Hi everyone! You may have noticed that I mentioned last week that I started Pilates recently. I haven’t really talked about it, mostly because I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. Its…confusing. But let me start from the beginning:
As you may remember, I got a hip injury halfway through training for the Zion Half Marathon. My orthopedic surgeon mentioned that it was probably from my shoes (which I got rid of right away!) but also mentioned that I needed to stretch more and work on my core and upper body strength. My immediate goal after leaving his office was to finish the Zion Half in one piece, but once I got back home from our trip I knew I needed to do something to improve on my strength before starting to train for my next half. Yoga has been fun, but I tend to like the stretchy classes over the hardcore workout ones and wanted to try something else as well (don’t worry, I’ll still be taking yoga classes and doing it at home!). I don’t have a ton of options up here in Anchorage, but I did manage to find a few Pilates studios which made me think about my good old days at Barre3! After doing a bit of research, I learned that Pilates is a great way to improve core strength and become a stronger and faster runner. I had done a bit of it already during Barre3, so I figured it was worth a shot. So I attended a free Pilates 101 class last Saturday! The class taught us exactly how Pilates works your body and how it can help (and they even went over how it helps runners!). I’m not good at science, but it was great hearing exactly what muscles we’d be working and how we would be doing it. We also did a few practice moves on the mat and the reformer and I decided to try the classes out. So I signed up for their Pilates Boot Camp! I get 4 weeks of 3 classes each in order to get me ready for their mat and reformer classes. I thought it would be 4 weeks of awesome workouts, sore abs every day, and a new workout obsession.
And…it hasn’t been that way. I came to my first class on Monday all ready to work out hard and leave feeling awesome, but instead we spent the hour learning how to access our lower abs – which involves pushing our feet, squeezing our inner thighs, and doing a kegel. These are three things I don’t ever do when I work out, and I’m not the most coordinated person so doing three things while trying to do ab work was so hard! I left class feeling like I had barely used my abs at all, even with tons of help from the teacher. The same thing happened on Wednesday too. I was really trying hard to be optimistic, but the truth is that I wasn’t sure if Pilates was for me.
On Friday, I basically had to drag myself to class. There were only about half of the usual amount of people there, and I got lots of extra help in class. My poor teacher had to hold my hips down for half the exercises, even though I swear I was trying to use my abs! And then after the millionth correction, I felt my lower abs activate and I realized I was doing it right! It only happened a few times, but I was thrilled! We also got a chance to use the reformer machines, which despite looking like torture devices actually helped me get an awesome leg stretch. After class, I had a really good talk with the teacher about how Pilates works. She said that because I’m a runner, I’ve built up strong muscles from running and that those muscles are the ones that are taking over when I try to use my weaker core muscles. She said that it’s going to take practice to re-train my muscles, but that it will help me become stronger as a runner and prevent future injuries. And she said that Pilates is actually really hard for runners – we love to just move our legs for hours without having to think about anything, but Pilates involves so much thought and attention which can be frustrating at first. In fact, the whole point of the boot camp is so that everyone can work on activating core muscles correctly before taking a full class so that they can reach their full potential during those tough workouts and won’t have to struggle so much. I left on Friday feeling like I can’t give up – I need to stick with this if I don’t want to see Dr. Jerkface again about my hips.
I feel like this is a really strange thing to talk about, especially if I do end up liking Pilates and sticking with it for a while. But I barely found any other blog posts about how hard Pilates is for newbies, especially runners, and I wanted to share my experience with anyone out there who might be thinking about quitting too. I think it’s going to be tough for me, but I should hopefully be able to see improvement soon. For the next 3 weeks, I’ll be working on getting better at using my core – if I can do that, I will “graduate” to the real classes with my studio where I can get in a tougher workout. My mom thinks it’s crazy to work out just to “work out” (AKA do Pilates just to be a stronger runner) but it’s my best chance at getting stronger! Plus I really like going to classes again. Let’s hope I start getting the hang of things!
Have you ever done Pilates? How long did it take for you to really do it right?