Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pilates, Now Under Geneva Convention Investigation

Okay, so in my newly embraced spirit of let's-get-in-shapedness, I took my first pilates class today. Not the pilates class with all the strange looking machinery, but the more simplistic one that requires nothing more than one's aching muscles, the ability to breathe, and a floor. This is called, innocently enough, Pilates Mat Class. They might as well have called it, Kick Your Butt Slowly For 45 Minutes Class. Or, maybe, You Will Beg For Mercy From Any Stranger Working Out Next To You Class. Or just AIEEEE Class.

Pilates, as I learned to today from the very calm British pilates teacher at my gym, was developed by this guy, Joseph Pilates. For whatever reason, he was working in a jail or just in jail in San Francisco, CA, when he developed this exercise method for inmates. He dismantled prison beds, harvesting the internal wooden slats and springs, and constructed the first pilates equipment. Maybe there were some felonious ballet dancers doing hard time with him too, because many of his exercise routines involve quite ballet-ish aspects. And this should have been the tip off to me, right away, that I was in for peine.

In an earlier, more aerobically and aesthically pleasing part of my life, I regularly took ballet and dance classes. I was never in such good shape. There is nothing more grueling that lifting one's own body in space with no leverage save one's arms, legs, and toes. I have seen grown men, muscles hardened to a cement-like consistency from weight lifting, reduced to tears by a single class at barre. Yeah, so you bench a gazillion pounds, but can you plie 100 times?

So, while I limped out of Pilates Mat Class, I felt oddly rejuvenated by my aching muscles. Just as in my dance classes of yore, they were sore muscles, but longer and ever so slightly stronger ones. And, unlike the gentle yoga debaucle earlier this week, I didn't fall over once.

Of course, the entire class took place on the floor, but why quibble with details?

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