A few weeks ago I completed a gruelling whitewater course at Penrith whitewater stadium in preparation for a Grand Canyon trip in 2016. This article is about how Pilates training provided me the strength to finish the course without injury and be the last person standing.
There were 5 of us in the group, the other four had a lot more paddling experience — I was the least experienced and the only female. In an oversized wetsuit with the air temperature at 12 degrees and raining — it was a steep learning curve.
I wasn’t sure what was more deafening — the noise of the rapids or the fatigue in my body.
One of the things we had to learn was to swim in the rapids. I’d like to add aggressive (against the current) swimming is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Barely catching my breath, we were in our kayaks paddling the first and hardest drop in the circuit.
First time down the first drop, I capsized. I still remember holding on to my kayak and paddle in the eddy not far from the drop. I wasn’t sure what was more deafening — the noise of the rapids or the fatigue in my body. I was literally spent. One of the other instructors ran over and yelled over the noises in my head “GET BACK ON!” I remember giving him an incredulous look “ARE YOU KIDDING ME! I’M F#%KED” — I should also mentioned that during the course of these four days it was the most I have sworn in my life.
He wasn’t kidding… So I got back on and paddled all the way to the end. I forgot about the fatigue and coldness that had enveloped me and in its place, I was filled with a sense of exhilaration and strength.
On the final day — it was whitewater all day. Unbeknownst to me, this particular course has a high attrition rate. By this stage, everyone had dropped out due to injury and I was the only one left standing. I was surprised to say the least.
The transference of muscle memory and strength from my Pilates training was key to finishing the course.
I’m sure in part, it was my will that saw me finish the course. However resilience of mind only gets you so far, and the rest is carried by your level of physical fitness. The only thing I could discern between myself and the others was my level of fitness and body awareness because of my Pilates training.
The transference of muscle memory and strength from my Pilates training was key to completing the course. I believe the test of true strength is when it can transcend and lend itself to various exercise modalities and disciplines.
Over these four days I learnt many things about myself; to trust the strength in my body, to still my mind and discovered another aspect to my spirit — Courage.