Pilates Purgatory

I decided to try a Pilates mat class at my gym. I’ve never been one for group exercise but the recent camping trip convinced me there were some muscles that weren’t being used as much as they should be. So Saturday morning I headed over to the gym.

There were only 5 of us in the class, so there would be no hiding. The teacher ambled in and I was concerned. She walked as if several of the discs in her back had fused together, somewhat hunched over, head down. Most of the women I’ve seen who practice yoga or Pilates have lithe, slim bodies, and seem to float their existence, one of the reasons that compelled me to try it. Never one to be accused of being graceful, I thought a few lessons couldn’t hurt me.

She immediately spotted me. “You. What’s your name?” Ignoring her brusqueness, I answered. “Ever done Pilates?” No, I answered. “Just follow these two,” and she pointed to the two women in front of me. “I’m not feeling so great, so I won’t be demonstrating today.”

The class started. She called out commands and did not hold back on criticism of any of us. I’m all for feedback, but this was ridiculous.

“You! Yeah, you! You’re doing it wrong. Wrong, I said. Did you hear me? You’re leading with your arms. Yeah, it’s a natural reaction, but it’s wrong. WRONG! You don’t want to use your arms. That’s right – no arms. No arms, people. In World War II thousands of men had their arms and legs blown off. NO ARMS! No arms at all. Pretend you’re one of them…”

I snuck a glance at the clock. Ten minutes had passed. This was going to be a long one….

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