Pilates not for sissies

By Daryn Wood
I WAS warned, and now I know first-hand. Pilates is not for sissies.
In fact I’m convinced that Joseph Pilates, who developed the “body conditioning routine”, was a closet masochist.
As a fit young man who enjoys a range of sports, I couldn’t help but snigger when my news editor assigned me to take a Walmer pilates class and write about it from a male’s perspective.
So off I sauntered to the Walmer Methodist Church to join the ladies.
There I met Debbie Glover, the instructor who runs a class twice a week. She kindly told me that, as a newbie, I was allowed to stop at any time if it got too much.
Unsuspecting and proudly macho, I told her this probably wouldn’t be necessary.
Boy was I wrong!
Pilates is supposed to relieve stress, but during the next hour my body was subjected to more stress than I thought possible.
It was stretched, pulled, bent and lifted into a sweating mess of heavy breathing. And pain.
As I was forcing my body into yet another unnatural position, I caught sight of Debbie, looking serene and making it all look so easy. My manhood was crushed and I remember thinking, “Please let it stop!”
But as they say: “No pain, no gain”. I felt the pain, but would there be gain? Yes, as the hour slowly came to an end, I felt my abs, legs and back burning, but in a good way.
So, despite being on the brink of collapse, I admit it was a very good workout.
“It is all about core strength,” says Glover.
“It helps with your posture and allows you to carry yourself well.”
She says it works your abs, lower back, inner thighs and glutes among other things. And strengthening your support structures helps with lower back pain.
Pilates also involves a lot of stretching to increase flexibility. Glover says this can improve over time, but some are just naturally more flexible.
Regarding its higher popularity among women, Glover says men traditionally preferred active exercise and found pilates too static. But more and more men are rolling out their pilates mats.
So, will I be back for another session of pilates? Maybe. But even if I don’t, I’ll never again make fun of my male buddies who choose body conditioning over ball games.
Classes take place every Tuesday and Thursday at the Walmer Methodist Church at a cost of R15 a session. For more information contact Debbie on 083-320-3778.

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