What I Learned This Week: Pilates is Hard!

Hi everyone!  You may have noticed that I mentioned last week that I started Pilates recently.  I haven’t really talked about it, mostly because I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.  Its…confusing.  But let me start from the beginning:

pie and lattes

As you may remember, I got a hip injury halfway through training for the Zion Half Marathon.  My orthopedic surgeon mentioned that it was probably from my shoes (which I got rid of right away!) but also mentioned that I needed to stretch more and work on my core and upper body strength.  My immediate goal after leaving his office was to finish the Zion Half in one piece, but once I got back home from our trip I knew I needed to do something to improve on my strength before starting to train for my next half.  Yoga has been fun, but I tend to like the stretchy classes over the hardcore workout ones and wanted to try something else as well (don’t worry, I’ll still be taking yoga classes and doing it at home!).  I don’t have a ton of options up here in Anchorage, but I did manage to find a few Pilates studios which made me think about my good old days at Barre3!  After doing a bit of research, I learned that Pilates is a great way to improve core strength and become a stronger and faster runner.  I had done a bit of it already during Barre3, so I figured it was worth a shot.  So I attended a free Pilates 101 class last Saturday!  The class taught us exactly how Pilates works your body and how it can help (and they even went over how it helps runners!).  I’m not good at science, but it was great hearing exactly what muscles we’d be working and how we would be doing it.  We also did a few practice moves on the mat and the reformer and I decided to try the classes out.  So I signed up for their Pilates Boot Camp!  I get 4 weeks of 3 classes each in order to get me ready for their mat and reformer classes.  I thought it would be 4 weeks of awesome workouts, sore abs every day, and a new workout obsession.

And…it hasn’t been that way.  I came to my first class on Monday all ready to work out hard and leave feeling awesome, but instead we spent the hour learning how to access our lower abs – which involves pushing our feet, squeezing our inner thighs, and doing a kegel.  These are three things I don’t ever do when I work out, and I’m not the most coordinated person so doing three things while trying to do ab work was so hard!  I left class feeling like I had barely used my abs at all, even with tons of help from the teacher.  The same thing happened on Wednesday too.  I was really trying hard to be optimistic, but the truth is that I wasn’t sure if Pilates was for me.

mistakeSide note: do you know how many memes of G.O.B. saying this are out there?  Best show ever!

On Friday, I basically had to drag myself to class.  There were only about half of the usual amount of people there, and I got lots of extra help in class.  My poor teacher had to hold my hips down for half the exercises, even though I swear I was trying to use my abs!  And then after the millionth correction, I felt my lower abs activate and I realized I was doing it right!  It only happened a few times, but I was thrilled!  We also got a chance to use the reformer machines, which despite looking like torture devices actually helped me get an awesome leg stretch.  After class, I had a really good talk with the teacher about how Pilates works.  She said that because I’m a runner, I’ve built up strong muscles from running and that those muscles are the ones that are taking over when I try to use my weaker core muscles.  She said that it’s going to take practice to re-train my muscles, but that it will help me become stronger as a runner and prevent future injuries.  And she said that Pilates is actually really hard for runners – we love to just move our legs for hours without having to think about anything, but Pilates involves so much thought and attention which can be frustrating at first.  In fact, the whole point of the boot camp is so that everyone can work on activating core muscles correctly before taking a full class so that they can reach their full potential during those tough workouts and won’t have to struggle so much.  I left on Friday feeling like I can’t give up – I need to stick with this if I don’t want to see Dr. Jerkface again about my hips.


I feel like this is a really strange thing to talk about, especially if I do end up liking Pilates and sticking with it for a while.  But I barely found any other blog posts about how hard Pilates is for newbies, especially runners, and I wanted to share my experience with anyone out there who might be thinking about quitting too.  I think it’s going to be tough for me, but I should hopefully be able to see improvement soon.  For the next 3 weeks, I’ll be working on getting better at using my core – if I can do that, I will “graduate” to the real classes with my studio where I can get in a tougher workout.  My mom thinks it’s crazy to work out just to “work out” (AKA do Pilates just to be a stronger runner) but it’s my best chance at getting stronger!  Plus I really like going to classes again.  Let’s hope I start getting the hang of things!

Have you ever done Pilates?  How long did it take for you to really do it right?

19 thoughts on “What I Learned This Week: Pilates is Hard!

  1. Oye Pilates is so tough! I have a background in dance and find it challenging to do some of the stuff they ask! I guess it’s the things that challenge us the most that have the largest impact on our lives. Stick with it and see where it goes! Can’t wait to hear more 🙂

    1. Wow seriously? Oh god what am I getting myself into! I’m hoping I can get better at it and start seeing some improvement before I graduate boot camp or this is not going to be fun 😦 Has it helped your running?

  2. Interesting. I’ve never taken a Pilates class before. I hope you get what you need out of this bootcamp so you can really start to work soon!

    1. It’s so crazy! I probably wouldn’t have gotten into it if I knew how hard it would be, but I also think it’s exactly what I need to get stronger. We’ll see how I feel next week I guess!

    1. So jealous! You should try Pilates some time, it’s so different from yoga! I bet you would do an awesome job with it!

  3. can I add, Pilates is really hard.!! I was so sore the next day afterwards. Well I actually did a Pilates/ Yoga fusion, and pheww. My arms and core hurtt

  4. I love Pilates…but you are right it is so hard, especially for runners! I’ve been taking classes since July, and it’s such a struggle some times. My teacher is always reminding me me to not let my quads take over in certain exercises, that I need to stabilize from my core (this is especially during arms series). Good luck with the rest of the boot camp! It’s hard, but I think it is worth it!

    1. Yes!!! My instructor has to constantly remind me to turn off my running muscles and let my abs take control. It’s so tough because when I run I have no idea what muscles I’m using so I am learning so much.

    1. Ahhhhh I love Barre3 so much! Every workout kicked my ass and I miss it so much. If a studio comes up here I’ll be so happy!

  5. Pilates is so hard! I use to go very often during college, and have been to a couple since then (and I could not do any of the exercises anymore) :/

    1. I can imagine! We have girls in the bootcamp who stopped a year ago and they have to start from square one. It’s crazy how tough it is to get into!

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