By the end of the lesson, I felt energized, pleased with myself, thoroughly pleased with my instructor, and ready to return on Thursday, if I am allowed. Unfortunately, the butterfly never had a chance. It was smashed beyond recognition.
Tuesday night was my first Pilates lesson. When we lived in California, Ron and I would go to Pilates twice a week. It was offered at our gym. We were good about being active then. After some investigating, I found a Pilates class in English, but the instructor was waiting to form a small group before starting out.
When I arrived, I learned that I was the only student. One woman could only start on Thursday while another next Tuesday. The cost for ten lessons is 18,000 Huf, but one private lesson is over 3,000 Huf. I hit the exercise lottery! Of course, having developed an allergy to exercise, I did offer to wait for the others or maybe wait until she enrolled ten more. She was adamant about starting right away.
One of the precepts with Pilates is to control your core strength through your abdominal muscles. The first command is to pull your stomach in as if your belly button were touching your back. I knew this from the past, but had forgotten. Now, the only way my belly button is ever going to meet my back is with the help of an archeologist, a pick-axe, and a whole lot of patience. I did the best I could under the circumstances, a mantra I learned well from my mother. She repeated it with every unpleasant life event anyone dared to reminiscence about in her presence.
I am on the mat, following instructions. Keep the belly button in, make room for a butterfly to live in the space created there. The instructor was impressed with some of my hip movements and the ability to raise my legs in the air. I almost shared that these are muscle memory movements from trying to squeeze my body into pants that have apparently shrunk over time. There must be too much humidity in our wardrobe. All of the movement of trying to stuff too much sausage meat into an uncooperative casing was finally paying off. She loved the way I was able to twist and turn. All of the time I am tugging, pulling, stretching, flinging, and god knows what else, I was trying to avoid looking at the wall to wall mirrors that are showing this video of a tall fat guy in a loose gym suit making foolish movements. My instructor is giving breathing instructions like a coxswain in a rowing competition. “On this movement, breathe in, hold it and now release the breath as you return to regular posture. All the while, you are keeping your belly button pulled into your back, giving room for the butterfly to live.”
In an upright or on my back position, this was too bad. It was when I had to turn on my stomach that the troubles started. Arms along your side, keep your belly button tucked in, lift your hips in the air, making a hole for the butterfly to live safely. She is still trying valiantly to pace my breathing, but I am huffing and puffing like an old steam engine that is ready to pull an overload of passenger cars up a mountain. Finally, she realized that we were out of sync. She said just keep your own pace. My own pace would have been alleviated with an oxygen mask in place, but who wants to look like a wimp on their first day of school?