My body is shot, there’s no two ways about it. 15 years playing a professional sport will do that to you. There are just some things a human isn’t designed to do and one of them is pushing a wheelchair around a tennis court as a job. It will come back to haunt you at some point. The last couple of years that point has arrived. I’m officially being stalked by father time.
The aches and pains last a little longer, lifting heavy things need a second thought, pushing up a hill needs careful consideration, basically it sucks. So what’s the solution if I don’t want to have a weekly physio appointment or worse need surgery? I was told a realigning was in order, of muscles, posture and strength. Pilates was the key.
Now, I’ve always been a high intensity kind of guy when it comes to physical fitness, played soccer, cricket and tennis as a kid, took up weights as a teenager and don’t mind a game of table tennis down at the pub, which is very high intensity. At some point I may have thought ‘Pilates’ was a Greek philosopher. It did seem new age and kind of wacky, but my body was telling me I had to give it a go.
I also tended to associate it with rich housewives from the Eastern Suburbs who wore expensive adidas gear and drove around in the latest Mercedes, I’ve tried to debunk that myth by arriving in a gas-guzzling mustang and a nine inch nails t-shirt.
At first my girlfriend Lesly and I went to a ‘studio’ in Surry Hills, our ‘teacher’ William was great and we soon learnt that Pilates is a series of slow movements, using resistance through rubber bands, cables, springs, balls or your own bodyweight. You can lie on a mat or a table. There is an apparatus called a ‘reformer’, which sounds like something you might find in a Kings Cross masochism-fueled basement but this ‘reformer’ can inflict its own level of pain, with a sliding seat and springs and cables that can seriously work you over.
Pilates is harder than I expected. It takes concentration, the movements can be minute and need to be done correctly to perform a specific purpose, and the exercises can develop muscles you didn’t know you had. Breathing a certain way is also key.
Nowadays I’m in a different class, with 3 women. At one point all those ladies had the name ‘Maria’. We used to joke we were going to form a folk band called ‘David and the Marias’. Sadly the concept never took off. Pilates on the other hand has.
First developed by a German, Joseph Pilates who in the early 1900’s formulated a physical method of movement based around what he learnt being a gymnast, bodybuilder and wrestler. He also studied yoga and the movement of animals. Over 100 years later millions worldwide practice the method he invented.
So the big question is has Pilates helped? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. I’ve got less pain, better posture and better strength and managed to get myself into positions I never thought possible, without visiting Kings Cross. I would recommend it to anyone.