Welcome to the arctic + a pilates lesson

by Kim on January 6, 2014

According to this article, today is the most depressing day of the year.

(What a chipper blog intro, right??)

Everybody’s back to work, and most of us are facing our first 5-day week in awhile. Plus, the weather sucks.

And I mean: SUCKS. Look at this:

Can you fathom what -48 degrees “feels like”? From my experience spending 5 seconds in it, sprinting from car to building, I can report that it feels dang cold. But then, to me, so does anything under 32 F.

The most noticeable differences, so far, are the loud popping sounds our house keeps making, as it (understandably) protests the agony of keeping the inside 72 degrees while the outside is -20, and the massive (MASSIVE) clouds of exhaust pouring out of every car and building. Also, half the city is shut down, including schools, my husband’s office (but NOT my son’s daycare??), and even some grocery stores.

Better staff a few extra pizza delivery guys tonight…

Yesterday, we went over to a neighbor’s house (about 6 doors up) to watch football and get our kiddos together, AND WE DROVE. To give you a little more perspective. (We also had a blast–their son has a ginormous train set and Mason passed out from sheer joy.)

Anyway, the real reason I stopped in today was to tell you about my recent one-on-one Pilates lesson. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was offered to opportunity to try out an intro class from a student teacher finishing up her certification.

I’d had some exposure to Pilates–specifically, through the painful plank-happy part of Body Flow and the Pilates Perfect Body program (which I have the DVD for, but it also appears to be on YouTube somehow?)–but I’d never done REAL Pilates, with all the crazy equipment.

For example, I was really curious to try out the Reformer, which looks like this:

pilates 3
Instead, when I first walked into the studio and met up with my instructor, she led me directly past the row of Reformers, saying “we won’t be using these today” (with a laugh, if I remember correctly??), and brought me into a room that looked exactly like this:

pilates 2
I saw an early 19th century mental institution.

First impression of Pilates: not so good.

In fact, when I later researched the history of Pilates, I read that it was founded by Joseph Pilates during his internment as a German national during World War I, as a way of enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance. (source) When an influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, not a single one of Joe’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.

When I read that, I thought, hmm ok…wonderful idea, but: I’m not bedridden. Am I the wrong audience for this?

Eventually, Pilates became popular through the dance community, probably because it’s all about fluid, graceful movements with a huge emphasis on the core.

But back to my lesson. I was wearing yoga pants and a long sleeve shirt over a tank top (I was encouraged to “layer”), and lets just say there was never any need for the long sleeve shirt to come off. I know it was an intro lesson, but I’d planned on considering the class my workout for the day, and I never got anywhere near breaking a sweat. (I think I was actually cold when we were done, haha.)

Maybe if we’d done this, I wouldn’t be saying that:

But the routine we went through was super basic. Lots of slowly lifting and lowering parts of my body while holding onto a bar, focusing on my breathing and core engagement. As much as I tried to focus on my core (she kept saying things like, “think about your core doing the work, not your hips”), I never really felt anything. We even did the famed Pilates 100, which involves holding your body in a V-up like position while pumping your hands at your sides 100 times, and even that was pretty easy.

When I do planks, I could be thinking about polar bears doing headstands while eating pizza, and my core would still be getting a killer workout. Just sayin.

Other takeaways from the class:

–It was my first one-on-one exercise lesson ever, so I anticipated some awkwardness, but it really wasn’t too bad. Although it was kind of intimidating have the teacher’s eyes on me THE WHOLE TIME–no opportunities to zone out like I can in group classes.

–I found it difficult to keep track of everything I was supposed to be doing at once. Breathing in and out at the right times, holding my body in a C-curve position, focusing on my core, relaxing my shoulders, etc. The mental work was way more difficult than the physical stuff.

–My teacher explained that the point of the equipment was really to teach you a level of proficiency that you could eventually move to the mat. So maybe the most advanced Pilates masters don’t even use any of that stuff?

–I could see Pilates being excellent for people with limited range of motion. The equipment forces you to be very aware of how your body is moving, rather than just letting gravity pull it wherever it’s gonna go.

So that was my first official Pilates experience! I can’t say I’ll ever try it again, just because I’m already pretty happy with my yoga studio and my basement treadmill, but it was a neat experience and a check for the old bucket list.

Have you tried Pilates?

What’s your weather like today?

P.S. Target’s having a Get Fit sale right now…20% off clothes, shoes, bras, and accessories (great time to get your dumbbells or kettlebells!).



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie January 9, 2014 at 5:40 pm

As some other people mentioned, I think the instructor makes ALL the difference. I went to PilateSpa on the east side when I lived in Madison, and I miss it SOOOO much. To take classes there, you have to take a series of intro classes – which are easy and kind of boring, but really give you the fundamentals. After that, the classes were really challenging (though I still didn’t usually break a sweat). The thing with Pilates is, that you can easily make the moves easier. But if you do them RIGHT and really focus on all those internal muscles you’re supposed to be tightening, etc, it is tough. So I’d give it another shot, if you’re interested – especially at PilateSpa! :)
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Carrie @ Eight Crazy Soles January 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm

So it is like -10 here but you so trump MA!! I’ve done bits and pieces of Pilates but never a dedicated class to just that. It’s ok but not my favorite. Thinking f trying birkram yoga Sunday but worried I will get lightheaded from the heat.
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Kim January 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Oh boy…I don’t want to scare you but I reeeaaally struggled with Bikram. And I’m not generally sensitive to heat at all. Make sure you start hydrating 2 days before (seriously) and bring a massive towel! You’ll have to blog about it so I can find out what you think!!


Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking January 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I am so ready for Spring!! I have tried Pilates a few time but like you had a hard time taking it all in.


Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome January 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Great review! I’ve never tried Pilates myself and hear some people love it and some do not. I’m not sure I would be on the love it side… I like to sweat!
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Kim January 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I’m not sure how much to attribute to the fact that it was an intro class. But yeah, definitely no sweating going on. :)


Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate January 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Haha I thought that picture looked like a mental institution too! I used to do Pilates ALL the time in college and even got certified but then I kind of lost interest and would much rather do Yoga now. Stay warm, it’s nasty out there!
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Kim January 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

It is super cold here (not quite as cold as y’all but close) – schools were cancelled so we got 1 more day of break!!!
I don’t know if I would have enjoyed that Pilates lesson.
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Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries January 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Blech! That weather does NOT look fun. :( Don’t think I’ve actually ever experienced temps that cold! I won’t even tell you what our weather is like today … I think it’d just be cruel. Stay WARM!
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char eats greens January 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

I don’t think I’d be down for that experience, if I’m being truthful. Especially in a one-on-one setting. Noooooo thanks! I guess when I think Pilates, I think Windsor Pilates and it makes it a lot less psych institute-esque. Those are the videos I used to follow when I was younger, at least. I am SO not looking forward to returning to temperatures in the negative in 2 days. I would love to be locked up in Florida’s little pocket for eternity!
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Kim January 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I don’t even know what Windsor Pilates is, to be honest!

Safe travels home!! I’m sorry it’s going to be kind of a hit. :( Spring will come someday!


Kelly January 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

So, I haven’t done “real” pilates in a while, but when I did I actually really liked it and definitely thought it was challenging. In my experience though, the instructor makes ALL the difference. (I feel the same way about yoga.) And I think it is typical that you don’t really use the reformers or other equipment until you have more experience with it. Anyways, I encourage you to give it another shot!

Also….my house is making that popping sound, too. What IS that?!
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Kim January 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I’m not sure! Something about expanding and contracting. But it can be freaky!


Karey @ Nutty About Health January 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Wow, that pilates room & equipment does look kinda scary! I’ve never seen anything like it! Sorry it didn’t do much for you… I tried pilates at the gym once a few years ago – was not a fan. I found it waaaay too easy, no sweat, & honestly, kinda boring. I really just prefer lifting & more engaging, sweaty exercises.
As for the weather – yes, horrid!!! I luckily have the day off work so I’m staying inside all day, minus a quick outing w/the dog for her to potty. Stay warm!!
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