First, a little history.
I was a part-time aerobics instructor for a few years in my twenties, and then became a committed video-fitness exerciser.
My favorite workouts were step aerobics, circuit training, and weights. I tried a little Tae Bo here and there as well. I liked complex choreography and fairly tough workouts. I was proud that I regularly could squat 24 pounds and that I could do bicep curls with 12 pound dumbells.
During those years, I had heard of Pilates here and there. Interestingly, I mainly heard about it with regard to some celebrity swearing by it.
I almost immediately dismissed it, though. First of all, I already knew what I liked. Second, from what very little I knew about Pilates — basically, that it was “a combination of Yoga and toning,” it sounded boring and, frankly, ineffective.
What a difference aging — and two pulmonary embolisms — make.
After my second pulmonary embolism a couple years ago, it was very hard to get back into exercising — even more difficult than after my first one.
To begin with, it took at least a few months just before I could resume my normal life activities and not spend half my days in bed.
Once I felt that I was starting to recover, it was still tough to do any kind of exercise. I would get winded quickly, no matter how light or short my workouts were. (I even used an inhaler for several months.) I tried doing ten-minute sessions of light weights every now and then, but found that every time I did, I had to pay the price the next day or two in fatigue.
It was depressing.
Interestingly, what I found worked for me was the Wii Fit. I started doing it regularly in the mornings for about 30-40 minutes. It was nowhere near as intense or interesting as what I had been used to, but it fit what my current needs were. I would warm up with about four different Yoga poses, then alternate between step, hula hoop, and obstacle course, then end with a final Yoga poses or two.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the little bits of Yoga, because I have tried Yoga several times in the past and always hated it.
So I was exercising again, which was good, but I knew that these were very light workouts. Would I ever be able to go back to my old routine? I honestly didn’t know.
Well, after a year and over a hundred total hours logged on the Wii, I started to get really bored.
It was then that I remembered that years ago — a year after my first pulmonary embolism — someone had suggested an aerobics instructor named Ellen Barrett. At the time I had taken a brief peek at her workouts and instantly dismissed them as being boring and for people who were arthritic or very overweight or something and couldn’t do “real” workouts.
But maybe now I should check her out again.
I started with her “Walking Kits” on YouTube and thought they were just right for me now.
Ellen Barrett: Walking Kit
After a couple weeks of doing those, I started to get bored again. (I get bored very easily.) I found she also had a workout called “Ballet Pilates” and tried it just out of curiosity.
Ballet Pilates with Ellen Barrett
Yes, the music for this particularly video is horrible, but in a strange way I liked the workout. It felt peaceful and energetic at the same time, and I could really feel it working my core/ab muscles, which I hadn’t worked regularly for a long time — and it showed.
So after doing this video a few times, I took the plunge and downloaded a couple videos from Ellen Barrett’s site.
And I felt great every time I did one of her workouts!
I loved the feeling that I was stretching, but moving at the same time.
I loved the fact that it didn’t make me feel like hell the next day.
I even liked the fact that I didn’t have to take the time to find and put on socks and sneakers.
And as corny as it sounds, I loved the fact that it made me feel feminine and graceful.
And I really liked the fact that I could feel my muscles the next day.
So am I a Pilates expert? Not by any means. All I’ve done are Ellen Barrett workouts, and I’ve only been doing them for about three weeks.
But right now I look forward to my morning workouts and am excited to hopefully see some slight changes in my body in the next few months.