Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Tonight I went with my wife to a pilates class in Mong Kok. She's been several times before, whereas this was the first pilates class I'd been to since I left Kent for London in 2006.

Oh, if you include the pilates DVD (twenty minutes of pain from a grinning halfwit in a green leotard) then I've done a bit of pilates this year, but I don't think lying on the floor groaning counts as proper exercise.

This was the first pilates class I've been to that was largely conducted in Cantonese, which has taught me two new words: "cup" which means "inhale" and "fu" which means "exhale". Once you can remember to breathe, and to hold your stomach muscles tight, _and_ to stop hunching your shoulders, then it's all quite simple.

Which is a massive oversimplification of pilates, but it's a good way to better your posture and for me to work the abdominal muscles that don't get much exercise while I'm slumped in an office chair all day. Either I'm big and strong because I have a y chromosome (testosterone is fun! Hurray!) or it's because I ate my greens, or possibly doing martial arts twice a week for years has helped, but it wasn't too difficult to do the basic movements and postures.

It also helps that I had all those months of Paul Massey and the other instructors in Kent to show me what to do, and marvellously, it feels like I haven't forgotten everything.

But interestingly, if you do find things too easy, it's very adaptable to making things more challenging as necessary. If somebody is too stable, you just remove a point where they're touching the floor, or force them to do a slightly longer or slower or larger movement, and then it is just as difficult as it is for somebody not blessed with a lot of muscle.

Which is nice, because with some of the sport I do, if you're not as good as the people you're doing it with, you don't get to do it together. If you're slow going downhill and accident-prone going uphill on a bike like me, you tend to see your friends mostly at the start and the end of the ride, and not so much in the middle. Likewise (or much more so) running; maybe less so martial arts, once you progress beyond constantly falling on your face.

Thus, having spent ten hours at the office today (not all work, because walking around the office waiting for Excel to finish calculating can't be described as work) it was good to spend a surprisingly painful 80 minutes bending in different directions, and finish standing straighter than when I started.


Anonymous said...

Pilates vs yoga. Which one do you think is better?

Mr Cushtie said...

I've never done yoga, so I'm not really in a position to judge.

But ignorance has never held me back before, so I'll say pilates, because I do it, and I don't do yoga, and therefore it must be better :-)

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