Finding Fitness: Pilates

What do a soccer player, gym junkie and volleyball player all have in common? Friday’s Pilates Plus class left them in pain the days following; sore muscles and the inability to walk properly due to the fatigue was felt.

Walking into the Pilates Plus class in the RecPlex, I felt pretty confident that this was a class I could take without ending up in pain. After doing strength training and cardio four times a week, I figured that this class would parallel yoga. I was partially correct. This is a class similar to yoga in many ways because it focuses on core training and flexibility. The major difference, though, is that Pilates Plus uses additional tools to add strength resistance made to tone muscles. At the beginning, the instructor, Lourdes Perez, asked who had been to a prior class or who had taken a Pilates class before. Then, she modified her class according to the different levels of agility.

The class began with simple breathing techniques and soft classical music playing in the background. Perez then switched to simple stretches, such as “the downward dog,” prepping the muscles that were about to be used. Little by little, the music became more upbeat and, as a result, the people training in the class began to get pumped.

Perez is a positive instructor who taught while providing encouraging comments. When instructing a new stretch, she adjusted her level of difficulty. She would first provide an example for the beginners, which allowed them to target the necessary muscles, while not exceeding their bodies’ capabilities. After instructing the beginners, she would modify the same movements to add more resistance for intermediate to advanced participants. I, for one, did everything that was instructed for beginners. It became easy to follow the stretches, but once the repetitions increased, my body decided to rebel. My legs could no longer be as straight as they once were, and at one point, my legs decided not to hold the position instructed, asking me to pause and then once again readjust myself. It would have been a lot harder if we had not had such a positive instructor.

As the people in the class did the stretches, she would walk around the room to advise and give pep-talks to different students. When she saw that a person ran a risk of injury because he or she did not have a proper form, she would demonstrate through example how it should be done. In addition to working out, it was a teaching lesson to ensure everyone’s safety. She was very attentive and patient with everyone who asked questions and needed extra clarification.

Taking this class was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and push my body in a healthy manner. After a stressful first week of class, it was a great way to unwind, but, at the same time, challenge myself. Cardio and soccer training could not compare to the different muscles that were targeted in the class. I ended up using muscles I didn’t even know could be used. This year, accept a challenge and hit up Pilates on Fridays at 4:15 p.m.

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