Friday, 13 July 2012

There's a first time for everything

I am a fidget, physically as well as mentally.  If jiggling my legs, swinging my foot, squirming in my chair, and hop scotching from tangent to tangent inside my head burned calories, I'd be able to eat cake to my heart's content and still be able to fit into my skinny jeans.  As an antidote to my fidgetiness, I've briefly tried yoga and mindfulness meditation but moving that slowly or, indeed, just sitting without doing anything else makes me want to scratch my eyes out.  

I did take a couple of tai chi classes several years back, reasoning that at least you get to move so maybe that would suit me, but no.  My confusion over left and right meant that I was always moving in the opposite direction to everyone else and my uncoordination meant that I struggled to make my legs and arms do what everyone else's were doing.  Plus it was SO SLOW.  (I learned later that that class got to do fighting with swords after they got more proficient at the moving slow bit, which sounded like fun, but I probably would have ended up skewering myself or someone else.  I suspect that a lucky escape was had by all.)

So when Pilates - with its emphasis on core strength, flexibility, and slow, precise movements - was mentioned in the ChiRunning book and on the ChiRunning course as something that could be useful for running, I was intrigued but sceptical of my ability to engage with it.  However, because I will do things for running that I wouldn't do under any other circumstances, I decided to give it a try.

Today, then, was my first Pilates class.  I had a 1:1 session at the beginning of the month where I was shown some basic postural exercises and told that I had a very weak core and some muscle imbalances.  Quelle surprise.  Sigh.  I signed up for a series of six mat work classes which should be enough time for me to know whether this is for me or not.

Basic level, but it still froze my brain.
I'm the only beginner in the class and, while the instructor did a good job of keeping an eye on me, I still had virtually no idea what I was doing.  I quickly gave up on matching my breathing to my movements; in fact, I had to remember to breathe full stop.  I managed the physical movements okay when we had to just use our arms or just our legs but, when we had to combine the two, my brain short circuited and I could only lay there motionless until my neurons untangled themselves.  The instructor assumed that I was tired and I didn't correct her. 

I didn't hate the class, I hasten to add.  I had to concentrate enough that I didn't find it boring.  I felt a bit looser afterwards and I certainly noticed that my legs were tired when I did a quick cardio session at the gym afterwards.  And I've been much more aware over the couse of the day of keeping my pelvis level.  I think that I see potential in this.

I can't wait, though, until we get to fight with swords...


  1. A few years ago, I did Pilates, and Pilates-based classes, several times a week for about six months. They were tough, but I had the best core strength and muscle definition I've ever had, and it certainly helped my running. You need to have an instructor who keeps a good eye on you though, and corrects even slight errors in your form. Otherwise, at the very least, you won't get the full benefit of the classes, and possibly get frustrated.

  2. It's reassuring to hear that Pilates really does help the running. How long did it take before you started to notice a difference? (Not that I'm impatient...)