My Pilates trainer and mentor always said “people who practice Pilates are either a glutton or a masochist depending on the way you look at it.” As someone who both practices and instructs Pilates, that statement instantly resonated with me. I’ve always enjoyed being active in a masochistic sort of way. In high school I ran cross country and couldn’t ever figure out why as I hated it, but somehow loved it at the same time. There was something about running through all sorts of terrain decorated by the elements in temperatures ranging anywhere from 45-100 degrees that made me feel like a complete badass, especially when people would say things like “Oh I couldn’t do that, there’s just no way.” So I’d wake up at the crack of dawn every Saturday morning to muscle through three miles and cross that finish line. It was like an exercise in masochistic neurophysiology that I seemed to be addicted to.
After high school I would run on occasion, but it wasn’t the same. There’s something about the energy swirling around a pack of runners that doesn’t compare to the track or treadmill. However, my craving to endure self- inflicted physical pain brought on by aerobic activity ceased to subside. In desperation I signed up for a class entitled Pilates 101. Although it wasn’t aerobic, the articulate isolation of muscle groups mixed with strange, contorted positions had all my body parts screaming. I could tell I wasn’t the only one in class who enjoyed this kind of torture. The energy emanating from all those glistening bodies slipping around their spongy mats as they twisted, extended, flexed and squeezed their muscles throughout the exercises was intoxicating. Eureka! I had finally found a regimen that felt amazingly torturous and I couldn’t get enough.
So what’s my point to all this talk of torture? A toned physique is NOT the point. After we have crafted a workout regimen that we find both effective and challenging, the reason for our participation is exactly that; it’s CHALLENGING! Our thighs will burn with the intensity of real flames, our abdominals will feel like they’re bursting, remembering to breathe somehow becomes difficult and there will be sporadic moments of extreme self- doubt. Yet, without so much as thought, we continue to come to class and put ourselves through what could be defined as misery on a weekly basis.
While many would argue that motivation is result driven, I would have to say that the results are merely a desired byproduct of journeying through the transformation of pain into pleasure. ‘People who practice Pilates are either a glutton or a masochist depending on the way you look at it.’ Our drive, endurance and patience are all rooted at the heart of that statement. In every workout we want to push ourselves to an edge that would not be found without persevering through strain, muscle spasms and overall discomfort. So the next time you scorn at the numbers on the scale, try remembering that there really isn’t a destination, just a never ending exercise in neurophysiology that you will seem to be addicted to.