Class Challenge Class #2 Review: WillPower & Grace
When I headed into a class called Willpower & Grace, I didn’t know what to expect.
The description offered reads: Think Pilates meets Bootcamp…This barefoot class is based on functional training with a fusion of dance principles, calisthenics, yoga postures and core strength training. All you need is your body weight and your bare feet. This class is appropriate for all fitness levels.
Honestly, I was pretty stoked for the class, if nothing else but the awesome pop-culture reference in the name. I came to the gym ready to experience something new. I’ve never taken any sort of Pilates instruction, and my experiences with Yoga leave me in the extremely-beginner category. I was a bit nervous about attending the class, but still eager to learn what it was about.
Willpower & Grace was taught by an instructor named Jamie. Jamie has a sparkling energy which took over the room when she entered. The lights
were lowered, and medium-tempo music was started. I followed the other classmates lead and grabbed a yoga mat, and set up in the middle of the room, hoping to just sort of blend in as the class went along.
This plan failed, as the class, much smaller than the first Chisel class I attended, filled in the back of the room. There were two more advanced students who prepared themselves in the very front of the room, near Jamie, but for the most part, everyone set up to be powerful, graceful students behind me. So much for blending in.
Jamie asked who was new, and of course, I raised my hand. She welcomed
me, and made her way to the front of the class. The class time was set into 5 parts. Warm-up, Balance & Flexibility, Cardio Phase 1, Cardio Phase 2, and Cool-down. Jamie’s instructions were clear and easy to follow from the get-go, which helped me to follow along [for the most part] and get through the warm-up and B&F segments wonderfully- despite me not knowing any “poses” she mentioned and having to really focus on her instruction.
One of the best things about Jamie’s instruction was her incorporating energy flow instructions into our exercises the entire class. She would encourage us to envision the “bad stuff” in our life as we did movements which “pushed away”. [at one point she said; "don't pretend like you've never had anyone make you angry. This is the place to use that anger"] She told us to “reach for what we want more than anything” as we did stretching and reaching movements. It was a great motivator to reach farther and push harder. Also, her mom was in the class, and I thought that was adorable and quite awesome.
And then came the cardio. Cardio Phase 1 was hard. No doubt about it.
In the plan that seems to be my class challenge demise, every movement
we worked through was some part either a lunge or a squat. [Apparently, Best Fitness wants to kill me. Or give me a nice bum & decent set of legs, one of the two.] As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the segment, Jamie gave us tips to make sure our squat was in best form and then encouraged us to return to the simple squat every time that a move was too challenging for us.
I fought my way through Cardio Phase 1, trying my best to focus on good form, balance, and not falling over dead. I listened closely to my body to determine when to stop for drink, and when to push past the desire to stop and feel that blast of success that only comes from hitting “one last rep” even when you thought you couldn’t.
Cardio Phase 2 was a-whole-nother story. I felt defeated from the get-go. I couldn’t hold very many of the poses, and I felt like I was slipping into exercise coma. I was frustrated. I never gave up, and I am thankful for that, but I had trouble working through most of the exercises that Jamie demonstrated, and after returning to basic squats for about 90% of the segment, the last few minutes my legs did not want to squat any more. They wanted to hide. They wanted to run so far away, even through the pain, just so that they never had to see Jamie, or my crazy brain who thought they would be a-okay in this class, ever again. They wanted to be cut off and fed to wolves. [Taylor Lautner optional.] They were not feeling power or grace. They were spent.
The last few minutes of Cardio Phase 2, Jamie would comment that this is the moment where you push past and prove to yourself that you can do it, that you are in control, and that you can accomplish anything. As I sat in one very high squat, barely low at all, not able to complete any reps, I swear she glared at me. I realize that she probably didn’t look at me at ALL, but I just kept feeling her glaring at me. Talking to me. Specifically me. Telling me that I was not doing it and in sitting in that barely-squat I was proving that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t in control, and apparently I couldn’t control anything.
After a few minutes of stretching and recovery, I made my way to the locker room, grabbed my things and rushed out of the gym. The SECOND I sat my very tired butt down in my car I lost control [as if I had any to begin with], and cried my eyes out. I felt defeated.
I thought I was more fit than I have been in a long time.
I thought this class was appropriate for all levels.
I thought that I would struggle through these classes, but be able to
survive through them.
I thought that I had what it takes. That I could do anything if I put my mind to it. I thought that I was going to love this experience, not that I was going
to be crying in my car after class, feeling broken and disappointed in myself.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up – stop the class challenge, stop trying new things, stop trying to become the best version of myself.
And then I realized how stupid that was.
I made my way home and on my drive, I remembered a few things.
a) This was the first time I’ve ever taken any sort of Pilates class EVER. Clearly I was not going to be able to do the advanced moves with a snap of my fingers.
b) I was already a bit sore from my first Chisel class 2 days earlier, and I had run 3 miles the day before. My legs were not ready for an hour worth of squats in perfect form. And that is OKAY.
c) I remembered Caitlin‘s mantra, “Pain is temporary, Quitting is Forever.” I didn’t just meditate on this in regards to the fire in my thighs, but the pain in my ego, my heart, and my motivation.
d) I talked to the fabulously brilliant Julie, who reminded me that it’s often suggested that it takes 10,000 hours of practice become you can be an expert. [I wrote myself a note that says this, along with “KEEP GOING!!!”]
I can’t rush my progress. I have to work towards it. Obviously, I had this coming to me. I needed a lesson in humility, and a reminder that I can not instantly be able to handle everything thrown at me. Some things I
need to work towards to be able to control them.
I realized that I can’t stop going. I have to continue to attend the Thursday evening class each week [that I'm not working]. I have to find the motivation inside of me to push past the fear. I want to keep going with Willpower & Grace.
I have to look deep inside of myself to find the willpower to move forward. I need to find the willpower to walk into that class, not caring what anyone thinks about my lack of perfect form, or my looking like a wet rat, after drowning myself in sweat for an hour. I need to find the grace to hold my head high, knowing I tried as hard as I could that first class, and that I will continue to try as hard as I can with each class. I need to find the grace to admit I’m not perfect, and that I have a lot of work to do. I need to find the grace to ask Jamie for help with poses I don’t understand I need to take her correction on form gracefully.
So tomorrow, I will move forward and try again; with Willpower, and with Grace.