Therapy For Individuals Who Feel Too Stiff For Pilates

I would never admit this to anyone, but I had always been insecure about my body. I felt like I was too big to do any physical activity gracefully, so I just made it seem like I was not interested in exercising at all. Still, if you rummaged through my bedroom, you would see yoga mats and small dumbbells as I tried to work out on my own – away from other people who might laugh upon seeing me try.

Nobody assumed I was doing it because the bodyweight exercises that I tried did not do much for me. I would work out two or three times a week and feel like I did okay, but then I would step on the scale and realize that my entire month of exercising did not improve my weight significantly.

Learning About Pilates

I want to let you know that I was very much a daddy’s girl. I always told myself that I would go to the closest university to stay at home and see my dad as often as possible. However, due to my desire for physical change – which I was too shy to reveal and pursue in my hometown – I made the executive decision to study on the West Coast. By doing so, I hoped that it would only take me an entire semester to reduce my weight and return To the East Coast as a better version of myself.

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True enough, I soon realized that Los Angeles was like the mecca for any physical activity that you could ever imagine. I could walk around Venice Beach and see all these fun metal structures that could double as training equipment. If I went further enough to Santa Monica beach, I would see people running or cycling. Some of them did it to train for marathons or triathlons, while others lost weight. Upon going through the city, I noticed that many gyms and studios offered many exercises that I had not even heard of before.

I was still in the process of figuring out what type of workout I should try first when I came across a Pilates studio. I initially thought it was a yoga thing, but when I peered through the glass, I saw some big machines inside that I knew yoga practitioners did not use.

Someone inside the studio must have seen me press my face against the glass because the door opened, and a smiling Instructor asked me to come inside the studio and observe her class. Although I was embarrassed, I was also intrigued by Pilates, so I agreed to do it.

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It did not take me long to assume that Pilates was not as physically demanding as yoga or any other workout. I mean, the students used a type of machine that had a lot of functions. In my mind, it was doing all the demanding aspects of the exercise for them. After two hours of feeling in awe of everything, I decided to sign up for two months’ worth of classes.

Getting My Butt Kicked In Pilates

Did you read the part where I said that Pilates was much easier than yoga? Well, you could forget about it because I was wrong.

When I sat in for my instructor’s class, I got there when they began doing the actual exercises. I did not see that they would warm-up for at least 15 minutes before that, stretching every muscle in the body. I only learned about it on my first day of class, which made me want to back out instantly.

Why might you ask?

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To put it simply, I had always had a stiff body. I could not remember a time when I could reach my toes by bending half of my body forward. Trunk lifts, jumping jacks, or even lunges were my enemies because I had never been able to raise my chest or stretch my legs without hurting.

During the class, I knew that I was behind everybody else. Some women were bigger than me, but they managed to do the stretches well. While I stuck through the entire session to avoid being branded as a scaredy-cat, I told my instructor afterward that I would no longer continue with the program since I was too stiff for Pilates.

Changing My Mindset

Little did I know, teaching Pilates was only one of my instructor’s hobbies. Her day job was providing therapy to people who dealt with too much stress or lacked self-confidence. It might have been too obvious that I needed therapy, so my instructor did not waste time and invited me to her office to talk about my worries.

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I told my instructor about my physical insecurities – even the fact that I chose to study far away from home because I was ashamed of others seeing me try to look and feel better. I still felt embarrassed the entire time, but I figured there was no better person to confide in than a mental health professional.

I would not forget what my instructor said. “Anyone can learn flexibility. It does not happen overnight, yes, but you don’t have to feel bad about it. Instead, it should push you to work hard every day to achieve your weight-loss goals.”

Needless to say, my stiffness went away after months of trying my best. Three years later, I became a Pilates studio owner in my hometown and remained great friends with my therapist.

How Pilates Became My Therapy After Divorce

It had not been five years since I divorced my husband. James was my high school sweetheart, and we had three beautiful daughters. I genuinely thought that we would be together until old age. However, he increasingly became toxic to me, so I had to end our relationship.

In The Beginning

When James and I met in high school, I was technically the campus sweetheart. If there were ever a beauty pageant, my teachers would send me to it. If the football or basketball team needed a muse during parades, that would be my role. I was young, sexy, vibrant, and intelligent, and almost every guy in town wanted me.

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The thing was, my eyes were set on James, the captain of the football team. Unlike the other rowdy teenagers his age, James was more of the silent type. He would attend parties and everything, but he would remain in the corner and not talk to people much. Whenever we crossed paths, though, he would perk up and only pay attention to me. Once James asked me out, you could bet that I did not make him wait for too long before I said yes.

We instantly became the most famous couple on the campus, and it felt like everyone wanted to be us. Still, James and I had the surprise of our lives when I found out right after high school graduation that I was pregnant with our first child.

Becoming A Young Wife And Mother

I remember crying buckets when I learned about my pregnancy because I was not ready to be a mother. I was only 18 years old, and there were so many things that I wanted to do. But James appeased me when he offered to marry me. He was like, “I know you’re sad that you will have to delay going to college for at least a couple of years, but we can get an apartment near the University where I will go so that we can be together all the time. We can make this work.”

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True to James’s words, we did make everything work for us. I saw how much he matured since he learned about my pregnancy. Aside from getting his degree, he also had part-time jobs and never complained once. When our first daughter arrived, I got to help out with the finances a little by accepting some dress orders.

At that point, being a high school royalty felt like something of the past. All I cared about was our little family. Unfortunately, three babies later, I might have forgotten about my old life too much as I let myself go physically.

I was only 23 years old, but my 50-year-old mother dressed better than me. I could no longer recall the last time I wore more than lipstick because I was always busy making ends meet and taking care of my children. Worse, I put on at least 100 pounds and did not seem to want to lose any of it at all.

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That must have been a deal-breaker for James. He began to comment on my body, comparing me to a whale or a couch. I laughed and let it pass, but he repeated it almost every day since then. It got to the point where he told me that we could not sleep on the same bed because it was just enough for my body.

Well, it was the last straw for me. Without another word, I pulled out my suitcase and filled it with as many clothes as I could fit and carried all my children to the car. It was the middle of the night, but I did not care about that. I drove straight to my parents’ house and decided to divorce James right then. I refused to be verbally abused by him again.

Finding Peace In Pilates

When I filed for divorce, I clarified to my lawyer that I did not want anything from James except for child support. I was lucky to have parents who agreed to help me go to a local college and look after my daughter for a few hours a day. Hence, I did not need his money.

At the start of the semester, though, I felt insecure about my appearance. I was not much older than my classmates, but our age gap seemed too big because of how I dressed and what my body had become. But things changed when one of my new friends, Anna, introduced me to Pilates.

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Pilates allowed me to reconnect with my true self. Little by little, it strengthened my desire to get back in shape and become a better version of myself. It also relieved the stress of dealing with the fact that I was a young divorcee and wondering what the future held for my daughters and me. But I felt more validated than ever when I had to take my kids to a Pilates class once, and after an hour, they were all like, “Mama, I want to be strong like you.”

Fast Forward To 2021

After community college, I applied for a license to become a Pilates instructor. I eventually opened my studio, catering to moms who lost their self-confidence. Now, I can say that Pilates became my therapy, and I have finally found my peace of mind.