Today was a milestone for me and I'm going to blog about it as I was the only one there at the time to experience it. And what an experience it was!
For the first time since I can't remember when, I popped in my Pilates DVD and went through the beginner routine on my own! Well, I had the help of those two ladies on the tape who, oh yeah, definitely were at the beginner level (spoken VERY dryly there...)
As I found myself continually giggling at the, er, differences in, uh, style, shall we say, between the ladies on the video and the one on the mat in my room, I thought I'd try and recap the scene for your reading pleasure. Sit back and try to imagine. Well, here, let me help you with a visual:
Some of the initial instructions seemed benign enough. For example, Ana gently encouraged us to begin by, "drawing our chin up to our chest." As they have only one chin this is a relatively straight-forward request. I, however, was left wondering, "Which one?!"
The routine begins with "The 100." This is a tortuous exercise in self-control as anyone who's ever done Pilates can attest to. Ladies (and maybe men too) lie back on a mat, stick their feet in the air at as much of a diagonal as one's wobbly belly will allow, then proceed to wave their hands up and down, as they (frantically) count to 100. The self-control comes in trying to count to 100 before one gives up and drops their feet back to the mat in disgrace. Yes, this is what I would normally want to do for fun...What kind of person in what boardroom sat around thinking up this demented exercise?!
(Disclaimer: as I know nothing of Joseph Pilates and all he went through to develop the final routines performed for the benefit of many around the world, I respectfully interject here, "Just joking!")
It is my observation that most hands waving in the air during this exercise reflect the frantic-ism going off inside people's brains. "Hurry, hurry, OH PLEASE, hurry!"
Not Ana, of course. She calmly and slowly brings her arms up, gracefully turns them over, allows them to hover there but for a moment, then gently lowers them back to the ground...100 times. All the while encouraging us frantic ones to breeaathe...Her legs are perfectly straight at a diagonal and she hasn't a care in the world. She, in fact, could do this all day long. Tara, at a more modified level, also embodies ultimate Nirvana as she glides like a beautiful swan through the motions of life.
Then there's Lorie --the embodied persona of a rotund Albatross rapidly descending, wings flapping wildly in the air, on this - her (hopefully) last kamikaze mission in life...
Our program continued from there with all sorts and sundry of other exercises. They mostly involved swinging my legs and arms somewhere other than where I'm used to swinging them. My arms and legs kept asking, "You want me to do what?!" At one point Ana encouraged me to, "Extend your leg, if you'd like." Well I WOULD like...but I just can't seem to do that...
There was this little quip from Ana, "Again, please have a sense of humor as this IS a coordination exercise..." I'm definitely sensing humorous things happening here in my room...
Then there were the food analogies: "Scoop out your abdominals as if you've taken an ice cream scooper to your tummy." ???!!! As my last blog caused my dear pregnant friend, Beth, to quit reading, I will NOT follow this analogy to it's logical conclusion as to what that might look like...
Oh and "Think of being thin like spaghetti!" Still biting my tongue.
But I've got to comment on this one: "Now lift your leg up as if it were as light as a feather (HA! AS IF!) and push it back down as if you were pushing 100 pounds back to the ground (LOL - I AM...)
"Now stretch out your legs in front of you, give them a little shake before you transition to the other side." WHAT? Your legs are only now doing a little shake? My legs have been shaking nonstop. My housemates are wondering if we're in the middle of an earthquake...
And then came the moment of realization that one rarely gets in life. I realized who I really was. I was huddled there at the end of my mat, as were dear Ana and Tara. We all had our hands wrapped around our ankles and were perfectly balanced on our tailbones with our feet slightly off the ground. Our navels were pulled back down behind us (you have to have done Pilates to appreciate that comment) and our shoulders were relaxed. I was at the pinnacle of elatedness. Finally, something I could do. Ana reassured us that we weren't going anywhere because "you've pulled the tummy tight." - Well, I wouldn't say tight...
She then proceeded to have us lift one leg at a time in front of us and I navigated even this pretty well. THEN, she had us do both legs. In the air. At the same time. As in the classic "V" position found on most Pilates DVD covers. I started giggling (and thus jiggling) at this point. Ana and Tara did their "V" perfectly while I settled for a "u" and we came to my self-realization moment.
You see, from there they ever so amazingly rolled on to their backs, maintaining their "V" and articulating their spines to perfection. They then rolled back up, returning to their original starting positions.
I went to do the same thing. Looked easy enough - not a "V" perhaps, and granted, my knees were jutting out spastically on all sides to make room for my belly, but I found my perfect roundness enabled me to roll effortlessly onto my back...and then... my perfect roundness kept me there, wobbling back and forth just like those little Weebles I had as a kid. I didn't FALL down! No, I just rocked back and forth, back and forth. There was absolutely NO WAY my abdominals -and whatever else Ana and Tara used to get back up - were going to work in the same manner as my non-lumpy friends. And there I was, stuck. Wobbling back and forth. So I did the only thing one can do in that situation. I continued wobbling, all the while, laughing out loud!
Now I know. I'm a Weeble. A feeble Weeble at that. I wobble but hey, at least I DON'T fall down!
(For my youngest readers: that phrase, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down" was from commercials in the 1970's promoting Weebles.-- Do they even still have Weebles? Life as child would be so sad without Weebles. And I hope, after reading this, you'd agree that life as an adult would be equally sad without we Weebles...)