Abbey’s Road Practicing Pilates introduces a gentler kind of fitness
Lately I’ve been spending time with this gal named Nicole.
I mean, I think that’s her real name.
She’s Australian. Tan. On the whole, really put together — composed, confident. I imagine when Nicole was in middle school, while her peers were experimenting with different acne creams, she was the girl who walked into algebra on the first day and all the boys started taking bets on who would get to ask her to the homecoming dance.
Just a guess. Maybe they don’t have homecoming in Australia, I don’t know.
Abbey’s Road:Grounded in reality, wishing for spring
Ours is not a very balanced relationship; my conversations with Nicole are pretty one-sided and mostly consist of her telling me to do stuff in a calm, reassuring voice while I curse her under my breath:
“Now balance on your right foot, pick up your left foot and make an arc from the left side to the right, and tap your toe on the floor, and back again,” she’ll say while instrumental music plays softly in the background. “Good!”
She always says “Good!” as if she can actually see me sweating it out on my yoga mat on the living room floor while the cat blocks my view of the screen.
It’s a very good thing that Nicole is just on YouTube and can’t hear some of the nasty things I say about her when my mom-of-three abdominals are quaking and my triceps are at a melting point.
Just when I’m starting to think I’ve made strides in the “be a kinder person” department, Nicole reminds me of the darker places in my heart.
“Listen, NICOLE (pant, pant). One of us has survived the delivery room three times and lived to tell the tale, and as far as I can tell from Wikipedia, it wasn’t you (pant, pant), and I don’t care that you have a six-pack, you can’t see me and I’m taking a BREAK.”
(A break. From this set of Pilates exercises. That I voluntarily pulled up on my computer so I could be fit and look like Nicole.)
Now that I’m 38, I can acknowledge that my standards for physical fitness have drastically changed in the last couple decades. Where I used to think that unless I had sweat buckets and/or ran five miles and/or nearly killed myself, I had not accomplished any exercise worth doing, these days I’m pretty happy if I get in 20 minutes of intentional movement.
And honestly, I’m so much better off.
I have friends who are dedicated CrossFitters, who spend lots of time in their driveways throwing tires around or whatever. I admire their grit, but that’s not for me.
I have other friends who are runners, but I feel like every couple weeks one of them is telling me about a new injury and I just find myself questioning, “Why?” (I know. They’re a special breed and running is in their veins and they love it. Respect.)
All three of my kids figure skate, but I need to preserve my skeletal system as much as possible.
So that leaves me with Nicole.
I’ve been trying to hang out with her every day, just for a half hour or so. Maybe less. Some days I skip and so far she hasn’t come knocking on my door to chastise me. (I think it’s too cold here for her.)
Abbey’s Road:Searching for a lost (stuffed) love
In all seriousness, I have discovered that part of aging has been learning to keep my body active in a way that is enjoyable and sustainable, and it doesn’t need to be able to do the things it could when I was a teenager or twenty-something competing in triathlons; it just needs to function efficiently.
Once the weather warms up (because I’m a wimp), I’m going to start walking outdoors. Because I have a goal of being A Person Who Takes Walks For The Sake of Taking Walks. This is something I intend to do until I am physically incapable of doing it anymore, which I hope is not for a very long time.
As for Nicole, we’re going to keep spending time together. And even if I never have a six-pack like her, I’m hoping to at least learn to be a little stronger — and a little kinder — under duress.
Abbey Roy is a mom of three girls who make every day an adventure. She writes to maintain her sanity. You can probably reach her at [email protected], but responses are structured around bedtimes and weekends.