Tristan is one of our PowerFull Fitness instructors! Find more about her here!
Finding a Passion and a Purpose for Pilates in my Life
I am a runner. I’m not speedy. I can’t randomly go out and run several miles, but I am a runner. I have to work at it and follow a training plan. I have learned many hard lessons and have been injured too many times, but running is my form of therapy and I refuse to give it up. As a former elementary teacher and now stay at home mom to two small boys, sometimes I just need to run off the crazy! You might be asking yourself, what does running have to do with Pilates? Stick with me.
Before my first son was a twinkle in our eye, I ran 10 milers and half marathons. I tried to run a little here and there throughout my pregnancy, but soon developed an extreme pain in my pelvis. My OB chalked it up to “growing pains”, but I knew better. Once my son was born, and I was cleared for working out, the pain was still there. Forget running! I would go for long walks and be in tears. I was x-rayed and diagnosed with Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction. This means that the hormone called relaxin, which is produced to help with labor and delivery, was doing a really good job. So much so, that my ligaments were extremely loose and my pelvis was unstable and wouldn’t stay in alignment. Because I was nursing, the physician told me that I could be one of the “lucky few” that had this relaxin stick around for a while.
I went to physical therapy for a few weeks, but that required a lot of schedule reorganization and co-pays. A good friend of mine suggested that I find a pilates class instead. Before this, my experience with pilates was a few random group fitness classes in college. I was willing to try anything though, and came across a class locally. I wish I could say I fell in love with this workout right away. That would be wrong. It was hard. Since I was a few months postpartum, I couldn’t do a roll up. I couldn’t do a plank. I didn’t understand what “finding my neutral pelvis” meant. I was determined, however, to be rid of my pain and get back to running. I stuck with it and succeeded with regaining my ability to run pain free. Due to the same pelvic issues in my second pregnancy, I took it easy with running, but I immediately started back up with Pilates at 8 weeks postpartum in order to not go through the same pains as before. I cried that first class back. I couldn’t do one roll up. Clearly, my core was weak from growing an 8 ½ lb baby!
I am still learning about my body, even after practicing Pilates for almost 5 years. I am learning how Pilates can translate into my daily activities. I now lift with my core. I carry my kids in positions that are safer for my body, I move more thoughtfully and purposefully. Pilates taught me a mind-body connection that helps me to utilize my powerhouse (core, lower back, glutes and hips), has improved my posture immensely, and for the first time in my life, I have abs! I am also seeing the benefits, as I am now 2 weeks out from my first half marathon as a mom. All of those tricep push ups prepared my arms to help keep my gait stronger. I use deep breathing to engage my abdominals, which is something that I learned from the Pilates “hundred” exercise.
Adding Pilates to my fitness routine has not only improved myself as a runner, but also as a mom and wife. Instead of the “no pain, no gain” approach, it focuses on quality, controlled, movements with less reps. It allows me to take an hour each week and focus on my own breath, body and how they move together. It doesn’t allow for “zoning out”, so for the entire hour, my mind cannot wander to whatever stresses are happening in my daily life. There is also something very fulfilling about accomplishing something physically that you couldn’t do a few short weeks before (I am proud to say that I can now do Pilates roll ups with ease!). Pilates, for me, is a very personal workout that has translated to several areas of my life. Running will always hold the number one spot in my heart when it comes to my workouts, but you’d better believe on race day, I’ll be talking to myself about bracing my core, utilizing my powerhouse, and reminding myself why I did all of those tricep push ups!