I always wanted to be an athlete.Strong, fast, speedy. These are three adjectives that absolutely could NOT describe me growing up. I friends, am blessed with the Big Three: Asthma, eczema and allergies, both food and seasonal. As we like to say in Minnesota, uff da. I grew out of the worst of it but when I was little, not gonna lie, things were a little tough. Lots of hospital visits and overnight or days long stays. Lots of meds, inhalers, nebulizer treatments. If you don’t know what a nebulizer is, back in the day it kind of looked like what the Ghostbusters used to trap the slime ghost: Large, loud and a real pain in the ass to have to carry back and forth to school.Clearly, I was SUPER popular. I mean, my coolness factor was through the ROOF. It didn’t help that I wore my favorite Guess jeans with the zippers at the ankles and pastel Guess sweatshirt every Tuesday and Thursday without fail. But that is neither here nor there.
Forget I said anything.Anyway, when it came to exercise I just couldn’t hang. I couldn’t run, doing so would give me a severe asthma attack. I hated being outside because running around, especially in our hot humid summers, I would sweat and get a painful, ugly heat rash. So. Not. Fun. I grew up reading books and constantly reassuring myself that I was just fine, just like the other kids, even though I really wasn’t. Lucky for me, things never stay the same; especially if you always have a sneaking suspicion, like I do, that you can always make your life better given the chance.
You might remember that around the mid-ninties Pilates videos and later DVD’s exploded on the market. Get strong! Get long, lean muscles! Look like a dancer! Ding, ding, ding! I wanted to be ALL these things. And it so happens that all I needed was a mat (a blanket stolen off my parents couch was what I started with) and some floor space. In the privacy of my parent’s basement it was me and my VHS tapes 3-4 times a week and Mari Windsor, the star of the video, was my guru. No sweat, no rash, no asthma attacks.
At first, I could barely hold my head off the floor in a crunch position without severe neck pain and I could only make it through 15 minutes of the 45 minute video. But I kept at it because FINALLY I was moving. And moving my body felt amaaaaazing. Soon enough I understood what Mari meant when she talked about connecting my mind to my body because I could literally feel my body waking up and responding to the movements I was putting it through. I walked taller. I felt more confident. I wasn’t just a bookworm anymore; when people asked if I “worked out” I could say, “Yes, yes I do! I do PILATES.”
Years go by and just to cut to the chase and save you from reading a REALLY ridiculously long blog post we arrive at the point where I have been teaching mat Pilates 3 times a week for the past 4 years at the local YMCA. I truly loved seeing how much my body changed with dedication to this exercise and I was passionate about bringing it to as many people as I could. And in many ways, with just doing Pilates, I was pretty strong. I had full control over my own body weight. No one, members, instructors or fellow trainers could hold a plank for as long as I could. Pilates didn’t “make me taller”, like some of the silly marketing blurbs claimed it would. But I had great posture; many people asked me if I used to be a dancer. (Haaaaaaa. Oh, my no.) I knew what it meant to “squeeze my glutes like you’re pinching a quarter” and how to “draw in” my abdominals to support my back throughout my body weight movements in class. By my early 30′s I was stronger than I had ever been. But I knew, I just KNEW, I could get better. And it was the confidence I gained from mastering my Pilates practice that made it ok for me to branch out and learn knew things. Like kettlebells. Like barbells. Tools I use almost every day now and have no idea how I ever lived without.I came to The Movement Minneapolis with one thought in mind. David, the owner, came out to greet me on my first visit and like the good gym owner he is he asked me what brought me to his gym. I said, quote, “I want to be a badass weightlifter.” I’m pretty sure that’s not what he expected to hear, but he took it all in stride. He said, “How about we try this. . .” and there I was, deadlifting a barbell LIKE A BOSS. (side note: not so much like a boss. I’m pretty sure it weighed a total of 85 pounds. But I FELT bossy and that’s all that mattered. Double side note: my barbell conventional deadlift PR is 275. Yeah, buddy.)
My transition from Pilates to strength training was a smooth and easy one. Like I said, I had good control over my own body weight which I believe is a nice thing to have before you start adding heavy load.
I had an excellent range of motion because many mat Pilates movements involve rotation, extension and flexion of the spine and limbs. There is a big focus on stabilization of the core musculature — which I learned is more than just your abs. Think of it like a wide rubber band that circles your torso and runs from the top of your rib cage around the nip line to just below your hip bones. My “band” was nice and tight. When I was ready to add in the barbells, the kettle bells and all the other fun things we play with at The Movement my body was READY.And, hoo-wee does my body love these movements! It’s no secret I’m a big butt fan and I was just bragging to my friend Jen that I think mine’s getting bigger. . .and I love it.
Lifting women problems, right? The best thing is that I haven’t abandoned my Pilates practice; it’s now the perfect complement to my strength practice. And it is practice; lifting is a skill and the more you practice the better you get. And the better you look. You wanna come see my butt? One more side note: my awesomely irritating chronic diseases? I’ll tell you, but I’ll be brief because a discussion on this deserves a blog post of its own and I’ve already gotten long-winded. Backing up a bit. . .one of the things you will learn when you come to The Movement is that nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything is connected.
Here are my connections:
I come in—>I get stronger and make consistent progress—>I physically feel good—>I emotionally feel good—>I don’t stress-eat anymore (ok, rarely!)—>I get better sleep—>I’m less crabby with my kids—>I make out with my husband—>A lot—>Happy wife, happy life—>I come in to the gym—> I get stronger—Every day.
And the circle repeats, over and over, in the most simply beautiful and efficient way. How much do you think stress and eating bad foods contributed my skin inflammation and asthma attacks? Like I said, nothing happens in a vacuum and everything is connected. It’s weird to me when people tell me I have great skin, but I’ll take it. They have no idea what I used to look like and that is just fine by me. One more thing. . . I MIGHT be just a little speedy now.
I CAN RUN.
A whole 5k! (I didn’t run my first mile EVER until 4 years ago) And it’s easy. I could tell you why, and you might be able to guess. But I’ll save it for another time. So come see us at The Movement Minneapolis. Give my Pilates class a try, I’m there every Saturday morning and your first class is always free. Come see for yourself all the wonderful things you body is capable of. Because truly, once you begin, it only gets better. Related