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Pilates -- regaining flexibility and poise

by Marie Lauver
(Memphis, TN, USA)

I tried Pilates because I was bored with the newbie traditional method of working out -- which is just hitting the treadmill or elliptical for thirty minutes. I wanted something new.

I had just joined a local gym that offered a variety of exercise classes. I knew about resistance bands before and had only done minor exercises.

Also most of the Pilates class was sitting, and I liked that.

With this in mind as I walked into the room filled with foam mats I figured it would be a piece of cake.

The easiest thing about the workout was sitting down on the mat and stretching. It only got more difficult from there when the instructor singled me out as the newcomer and had made sure I did all of my ab/lower back pulses.

Traditional exercises like sit ups and push ups, which I am the worst at, were a large part of the routine. I didn't get out of doing them.

Instead the instructor modified the exercises so that I could be included (how nice) and forced me to complete all of the reps.

She used me as an example to make sure everyone was doing their side twists correctly and kept me busy so I didn't escape with the excuse I needed to get water.

Towards the middle of the routine I thought it couldn't get more intense and then I was handed hand weights in addition to the exercises.

The most annoying and difficult thing was concentrating on the movement of my body while struggling to manage these weights.

The weights were light -- about two or three pounds -- but the accuracy of my repetitions and the concentration on only one part of the body moving was causing me to sweat like crazy.

I had never pushed my body the way she wanted me to. All of the straining and the stretching coupled with the pressure to keep good form and tight abs was harder than I imagined.

While I was in the class and it came time to do the final series of stretches I could feel my joints starting to click and realign. There was a new found realization that my body was capable of moving and regaining flexibility and poise.

I found it to be a hard workout because unlike high speed training where you move around or jump about this workout combined weight lifting with a slow controlled form of movement that I wasn't used to.

My muscles ached the next day. I found that I had to suppress my laughter in order to avoid the stabbing pain in my stomach.

I'm happy to say that I try to attend more classes and have learned since then, but I'm also happy to say there's room for improvement.

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