What Pilates can do for you…

Debbie Sankey
Written by Debbie Sankey

Picture this…

You wake up in the morning energised and raring to go. You have a clear mind and feel calm looking forward to the day ahead.

You get out of bed and realise for the first time in a long time you don’t ache or groan, you don’t click when you move or catch your breath, the back pain you used to get regularly isn’t there and you notice how freeing that feeling is.

You move around with total freedom and without second guessing if there will be a twinge. A smile spreads across your face you haven’t felt like this for quite some time.

You feel taller, stronger, more confident, sexy, even.

Other people notice there’s something slightly different about you as you go about your day. You’re relaxed, calm and able to deal with whatever comes your way through the day with total ease. Your movements are more natural you’re not tensing your body and creating stress internally. You feel amazing.

That’s what Pilates can do for YOU!

And quite frankly it’s what it did for me.

I had attended my “proper” first Pilates class with some trepidation. I am blessed with a uniquely shaped spine. I have a double scoliosis which affects my hips and also my ribs into my neck. I do actually have a few vertebrae which are in a straight line.

I say “proper” first Pilates class because my first foray into it a couple of years prior didn’t go down too well. The instructor I saw was hell bent on putting me in an “anatomically correct position” which when you have scoliosis actually makes you feel totally wonky because your muscles aren’t used to it, the feeling affected my thinking to the extent of “I’m incredibly uncomfortable I need to straighten up”. So my ‘straightening up’ wasn’t anatomically correct. Confused?!

But no human on this planet is “anatomically correct” in that everything curves as it should text book style. We ALL have some form of imbalance whether we feel it or not, whether it’s pronounced like a scoliosis or it’s subtle. We are not walking text book examples.

I stuck out the term of classes in the hope I would learn to accept the anatomical position but after each class I felt “off”. My body was speaking but I wasn’t quite listening. I didn’t sign up for another term, I just returned to my ballet rehab exercises.

Fast forward 2 years I was speaking to a fellow Mum in the primary school playground about my hips aching when she suggested I give Pilates a go. I rolled my eyes and said been there, done that and it hurt me. She said she was an instructor and to come along to her class and try it out. So it was with trepidation I turned up at the class the following week, mat tucked under my arm wondering if I was going to be pulled and pushed into anatomical position.

To my surprise she didn’t attempt to do anything to my body or drastically move my positioning she said “work with your body, not against it”. Suddenly I woke up. Work WITH my body? I’d never contemplated that before.

I have danced all my life I credit dance with keeping me relatively upright despite the scoliosis, but even then I found I was often fighting my body to do ballet positions with some degree of decorum. So when I was told to work with my body I found I completely relaxed into the movements and when I relaxed into the movements I found my mind clearing, my thinking fell away and I was totally focused on what I was doing.

I’d like you to go back and read the beginning of this article.

Because THAT is exactly how I felt after that class. I’ve also had clients tell me similar things. My back felt like it had been unlocked, everything felt open through my spine, I felt 6 inches taller, the tension in my hips had melted away I felt so light I could have been walking on air.

Never in my life did I think I would feel like this after a workout. And because I felt amazing I felt more confident in my body and yes, downright sexy as a result, I didn’t feel like I was moving like a penguin (although penguins are cute in my book) I moved with elegance I had the poise and grace I longed for without it hurting me.

That feeling carried with me into the next day, there was space between my shoulders and my ears and I was hooked, my mind still felt clear, I actually felt comfortable in my body. If I felt this good after a workout I wanted more of it.