Looking down at my belly made me want to scream! I had just pulled on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans, determined that they would magically fit. Instead, the gaping zipper stared at me with an incredulous look as though to say, “You don’t seriously think that this is going to work, do you?” Discouraged and disgusted, I wiggled the skin-tight pants over my widened hips. Who knew that losing weight would be this hard?
I had been hitting the gym several days a week, but I still couldn’t sit up in bed without using my arms. My abdominal tone was pathetic after having had a C-section, and I hated that maternity clothes were still pretty much the only things fitting me in the middle. I had waited for the day that I could buy maternity clothes. I had longed for the belly bulge that pregnancy brings. I had even appreciated my widening hips, knowing that they were preparing me to bring a baby into the world. But, more than six months after delivery, I was ready to fit back into my favorite skinny jeans!
My friend, Erin, had repeatedly invited me to her Pilates classes. I’m sure that she was tired of hearing me complain about my unchanging figure. Although I was interested, I was hesitant. If I couldn’t sit up without a struggle, how was I going to make it through a 55 minute Pilates class. I had only been to one Pilates class in my life, and that was in my early twenties. The only classes that I could make were in the evening, and that was the time that my husband and I usually spent together. For some reason, I found every reason not to go. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I agreed to try it out. It couldn’t hurt, and who did I have to impress? Besides who wouldn’t want the 4 perks that Pilates claims to offer? Even the Mayo Clinic agrees that Pilates can create the following 4:
- Long Lean Muscles
- Core Strengthening/Improved Abdominal Tone
- Balance and Improved Proprioception (sense of self-awareness)
- Increased Flexibility
That decision revolutionized my mindset, my workouts, and my body. For all of you skeptics out there…Pilates works! Is it an easy, magical journey toward a better body? NO. Pilates is work, hard work. But, with a little sweat equity, it can lengthen, strengthen, and fit you back into your favorite pre-pregnancy pants. It has actually changed my shape to something more toned and fit than I ever had prior to pregnancy. No, I don’t run a Pilates studio (but, I do have a good one to recommend-Just Breathe Pilates). I’m just sharing my own experience.
I would love to throw out great data and research to back up my claims and those of other Pilates lovers. Unfortunately, the studies that have been done are very small, and thus, not all that reliable. I did read one scientific article from the Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies that reviewed all other studies on Pilates that they could find (almost 300). This review article called for more research. It implied that there may actually be something to the claims, but we just don’t have good scientific evidence to prove it yet. In the meantime, as subject “1 and only” of my own study, my body is proof of the empirical evidence. Give Pilates a try, and see if your body agrees.
From The Mom In Me, MD