Gentle and bendy

Last summer my writing and adventuring friend suggested something which was nothing to do with writing, and wasn’t what would typically be described as an adventure. Synonyms for adventure include exploit, escapade, deed, feat, trial, experience – and those words do in a very  mild and gentle way sum up the new experience for us both. What should I wear, i asked. Something light, loose and comfy. Shoes? No shoes, we would be bare foot.

We set off across town, early in case we got lost, and in fact we did get slightly lost, but in plenty of time we found the right place. So what was our adventure? We were going to a Pilates session. We both felt unfit, and not the sort of slim svelte shape we wanted to be, and neither being a fan of the sort of sports available, and both of us disliking gyms, Pilates sounded an interesting option. I really want to get back into Tai Chi, but I have’t found a class. My previous experience of Tai Chi was with such a brilliant teacher who is an impossibly hard act to follow.

When I mentioned to my daughter that I was going to have a go at this new to me type of exercise she looked askance and said be careful I didn’t strain anything or pull a muscle. This didn’t sound the sort of thing in I had in mind. I looked it up because I only had the faintest clue what it was.

Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on balance, posture, strength and flexibility. It’s suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

… says the NHS website, and when my friend and I met our teacher she was very reassuring and emphasised that safely was paramount, and we should never do anything which might hurt ourselves. She is absolutely amazing, and I’ve been going to see her twice a month ever since, and it has been really useful and enjoyable.  We work on balance, stretching,  poise, becoming more bendy and I feel fitter, stronger and more balanced even though i haven’t achieved the slimness or svelteness that I’d hoped. It’s a work in progress!

Pilates is a type of mind-body exercise developed in the early 20th century by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates, after whom it was named. Pilates called his method “Contrology”. It is practised worldwide, especially in countries such as Australia, Canada, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom. As of 2005, approximately 11 million people were practicing the discipline regularly, and there were 14,000 instructors in the US.Pilates developed in the aftermath of the late 19th-century physical culture of exercising to alleviate ill health.

Pilates is named after Mr, or should I say Herr Joseph Hubertus Pilates who was born in Mönchengladbach in Germany in 1883. As a child he suffered terrible ill-health,  but helped by his father, through exercise he improved his physical strength and became dedicated to improving health and fitness. He developed his own regime form what he had learned, from doing yoga himslef, and by observing animals, particularly cats. As an adult he moved to London but was interned during WW1 and it was there he began to teach and refine his methods. Later, after the war, he moved to the USA and he and his wife opened a studio to teach his exercise methods. He continued to teach into advanced old age and died at the age of eighty-three.

So it’s all thanks to Joseph that twice a month I stand on one leg, I bend and stretch and  focus on what my body is actually doing! Quite an adventure, in a gentle and bendy sort of way!

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