As I was finishing painting a room last night, I was thinking of painting relative to Pilates. It's a stretch, I know, but here were my thoughts: Painting a wall is pretty much immediately rewarding. You can see a huge patch of color going onto the wall. Like when you go to the hair salon and get a great new color and cut, there's lots of change with not much effort or time put into it. Painting trim is like Pilates. It takes a long time to get it just how you want it (with a bit of frustration along the way), so the rewards aren't as apparent initially. But when it's completed, it's what really gives the room the shining touch. Pilates may take a while to apply the principles correctly, but each class brings you one step closer to your goal. In fact, Joseph Pilates was quoted as saying, "After ten sessions you'll feel the difference. After twenty sessions you'll see the difference. After thirty sessions you'll have a whole new body." Even if you don't have a whole new body, you're certainly on your way, and much healthier for it!
One point that my students often get stuck on is the breathing. They may say to me, "What?! I've been breathing my whole life, and now I have to relearn how to do it???" Well... yes. Lateral thoracic (sideways ribcage) breathing is so important to executing the Pilates movements correctly, as well as to holding your body correctly out in the "real world" to prevent injury. So here again, we're taking one step at a time towards our goal. It may not happen today, or tomorrow even, but one day, it will happen. That moment of realization will be so rewarding because it wasn't immediate. After that, it's like riding a bike; you won't forget how to do it.
I got some good feedback for the first Ten-Minute Workout post, so I'm going to go with that flow. Following is a list of the first five exercises from Joseph Pilates' book Return to Life Through Contrology (http://www.amazon.com/Pilates-Return-Life-Through-Contrology/dp/0961493798)
so that you can start your first ten minutes today! Also, if you need a little help with exercise execution, follow twins Kimberly and Katherine from Pilates on Fifth (find them on http://www.youtube.com/) for great explanations and demonstrations. And if you prefer reading explanations, my all-time favorite Pilates book for simple yet thorough descriptions is Brooke Siler's The Pilates Body (http://www.amazon.com/Pilates-Body-Strengthening-Lengthening-Body--Without/dp/076790396X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302465820&sr=8-1).
1. The Hundred: Work up to 100 movements.
2. The Roll Up: 3 repetitions.
3. The Roll Over: 5 imes with legs close together, 5 times with legs apart.
4. The One Leg Circle: 5 times with each leg.
5. Rolling Back (aka Rolling Like a Ball): 6 times.
So the moral of this story is, start with ten minutes, don't give up, and you will see the rewards. Find a Pilates instructor that you gel with, and stick with the program. You won't be sorry. At this time next year, you could be feeling a year older, or you could feel five years younger.