Why I Fell in Love with Pilates Mat Classes

Before I start this blog, I think it’s important for you to know who I am. My name is Brittany, I am 27 years old, bubbly with a sense of humour and cat lover! Most of you may know me as one of Jana’s fierce instructors ;). What you may not know, is that I suffered from severe back pain when I was 22-23. Seems quite odd- especially since I wasn’t diagnosed with a cause or condition. I was a healthy individual at that time. I was actively going to the gym three to four times a week and I’d run outdoors during the summer months. I have never succumbed to any injuries as I didn’t participate in sports or leisure actives other than dance, back in the day before University. However, there were many days where I would wake up and my back was in so much pain, I couldn’t even get out of bed. I would just cry in pain. It was terrible. I went to my doctor and she told me to try chiro, massage and yoga. I have done both chiro and massage- but these weren’t long term fixes. I’d feel good for a day or two but then right back to the excruciating pain. I even
purchased a new bed thinking that would be cure! Unfortunately it wasn’t. Yoga was never something I enjoyed as I found it boring and too slow. It wasn’t until Christmas time in 2012, when I received a gift that I thought was useless (my words exactly- there is no sugar coating with me). I received a foam roller (had NO idea what that was) and a gift certificate for a private lesson with the owner of Lead Pilates. To my dismay, I placed those items aside and never looked at them again until three months later.

 

I remember March 1, 2013 like it was yesterday. Walking into the old studio and looking over to the right seeing this open space with these giant torture-looking devices! I almost walked out because I thought this was bizarre. Luckily my brother was at the studio and told me to chill. I met with Jana and told her what was going on. I had exhausted all the recommendations I was told to try to help fix my back. This was the last resort. In one hour, I left with a newfound knowledge and hope. I never knew what Pilates was. I always thought of it as something like yoga- stretching, quiet, and boring. How ignorant was I! I started classes at the studio and was immediately hooked. I loved the atmosphere, the people, the instructors- it was a home away from home. I felt so welcomed and loved. You don’t get this type of service in a regular gym.

 

So what fixed my back? Well- learning what the spine was (sounds silly but there is SO much to understand), learning that my spine needed different spinal movements to keep it healthy- so going to the gym wasn’t helping me- yeah, I ran the treadmill, rode a bike, lifted weights etc… but I was working on a sagittal plane meaning my spine was only moving in one direction. I wasn’t getting stronger, I wasn’t getting more flexible, and I wasn’t changing anything. I learned that Pilates was about having a healthy spine supported by a strong core… Joseph Pilates said: “You are only as young as your spine is flexible.” A true quote that I live by!
As time went by, my back started feeling better. I used the foam roller quite often and I would attend my classes regularly. I loved Pilates so much- I did 3 classes a night sometimes! After a year, my back felt great. I could get out of bed with no problem! This was a long term fix- providing I kept up with my routine. I still go to chiro for adjustments and get massages for maintenance. But I’ve become stronger than I have ever been. Going to the gym may have kept me fit and in a healthy lifestyle but I can’t say I’ve ever gained the strength that I have now, like I have from Pilates. Pilates worked my deep muscles- learning how to strengthen and stabilize the core (and no! not the 6 pack abs- but the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominals, the diaphragm and the multifidi), moving my spine so it stays flexible and bendy and gaining strength like crazy!!!

 

Now that you know a small glimpse of my background with Pilates and how Pilates changed my life- this leads me to my reason for this blog. Why I fell in love with Mat Pilates. I can honestly say, I didn’t fall in love with mat until two years into my training/certification. Here’s the thing- I loved what Pilates had done for me- it was healing to my back issues, it gave me the strength I never had, it changed how my body looked and felt and most importantly it helped me become stronger in my everyday life. I loved this. I loved this so much that I had to be a part of it. I decided I needed to become Pilates certified.

 

I can openly say that my certification was harder than my four years at University. I was quiet and reserved and preferred writing papers opposed to doing presentations. So when I had to start my practice teaching- it was SO terrifying, I would sweat profusely, my words wouldn’t come out, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. It was far out of my comfort zone. I sometimes questioned what I was doing!!! My nerves g
ot the best of me and I pulled away for a few months. It took some time before I worked up the courage to start teaching again. But when I did, it was great! My first year of certified teaching was about me. (Not trying to sound selfish)- But it was learning a confidence I never had and understanding the layers of Pilates. Sure, I knew the exercises, I knew the cues BUT I didn’t know the layers that Pilates had. I wanted to not only teach an exercise, but I wanted my clients to be successful, I wanted them to feel something different and feel how certain muscles have to work. For example. I used to teach Boomerang just as it was- the three exercises that it consisted of. I remember how much I disliked this exercise (HA! It’s my favorite to this day now 🙂 but as I teach this- I get my clients to focus on the layers, maybe it’s the breath, or maybe it’s the activation of the pelvic floor, or maybe it’s the control it takes to perform this exercise. Then it’s about adding it all together and it becomes this beautiful dance. Pilates isn’t meant to be fast and to see how many reps you can get in. It’s about the control to perform
an exercise effortlessly and the strength that your mind and body use to work as a whole to get there.
Stay tuned for part 2… I’ll be talking about beginner mat and why I think everyone should take it! 🙂