The first time I heard the words, "Ms. Amy, you're about to get your ass kicked," I was a graduate student, working as a behavior tech in a school for seriously emotionally disturbed children. The person who said it was WAY more than twice my weight and nearly twice my height; and, well, as soon as I heard the words...I was on the ground, with my clothes being ripped off, my hair being pulled, and very large hands and feet were coming at me in all directions. I was a professional, an adult, and I was getting my ass kicked by a very angry, very scared - albeit very LARGE - child. This kid wasn't even my client; really, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The school staff called the police and within minutes it was over.
I had bruises, though, that actually lasted a long time. Working with kids who have behavioral and emotional problems, I have gotten my share of minor injuries and come in contact with more than my share of others' bodily fluids. However, I thought that was going to be the one and only time I REALLY got my ass kicked (I did keep working at that school, by the way, because helping kids is my life's work).
Little did I know the multitude of ways that I would get my ass kicked by starting a fitness routine at Twisted Bodies Pilates and Yoga. About nine months ago, I reached out to Khristen and Carissa via email. I explained that I had once been very flexible and strong, but that I had a number of physical health problems, and even treatment for those problems, that had changed that situation drastically. Khristen and I then talked on the phone. I told her about all my diagnoses and symptoms, and I told her that within five years, I went from coaching gymnastics to not being able to walk more than a few steps on my own.
I honestly don't have words to describe the combination of physical and emotional pain that I experienced, going from being known as "little but all muscle and incredibly strong," to being someone who literally could not shower or dress herself. I am fairly certain that I must have felt pretty similar to the kid who beat me up!
I had to be on medical leave from work for a while. Slowly, though, I got better - bit by bit - and I started to do a little exercise, walking on the treadmill, doing basic stretches, doing a little yoga...winding down in the sauna.
My rheumatologist specifically suggested Pilates. I expressed fear to him, and to Khristen. However, I went in to meet with her for an assessment anyway. I am always talking to my clients about willingness :)
She was really compassionate to me. She did not sugar-coat anything, which I totally appreciated, but she didn't treat me like a hopeless cause either. I thought she was funny. As a coach, I always tried to use humor myself, to keep people moving and motivated, to help distract them from discomfort. I knew I could work well with her. She told me it would be a while before I would be ready for a group class but that she would help me get there.
It was about three months before she and I both felt comfortable with me going in to a group class at the essential (basic) level! My mind had so much to say about that. I couldn't do what most of the people in there did. I either had to do fewer repetitions, or use a lighter spring resistance. The first day, I was fine with it - but months in, not so much. It wasn't really about other people, but about what I perceived as my own total lack of progress. I starting to keep a running percentage in my head: I did 70% of what the majority of the class did, or 85%, and so on. 50% of what I did last time - WHAT an ass-kicking!
Just setting up my equipment and switching things around between exercises almost always takes me longer than everyone else. My body just doesn't move very quickly most days. And, if the weather is stormy, or cold, or if there has been a drastic change in temperature or barometric pressure from the day before - I move like molasses. On top of that, sometimes my head gets stuff, but I just can't make my body do it. And, heaven forbid if there is more than one step involved in a set of directions... as the kids say, I CAN'T EVEN!
Sometimes, my mind tells me things like, "That's ok. You have multiple chronic illnesses. Everyone is different, and every day is different for you. You just do your best in this moment. Then you will have cared for yourself in a compassionate manner and that is what matters." On those days, I am very accepting. I am really mindful. Other times, my eyes burn from welling up tears and my mind says hateful things, like, "You are slowing everyone down, you don't belong here." Some days, I leave pumped and energized. Others, less so.
I haven't even mentioned the actual physical soreness! So many times, I leave seriously feeling like... my ASS HAS BEEN KICKED! My quads and gluts will be on fire, and my hamstrings feel like they sing from fatigue. My arms, oh my aching arms. Once or twice, I seriously left thinking I was going to puke! And, this is all the stuff that most people think is easy!
This article could have been titled how pelvic tilt, bridge, and elephant are the bane of my existence. Flexion and extension are not my thing... HOWEVER I'm getting much less stiff AND I don't hyperextend nearly as much as I used to do!
Khristen and I at some point started rating my private sessions as either rock star/kick ass sessions, or as easy listening (like Simon and Garfunkel, or even just Garfunkel) sessions. Some days, it is all I can do to just go in lightly stretch and foam roll for an hour - and even that feels like an ass kicking! Once, she asked me to go in to the aerial yoga hammock - setup as a hammock - plenty of fabric, and not at all far off the ground. I got in without a problem, but when she asked me to lie on my stomach, put my hands down and lift my feet, I literally could not do it - could not! I kept replaying in my head that I could flip and do cart wheels on a balance beam and do head and handstands on the floor. I got so mad at myself. But, I just could not do it. I did feel scared, but it was more like my body just would not do what my mind wanted it to - like the sensors had been damaged. Since then, this same experience has happened a lot. Man, Ms. Amy has gotten her ass kicked :)
So, now I am practicing skills like Khristen has taught me at home. I also try to incorporate a good deal of mind and body training at the same time. The more neuromuscular-sensory integration, the better, I say!
I am also happy to say, with Khristen's support, I got back in those silks. I have no problem lifting my feet now! Some days, Khristen has been able to really work me hard - like sweat dripping from me until I feel a workout high. Like my body isn't even broken at all, just I got WORKED! My ass got kicked - in the very best way!
My pattern is a lot of ups and downs, but I do believe that there is a trend toward a very slow inclining pattern! And, even nine months in, I am still in all essential classes - but so what!? In defense of the AWESOME TWISTED TWOSOME, I have only been getting to come sometime between one and three times per week (usually once), so I can't expect too much. I have some more time coming up. I am hoping that is going to make a difference. I am committed to it working on it making a difference. I also know, though, that even if I stay at this level forever, I am still a rock star! ;)