Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners

THE WORKOUT: Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners

WHO CAN DO THIS: Beginners to Pilates, not beginners to exercising.

THE BREAKDOWN: About 20 minutes of Pilates-based cardio and 20 minutes of mat work add up to a just-hard-enough workout by Brooke Siler, who owns the AB Pilates Studio in New York City and has trained Kristen Dunst, Lauren Hutton, Madonna, blablabla.

Pilates is like being beaten bloody with soft pillows. It looks so easy, hurts so bad…good...bad. The cardio workout is done standing, with big but highly controlled twists, bends, squats and lunges. Although I have done only a smattering of Pilates, the mat work seems straightforward and traditional—the hundred, roll ups, leg circles and stretches, sawing and rocking, a few push-ups. It’s relatively painless, in an exhausting way—it goes quickly and, best of all, feels effective.

Siler’s movements (done silently with voiceover and mildly irritating music) are mercilessly precise, but the high bar she sets is motivating. Her instructions are clear and expressive; at various times you draw circles on the ceiling, crash like wave, and brush crumbs from your thigh.

THE SWEAT FACTOR: Plenty of exertion, plenty of sweat. Surprisingly. But then again, I live in Dallas and it’s summer. I’d be sweating anyway.

BUT IS IT FUN? Sure, why not.

WHEN IT'S OVER: Your muscles will be talkin' to you.

GEAR AND APPAREL: A mat or carpeted floor.

FINAL WORD: Like it a lot.

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