The Road to Stretching: Pilates.

Yesterday I wrote that stretching is a pain in the ass. After that, I decided to use my AmazonLocal deal for a Pilates studio – three 30-minute private lessons. If money were not an issue, I’d do private-lesson everything. I don’t need people to be in the presence of my supreme awkwardness!

So, anyway, of course I decided to take the easy way out of doing 20 stretches and did Pilates today instead. What I didn’t know was that I would do 20 stretches there anyway.

The only memory I really have of doing Pilates was my sophomore year of college. I had already become Jabba the Hut by that point (I not only gained the Freshman 15, but the Sophomore 3700), and figured – for whatever reason – that Pilates would be good. I spent most of that experience lying on the floor, trying to catch my breath.

My instructor today was a woman named Kelley, who was clearly middle-aged but had abs like a washboard. She insisted on calling me “Andrea,” and told me stories of how she left the corporate world long ago.

The stories weren’t fascinating; however, the machines were. They were torture machines unlike any I’d ever seen. Christian Grey would be jealous of these machines.

Here’s another memory: About two years ago, I was visiting my sister-in-law in her condo, which just so happened to be in the same location of this Pilates studio. One evening, we – along with my sister, her husband, their children, etc etc – decided to get ice cream down the street. We passed a store window, and sitting inside was what I believed to be a S&M bed. There were bars, and hooks, and fluffy restraints hanging over the top. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would just put that front and center in their store – it seemed, to me, to be of more taste somewhere more discreet.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked into this room today and saw THE SEX BED. It’s actually called a Cadillac – which doesn’t really help matters, in my mind. There’s also a machine called the Reformer, which could probably be used to tear someone in two. On the smaller side, there are machines called – simply enough – the Chair, or the Barrel.

This is THE SEX BED – otherwise known as a Cadillac machine.

We began the session on a mat, where all I had to do was bend my legs while keeping my feet off the ground so that my body resembled a table. Kelley wanted me to be able to “find my core” and I found it, alright – within seconds, my abs hated me and my legs started shaking.

“Oh, you have quivers. That’s good,” she said.

She then had me stand up, and instructed me to touch my toes. Now, I can’t touch my toes. I’ve never been able to. So, I tried my best – and sure enough, my hands only reached to my shins.

“That’s it?” she asked.

“Yup. That’s it,” I said.

She then told me to get on the barrel and just hang there. She demonstrated what I was to do, gracefully draping herself over the barrel. She made it look easy, but when I stood before it, I found I had difficulty getting myself over the top of it. So, I clumsily threw myself over the edge, very much resembling what a seal might look like if it tried to swim over a concrete parking lot. Once I got over and let go, though, I have to admit it felt pretty good.

I was just as graceful as this girl, except that I wasn’t doing anything she’s doing here.

Next came the Reformer, on which I did a series of lunges. The thing about the reformer is that half of it slides back – so, if you wanted, you could get a really, really deep stretch. Regular lunges weren’t so bad, but then she had me modify it a bit: With one leg on the machine, and the other on the floor, I was to point my foot on the floor up toward me, and stretch the other leg out on the machine. I watched my face in the mirror contort in agony that I didn’t expect, and let out a yelp.

The reason why Pilates gives you flat abs is because you’re stretched so much on this machine, your abs have no choice but to become flat.

THAT was a stretch. A deep, oh-my-fucking-God-I-hate-you-body-for-your-inflexibility stretch.

“Very good, Andrea!” exclaimed Kelley.

What I took away most from today is that Pilates doesn’t require elaborate movements to hurt like a bitch. One slight modification, and it’s a sharp descent into hell. It’s effective, to be sure, and I’m fairly certain that if I continue with these exercises, I might even get taller. With all these stretches, how could you not?

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