How one broken writer got her groove back… and fixed her back in sunny Málaga
PICTURE this… me striving to complete my second ten-mile run of my life, looking pretty confident… ok, maybe not that confident, and quite sweaty, drained, a tad wobbly at times. Not the prettiest of sights. That was me, April 2010 in Antwerp, Belgium.
The first five miles were more or less a breeze: my iPod on shuffle, my feet trotting along. By mile seven my back had already given me a light warning, with a subtle pain starting at the bottom of my spine, moving slowly upwards. I reached the finish line happy, relieved to have ended this self-imposed form of torture, but physically broken. I was clueless of what lied ahead: months of physiotherapy, a pile of medical bills, rushed trips to the emergency room, countless types of pain killers, all culminating with me giving up my beloved job.
After months spent visiting several so-called “back experts”, I arrived in Málaga in April 2011, terribly unfit and, quite frankly, fed up. During a bus trip from the city centre, travelling past La Malagueta I came across a sign reading “Pilates en máquina”, a studio under the name Afys. I had heard a lot about the practice, less so about the “machine” part of the discipline, so I was curious.
Enticed by a free try-out, I gave it a go, painfully getting through my first session. My legs were shaking, my muscles seemed non-existent, my strength was that of a Costa del Sol fly when the cold starts… you know, when they all fly around like drunk little insects.
How does Pilates en máquina work? It involves a Reformer or Pilates bed. You use resistance to strengthen your muscles, but instead of heavy weights, the Reformer uses springs, creating said resistance by utilising your body weight.
Now picture this: six months after that slightly embarrassing first session, I hardly ever experience back pain, and when I do, is mild, like a silly headache and requires no bed rest or pain-numbing pills. I can walk my dog again, carry my baby niece in my arms, spend an entire day shopping, walk for miles.
In my case, while my injury is still present, the practise of pilates has provided my back with the strength it needed to support my body. There is a fit system of muscles in place, enabling me to have my life back.
About the studio? The staff at Afys Pilates are absolutely lovely. You pay €115 a month, two sessions per week, which is not cheap. However, there’s a maximum of five pupils per session, which means that Silvia and Gaston, the experts, can monitor you closely, adapting any exercise to your own body, allowing it to strengthen slowly but surely. They have been in charge of the studio for three years now, and their customers are faithful fans, happily converted and hooked to the discipline.
I’m not writing this to advertise their business: I get no money or special discounts for this. I’m doing it because a year ago I was completely broken, bored of physiotherapy, convinced I would never be able to run again. Pilates is not the latest fad in fitness, it’s not a silly scam. It works in toning your physique, improving your health and changing your life. It changed mine, for the better.
Afys Pilates can be found in 39 Av. Pintor Joaquin Sorolla, Limonar (Málaga 29016) Contact no: 952 225 731
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