I always had mixed feelings about working out, but since I moved into a building with a free gym, I’ve become a bit addicted to the adrenaline. I cycle on our off-brand Peloton, walk up an incline on the treadmill, and even do a little strength training. But it wasn’t enough – I wanted more. Now, it’s been six weeks since I started my journey into the wild world of Pilates.
Here’s everything I’ve learned so far.
What is Pilates?
Pilates was invented by a German named Joseph Pilates in 1923. It was originally called “Controlology,” but that impossible-to-pronounce name never quite stuck.
Pilates is a mix of strengthening exercises used by ancient Greeks and Romans, along with bodybuilding, stretching, and aerobics, all tied into one. Ballet dancers fell in love with Pilates as it helped them recover from injuries faster, but originally, 60% of those who took Pilates classes were men.
The main reason I do Pilates isn’t just to eventually get the body that Raven from Season 2 of Love is Blind has (although hopefully one day I’ll get close.) I like Pilates because it’s a really tangible way to measure my strength. I see myself dramatically improving from one week to the next, and my body has measurably changed in the six weeks since I started doing it regularly. And you can, too.
Tips for beginners
1. It’s never for beginners
If you’re watching a Pilates video, the first thing to remember is that at least four times throughout the video, you’re going to say, “this is supposed to be for beginners?” In the 25 minute pilates video I tried, we spend four times a week in a Zen Garden doing a beginner full-body workout using no equipment. It taught me the true meaning of pain. I always try to remind myself that those who do Pilates for a living are the ones who make the introductory videos, hence their calm and collected expressions. If you resolve to yourself that you won’t give up, it’s very worth the struggle.
2. Laugh about it
We laugh, we cry, we get abs – such is the Pilates lifestyle. But laughing may be the most essential part of the equation. If you can’t laugh at yourself, there’s no way you’ll make it through those first few workouts. Those first two weeks when you’re sore, weak, and wiggly are grueling, demanding, and downright uncomfortable. If you can’t laugh at your failures, you’ll end up demoralized, feeling like you’re not living up to a standard that was unrealistic from the get-go. Life isn’t all that serious, and Pilates doesn’t have to be either.
3. Have fun with it
I like to listen in a little bit for instructions, but when I get the hang of a video or I’m not in the mood to be coached, I blast my workout playlist at the highest volume and pretend I’m training for the NFL Combine.
Do Pilates your own way, and take a break if you ever get to a point in your workout where you feel so frustrated or sore that you can’t go on. This fun form of exercise is meant to be challenging, but it’s not meant to be torture. If you’re not enjoying the process, maybe it’s just not for you – which is totally fine.