Well, well well. Here we are. Approximately three months since my last blog post, which was the Rome Marathon. Sure, I’ve been busy enjoying Italian life, taking trips, having visitors, and getting involved in my work. But I’m not going to lie to you.
I also got lazy. This photo of my cat speaks volumes.
After the marathon I took a few weeks off from running. And that quickly turned into a month. In May I probably ran a total of 3 times, and June is looking like much of the same. I have a ton of excuses. I could blame the month of May on allergies, and while they were atrocious, we all know that there’s medication for that. My friend visiting for five days? Yes, but she was a fantastic, considerate guest and encouraged me to continue my daily routine. The hot weather? Well, maybe a decent excuse, but there have been a lot of cool evenings and mornings, which are great times to run.
However, the physical laziness, or pigrizia, is a minor concern, compared to the mental lethargy that I’m experiencing right now. It could be my one-year anniversary of arriving in Rome (June 4th) that has me feeling overconfident. Or that I’ve become accustomed to the day-to-day work schedule and my ability to successfully order a meal in a restaurant. I stopped blogging, feeling as though there was nothing out of the ordinary to say. In other words, I’m comfortable navigating Roman life.
Uh-oh. Comfort. That’s not why I moved here. What happened to challenge?
So last week, I confronted my complacency head-on and signed up for pilates classes.
Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal, but classes are in Italiano. And my Italian has plateaued significantly. I figured this would be a great way to strengthen my core and improve my comprehension: two benefits for the price of one. I checked out a studio near Circo Massimo, only two Metro stops from the Garbatella. Upon visiting the center, one of the instructors took me on a tour which we did half in English and half in Italian. I explained that I was interested in pilates reformer classes, which I took in San Francisco about three years ago and they really helped improve my running. Now I’m suffering from lower back pain and some numbness, probably from all of the sitting that I do at work, not to mention those cute Italian high heels that I keep purchasing. The studio was great, everyone was friendly, and they were running a special – a package of 10 reformer classes for 130 euro. That’s a little under $150. And so for a $15, one-hour class, I get a workout and an Italian lesson. Winning! The instructor assured me that all of the teachers speak English, so if I get lost or don’t understand, I can always ask and they will stop and explain.
My first class was on Friday and I was definitely lost on the comprehension part. Fortunately I snuck glances at the woman next to me on her machine in order to understand the exercise. I definitely understood pieces, just not whole sentences. The instructor, a young, fit woman, only corrected my form a few times, which I took as a signal that she was going easy on me for it being my first class in ages. At the end she was rather encouraging and complimentary, and so I bought the package, signed up for two more classes, and hobbled home feeling triumphant.
Fast forward to today, three days later. I refrained from exercise all weekend due to pain. Everywhere. My quads are still sore from class. I attempted a 4-mile run this morning before work and managed to finish despite my screaming thighs. Unfortunately I had already reserved a spot in this evening’s class, and since I had already paid for the package, there was no backing out now. After a delayed train, I booked it home, changed clothes, and ran out the door to the studio.
The Monday evening classes are taught by a tall, curly-haired instructor named Sergio. The class was definitely at the right level (beginner), but Sergio left nothing out of alignment. He was all business and spoke a commanding Italian full of anatomic vocabulary. I understood nothing and got adjusted, corrected, and questioned for 60 minutes. The guy on the machine next to me was just as lost as I was, and he was Italian. Just when I thought I was getting something, Sergio would appear, repeat and Italian phrase 5 times, and then readjust several body parts. He wasn’t mean, just consistent. As I prepared to attempt another exercise, he yelled from across the room,
“Kerry, ci sei?”
“Kerry, are you there?”
But I wasn’t angry. I was challenged. And it felt good to struggle, to sweat, to fumble, to fail, and to keep going. In fact, I felt like myself again.
At the end of the class, I thanked him and asked what he thought. He replied, “not bad, but dobbiamo lavorare”. We must work. He’s right. And I’m ready now. He teaches Wednesday evenings too, and I’m signed up for the 7:30 class this week.
Here’s to challenge.