Two Christmases ago, my mother gave me a handmade gift certificate for “5 personal training sessions at the gym.”  It was a very nice gift.  However, all the personal trainers who worked at my then-gym were super bulked up fratty competitive shouty types, so I was not all that interested in redeeming this gift.  So I didn’t, at the time.

Two Februarys ago, my seriously awesome grandmother died.  I decided to be proactive about how glum I was feeling by taking an early-morning yoga class at the gym.  Except they didn’t have any yoga classes scheduled for the mornings, only pilates.  “Pilates is like yoga!” I thought.  “I’ll do that, and there will be deep breathing and there will be relaxation and I will feel better.”

Except not so much.  Pilates only had 4 other people in it, and it was clear they had all been coming to this class together for a while.  The instructor used my total newbie-ness to demonstrate all the things I was doing wrong: “See, many people with not a lot of core strength can’t do this movement and overcompensate like this.”  “look how her spine is twisting?  Don’t do that!” “You’re not even trying!”   This, two days after Grandma Awesome had died, was too much.  I didn’t make it through the class.  Halfway through, I got up, rolled up my mat, and tried not to cry as I headed for the door and heard her calling after me “you’re never going to get anywhere if you keep quitting stuff!”  Pilates = not for me.

But then my sister started doing pilates classes and RAVED about it.  So did another friend.  And another.  Then one day, a couple weeks ago, I drove past a pilates studio a couple blocks from our house.  I don’t know why, but it looked appealing.  I googled it.  Good reviews.  I called my mom.  “Do you mind if I redeem that gift of personal training sessions two years later at a pilates studio?”  She didn’t.  (Though it isn’t technically relevant to this story,  I feel obligated to confess: I totally love pilates now.  At least, I totally love how fast it goes when someone else does all the thinking for you and just tells you what to do, all the while giving you little words of encouragement and correcting your form in a nice, totally non-shouty way.  I will be very sad when all my training sessions are used up and I have to start using a dvd, because I suspect it will not be as awesome.)

My pilates instructor (another brief side note:  if you had asked me a month ago what were the chances I’d ever use the phrase “my pilates instructor” in a non-mocking way I would have said zero) has taught me this trick about relieving muscle tension and self-massaging by lying on tennis balls.  It totally works, and feels amazing, and has pretty much eliminated my back pain except….

…well, except my one shoulder is still realigning after a lifetime of slouching and it was really seizing up and it REALLY needed the tennis ball treatment except all the tennis balls are in the garage and it’s kind of cold outside and I really didn’t want to go outside to get a tennis ball and I was looking around for something to use as a substitute and then I saw something round and firm and it seemed perfect…

And that is how I came to be lying on the living room floor this afternoon when John came home with a sweet potato under my shoulder.  And then, when I subsequently used that sweet potato in tonight’s dinner (washed! and peeled!) John tried to refuse to eat it.  Boys just don’t understand the importance of fitness and proper spinal alignment, do they?

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