Losing My (Pilates) Virginity... Among Other Things
Inspired by health-obsessed, kale-eating, cleanse-doing Coveteurs, Erin loses her Pilates "V" Card and learns that the geriatric grandmas in Palm Springs have got way more stamina (and gas) than her.
I have never been one of those 7 A.M., seven days a week gym-goers. Ever.
I have dabbled in my fair share of obsessive yoga months, unused gym memberships, outdoor power walks—and I am pretty sure Billy Blanks and I chilled hard through VHS for the latter part of eighth grade. The shvitzing (that’s Jewish-speak for sweating, FYI), the excessive hair washing post workout (let’s be honest, that only happens two or three times a week) and having to painstakingly peel a sports-bra off of my sticky body has never really appealed to me.
But new year, new resolutions (that we rarely ever keep)—and new you, right?
In 2012, we met plenty of health-obsessed, kale-eating, cleanse-doing Coveteurs who deeply motivated me. Brad Goreski had an entire wardrobe dedicated to workout wear (see: full-on red Adidas ensemble above), Pressed Juicery’s Hedi Gores (as if she needs any explanation; the girl’s a genius) and Jennifer Fisher gave us the 411 on giving up gluten (read: here).
In October, my fitness-obsessed galpal—that’s what you kids call ‘em these days, right?—Ashley, dragged me to a Pilates class at some joint called Body Harmonics, which to me sounded more like a strip club. There I was: full-on ombré fox collar (relax, it’s vintage!) and Céline Phantom in tow. They must have taken one look at me and thought, “Does this girl think she’s going to Pilates or getting a pedicure?” Regardless, I pranced on into this jig knowing whole-heartedly that I had just threw twenty five bones down the toilet.
Fast forward an hour or so, to the end of the class. Yes, there is a happy ending: I survived to tell the story. As I walked out and reflected back, I was just as shocked as I was when I heard Wang was named Ghesquière’s predecessor. (I kid you not.) I was actually using, stretching and strengthening my sad limbs! I felt exhilarated, fresh, alive and…wait for it: with not one glimmering bead of sweat on my body. Every muscle was used, abused and worked, but I stayed calm, cool and clean.
And so I went back again… and again… and again. I’m not saying I became one of those aforementioned 7 a.m., seven-days-a-week gym-goers, but I can proudly say I’ve been going often. Take that, New Years’ resolution! In fact, I can now feel my abs! (Okay, well, the side of one of my abs. But, hey! Progress is progress, right?)
Pilates, which I once heard someone pronounce as “Pie-lates”, on the Reformer and Springboard basically involves a ton of core work. For all you fellow Pilates-virgins, here’s the breakdown: You place your legs in straps (I know what you are thinking, but no, it doesn't feel like a pap test) and do repeated motions at varying weights. Each little tiny muscle gets worked during reps of these exercises, and there are workouts designed for lunges, bicep/triceps, abs, legs—so eventually you look like Gisele. (No actual guarantees there, though.) The Reformer is groovy as fuck, but there is this magical, new, mind-blowing invention some chick named Ellie Herman invented recently, called “The Springboard,” which is sick. In all honesty, it looks like a Japanese torture chamber (or as my friend, Shauna, thought when she tried it, “A sex swing.”). But I’ll leave that up to you to decide. The springs are heavier than the Reformers and your legs are not attached in the straps… a.k.a no cheating!
My obsession with this newfound love, which I am, in fact, quite late to (I feel like Pilates was a thing back in 96’ when Heidi Klum used to rave about it) squeezed itself into my suitcase and came with me to Palm Springs on vacay. Throwing on my gym clothes—I’ll get to the deets on that in a minute—had me completely caught off guard.
“Am I losing my mind? Am I really about to go exercise?... on vacation?” Yikes, there must have been a screw loose.” That is what I like to call ‘Abby Lee Normal’ for moi.
Nevertheless, I ventured in to that 7 a.m. class (still oh-so-jetlagged from Canada, mind you!) at Pilates Plus, and watched as a bunch of slender, fit geriatrics stumbled into the studio before me.
“Okay,” I thought as I grabbed my water bottle. “If my eighty-year-old, about-to-bite-the-bullet grandma can do this, then I can surely rock this class!”
Was I ever wrong: The instructor started us off with a “warm up” (ha!) of one hundred sit-ups with our legs bicycling. The room was raging. Out of breath, I checked out ye’ old granny (oh, let’s just call her “Betty”) next to me who was crunching so intensely a small toot came out of her rear-end. Fuck, that didn’t even stop her! You’ll be happy to know I took one for the team and stuck it out; I couldn’t possibly bear the thought of walking out of that class.
As soon as I got home, I Googled the hell out of the place. Turns out some guy named Sebastien Lagree designed a branch of Pilates that basically work muscles to the point of fatigue, until they are no longer able to work. Suffice it to say, that’s not exactly the workout I was bargaining, nor searching for. Thanks, Sebastian… [insert Borat voice here] naht! Apparently, circuit training plus traditional Pilates equals fitness.
As enjoyable as it was, I’m so glad to be back home at Body Harmonics. Unlike stirrup pants, peplum skirts and espadrilles, I don’t see this trend being over for me any time soon.
Oh, and about those gym clothes. Fashion first, people! I’ll have you know I have struck fitness fashion gold. It’s safe to say I discovered the best suck-in-your-cellulite leggings at none other than Canadian-born, Lululemon Athletica. Thank God I have now also discovered that they make sports-bras that do up like a bra in the back to avoid those suckers peeling off of you like a bikini wax. Can I get an “Amen” to that? (“Amen, sister!” says Steph.) And the name of the garment says it all: the Ta-Ta Tamer.
After every class, we head over to the local Italian resto beneath the studio. Counterproductive much? I think not.
P.S. I still haven’t tried SoulCycle (I know, don’t freak out; we live in Canada!), Barreworks or Gravity. Which do you prefer, kids?
- Erin Kleinberg
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