How Pilates Brought Me More than Physical Strength

The first day I walked into Marathon at the end of 2019, I met Erin. My business partner and I had booked a Duo Private Session with her. While excited to be there and ready to start the journey of re-strengthening my body– I sat anxiously on the reformer– feeling so out of place and out of touch with my body.

In June of 2019, I went thru a hysterectomy at the ripe age of 31, after a long and painful battle with Endometriosis. I was told various ways to approach fitness by several providers: working out would make me feel better, I should not work out and limit activity, and just go for it! Kegels, running, cardio, spin… Confusing, right? So I tried it all. With each new fitness endeavor or rest period, I became more disconnected from my body. It fought me at every turn. I would injure, double over in pain, take days to recover, or be pushed too hard by an uneducated trainer.

Then there was Marathon. It was different. Never in my “workout’ life had I experienced anything like it. YES, the trainers were pushing me to really work, but they were watching. Making sure I wasn’t going to injure, modifying so I could succeed, not recommending I just “push through the pain.”

This gave me the peace of mind and space to assist in undoing the years I had spent disconnecting with my body. I had no idea it had been happening. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why the anxiety was overwhelming when I went to work out. As I got more and more comfortable, seeing my pain decrease and strength increase, I understood.

Years of my life have been spent anticipating pain, especially pelvic pain. I had moments where someone would tell me how to use the reformer or position my body and have these “blackout” moments. The only way I can describe it is my vision would feel fuzzy and I couldn’t hear well. Later, after processing this with a therapist, I realized I was disassociating. My body was saying, “Don’t you dare reconnect with your body. There’s pain there.”

Here’s the thing — This was happening to me for years around physical movement. I never recognized it until I felt safe enough to see it. Not only did I see what was really happening, but I was able to heal the way my brain was seeing exercise as my body got stronger.

The approach I saw at Marathon was simple but different. I attribute the mental and physical healing I’ve experienced to the level of professionalism and care that I received while working out. Pilates has been more than working on being ‘lean’ — it has reconnected me with my body, made me less anxious, and helped destroy the shame I felt around it. This has brought awareness, peace, strength in ways I didn’t know I needed.

– Lauren Gish

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