As most of you know by know: I hate fitness-classes. In order to convince me to
partake in any kind of group-exercise it would take:
- a seriously empty diary,
- a huge lack of exercise in recent memory,
- giving me shelter and a bed for a few days,
- feeding me home-cooked meals and
- sharing a bottle of wine or two.
The first two conditions were caused by the NY-trip and my lovely friend Cat made up for the rest. Thus last Wednesday I found myself on Islington High Street for a noon-session at Pilates HQ.
Had I imagined mats and a mix of yummy-mummies ( it was day-time after all), the small studio contained machines and it would turn out to be a class of three: Cat and I, one regular and instructor Keziah. She was friendly and welcoming: definitely the non-threatening kind of teacher, which is always a huge comfort in these situations. I get a little itchy when confronted with the shouting kind of instructor: it makes me want to walk out of the room or shed someone’s blood.
Luckily Keziah provoked none of these feelings. As this was a beginners-class she started by explaining how the Pilates machine worked. You mostly lie or sit on it and work with the resistance of springs, the number of them determining the effort one has to make. Then there are a few accessories: a circle, a stick and a board that you can attach to the machine.
Pilates concentrates on breathing with the exercises: movements go on an in-and-out breath. Keziah warned us not to get too hung up on this in our first session. How hard could it be? Breathing is something that comes quite naturally to me.
We started simply: some leg stretches on in-and-out- breathes. The breathing was also to make you aware of your pelvic bone and lower back that had to be anchored to the mattress. This would make your lower abdominal muscles work harder: Pilates is all about core-strength.
Lifting up the legs in table-position, we placed the circle in between our thighs and tried to squeeze it. There is no elegance in this. After the first couple of times, mine stayed very much a circle. Hmm… As the exercises got harder, the more difficult it got to concentrate on breathing. When Keziah went: ” And in…” I noticed myself exhaling. Key is not to panic and not to try to hyperventilate to get back into her pattern: it will not make anything better.
The stick was used for arm exercises and the board was for ‘jumping’. The latter meaning jump-movements while lying down, stretching the springs and propelling your mattress-board up. That was fun and it felt like flying: it was a nice feeling to end on.
I’ll admit as far as classes go, this was not traumatic – whether it was my idea of fun is another matter… Still should I suddenly have an enormous desire for a super-core to show off this summer, this would probably be the most enjoyable way to do it!
PS: For a less subjective article on this afternoon visit Cat’s blog: applauding bottom.