They make it look so simple. Slow, fluid movements to mellow music. No jumping. No running. No heavy breathing. Lots of stretching.
Stretching isn't exercise. It's...stretching.
So when a friend asked if I wanted to take Pilates with her, I was all for it.
I can so totally do Pilates.
Since I am a card-carrying college student, I can take full advantage of the campus fitness facilities for free. This means I can even take the exercise classes for no extra charge. So, this morning, after class, I ran to the nearest Wal-Mart and bought myself some stretchy workout pants. Cute little capri workout pants. I threw them in my gym bag with my Easy Spirit shoes and some deoderant.
Like I'm going to need deoderant for stretching.
Once there, I follow my friend's lead, since she has done this before. Outside the classroom we grab a blue floormat, some small weights and a huge rubber ball.
Honestly, when I look at those giant balls, in shades of blue, yellow and red, I think of cute, little Teletubbies, frolicking along astroturf hills, talking their weird little babytalk, happily chasing the big, fun, bouncy ball.
Just in case you're about to run out and join the next Pilates class, it ain't Teletubby Land.
Upon entering the classroom, I notice all four walls are mirrors. I notice it right away, because like I said, it is mirrors, and you don't just casually dismiss something like that. Especially when you're wearing stretchy pants.
We start out slow, stretching our arms above our heads. Inhale. Exhale. Lengthen your spine. Stretch this way. Stretch the other way.
Piece of cake.
We go through some different accessories like the hand weights and this nifty pole we use to balance ourselves on one leg while stretching the other leg out behind us. The instructor makes it look so easy. "Don't lean on the pole. Just lightly hold it and use your abdominals."
Abdominals. She uses that word a lot. Trouble is, my abdominals disappeared a long time ago. I'm not even sure I still have them. And why did she give me the pole if I'm not supposed to lean on it?
I follow her directions, wibbling and wobbling on one leg, sometimes falling back to both feet. But even that wasn't too terribly bad.
Then she tells us to put the poles down and get our "balancing balls". And like a true Pilates idiot, I thought it would be easy. Let me just point out something. Sitting on that ball is not as easy as it looks. We are supposed to sit down and roll forward, so that our lower back is on the ball and our feet are planted firmly on the floor, supposedly keeping us from rolling off and cracking our heads on the concrete.
But I could not escape the fear of falling off that ball. And what's funny, everyone else seemed to be just fine, gracefully executing each move. I think something must have been wrong with mine, because I was flailing about, rolling around on that huge ball, looking, in fact, like a Teletubby.
But the instructor knew what she was doing. She lulled me into thinking it was so simple by saying things like "Remember to breathe. Inhale. Exhale. This is only a breathing exercise."
If it's only a breathing exercise, WHY ARE MY THIGH MUSCLES ON FIRE?!
At one point, she tells us to completely lay back on the ball, basically doing a backbend on the ball with our heads hanging upside down.
A word of advice, if you're going to be hanging upside down during your workout, do not down a Vente Caramel Frappucino with whipped cream before class.
I thought I was going to hurl.
And what's up with the mirrors??!!! As if making a fool out of myself isn't bad enough, I get to see it all happen!! AND MY BUTT LOOKS HUGE!!!
After an hour of excruciating humiliation, were are finally finished...and my legs feel like Jell-O, as does my ego. I glance around to find the stand that sells the T-shirts reading, "I did Pilates - and lived to tell about it".
And I'm going back next week. Just call me La La.