Why No Pain No Gain Is BS

Alternate working title: Pilates Isn’t Easy

2nd Alternate Working Title: Pilates Changed My Life

3rd Alternate Working Title: Pilates Is The Best So Suck It CrossFit

(jk jk don’t send me hate mail CrossFit lovers)

There’s this misguided notion that for exercise to be effective, you have to end your session in pain.

There is also belief floating around in the universe that Pilates is easy.

Pilates be like…

Here’s how it usually goes:

You walk into a Pilates class, try it once and think to yourself “well, damn that was easy. Next!”

I get it because I was that person.

As a spin instructor, obsessive scale watcher, and member of the cult of exhaustion I lived by the motto:

no pain, no gain.

I would push my body to the max but never quite understood what I should be feeling or how to be in control of my limbs.

Treadmill, elliptical, CrossFit… I did it all.

However, I decided to give Pilates another try and something happened.

The teacher asked us to close our eyes and start to breathe and then she stood right by me (the universal non-verbal fitness cue that says “this is for you”) and asked:

“Who is in control right now? You or the reformer?”

The reformer be like…

I thought to myself “Damnnnn. Fine, let’s try it your way.”

So, here’s what I did:

  • Slowed down.
  • Focused on form.
  • LISTENED to what the instructor was saying.
  • Controlled my movements.
  • Lengthened my spine.
  • Lifted my chest.
  • Kept my pelvis still.
  • Tried to find my serratus (still working on that one).
  • Did I mention I slowed the F down?

And then magic started happen.

First time my mind and body started working together

Turns out through all my exercise, diets, and obsessive thoughts I was never in control.

Physically OR mentally.

When I finally slowed down, and listened to my body and my breath, a stillness took over.  Within that stillness, my body started to talk to me and my mind started to listen.

I finally started being in control, and not in an obsessive way like before, but in a healthy, balanced, kind, compassionate way.

That doesn’t mean Pilates is easy. 

I still wanted to die because, apparently, keeping your pelvis still while moving your legs is really freaking hard.

Me, trying to keep my pelvis still while moving my feet in the straps

Do I still do spin or lift weights ?

Yep.

Give me a bike and a beat and I’m in heaven.

Not as much though.

My guilt used to drive me to workout  out 9x-10x a week (yep, you’re reading that). Now, I workout when I want to (once a week? twice a week? I don’t keep count now) and it’s not out of spite, it’s because my body is asking to.

I’m stronger then ever BECAUSE of Pilates (not in spite of).

I don’t push myself to the point of a breakdown now. I rest when I’m tired. I move when I want to. I go deeper into the movement when I can. I know what movements are safe for my body. All of that is due to Pilates.

Most importantly, Pilates has taught me to FEEL. No more muscling through a movement.

Best of all?

I’ve taken the mindfulness off the mat/reformer and into everyday life.

I am slowly becoming the teacher and the person that I only used to be:

Vulnerable, authentic, real, and less “I’m sorry for existing.”

(Less… not eliminated completely. Let’s not go crazy.)

I firmly believe that Pilates has taught me a way to connect to my inner strength that I didn’t know was possible, and given me confidence to get shit done.

Pilates teaching me Mindfulness

Fast forward 2 years from my first class (and a comprehensive certification to teach) and my workouts are efficient, effective and I’m learning to understand my body in the most compassionate way possible.

Pilates giving me the confidence to live my best life

Ideas that I now stake my fitness flag in:

  • Less is more… if you’re doing it right.
  • You don’t have to hurt to have a good workout.
  • You don’t have to suffer to be worthy.

I can tell what’s good for me, how to move, how to do less with more, when to say yes, and when to say no thanks to Pilates.

If you’re wondering how make your current workouts better or where to start I’d say start with these principles:

  • Centering
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Breath
  • Flow
    • Notice that I never said starve yourself or make it painful

All of the above equals Pilates. 

(I mean, you can do a 100 bicep curls but if you can’t keep your form correct and feel it, what’s the point?)

Trust me when I say:

Pilates ain’t easy; it’s a journey in patience and grace and learning.

You know what else is a journey?

Learning to live an authentic, kind life.

(Full circle baby!)

Both journeys may be hard but you will not regret starting.

Tell me about your Pilates journey.

What made you become a convert?

Or are you still on the fence?

Thank you for attending my Ted Talk.

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