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I entered the Pilates studio from the street door, which is really their back door—their reception area being at the other end of the studio, that entrance facing the back parking lot. In other words, I entered the wrong door and walked smack into a bunch of people sliding back and forth on top of table tops that seemed to move on springs. Of course, these are reformer tables used in Pilates but I had no idea. I stood there for an excruciating few minutes until one of the instructors told me, very kindly, to walk through to the back of the studio where I’d find the receptionist. I felt awkward as I weaved my way through people and equipment, my big purse bumping into stuff. I wanted to run out of there and never look back, but gritted my teeth and made my way to the reception area.

My fear and awkwardness ended here, though. From that moment on I was treated with such kindness and understanding! Every single person who worked with me, the doctor to the instructors, massage therapists, and darling receptionists all became my dear and trusted friends. Even though I was coming to Pilates on the ground level, not knowing anything, [who knew it was named after German-born Joseph Pilates, who tore apart an old spring bed to develop the resistance-based exercise known today as Pilates?] I was NEVER once made to feel stupid or uncomfortable. I was invited to come back and visit with the doctor the next day, which was a Saturday. Of course, CK had already visited with the doctor, so this initial visit was very productive, he knowing what I needed and why: my core muscles strengthened to support proper breathing techniques, among other things. Working on CK’s advice, we came up with a program that involved Pilates Rehab and Medical Massages [Myotherapy] that would help me gain strength while loosening and relaxing my neck and upper-body muscles…all the while focusing on proper breathing. My first session would be the following Monday. [I was also given a packet containing informative brochures, as well as one of those blue ice-pack things you stick in the freezer. I distinctly remember thinking what will I be needing that for? I still have this “blue ice-pack thing” and now know EXACTLY what it’s used for…but we’ll go into that later.]

I left this visit and drove directly to Target; I had no clue what to wear. It needs to be completely understood that for the previous fifteen years my body had done nothing but lay on my bed while consuming large amounts of medication and coughing, with sporadic periods of “wellness” where I would frantically try to catch up on my life. There was absolutely no exercise involved what so ever. It was a sad joke in my family, that I had only so many “air dollars” every day and I had to spend them wisely. Exercise seemed like a futile use of these precious “dollars” and exercise clothes were not even on my radar.

I wandered around Target for a while, trying to make myself go into the exercise section, but just couldn’t do it. Every time I tried, I’d break into a clammy sweat and feel dizzy. I ended up buying some cute, but unnecessary, household items and left. When I got home I rummaged through all my “sick day” clothes and finally settled on some sloppy knit pants and an oversized t-shirt. It would have to do.

I was so nervous for my first Pilates session. I arrived early, parking in the back parking lot so I could enter the correct door. I had made the appointment and committed myself to several months of therapy, so there was no turning back now. I knew this was what I needed to do to help myself, yet I was still afraid. We see or read about other people doing brave, hard things and we think they go at it with fearless confidence—not an ounce of self-doubt. This was NOT me. I know to most attending a Pilates session would not seem like a brave, hard thing, but to me it was and I was overwhelmed with self-doubt. How hard will this be? Would they understand just how out of shape I am? Can I really do what they’ll want me to do? I brought up my scriptures on my phone and searched the word “strength.” The first scripture that came up was Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It had been so long since I had felt physically strong; I honestly couldn’t remember what it felt like. I allowed myself to draw strength from these words, trusting that if I had been given this miracle, I would also be given the strength, physically, to see it through.

I went in and was greeted with warm smiles from all the Pilates people. I met my instructor and she took me back to the reformer tables, the area that I had awkwardly walked through a few days before. She began to explain a few things to me when she stopped, probably because I looked scared out of my mind. “I know we’re starting at ground zero with your body, and it’s okay,” she said. “We’ll take it one step at a time and I’ll be with you every step of the way.” This felt like an answer to my prayer—I had someone who understood where I was at. I could gain my strength one step at a time and with that, I was ready to get to work.

To be continued...

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