I’m the type of gal who loves a challenge. I never take anything at face value and I always look beyond the obvious to see what I could possibly change about a situation or what I may have missed. Having said that my weight and fitness goals haven’t yielded me the best results I desire even though I consider myself a fairly healthy eater (low carbs, healthy fats, and mostly organic) and a moderate exerciser (I bought a Peloton five months ago) that I used to use more frequently. Still, I haven’t seen quite the transformation I had hoped for.
What I had hoped for was a stunning change that would knock my socks off! Now I’m not saying that buying this fabulous piece of equipment was a total fail; what I am saying is that I think the results come a little slower from using it unless you’re putting in an extreme cardiovascular effort. My effort came in the form of 20-30 minute sessions twice a week. And then quite honestly I slacked off because of writing constraints. It’s much more trying on you physically than Pilates, mostly because unlike Pilates you can really only count on your lower body the entire time. Pilates Plus or the Lagree method founded by Sebastien Lagree combines strength and flexibility in movements performed slowly to engage the slow-twitch muscles but overlaps the exercises right behind one another with no rests so you still reap the benefits and intensity of cardio. The workout is performed on a re-vamped version of the original Reformer machine designed by Joseph Pilates that Lagree perfected called the Megaformer. In all, there are six models each with slightly different modifications and upgrades.
My first step was to research, up until this point all I knew was what I had seen on the various episodes of “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and the famed Pilates Plus studio they frequented in Studio City. Well since I live in the South Bay which is a cool 20 miles south of there I had to be a little more creative; my next alternative was either Rancho Palos Verdes or Long Beach. And to be fair the Lagree Method is only taught on the Megaformer machine; if you find a class taught on the Reformer it’s not Pilates Plus. So this made my search even more restrictive. Not only was I looking for something close but I had to find something specific to my needs and it had to offer a high energy yet welcoming atmosphere. Would I find that? Read on and find out.
I started with Groupon because, why not? It’s the perfect place to get a sampling of what’s out there without a long time commitment. After all, who wants to be stuck in a contract or pay for a month or two of classes only to find that the classes suck or the teachers aren’t motivating or any other number of disappointing factors that could potentially present themselves? I know I didn’t and neither did my Amex. So it came down to this really cool downtown Long Beach studio called KP Pilates Plus, it is still within the Pilates Plus franchise but the owner Kelli Parsley added her initials for a little flair. The good thing was it was located less than 10 miles away; literally, a hop, skip and a jump from the Vincent Thomas Bridge (so is my house) and boasts vast meter parking or two-hour lot parking. But first I had to get set up with my Groupon. After my initial purchase, I didn’t realize that I couldn’t proceed straight to “GO”. “No ma’am do not pass “GO”, do not collect $200″. I tried to redeem my coupon only to be emailed by the owner (very politely I might add) that I needed to set up my credit card (in case of canceling a class outside of their 12-hour window so they can bill you). Although my classes are pre-paid it is standard practice in the event that you need to purchase future class packages, single classes, and merchandise in the studio and so on. I then had to send her my Groupon redemption code that she would insert and activate my trial, although the clock doesn’t really start ticking until you book your first class. My coupon in and of itself would have however expired within (60) sixty days if I hadn’t used it at all. *Different deals have different restrictions.
Once I had all of the particulars out of the way it was time to brave the wild, take a chance, be bold, embrace my inner fighting spirit…..okay you get the picture! Two days later…I booked my first class! I wasn’t sure I had the right workout gear but everything I knew to be acceptable seemed about right, leggings and a fitted tank and flip flops. And every class requires Toe-sox or some kind of fitted grippy socks so that you don’t slip and fall. Most of the moves will require you to move your feet across the carriage which is the center part of the machine. Even holding on the curved bars you could lose your balance. Trust me you don’t want to try Teaser, Catfish or Elevator Lunges without them.
My first class was a late evening one that I was actually late for due to construction and my unfortunate driving mishap. And by that, I mean I accidentally took the wrong exit (yes, Maps you’re not the best at direction giving) onto a highway instead of a side street. But I recovered and made it a few minutes into the session, got my socks on and quickly started off with the Wheel Barrow. The next time I vowed to come at least 15 minutes early just to get my bearings, re-familiarize myself with the equipment and to discuss my limitations and fitness goals (i.e what you expect to achieve from the class) with the instructor. I have scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and I have had four abdominal surgeries including C-sections. It’s important that your instructor be aware of any injuries (recent or otherwise) or limitations so that they can show you modifications until you’re ready to do the full movements, eventually, you will. I was happy to take this particular class called Form and Technique as it was specifically geared to teach better form and alignment. It’s a great class for beginners and an awesome Segway to get me acquainted with the practice.
On the Megaformer, getting into plank position. At home with none other than a smooth glass of pinot, sweat-shirt $56 by Private Party shop Carbon 38.
When that next time arrived I came in early at 8 am, well that was early enough for me. They have classes that start as early as 5 am…no thank you. My next class was standard Pilates Plus which was an awesome one. This time the moves were more familiar and I remembered where to position the springs and how to move the front But don’t be misled that doesn’t mean it was easy in any shape or form. But because I had grown accustomed to sitting in one position, working mainly my lower half of my body, boy was I in for a surprise! We worked every muscle in my body, I felt like I had awakened parts of my physique I hadn’t even known existed and yet they were such slow and concentrated moves; in fact in Pilates slow and steady wins the race. And how else do you know if you’re doing it right? When your muscles start to shake, that’s when. My legs were a-quiverin’ like crazy! That implies muscle failure and the inherent breakdown of muscle fibers that will eventually rebuild stronger and leaner. That’s what we came for people. That’s why we show up! Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I performed every move with perfect form or held every count for as long as my instructor, Jean asked of me, but that first day I DID give it everything I had! And it has given me something in return, my posture has improved; I seem to sit up straighter, I walk taller and my abs, yes my abs are starting to feel tighter and more compact and my arms and thighs are definitely getting much more definition. And I kept going back for a total of seven classes which I think equated to one class every other day or every two days. I tried to fit them in when I could. The important thing is that I feel good about myself; I’m imparting a positive sense of accomplishment to my psyche. That does wonders in and of itself.This week I’m devoting myself to a one-month unlimited package which is a huge (financial) and personal commitment. But I’ll tell you something, when my trial ended just yesterday I felt like a crucial piece was missing. I seriously felt this gut wrenching emptiness; I have gotten know a few of those gals and I like their “little shop of torture”, I say it with the utmost respect. Could this be love? We’ll see.
What chances have you taken lately? What new adventures have you opened yourself up for?
Wishing you Love and Luxury,