Jennifer's pilates assignment: Get in shape
So our editor comes to work one day and asks us if anyone wants to try pilates for five weeks and write about it. He didn’t think he would have any takers, but it didn’t take much to see the look in my coworker’s eye. This was going to be a fight.
The most logical approach off the top seemed the Tracy Flick arm—she's the crazed geek in Election who rocket-launches her hand every time Matthew Broderick asks a question. Thankfully, I keep it in check and opt for a little “me, pick me” encouraging eyebrow when my adversary, Kathy Michaels, levels one of her looks.
The whole reason I want to try pilates is because I’ve heard Kathy do nothing but extol the virtues of this exercise regime for several years now. Back when she was a rich English teacher in Asia, she had private lessons every day or something like that; I’ll let her tell that story. Anyway, somehow her tale has merged with Susan Sarandon’s Oprah interview, where she declares her youthful look entirely due to a dedicated pilates regimen, to make pilates the end all, be all exercise super cure of my fantasy world.
I know Kathy will never throw in the towel on this one, and there’s no “be the change you want to see in the world” bunk that can hold me back either.
Offices might burn.
Thankfully, Ms. Michaels is wiser. She pitches a “She Said, She Said” column where one out-of-shape person and one in-shape person give the whole pilates/physio deal a go. The editor buys it. The lovely people at NEUmovement, who originally offered to let just one of us try this for a month, agree. We’re off to the races. Well, actually, that’s the best part—there’s no race.
Normally, as the “in shape” half of this equation, racing or rather “races” are how I keep fit. Now, to be clear, I couldn’t race a chihuahua and win if you asked me to, but I use the events as exercise motivators. I’ve run marathons and half-marathons and the Knee Knacker (awesome trail race if you ever want to try one). I’ve done a triathlon and a bunch of 10-k runs, the Sun Run, the Swim Across the Lake—you get the point.
And then I got braces.
Believe it or not, the thing that’s sidelined me this year is the stupid wires people get on their teeth when they’re 13. Last month, I had some teeth removed in preparation and somehow that’s translated to a massive loss of muscle, due in 50:50 ratio to starvation and pouting. And now, I’m too embarrassed to really run or bike or do anything I would normally do with the vast majority of my friends.
So pilates is going to be the answer; a new adventure to get me back on track.
And after our first class, I can honestly say I think it might do even more.
Ashley Piper, our first instructor, took us through a really interesting set of exercises focused on two key things I’ve never really been good at—breathing correctly and finding your core.
You are meant to breath out with the exertion portion of an exercise and, if I learn nothing else from the venture, I’m hoping that doing this repeatedly, as we did for our first hour of class, will help the concept stick.
But the core. Oh the core. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just the bad apple of any exercise regime. If pilates can help me improve this, it will be a miracle.