I discovered Ellie Goulding late last summer. I saw her video for Lights and was immediately captivated with her. I bought her album Bright Lights off of iTunes and have listened to her every day since. I fell in love with Starry Eyed, Under The Sheets, Human, Animal, and Wish I Stayed. I bought Halcyon on the day it was released on iTunes and I love Ritual, Only You, Figure 8, and My Blood. I had the opportunity to see her play Brixton in December and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Her music makes me happy when I’m sad and comforts me when I feel down. I wish I had discovered her sooner, but I’m very glad I found her at all.
I follow Ellie on Twitter and learned that she’s a runner. She recently made a video with Nike in anticipation of a marathon she will run on 23 April. In the video, she said of running, “It keeps me happy and then I perform better.” This is what pilates does for me.
When I first started my rehabilitation therapy, I swam and went to the gym. I dislike the gym, so I couldn’t see or feel any evidence of physical change or progress because I was fighting against my disability by engaging in activity that I found unsatisfying, boring, and frustrating. It doesn’t matter if you work out for four hours a day seven days per week: if you do something you don’t enjoy, you won’t make the kind of progress you want to make and you won’t feel happy with yourself as a person.
I started pilates in the summer of 2008 and took to it immediately, better than I had to any other form of exercise. I finally found something I enjoyed that also gave me real tangible results. Pilates corrected everything from the hunch in my shoulders to the curve in my lower back. I looked forward to my classes and drew not only physical strength from them, but also emotional strength. I started to believe in myself more and to believe in the possibility that I could get better. The progress I made with pilates was solid evidence that change was not only possible, but actually happening.
Pilates makes me happy. If I start the day with a pilates class, it energizes me. If I finish the day with a pilates class, it busts my stress. Pilates gives me the self confidence and centeredness I lacked for most of my life.
I stopped pilates in December 2011 as part of taking the ‘next steps’ in my therapy, which involved returning to the gym, swimming, and doing bikram yoga. Again: I felt like I was fighting against my limitations rather than working through them. I missed my pilates classes and felt like I had lost a huge part of my identity. I went back to pilates at the end of March 2012 because I really needed it in my life. When I returned to pilates, my chiropractor Luke told me he could tell I was happier. He’d seen my mood and general sense of well-being fall down when I stopped pilates, but that I was noticeably happier and more settled when I went back. It’s exactly what Ellie Goulding said of running: it keeps me happy and then I perform better.