Inside the Group Ex Studio – Pilates


With Janet R.

Fridays at 12:10pm in Studio 897

Recently, I decided to attend a Group Exercise class for the first time. I went online to the Rec Center’s website and read the descriptions of the Group Ex Classes until one caught my interest: “Pilates…an energized fusion of yoga, strength, and easy-to-follow rhythmic movements focused on the core to help improve posture, increase strength, and increase flexibility.” I asked another Group Ex newbie, Nicole Andress, who is a Welcome Center Attendant at the Rec, to accompany me to Pilates, a class offered to Rec Center members every Friday from 12:10pm-12:50pm this summer.

My voyage into the world of Group Ex began one humid afternoon when Nicole and I headed down to the air-conditioned Studio 897 in the Rec Center and checked in for our class. As the first participants to arrive, Nicole and I were hesitant, so we grabbed what we figured we’d need (mats) and waited.

Minutes later, the Pilates instructor, Janet R., entered the room. She helped everyone in the class get the equipment he or she needed for the workout: a mat (Nicole and I were on the right track), a stability ball, a roller, a 3-pound weight, and a ring-shaped contraption that probably has a name, but I don’t know it. All of these items are provided for participants, but you can always bring your own.

The first part of the class included some stretches. Starting off with these slow stretches helped everyone in the class relax and get in the right frame of mind for the work out. As the class progressed, we worked with the stability ball, the ring and the 3-pound weight during floor exercises designed to work the lower abs. Through these exercises, I realized I have no lower abs. I mean, anatomically I do, they just aren’t very strong…yet.

It felt as though we only did about six separate exercises during the 40-minute class. However, the exercises we did had our abs burning after only a few reps. To maintain balance and good form, one has to use multiple muscle groups to complete the exercises. Janet was excellent at paying attention to everyone in the class and checking everyone’s form. She didn’t single anyone out though; no need to be afraid of getting called out for your less-than-perfect Pilates push-up!

This class is great for both beginners and the experienced. Janet demonstrates some difficult moves, but she offers some modifications that allow each participant to go at his or her own pace.

If you’re trying to improve your flexibility, balance or core strength, this class is for you. Pilates moves at a slower pace, doesn’t involve blaring Black Eyed Peas, and works your whole body with a few moves. Before this class, I had only done Pilates while following along with one of my Mom’s Pilates VHS tapes from before I existed. As someone who works out, but is certainly not a fitness fanatic, this class was fun because it was effective (it left my legs and Nicole’s abs sore the next day), but it wasn’t overwhelming.

After we stretched out with our rollers, Janet ended our class with some simple health advice: “Eat protein, drink water and stretch!”

Could it be that simple? I hope so.

For a full list of Group Exercise Classes offered by the Rec, CLICK HERE!


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