West Seattle Resident and Client - Marion tells her version of Pilates and her back pain! Enjoy!
I love talking about Pilates. It truly is the best thing I have ever done for myself and I'm not BS'ing even a little bit. So here goes:
For many years when New Year's rolled around, I, like a lot of people, would make a resolution to get into shape, or find a new way to get the back that I had injured several years before, "fixed". I would join a gym, or buy a new fitness book or video, try a new chiropractor, or attempt to start jogging again, etc. Because of ruptured discs in my lower literally everything I tried ended up in failure, I'd start off enthusiastically, because I always did like working out, but sooner or later (usually sooner) whatever I was trying would fire up the very painful disc injury, frequently sending me to bed for several days. Two New Year's ago I was doing my usual resolution consideration and one of my rental clients came to mind. She ran a Pilates studio close to where I lived and I had been doing some online studying of Joseph Pilates and his method and thought Pilates could be my next attempt at getting into shape and possibly easing my back pain just a little bit. I called her but unfortunately she was just getting ready to go on maternity leave. Thoughtfully though she suggested I give one of the instructors that would be covering for her a try. I was game and though I didn't know it for awhile, starting with my first session with Beth my life was changed. One look at the Pilates equipment that first time and I was pretty intimidated but Beth started me very slow with just the simplest of movements and a lot of listening to my fears. Gradually over several months and twice a week private sessions, with her very keen eye monitoring every new exercise, I got stronger. And stronger. My body is not the same body I had two years ago. I stand taller, I move significantly more graceful than I ever have in my life and my pain levels, which for many years hovered around a 6 or 7 (scale of 10), now hang out around a tolerable (but not acceptable) 2 to 2.5.
I was hoping to just de-flab a little bit and reduce the pain just a little bit but instead got a body that really for the first time in my life (53 y/o) I am proud to own and drive! A strong er core has made my posture better, my husband says my butt looks like a 20 year olds and did I mention my arms? Bring on the the sleeveless shirts! I am also considering the possibility that with continued practice one day I will be pain-free. For me, that's huge and something I had not even thought possible until about a month ago. The longer I practice this Pilates stuff the more the benefits keep piling up! I wish everyone could do it.
Because of my back injury the only exercise I used to be able to do was walking, which I still enjoy as it is a great stress buster for me, but even my walking has improved with my Pilates training as I am much more nimble and fleet-footed than before. Climbing a steep hill no longer brings on fears of back spasms and limping back home.
Looking back over the last two years I can see how being out of shape and being in so much pain all the time really had a depressive effect on me. As I started to move more freely and the pain started to recede I felt more and more like participating in life. I'm a new grandma and I actually look forward to doing physical activities with my grandaughter instead of being a boring lump on a sofa. That's a big deal that maybe people that don't live with chronic pain can't comprehend but that those who do live with pain definitely understand. I plan on practicing Pilates for the rest of my life and if somebody asked me "what exactly is Pilates?"
For me it was the ticket to getting my life back.