In the past, I’ve taken a few Pilates classes, mostly mat classes which hurt my neck. I know it’s something about the way I’m holding my body when I do it, but I don’t get much enjoyment out of the work, and not enough results to justifty the neck pain.
Then I discovered Reformer classes. What the … ? Just enough ass kicking to make them worthwhile, and every time, there are new exercises that work muscles you didn’t even know you had. Consider me converted.
Problem is, now that I’ve begun to go to class on a regular basis, my body is adjusting. I want to push myself further, and have to counter that urge in my head as I’m trying to work on my form. Because if you’ve ever tried to simultaneously do a hard exercise, balance your body on a moving sled, and somehow not look like an idiot in the process, you’re doing a pretty good job. But you still want to press harder, for some reason.
Tonight when I was driving home from class, body aching, soul triumphant, muscles taxed and shaking, I started thinking about that thing we all have, to push beyond, or try to turn working out, a singular pursuit if ever there was one, into a competitive sport. It’s why I never took Reformer classes before. It just seemed like a bunch of anorexics speed-crunching themselves to the brink of exhaustion.
I’m happy to be wrong, of course. Every teacher and class is completely different in feeling and tone. It’s that bit in my mind I have to work on, which I try to counter by telling it that taking it slow not only makes the muscles work harder, and become more sculpted. It also helps the brain incorporate the effects of the exercise — oxygenating every part of my body from the blood to the cells, and making my heart sing in every sense of that word.
Sure, I’ll be sore as hell tomorrow. And that’s why Pilates and I have agreed to disagree about how best to get a good workout in. Frenemies are like that. They reflect you just enough to show you where you’re fucking up, and are just enough of a good time to make you forget about why you hated them in the first place.