pilates and my total lack of grace

Strolling up to my 8:30am pilates class yesterday morning, I felt pretty accomplished. Here I was, surrounded by all the other fit-minded women in our little area of the island, and I was doing something positive for my health and body.

Ten minutes into the class I remembered why I hate pilates. Even at my fittest moments of my life, I’ve always sucked at pilates. Boat Pose translates to insane-pain-in-upper-back torture. At my best, I don’t have the core strength to do the moves correctly.

Today it became very clear to me how little I’ve engaged my core over the better part of the past year. Granted, I had a bowling ball growing in my uterus, but my muscles went into deep entropy. During the class I could barely hold my torso up doing the 100-count move. I looked to my neighbor, a sixty-something-lithe-woman in all black, beautifully moving her limbs and looking downright angelic. Meanwhile I’m the blocky clunk in a baggy tee-shirt of my husbands trying not to flop down on my mat between moves.

I want to be the woman who finishes a pilates class with a slight sheen of sweat glowing on my forehead, who continues to do stretches and moves even when the class is over (these women exist. I’ve seen them). I’ll then drive home to prepare myself an organic kale/spinach/half banana smoothie and to conduct myself in a peaceful, calm yogi-manner at all times. My screaming toddler reaching for a bag of chocolate chips does not exist in this alternative reality; instead, she points  for walnuts or possibly even Brussels sprouts and smiles when I give them to her.

If I can somehow manage to make it through a pilates class without wanting to kill myself, maybe when people see me at Target pushing a cart with my crew in tow, they’ll think, “Look at that pilates body right there!” rather than comment, “Whoa, lady, you’ve got your hands full there, don’t ya?”  (although upon further reflection I don’t think people objectifying me is my ultimate goal. But pilates body = outright calmness and collectiveness in my fantasy. They’ll look at me and marvel at my ‘she’s got it all togetherness’.)

I’m kidding myself. I’m a woman more likely to gulp coffee before and after a workout, who uses workouts as an excuse to eat chicken nuggets and fish sticks on my salads. When I workout I’m not pretty. I throw myself around and grunt. My favorite classes are the ones with everyone dripping in sweat, where I question my ability to keep breathing by the end of the session.

Yet, I’m going to keep going to a pilates class every week, just because not even 8 hours after the class was done I could feel my core splitting in two. I’ll hate every stinking moment of it but maybe if I keep that stock-footage image of the “me who could be” in my head while doing my 500th sit-up, some watered down version of this woman will come. She can keep the aura of togetherness as long as I can have a fifth of her core strength.

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