Having some experience with Pilates, and looking for a new challenge, I took a chance on the “Pilates with Props” class. (From the title of this post, you can probably guess where this is headed.) Going in, I felt like Pilates was something I had a good grasp of. I studied theater in college, where our stage combat/movement professor insisted on almost an hour of mat work daily, before we even began with foam sword in hand. It felt like pure torture back then, but after weeks and months of practice, I recognized the difference it made in my body, and (to my own surprise) I continued it later on. Still, I had never experienced a Pilates class with props. I decided to give it a try – happy to feel confidence in a familiar exercise, but looking forward to a challenging twist.
Well. The “twist” turned out to be a totally embarrassing newbie moment. We were told to select a ball and small hand weights, and we were given a rubber resistance band to work with. For the first exercise, I squeezed the ball between my knees (as instructed), only to have it shoot away from me like a watermelon seed. (Sigh.) I skittered across the room, fumbling to catch my runaway, only to have it knock into three or four nice people who were just trying to pay attention and follow the instructor. I recovered my ball, got back to my mat and reset. All was well.
Until it happened AGAIN! Same ball, same exercise, same nice unsuspecting people who were practically bowled over by my second runaway ball. I laughed it off the first time, but now I was just plain embarrassed. For the second time, I tried to minimize my disruption of class and return to my mat quietly. Once I did, I put the ball aside and finished up the exercise without it. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and reminded myself just to focus on what I was doing. Once I was able to calm myself and focus on the movement, it was MUCH easier to keep hold of that ball.
After that, the rest of class went really well! Our instructor was great; giving us clear, concise direction and motivating encouragement. She took us through a huge number of exercises, but I never felt rushed, and I certainly never got bored. The hour flew by faster than I imagined it would, and I had a great sense of a full-body workout that focused on my core. The small hand weights and the resistance band were a great addition to the standard Pilates exercises – each made slightly more challenging and also more rewarding.