who was used to weight lifting and intense exercise, I would find these slow, controlled movements easy?
I had a lot of fears and a lot of doubt. The first thing Pilates taught me was to face those fears head-on.
I decided that the best option for me, considering my back pain and being a first-language German speaker, was to enrol in a private, one-on-one course.
Completing that course was the hardest thing I have ever done. My personal situation made everything so much harder to achieve. My stress levels were off the charts, my emotions were swinging a mile a minute. I battled to concentrate. My back and knee pain seemed to get worse – some days I couldn’t walk properly. I feel deeper into an anxious rut with little confidence in my body and mind – not an ideal state for a perfectionist.
Who was I kidding? I couldn’t do this!
If it wasn’t for my amazing instructor at Trifocus Academy, who was so accommodating to my physical and emotional needs, I might never have completed that course and would never be where I am today.
She shuffled the course modules around so that I could focus on fixing my back. She was understanding and sympathetic to my situation but never once went easy on me. She was strict and drove me harder than I’ve ever experienced. I had a million questions and she answered each one patiently and fully. I am so grateful that she never let me wallow in pity or self doubt, despite my fragile state. She challenged me and encouraged me until the very end (now you know where I get it from).
As I continued to practise Pilates on my own, I started noticing changes, not only in my body but also in my mind. Pilates challenged my physically and emotionally every single day. I lost count how many bruises I collected – to my body and my ego – but I pushed through. I started to appreciate this new form of exercise and the art of controlling my movements and my mind to execute them slowly and precisely – the complete opposite to spinning!
My concentration improved, I was less anxious, less depressed, more confident. I learned to love my body rather than to punish it like I had done while suffering from anorexia. I gained control over my life and I learnt how to manage my stress better. I got stronger, fitter, more flexible, which reflected in my cycling
But the best part? My back pain disappeared thanks to the strong core I developed (which, contrary to popular belief, does not equate to a six-pack)! I felt like my body, mind and spirit were finally functioning optimally.
Thanks to Pilates, I am fitter and healthier than I was 20 years ago. I’ve accepted myself and have never been more comfortable in my own skin. That, for me, is a massive mind-shift, one that I never thought possible.
I found peace in Pilates, in the stretching and focused breathing and I love that I can do it anywhere, any time – all I need is a mat.
My wish is that I can help other people find this same joy and peace through Pilates. If you want to get healthier, stronger, calmer and feel better about yourself – and achieve all this in a relaxing, welcoming and family-friendly studio, get in touch. I would love to work with you!