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.
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.
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?
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.
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.