Okay! Now that I've ensured that exactly 3 people in the entire world will read this, let's get to telling them how my pilates practice is just one part of my overall feminism.
I hate to move. Honestly, if I could sleep all day I would. I admire and am greatly envious of cats. I have been known to not do laundry for weeks just because the washer is down a flight of stairs. Sometimes I will sleep in my bra because sitting up to take it off would be too hard. Also, the energy it takes to brush my teeth is noticable to me. Oh, and, I'm a feminist. Like, discovered that shit when I was 9 and clung to it like it was a life-raft in a sea of patriarchical blood-water filled with sexist water-demons (which is it) - we'll get to this later.
My whole life I've been tired, or at least I can't remember a time when I had a lot of physical energy to spend. Maybe my mother has another story for you. In any case, I spent my twenties trying to pretend I wasn't this way: joining gyms only to go once (mostly to impress a boyfriend), hiking way too many trails because my friends were psyched about them (and slowly dying inside), buying a bike that 12 years later still has the little rubber nubs that come with new tires. At some point I decided to stop pretending and get myself the right boyfriend, the right friends, and just embrace my laziness.
I did all that. My boyfriend loves to exercise but doesn't make me feel judged for not wanting to join him. He just kisses me goodbye and pats my head as I lounge in bed and wish him well on his morning run. My friends like to hike but think I'm adorable for having an "I love not camping" t-shirt (that my boyfriend made me!). I made a world for myself in which exercising is not necessary at all. Hooray!
But then I hit 30, and I read and heard and absorbed all the messages you get about getting older and I started to freak out about getting lumpy and sad and unhealthy and accident prone and dying an early death. At the time, I was working in a nonprofit (talk about getting lumpy and sad) right underneath a Pilates studio. The studio was run by two of the nicest ladies you could ever meet who would stop by my desk occasionally or wave as they walked by and one day they had an open house. "Fine" I thought, begrudgingly. "I will go to your stupid open house, I will contemplate moving my body, and then I will never come to a class. YOU CAN'T MAKE ME."
Four years later, I have a pilates practice. It's not the most consistent thing in the world, but it's more and better than anything my ex-boyfriend from my twenties would have ever predicted I'd do. I am grateful for it every day. It is the first exercise I've done that I don't want to chew my own leg off to get out of doing.
Pilates is not just for women (exercise stereotypes are pretty rigid, huh?), in fact it was developed by a man for injured male soldiers. But it has some unique benefits that women in particular can take advantage of. Its main purpose is to strengthen a person's core. What's a core? It's all that stuff in your torso. It protects your spine and all those fragile organs between your rib cage and pelvis. It makes your whole body work. It's IMPORTANT.
If you know anything about women's health, and you should, you'll know that a crazy amount of older women end up in hospitals due to accidentally falling (and breaking their fragile bones). This often leads to death, or permanent injury. The specific health concerns that women face in old age are in part addressed with the exercise Pilates provides. It can strengthen bones, it improves posture, it improves balance, it increases flexibility, it can even make you taller (not a miracle, just spine lengthening over time).
I notice that when I'm in class my motivation, and from what I can tell that of my classmates, is not to lose weight or have the best butt, but is the idea of being a strong and healthy woman who takes care of herself, who spends time in her body in a present way, who enjoys being in a room full of woman (and a few brave men) without worrying about how her beauty compares. These are things I wasn't able to do in a gym. And that feels like feminism to me.
When feminists prevent injuries to their bodies by choosing to be strong, they live longer. When feminists live longer the world gets better. And I plan on slaying sexist water-demons until I am very old.
Here are Katrina and me and Laurie in their excellent studio. I Skype into classes now that we have moved 3,000 miles away because I am so crazy about them I couldn't let them go. If you live in Western MA you should definitely go to one of their mat classes. Maybe you will see me there, on a little screen, daydreaming about being with you.