So I finally took the big brave step into adulthood last month and because I not only joined a Pilates class, but actually went more than once - I feel like I'm winning at life. I went on my own, to the gym, to partake in organised exercise. And I didn't hate it. High fives all round.
It's a good workout and a nice way to spend an hour, I leave feeling super relaxed and somehow like I've worked incredibly hard and so of course as we're all making all sorts of resolutions, I really want to recommend, to those of you who are yet to partake, Pilates as an exercise.
Before I do that however I feel it is my responsibility to share with you the honest truth behind it and that is that, for the first ten minutes of the first few classes at least, you are going to feel incredibly awkward.
Here are the things you need to know before donning the lycra and signing up:
1) You're going to be standing in a room with a collection of strangers, basically just looking at yourself in the mirror.
This really gets me. Looking at yourself in the mirror in your house is one thing, but doing it in public, surronded by other people is just weird. Eye contact is a big issue here. You are going to notice people looking at you, looking at yourself and that's just awkward. Do you smile? Or does that just look, to everyone else, like you're a nut who just smiles at themselves?
2) There is the constant fear of farting.
Pilates includes a lot of bending down and stretching things that haven't ever been stretched before. You're in very close promixity to everyone else and it does become a real posibility that you are going to let out a huge parp and everyone will hear it.
3) The bigger fear of queefing.
Much the same as the fear of farting, but much much worse. Even if you've never done it before in your life, the fear that your first time will be in a room with thirty other people is very distracting.
4) You are being told by a stranger to open your legs 'as wide as they'll go...'
I got the fright of my life in the second class I went to when the instructor told us to lie on our backs, hold our knees and open our legs as far as they'll go. This is incredibly comprimising and the thing you need to be sure to avoid here is eye contact. You are vulnerable and embarassed. Keep your eyes closed or look directly at the ceiling.
5) You're desperately hoping that someone else will fail, which makes you feel like a terrible person.
Looking around these classes I see women who look absolutely amazing. I work on the logic that this is because they do so much Pilates and it incentivises me to keep going back to the class. The drawback to these women however, is that they are all very good at the exercises. They don't seem to sweat like you do, or even struggle. So when you're 40 seconds in to a 60 second plank and your arms have turned to jelly, you find yourself frantically looking around the room, searching for someone who has had to give up already. If they're all still going, you can't stop because let's face it, no one wants to be the first to fall. You're basically desperately waiting for someone to fail so that when you quit, you're not alone and you weren't first.
So there you have it.
Hopefully, after the warmup is done you will mostly have forgotten where you are and can just crack on and I do advise persevering.
It is awkward. You may well want the ground to swallow you up, that's fair enough, but give it a go eh? You've got nothing to lose!