Making a Case for Pilates

So pilates gets a weird rap, right? A whole lotta white girls, weird contraptions (aptly named the apparatus, I think), and like, lemon water. Or like, whatever. Brunch is also often associated.

I recently started going to pilates… religiously. Not daily, but I definitely go once a week. It’s a foundation to my (sparse) weekly routine. To be clear, the class I attend isn’t a Hollywood pilates class – with the apparatuses (apparati?) and whatever else fills out that that image for you. It’s a class at my climbing gym, in a yoga studio, on mats and it’s awesome. Every Monday at 7 pm, I walk into a room where I’ve done more downward dogs, savasanas and chair poses over the years than I can count, unroll not one, but two mats and do some of the stupidest feeling moves I’ve ever done. But they work! (More on that later…)

The instructor, Lezlie, who looks like she has taught aerobics & jazzercise classes since the 80’s (and rocked the perm since), puts in an obscure CD and we jam through the hour-long class. This week’s class soundtrack was a literal movie soundtrack. The crescendos aligned perfectly with the final pose more than once and Lezlie totally played into it, encouraging us to push our “toes through the ceiling!” and “stretch another twoooooo inches!”

This class isn’t totally devoid of the stereotypes–there are still the girls that look like they Instagram their food, watching what everyone else is doing and awkwardly making eye contact in the mirror. But with the inevitably cheesy music & ridiculous moves that I can’t believe actually work, it’s pretty awesome. The longer I go, the more I notice the changes I doubted in the beginning.

TBH, I’m one of each every class.

Maybe the best part about this whole thing is that everyone takes it VERY seriously. Completely concentrated on the moves, brows are furrowed from wall to wall as hands grip ankles, legs are flexed to the max & “belts are tightened.” Control & grace are encouraged throughout. It’s NOT FUNNY. But it’s so funny. The moves take serious concentration and while pros can do the moves with a look of pure boredom on their faces, when I’m bent in half, with hands gripping calves and legs overhead (but not touching the ground), am expected to roll back up into a ‘V’ with style and grace only to find the chunk of muscles in my core that are a combo of exhausted and non-existent, I flail on my side. With zero style, grace or delicacy, I’m down. Immediately pulled out of whatever concentrated state I was in, I lose it. I’m giggling like a maniac as I struggle to get back into whatever the next silly pose is. And then the music crescendos.

Did I mention that it’s great? Pilates is great. Mondays for me are no different than most people in the working world–I’ve been on the river or in the backcountry for a few days and trying to reacclimatize to the insane structure that humans have built is weird. Knowing that at the end of the day I’m going to go move around on a 3′ x 6′ mat for an hour to absurd music while also getting a workout in has created something to look forward to. And did I mention that it works? The perfect off-season activity, it never feels like I’m too sore to ever move again, but it’s absolutely designed to be done every day. Or at least 5 days a week. You leave just sore enough to feel accomplished, but not so sore that you can’t go back tomorrow. It’s genius! It’s a lifestyle.

So, with a touch of humor and a whole bunch of humility, I strongly suggest giving it a go. I also strongly encourage applying a touch of humor and a whole bunch of humility to everything else in life, but that’s a different story. Now, can you carry that posture through the rest of your day? Want to get brunch?


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