I have lapsed with the back exercises in the past couple of months. As my endless series of colds dragged on I felt less and less like making any kind of coordinated physical effort, and then once I perked up I was so busy. Having a monthly lesson booked in my diary used to concentrate my mind, since it would be both embarrassing and futile to turn up for them having patently not put any effort into practice since the last one. I joked to the teacher that I was outsourcing my conscience to her. But it got to the point where I didn't feel I was learning anything new in the lessons.
This may not have been entirely my teacher's fault. When I arrived with yet another cold or headache it was difficult for us to progress beyond the same gentle stretching exercises, but I began to suspect that even on the days when I turned up fit and ready to go, there was no structured lesson plan waiting for me. Instead we seemed to cover slightly random bits of whatever she herself had learned in her last lesson, only they never developed into anything more at our next session, however diligently I practised whatever I'd been told to practice in the meantime.
Her twenty-four hour cancellation policy was pretty tough as well, what with the colds and the headaches. Late one afternoon in the grip of a particularly severe headache I emailed to say that with apologies I wouldn't be able to cope with a lesson at half past two the next day. I received an affectionate reply saying that of course that was fine, get better soon, but she charged me anyway. OK, she was within her contractual rights and it was probably lost teaching time for her, but I thought of the number of times she had cancelled my lesson the same morning because she was ill, or I had agreed to last minute swaps to help out another client, and decided that individual Pilates tuition was a luxury I could no longer afford. Fitness coaches of the world take heed. My hairdresser, incidentally, takes last minute cancellations on the chin, and her fixed business costs are considerably higher. This is one reason why I try very hard not to miss hair appointments, unless I'm so ill I think I'm a public health hazard.
Anyway, I was shocked by how bad my back was after an evening of the Arts Centre's chairs. I think I'd vaguely hoped that after six or seven years of faithful Pilates practice my posture would be so much better and my core muscles so much stronger that I'd be fine even without the formal exercise regime. A couple of months were enough to set me straight on that score. No need to pay anybody else to be the guardian of my conscience, if I want to be able to garden and spend the evening sitting in uncomfortable chairs like a normal person I am stuck with the back exercises for ever.