Pilates was not the “cake walk” I expected

I called up my friend, who is a very talented dancer, for a bit of advice. I wanted to know what kind of dance class would best limber up my very stiff and puffy body. “No doubt about it,” she said. “Pilates is the way to go. But, start off slow because – though it doesn’t feel like it at the time – your whole body is getting a workout. If you don’t feel it that night, you’ll feel it for sure the next day.” She spent about 15 minutes singing the praises of Pilates, and ultimately convinced me to give it a go. I hung up the phone and signed-up for a six-week class at a cute little yoga studio in my neighborhood.

The class started on a Tuesday at 7pm. I arrived at the studio with about five minutes to spare. I changed quickly in the sparsely decorated dressing room and ducked into the back of the class. I looked around. All types of people were in the room. There were a few women in their 50s, a pregnant woman, and several other women from mid-20s to mid-30s. When our instructor walked in, I was genuinely surprised. Her name was Julia and she was squarely in her 50s. I’m thinking to myself, if this old bag can do pilates, then I can certainly handle anything she can throw at me. I run, I sweat it out in Zumba … this Pilates thing is just a bunch of stretching.  It will be a piece of cake! To start the class, Julia explained her experience with Pilates. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” she says. I look at her hard… I’m thinking that after 25 years of doing this, her body should look A LOT better than it does. Maybe pilates won’t give me the kind of results I need to see…

Pie and lattes?! Sign me up!

“We’ll start with ‘The 100’,” she says.  “Turn onto your back and lie flat. Put your feet up into the air and your arms straight back. Now, with your feet in the air and arms straight back, lift your head up off the floor and flap your arms vigorously for a count of 100.” No sweat, I think. But, I don’t even get to her count of five before my head falls back to the ground with a thud. I see stars. I’m panting already. WTF?! This is not a good sign! “This is one of the basic warm-up moves in Pilates,” she is saying. Warm up?! If this is the warm-up, what’s the workout gonna be like?!

At this point, my arms are lying flat by my side and my head is lolling to the side like a ragdoll. I look up and Julia is standing over me. Her pink legwarmer is right by my mouth. From here it looks like cotton candy. I want to bite it off of her. “Are we having trouble here?” she asks. Um, I’m half dead, lady, so yeah… I’d say we’re having trouble! I want to scream. Instead, I say, “No, just taking a break,” and immediately raise my head (with strength that I get from where?) and start pumping my arms like a fiend. “It’s a little early for a break,” she says, shaking her head with a “tsk-tsk” look. “After you get rid of some of the… ‘bulk’… that you’re carrying and strengthen some of those muscles, you’ll be able to do this exercise without stopping,” she quips with a syrupy sweet (super-fake) smile. Man, eff you, too, I think. Just when I think that I can’t take another minute of “The 100”, Julia screams out “Two more!” with a glee that sounds slightly psychotic.

By the time the class ended and I made my beeline for the door, Julia had asked us to roll like a ball, suck in our stomachs so that our navels touched our spines, and to throw our legs over our heads. After I slipped out of my (very sweaty) Lycra and back into my street clothes, I headed for the reception desk. The young crunchy kid behind the desk was eating hummus and pita and chitty-chatting on the telephone. “Um, excuse me,” I say. She puts up one finger to tell me to hold on for a minute. I twirl my hair while I wait for her to wrap up her trite conversation. “Yes?” she says. Whatever happened to “how can I help you”? Kids these days, man! Anyway, I say, “What’s your refund policy?” She smiles a knowing smile and says, “After the first class, you are able to recover 90% of your tuition. Each additional class that you attend diminishes your refund by an additional 10%.” Hmmm… “I’d like a refund please,” I say quickly. We complete the transaction and I am out of the door. So much for this grand plan. That sh*t was HARD! I’m going back to Zumba! And, in the meantime, Miss Julia can kiss my “bulky”, fat, jiggly, arse.