Pilates – My New Best Friend

Now that all my extra moments aren’t filled with school meetings, chauffeur duty, planning birthday parties, or baking cupcakes to sell at the play or school fundraiser, I have finally found time to begin a Pilates practice.

And I love it!

I’ve thought about incorporating Pilates into my workout routine for years. But I could never seem to fit in it in. The priority has always been some sort of cardio workout – I absolutely require the endorphins produced by getting my heart pounding. Lacking said endorphins I may well have climbed under the covers long ago, only emerging in search of chocolate.

But Pilates gives me a new kind of high – somewhere between yoga and a sweat-inducing workout.

I’ve dabbled in yoga over they years, in fact I started way before it became the In Thing, back the early ’80s when I took it in college.

My teacher had studied with Iyengar himself in India, she had a long black braid down to her butt and she was an excellent – though stern – yoga teacher. I gained a strong foundation by studying with her, but yoga has never been the same with any other teacher. And I lacked the discipline (and the time!) to keep a practice going at home.

And of course there’s the pretzel factor:  my body refuses to contort into some of the postures, even with much practice.

But Pilates is different. Unlike running or going to the gym, I never have to force myself to do it. I just have to block out some time – anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. I’m still too busy to actually go to a studio or the gym for classes on a regular basis, but I’ve taken enough beginning level classes that have a good grasp of basic technique. I now use DVDs and online classes which give me a relaxing yet invigorating Pilates workout almost every day.

What’s To Love About Pilates

I’ve always had problems with my posture: my shoulders naturally hunch forward – a trait that is of course exacerbated by my lifestyle which includes sitting at a computer for several hours each the day. Ever since I was a child supposedly well-meaning folks have admonished me to sit up straight. I’d respond by consciously straightening into upright position, only to slump back into my comfort zone again within minutes if not seconds.

But four months of regular Pilates practice has changed a lifetime of slump! Sure, I still slip into the sloppy posture – but I notice it myself now, and it’s so much easier to adjust. I’ve figured out the muscles I need to use to do so.

I’ve lost weight on this regime, but it’s the posture adjustment that has made the real difference in my appearance.

Gaiam puts out a series of decent DVDs. I started out with a three-pack geared towards weight loss, and they’re pretty good. But my new absolute favorite is Trudie Styler’s Core Strength Pilates.

Trudie Styler is married to rock star, Sting, but she doesn’t actually lead this workout. We are guided through the moves by her hot personal trainer James D’Silva who, in addition to being amazingly limber and having one of those entrancing East Indian British accents, seems to have a yoga background.

So, although the workout is mostly based on Pilates moves, it flows like a yoga session and stretches all your muscles.

But you have to mix up your workouts, and sometimes I don’t have the full 55 minutes. So My next favorite is to go online and partake in the FREE mat classes put on by the gals at Pilates on Fifth.

These enterprising ladies have put together an online Pilates studio in addition to their bricks and mortar one in Manhattan. They offer different levels of membership to their Ultimate Pilates Workouts, ranging from Basic (free) on up to Ultimate ($260 per year). The basic plan includes several workouts from beginning up to advanced including several mini workouts using bands, balls, etc.

Katherine and Kimberly are perky twin sisters with long blond pony tails (at first I thought they were the same person!) and they lead us through each workout. There’s something oddly entertaining about working out along with identical twins. They even dress in identical workout outfits!

And they don’t mess around, you get a workout, even in the shorter versions.

Katherine and Kimberly of Pilates on Fifth lead virtual Pilates workouts.

Katherine and Kimberly also produce a podcast available on iTunes – which is how I discovered them. Free instructions on every Pilates move you can think of – plus some longer workouts.

They’re even coming out with a new iPhone app – at least they are threatening too. I can’t wait. Once I have Katherine and Kimberly right on my phone, I will never have a reason not to fit in a little Pilates.

Looks like I’ll finally be sitting up straight right into old age!

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2 Comments

Filed under Health

2 responses to “Pilates – My New Best Friend

  1. Kimberly and Katherine are fab teachers, both live and on line! I am glad Pilates helped your posture – that’s the first improvement my clients usually see.

  2. This gives me hope. You make Pilates sound fun and easy. I tried straightening out with a chiropractor a few years ago. It actually worked and made me feel better all around but it was also expensive. I stopped going because we moved out of town. The slouch came back fast.

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