Last night I went to my first ever Pilates class. Somewhat disappointingly, it did not look like this.
I appreciate that for some of you, turning up at an exercise class is a regular occurrence. Or even your job. Let’s just say that I haven’t exercised for a while. In fact, not for a long time. Had-to-go-out-in-the-morning-to-actually-buy-some-joggers kind of long. Years.
It’s always been part of my recovery plan. Doing more exercise. But one of the sneakiest things about depression is how brilliant it is at making up excuses. They’re always so plausible. The baby isn’t settling properly, I shouldn’t really leave him. We can’t afford it. I’d only look like an idiot. I don’t have the energy. On and on and on.
I can’t count the amount of fun I’ve turned down over the last few years. Birthday parties, hen do’s, dinner invitations, playdates. I desperately wanted to go. I just couldn’t face it. Anything outside of my usual routine was too much for me to cope with. The stress was just too high.
Occasionally I would accept an invitation. Only to pull out at the last minute, using the children or babysitters or exhaustion as an excuse. Because I couldn’t admit the truth. That actually, I was scared. Scared I would fall apart. That everyone would realise I was no fun anymore. That I wouldn’t be able to keep my brave face on for long enough. Honestly, the sofa and the telly are much safer.
In the end, I was ambushed into exercising. Sometimes that’s the only way. A friend at Toddlers on Monday told me about the Pilates class. At the community centre at the end of my road. Which ruined my tried and tested ‘I don’t drive so I won’t be able to get there’ excuse. She said she was going. I expressed an interest, and by the time I got home she’d already picked up a leaflet and dropped it through my door. Efficiency wins.
The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go. To try and drag up some endorphins. To have an hour to myself with no danger of screaming children. To try and recapture something of the dance classes that I used to love.
The good news was that I only had 36 hours to stay positive, and not pull out. The bad news is that 36 hours gives you more than enough time to think of excuses.
I actually can’t do it. I don’t own a single pair of jogging bottoms.
That’s easily solved by a walk to Matalan. But it’s raining, and the children have colds. I probably shouldn’t put them through a well wrapped-up buggy trip to the shops.
Also, my knee hurts a bit while I’m walking. It might be dangerous to even attempt any exercise.
So even though I have the joggers, I haven’t had time to try them on. They probably won’t fit. I’ll just have to stay at home.
Oh. They do fit. But I don’t have any suitable footwear.
Well, I do have my old ballet shoes. But if I wear them everyone will presume I’m still a dancer and be disappointed by my lack of flexibility, or else they’ll think I’m some kind of pretentious knob.
Sack it, I love them. I’ll wear them. Although I’m not even sure if my friend’s going. I haven’t had a text. Should I call her? What if she’s changed her mind?
I’m a grown woman, I can go by myself. But I haven’t actually double checked if the class is on. What if I get there and it’s shut?
And the children are a bit angsty. Maybe I shouldn’t be leaving Wes to put them to bed by himself. Not when he’s had a hard day at work.
Ooh, it’s the Bake-Off final – I’ll miss the start if I go out now.
Honestly, it’s a wonder I made it out the door. Especially in the rain. But I did.
None of my friends were there, I had no idea what I was doing, my arms are so sore today that picking Joel up is a mission, and I’m definitely going back again. Every week. It was amazing.
I learnt some important things last night. Firstly, that I am more than capable of walking into a strange room, filled with strangers, and having a great time. Nobody even laughed at me once.
Secondly, if you deal with one excuse at a time, it’s much easier to get over them and achieve something. It’s looking at them all at once that makes it tricky.
And thirdly, it is impossible to overstate how comfortable a pair of £10 Matalan jogging bottoms are. I am literally never going to take them off.
Much as I hate to admit it, It is perhaps true that exercise does, in fact, make you feel better about yourself. It was either that or the cake and ice-cream we had afterwards while we watched the Bake-Off on catchup…
For some people, going to an exercise class is a very small thing. For me, it was a test of all the therapy and drugs and determination that I’ve put in over the last few months. And it made me think.
In the eyes of most people, I didn’t achieve much yesterday. I made it through the day with both children intact and went to an exercise class. For me, that’s huge. Totally deserving of cake and ice-cream.
Sometimes the small things are the big things. And I think they deserve to be celebrated too.