Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Push or Not to Push?

That is the question.  And no, I'm not talking about giving birth to babies here!  

I'm not great at pushing myself when it comes to physical activity.  I will happily push myself by reading a nearly incomprehensible book or attempting a complicated recipe, but I always take the easy route whenever physical rather than mental capacity is required.  I remember being a tiny four year old hanging doubled over a bar in a gymnastics class, begging my mother to take me out of the class because it was too hard.  I never went back, and I remember the relief.  I did not have to push myself physically anymore.  

I went through an initial stint with Pilates seven years ago, then stopped in order to attend ballet classes until I was six months pregnant with Mr J and my intrepid teacher refused to allow me to work even on the barre anymore for fear of premature labour.  After his birth, walking became my chief mode of exercise and my stomach muscles fell into extreme disuse.  I didn't return to ballet because of knee problems, my back began to weaken, and funny little aches and pains began.  Starting Pilates again after a six year hiatus seemed like a wise idea.  Back in October, that is.

It's another style of Pilates, this time, and it's taken a while to become accustomed to a different teaching method and presentation of the exercises.  When I walked out of class last week I felt quite self-satisfied and certain that I was back on track and would soon be doing all the exercises I had been able to do six years ago, and more.

Tonight, I arrived home with legs so heavy I could hardly lift them to place one in front of the other.  I had been in the process of doing one of our exercises - shoulder bridge - when my teacher came along and sussed how little I was pushing myself.  My lack of effort was picked out in front of the entire class [verbally!] and I had to continue with just that exercise, while she added a more difficult element, and everyone else moved on to the next exercise.  

It brought back memories of Miss K's ballet class.  She would tap on my stomach with her stick to check that my stomach muscles were being rigidly held flat as a board.  "Not flat enough!  Too lazy!" she would snap sharply.  She tapped the stick on the floor in frustration when a move wasn't performed to her liking, or if I'd forgotten the correct steps.  "Lazy!  Not good enough! You need to work harder!" Her negative, old-fashioned teaching method made me push myself just so I wouldn't be called "lazy"! 

Fortunately, I think I'm quite secure as a person and not too bothered by self-esteem issues.  I know that I'm not generally a lazy person because during the day, I work very hard at home as a mother, full-time housekeeper, teacher, etc.  However, when it comes to physically pushing myself, I know I'm more likely to slack off if I can. 

I looked up the dictionary's definition of lazy. Unwilling to work or use energy.  I'm willing to work.  I'm energetic.  Showing a lack of effort or care.  Uh-oh.  

So, after this blinding realisation, I'm officially swearing off laziness when it comes to physical activity.  And I'm letting all of you out there know, so when you see me, you can ask me how I'm getting on with Pilates.  Or you can ask me on here.  And if I tell you I've been in trouble in class again, don't call me lazy!  Just remind me to push myself.


  1. when i omit certain parts of my workout in the gym i convince myself it's because i dont want to overdo that part of my body...
    Ive realised i cannot afford to now with the wedding in 7 weeks, time to make a real effort with the help of David Lloyd until my membership expires at the end of March, and Steve Clarke...

  2. Greg's mention of Steve Clarke made me think of "push". I've seen the man in the push position and it's absolutely scary. As for you, Erin, I would say you enjoy burning calories through the brain rather than the brawn. You are not lazy just intentional. Do you remember what you did at about one and a half when asked if you could stand on one leg? Quite a creative use of energy.

  3. I joked with Steve on sunday that during my work out's with him he will have a CD player on hand with that Godfrey Birtles track ready, and if i cannot do more reps he'll threaten to press play until ive done 2 more...

  4. Now that would be torture! :)


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