Imagine leather straps, springs, mirrors, and six women

They hooked up two or three springs, according to how strong we felt, or how hard we liked it. Everyone grabbed the worn stirrups attached to leather straps buckled into place. We lay on vinyl boxes, pulling and stretching, breathing in through our noses, out through our mouths. We could see ourselves in the floor to ceiling mirror. On the other wall we could see cars, like beads on a freeway, hurrying people home. We had just the right amount of curvature in our spines. Our shoulders were down, our toes gripping the lower bar, our thighs clutched together. In unison we exercised our variable bodies.

The wooden pegs and slots were pleasing in the way only worn wood can be. But do we really need these elaborate devices to exercise? Joseph Pilates, born 1883, began with mat work, but developed machines, including the reformers we were on, but also the trapeze table, the electric chair, the wunda chair, the ladder barrel, the magic circle, and the guillotine tower, according to Wikipedia. Apparently devices were popular back then.

One of the challenges of any city is finding your place for exercise, your car mechanic, your doctor, your team of repair people. I tried out this one for exercise, missing the 7 AM Rice University yoga and Pilates a lot. I think I’ll stick with mat work. I think I like the serenity of yoga over the core-building of Pilates. I liked this studio because it was hopping with energy as people got off work, wandering in with their colored yoga mats and black clothing. But most of all I like the yoga at the Tower Grove farmer’s market in the summer.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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