January 7, 2011
I never thought I would make it into any studio. The studio I am speaking of, isn't a single room apartment, but an area where an art can be practiced. I don't have any dance, photography, fine art or music talents. I never took gymnastics either.
How I have ended up in a pilates studio is mind boggling.
When I was younger, I was introduced to the concept of grace and poise in ballet classes. I then eagerly took up karate, which taught me dedication, respect of the art and which also built up my strength, endurance and motivation. But still I never would have imagined myself in a pilates studio!
In the 80s, I used to enjoy watching the TV serial "Fame" and I think the first R rated film that I watched was "Flash Dance". Pilates is only distantly related to dance but the atmosphere is quite similar. Sometimes, when the studio gets full with a class and various privates are simultaneously taking place, with all the instructors giving their cues and the students following diligently, I discreetly steal glances at the impressive scene, and remember the discipline that transpired in the show Fame!
None of us are leaping in the air but the hard work is comparable. My instructor once told us that pilates was the art of contrology. Every move we make is controlled and precise. We are only allowed to stop when asked. We must follow instructions at all times. In this studio, we are not even allowed to take a break for a drink of water!
Our expressions must remain serene at all times. No strain is allowed to transpire. There is no complaining about pain: we must go beyond its threshold. When I bring my tired or aching muscles to the studio, they must stretch and complaints have to be interiorized. Here, encouragement is for performance and not about physical results. The body transfomations are almost secondary.
Consequently, I no longer pay attention to my shrinking jean size when I do pilates. My goal is to learn its art, because it is such a complex and detailed sport! The choreography is demanding on my memory and my concentration and coordination. When the instructor requests commitment, he expects us to put our minds to strengthening our bodies. "Commit to your arms, they are yours. They shouldn't feel heavy."
I mix and match classes, regardless of levels. I always learn a lot in the intermediate classes. When I attend an advanced class, I feel privileged. The control that comes through reminds me of a serene tai-chi class in a park To have attained this level of understanding, I have proven my dedication and taken countless classes. Finally, it really clicked.
There is a bounce in my step when I leave Club Stretch.