How Pilates changed my life
I've always led quite an active lifestyle. In my teens I was one of the few that looked forward to PE, and played various sports at county level. Living in London during my twenties I tried to balance an all-consuming job in publishing with playing league netball. Jumping up and down on concrete endlessly I pretty much considered myself to be infallible! Unfortunately, the older I got, the more I found this not to be the case...and several injuries later I decided to limit myself to the confines of a gym - a far safer environment surely?! I took up every class imaginable, sometimes doing two in a row just to get some head space from life's challenges, and always in pursuit of peak fitness and the perfect body.
Out of nowhere I developed chronic lower back pain. Well, to me it was out of nowhere, but to my body it was the result of continuous high impact night after night, and poor technique. Speed over safety, and reps over rest. I could barely move, for months on end, and found myself taking prescription pain killers and agonising over when I could be physically active again. I tried physio, but was impatient with it, and eventually as a last resort was referred to a pain management clinic - a white flag for those trying to help me.
Up until that point I had taken the odd Pilates class here and there. I didn't really know a lot about it and usually only attended when other gym classes were full. In the desperate search for something I might be able to do I contacted a teacher who I'd met earlier in the year that I knew through the grapevine had started her own Pilates business. My logic was that Pilates seemed pretty effortless and easy on the surface (little did I know), therefore maybe it could be adapted to suit me. That's where my journey began.
I had two personal training sessions a week that were meticulously constructed to meet both my existing physical ability, and nurse my spinal issues back to health. I was overwhelmed by my trainer's anatomical knowledge, and ability to know exactly what I could do that would not only help be rehabilitate, but eventually reach a level of fitness I would never have obtained in the gym alone. I was wrong about Pilates being easy! It soon became clear that was very far from the truth...and finding something that challenged me made me even more determined and kept me going back and wanting more.
Within 3 months I had left the pain killers behind. If ever I was in pain I would look forward to my sessions knowing that I would leave feeling relief. The other great thing about Pilates was that I could do it at home. If ever the pain returned I learned exactly what exercises could ease it, and needed no special equipment or space to do them.
After 6 months I nervously returned to the gym, but this time with a heightened level of body awareness and self care, and the invaluable knowledge that my workouts needed balance. Lengthening and strengthening my muscles was just as important as pushing myself to the extreme!
Years on I can't live without Pilates. It has enhanced my life in so many ways. Not only have I stayed injury free, and am stronger than ever before, it has helped me battle bouts of depression and anxiety and lead a more balanced life. My body has changed too - I have better muscle definition and tone, and am more flexible than I imagined was possible for someone who didn't stretch properly for so many years! Plus, the great thing about Pilates is you never stop learning. Not only does it transform your body, but your mind too!
Motivated by my experiences, I left the comfort of publishing, gained my Pilates teaching qualifications, and founded espilates. A scary move...that has sometimes kept me awake at night! I've done this with the simple hope that I too can help people enhance their bodies and minds through Pilates, and change their lives for the better.