I have a friend who is a Pilates instructor and she has a bottom which looks like it belongs to an 18 year old (her bottom's actual age is nearly 25 years older than that). She looks good - very good! I have never gone along to a class, as I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to follow the moves and although having a bottom that small would be lovely, I just didn’t feel it is achievable, given that my bottom looks like it belongs to an 18 year old elephant, who needs to lay off the hay! As I am over a third of the way through this challenge, I now know that although it is normal to feel intimidated when going into a class for the first time, there is no need to worry, people don't judge and everybody has to start somewhere. I therefore have high hopes for Pilates.
I joined Dianne at FunFit Fitness for a Monday morning session. I was introduced to the class and came up to the front to explain why I was there and a little bit about the challenge so far. There was a flurry of questions before we found our mats and began our warm up. As we continued, Dianne asked the group why they were unusually quiet and one gentleman piped up “That is was like having Ofsted in the room!” I have previously been called a journalist, now an Ofsted Inspector - what next? Estate agent? Banker?!
Dianne taking the class through the moves
After the slow, considered movements for the warm up, we moved on to other postures and movements, whilst continuing to be mindful of our stance and breathing. With some of the moves, I had to opt for the more basic posture, as I am still being massively mindful of my back. I have only just been able to start putting the washing out without wincing, so I want to be careful! However, Dianne told me that Pilates would be excellent for strengthening my lower back.
The warm up
Most movements were more than achievable and the more difficult ones were always pre-empted by a class full of groans, which I found very amusing. Pilates is supposed to incorporate elements of yoga, martial arts and Western forms of exercise to achieve greater muscle strength, balance and flexibility. This leads onto my second fact I already knew about Pilates; never ask what the difference is between Pilates and Yoga and certainly Never, Ever ask which is better. Although amusing to watch your Pilates instructor friend and your yoga instructor friend having this heated debate outside of the school gates of an afternoon, I have learnt that one must find less flamable questions to ask whilst passing the time!
Back to the class and Dianne proceeded to shut the door, dim the lights and put on some ultra-relaxing music, as we settled into quiet reflection. I remember really enjoying this element in yoga. I found co-ordinating the breathing with the earlier movements tricky as I consistently inhaled and exhaled out of time but just left with the focus on breathing, whilst listening to Dianne’s melodic tone, I started to get into a nice rhythm. However, the bi-product of attending these classes and sports is that I find it difficult to switch off, as my brain is always ticking, thinking of things that I can write about. I guess being constantly alert to a “story” does make me into a bit of a journalist after all!
Dianne then told us to think about our toes. A friend of mine also taught me this a few years ago; "when your head is full, think about your toes" he said to me. It sounds strange but I have found that it does actually work and following the instruction, I immediately started to release a bit of my internal typewriter and felt my shoulders un-tense as I refocused my thoughts.
The lights came on as we slowly readjusted from our dreamy state to reality. The class slowly filed out, along with a lot of well-wishing from my class mates. I really do like this genre of exersize and as I said before with yoga, something which I feel would not only strengthen and tone me but would also help me to wind down from my busy life. It feels good once again to stop and breath.
I said goodbye to Dianne and caught myself in the mirror on the way out. If I am honest, I was a little disappointed not to see Kate Moss’s derrière looking back at me but I guess it would take more than one, one hour class!
My name is Sam. I am a 35 year old, unfit, gym-phobic, mother of 3, who enjoys indulging in a glass of wine or two. I started the website sofadodger.co.uk this year, which is ironic as I am more a sofadweller than a sofadodger. So I have taken on the challenge of trying 100 different sports and fitness classes in a year. I shall be blogging about, what will be, one of the most interesting and challenging years of my life!