Pilates Retreat: Day 1 (Survived)

Greetings from my Pilates retreat.

As it turns out, there is internet here. An excellent connection at that. So, I decided that this, combined with the fact that my arms are not yet too sore to type and I have some free time, provides an excellent opportunity to blog.

(Plus, I want to remember this trip. Which I had planned to do with pictures. Except that I left my camera at home to save on space, knowing that I could use my iPhone to take pictures. Unfortunately, my iPhone has done some weird thing and everything on it – including pictures – looks like a negative of a photograph. Whether this is some screwed up settings function or a death knell for my beloved iPhone, I am not sure. Bottom line: being potentially picture-less, if I don’t record this week with words, it will be gone in the swiss cheese terrain of my brain.)

Day 1: Flew into Dalaman airport, located just next to the sea. Seemed wrong when the taxi drove away from the sea, to the countryside and lakeside village where I would be staying. The owner of the hotel met me curbside and welcomed me inside. Warm, simple and accommodating, just like her hotel. Basic but spacious rooms, they are serviceable with sitting area, mini-kitchen, bathroom and sleeping room.

The L-shaped hotel is built around a courtyard with a refreshingly cool 8-shaped pool, a few lounge chairs, umbrellas and a covered sitting area / lobby. My Pilates instructor met me in bikini, sweet British voice, and impressively toned abs. I was led to my room and, in no time at all, I was unpacked and out at the pool lounging under the clear, baby blue sky and brilliant sun. The urge to feel like I needed to do something kept hitting me. Surely there was something I needed to do, somewhere I needed to go? Then, came the sweet realization: I had nothing to do and no need to feel guilty for doing absolutely nothing. My time was my own.

Quickly it became apparent that this place would be a nightmare for someone who needs to be out doing something. There is not much to do here except lounge by the pool, walk along the lake’s 2k promenade, and take a boat trip to another village (with apparently wonderful mud baths, maybe even some spa services?).

Luckily, I am not that person. I could keep myself occupied on a deserted island (given some basic necessities such as books – or my kindle – and laptop, of course).

Mid-afternoon, my instructor took me on a tour of the shopping and restaurant areas, just next to the lake. The lake is large and truly lovely with the mountains rising around it. The green mountains are not so close or high as to feel closed in but, rather, frame the lake gently. Despite the size and relative isolation of the village, it is definitely a tourist destination. The shopkeepers speak basic – or better – English. A local gentleman greeted my instructor (a well-known visitor with her regular retreats here) and introduced himself (kissing my hand, either from friendliness or hope, I am not sure, as my teacher informed me in a whisper that some of the foreign ladies who come to the village ‘hook-up’ with the locals for that most traditional exercise of all, ahem).

After our shopping expedition and another rest by the pool, it was time for our first Pilates session. There are 2 other women coming, but they won’t arrive from London until late in the evening. Also, I am apparently the only extremely enthusiastic (i.e. loco) person to sign up for the 2-sessions-per-day option. The good news is that, given my ignorance of Pilates, our one-on-one sessions can get me a bit primed before the others come, as well hopefully keep me up to speed so I don’t totally frustrate the other, more experienced Pilate-ers.

So, at 5:00PM, off we went for our two-hour session.

No, that was not a type. TWO HOURS OF PILATES. And I will do this TWO TIMES EACH DAY which means FOUR HOURS OF PILATES EVERY DAY. FOR A WEEK.

Honestly? The two hours flew by. I definitely worked and felt the burn in my muscles (some I didn’t know I had). But it wasn’t the huffing, puffing kind of burn. A lot of the Pilates work took place in my favorite position: vertical. And it was slooooow, to get each movement right (and feel the maximum burn). I swear I can feel my abs getting toned already (which is a good thing if you skip down a few paragraphs to dinner).

The best part? My instructor said that if you do Pilates regularly, you CAN GROW. As in TALLER. Even as much as ONE INCH. At 5’3.5” at my tallest – I don’t even want to contemplate age-related shrinkage – I will take even a quarter of an inch! Not that I hate my height. I am (almost) the height I always wanted to be.

When I wanted to be a ballerina.

When I was 10.

Still, I am happy I never had to worry about wearing heels with a date. On the other hand, I appreciate the height of my many, more vertically blessed friends. An extra inch would be welcome and still not pose any risk of too-tall-with-heels situations. So my new, albeit early, New Year’s resolution: To become a Pilates fanatic and grow an inch.

So we did our TWO hours. Of course, during the meditation, relaxing phase of the workout – the last bit that makes up for all that went before it – thoughts of food started creeping in (I think my teacher must have heard my glands salivating and tummy rumbling because at the very moment I started dreaming of dinner, she said “if you find your thoughts wandering, bring them back to your breath”).

Luckily, dinner was ready and waiting for us when we finished our session. Did anyone ever get to a dinner table faster? It was even more appetizing, being served poolside. Ahhhhh. Most guests eat dinner at a local restaurant, however, if you want, you can ask to eat the dinner the hotel family fixes for themselves. It is fresh, homemade (much of it by the owner’s mother), and delicious. My Turkish dish vocabulary is still pathetically infantile, but suffice it to say there were crispy fried pastries with cheese and spices; sautéed eggplant and potatoes in homemade yoghurt with savory spicing; another eggplant dish, grilled and in some delicious sauce; salad with feta cheese and garden tomatoes; and fresh bread. In a word: Yummy.

Which may not bode well for my go-to-retreat-and-return-home-in-better-shape plan.

Still, life is short and diets are long.

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