I tried Pilates; dissatisfied with my gym workout, I turned to Pilates to tone up. Here’s how my first session went

I tried Pilates; dissatisfied with my gym workout, I turned to Pilates to tone up. Here’s how my first session went – Test Run

Cheryl Redmond

I’VE GONE TO A GYM FOR YEARS, BUT I’m always turned off by the noise and the lines for the equipment. Then I heard about Pilates, a series of highly choreographed exercises designed to strengthen your muscles, particularly in your back and abdominal areas, and done in small classes. Pilates seemed like a quieter, more focused workout. I signed up for a private session with Kathy van Patten, owner of Boston Bodyworks studio in Boston and a certified Pilates instructor.

The Mat

When I arrived at the Pilates studio, van Patten asked me about my health history and fitness goals. She also assessed my posture. Then she asked me to lie down on a mat on the floor. She showed me how to check that my chin and torso were in proper position during the exercises, emphasizing how important it is to focus on form. Van Patten showed me the exercises–leg and spine stretches, scissor kicks, and modified sit-ups–one at a time, first demonstrating and then coaching me. The exercises were similar to the ones I’d always done at the gym, but because I now had to focus on perfect form, they felt much more difficult. I can usually do dozens of traditional sit-ups, but after 10 Pilates sit-ups, I was ready for a break.

The Machine

After the mat work, van Patten taught me a series of exercises using a piece of Pilates equipment ominously named the Reformer. This twin-bed-size apparatus is fitted with ropes and pulleys that are attached to taut springs to create tension. I lay on the Reformer, and van Patten coached me through exercises where I worked my muscles by pulling on the ropes.

Van Patten explained that the exercises should flow smoothly from one to the next. I did my best but didn’t quite achieve that state of grace.

The Result

Toward the session’s end the exercises became increasingly taxing and I had trouble maintaining my form, so van Patten stepped up her coaching. She then led me through some cool-down exercises. As I left the class, I felt slightly sore, but more graceful, taller, and much more aware of my posture.

My Verdict

The best part: Feeling my mind and body totally engaged in the workout.

The worst part: Trying to maintain correct form when tired.

Would I do it again? Definitely.

At a Glance

Cheryl Redmond, 39

The Workout: Pilates is a series of precisely control led exercises done on a mat or with equipment.

The Cost: $45 to $75 for a private hour-long session.

My Motivation: To improve my posture and develop stronger abs.

Fear Factor: None.

Fast Facts

History: German-born Joseph Pilates created this conditioning regimen for soldiers in the early 1900s and began teaching it to dancers in New York City in 1926.

Today: Nearly 500 studios nationwide teach Pilates classes, as do many gyms.

For More Info: To find a certified Pilates instructor in your area, contact the Global Independent Pilates Reference Source (www.pilates.co.ukp).

Cheryl Redmond is the associate food editor at Natural Health.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group