Imagine jumping out of bed on a Saturday morning with the comparable level of excitement that a child has on Christmas to, get this – work out. Pfft. Ridiculous right?
Anybody who claims to love working out has to be some sort of sociopath. A sociopath with a BMI of 18.5 and a tush you can bounce a toonie off of, but still. Who are these people and who hurt them?
Before you jump all over me, I’ve tried EVERY.DAMN.WORKOUT. Yoga, HIIT classes, spin, weight lifting, barre, that one where you dance around in a mirrored room to Ricky Martin music. All of it.
I really didn’t think it was possible to actually enjoy a workout. Other than yoga, which is basically just laying on your back, stretching, and breathing. The REAL workout in yoga is tensing your entire body trying not to pass gas while positioned in Malasana (otherwise known as squat pose for all you non-yogis).
After unsuccessfully trying many different workout routines, I always end up back to my ole faithful (and free) form of cardio, which is walking. I prefer to walk outdoors, so that I have a start and an endpoint, but I will jump on a treadmill from time to time when the weather is against me,. But I find it incredibly boring and not to mention, very hard on my joints.
With all of the benefits that come from walking, I still felt like I was missing a strength training aspect. More like, I needed a reason to wince in pain around all my co-workers from the super challenging workout I did the day before. “Ugh, leg day – amirite?” If you don’t get to complain about being sore from a workout, was it really even worth doing?
Before the pandemic hit, I had religiously been attending yoga at a local studio near my house and had discovered mat pilates, which I ended up falling in love with. Pilates was like yoga on steroids, still a chill relaxed vibe, but if you could still get up off the toilet the next day, it was a miracle.
I was in amazing shape. Well, not sociopathic, BMI of 18.5 shape, but in shape you know, for me. Like someone who works out, but still eats pasta and wine. You get the idea…
Unfortunately, that studio ended up closing permanently (stupid COVID), and I was on the hunt for the next workout that would get me off the couch and away from the bread maker. Enter, reformer pilates.
The first time I walked into a reformer pilates class, I was a bit intimidated. The room was lined with perfectly spaced out narrow wooden beds with ropes, pulleys. and springs. They looked like something you pulled out of your couch when guests came to stay over. I was assigned what I could only assume at the time was a wooden torture carriage and hesitantly tried to get comfortable as I adjusted the resistance springs and headrest.
Within 10 minutes, I was hooked. Quite literally actually. My feet were hooked into the pilates loops at a 90-degree angle in the air. I was already feeling all of the benefits of this workout. My body, which is typically in a permanent state of stiffness and pain (more on this below), was defying gravity with each small and deliberate movement. Not only was I stretching my entire body, but I was working muscles that I had forgotten I even had. The reformer not only helps you keep perfect form, but also adds the slight resistance that brings you to the next level in your pilates practice.
No Pain. All Gain.
As mentioned above, walking is my cardio of choice, followed by spin, but I always felt like my bike seat to butt cheek ratio was way off. Up until recently, I had discovered that for years, I’d been wearing the wrong running shoes for my stride, and therefore have suffered some injuries leading to chronic pain in my hips and legs. I tried everything to combat this pain, and much to my surprise, complaining about it didn’t work either.
I’ve suffered from this sort of pain for years, on and off. I always chalked it up to overexertion while walking. Probably because I walk at an old-lady mall walker’s pace – just try and keep up with me! Also sitting at a desk from 9 until 5, five days a week, doesn’t do my body any good either. I’ve always tried to manage the pain with muscle rubs, Epsom salt baths, essential oils, over-the-counter pain meds, and stretching. I have tried physiotherapy in the past as well, but since I don’t have a benefits plan at work, that wasn’t financially feasible for me to sustain. I would always turn to yoga for relief when I wasn’t able to walk it out, but finding pilates has been a real game-changer.
Since pilates focuses on small, low impact movements, it’s a great workout for injury recovery and prevention. Having the reformer beneath you helps take some of the stress off of your joints, and allows you to really focus on the muscles you want to work by keeping you in proper form. It’s a safe workout for people who experience any sort of knee problems and can even strengthen the muscles around your affected injured areas to help prevent future issues. Sign me up for that!
Don’t Be a Slouch
Yoga and pilates, have both been known to be excellent workouts to improve posture, and if you sit at a desk all day like me, you know the slouch struggle is real. Pilates is all about precision in its movements, and I’ve already started to notice a shift in my overall posture and alignment. I still have a long way to go to improve my posture 100%, but with time, this will only continue to get better. The other thing I do to improve my desk alignment is to place a footstool or box under my desk to elevate my feet. This brings the tops of your legs parallel to meet your hips, which will help alleviate some of that pain.
Also, if you don’t think pilates is cardio, girlfriend, think again. Pilates is still a very intense workout that will leave you sweating like Donald Trump in…well, I’ve never actually seen that man sweat. But, let’s say you met someone who had a guilty conscience and lied a lot, you’d sweat as much as that guy. I quickly realized that, just because you aren’t running and jumping around like your aunt Wendy at a Zumba class, it doesn’t mean you aren’t working on your cardio. Pilates is small repetitive movements, with a big impact. When my pilates instructor begins counting down from 10, when my muscles are already shaking (which, I’m told is actually a good thing), you best believe my heart is pumping and the sweat is pouring. (But like, in a cute way).
Not Your Mother’s Pilates
If you are a 90’s child, you will remember the Saturday morning infomercials featuring famed supermodel and actress, Daisy Fuentes, and her endorsement of Winsor Pilates. For a lot of us, this was the first time ever hearing about this dancer-inspired workout, and Daisy made us all believe that we’d look like a Latin goddess with just 30 minutes a day. Workouts on DVD were all the rage in the 90’s. I think we can all thank Jane Fonda for paving the way for fit fanatic celebrities jumping on the fitness DVD and home gym equipment bandwagon and encouraging us all to practice at-home workouts. (Hands up if you STILL have an ab roller in your basement🙋🏻♀️)
I will say, that at-home workouts are just not for me. Some people can self-motivate and rock a fitness DVD in their living room (or, in this day and age, a fitness YouTube video), but I am sadly not one of those people. I need the accountability of physically booking my spot in a class, going to a gym, studio, having a workout buddy, or even physically leaving the house to go for a walk. I also appreciate not having to think about my next move, or being able to hit pause halfway through to go pay the pizza delivery guy. (It’s thin-crust so, it’s fine).
Just like Daisy’s nose in the early 2000’s, pilates has gotten an upgrade in recent years. Although today’s pilates workout has become a bit more contemporary (and let’s face it, trendy and Instagramable), it still utilizes the practices of Contrology (a method coined by inventor, Joesph Pilates) that makes this workout unique and effective.
I could talk all day about the benefits of pilates, from the strength and stability and the breathing and balance, but I’ll just say that I’m so thankful that I’ve finally found a workout that I not only enjoy, but really see the benefits of. If you love yoga and are looking for something next level to incorporate into your routine, I’d highly recommend giving pilates a try. I’ve only just re-started my pilates journey, but I look forward to becoming stronger, leaner, more flexible, and most importantly, virtually pain-free over the next few months.
Top Five Reasons to Try Pilates
- You’ve been looking for a low impact full body workout that is safe for people with injuries
- You want to join a supportive (and non-pretentious) community that Club Pilates in Barrie provides
- You’re a fan of yoga, but want to add more cardio or resistance
- You want to increase your core strength, posture and overall alignment
- You enjoy looking bougie to all your Instagram followers (That one is clearly my favourite😉)
Try A Reformer Pilates Class For FREE (Wait – What?)
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I love to share my favourite local shops, restaurants, recipes, and products with you. If you are local to the Barrie area and are looking to give pilates a try – I have something really exciting to share.
Send me a message on my Instagram page (@Shesallnat1) or leave a comment on this post and ask me how you can receive a FREE 30-minute introduction to the only workout I don’t hate, at Club Pilates located on Veterans Drive in Barrie. Not only will the instructors guide you through how to navigate the reformer, but they will teach you how to safely flow through the movements in order to get the most beneficial workout for your body’s specific limitations and needs.