In what would come as a shock to no one, all the dining out I’ve done over the past few months has left me with a few extra kilograms. Thus, when Real Pilates contacted me about attending a session, I confirmed immediately. Back when I was married in 2003, before the wedding, I participated in a weekly Pilates class. All that training left me with some wonderfully lean muscles and probably the best core I’ve ever had. Now, well, there is a decidedly less defined area…and with all this holiday dining, let’s just say I’m fighting an uphill battle. While some people prefer yoga, I’ve never been able to connect with the activity, and so I was more than happy to give Pilates another chance.
Of the two locations (one in Jumeirah and one in JLT), I opted for JLT (parking at JLT One). Some things I liked before I even stepped foot in the studio:
- There’s a page for first timers that walks you through the process.
- The reminder system is awesome. Even as someone who meticulously schedules things, I was delighted to get a confirmation e-mail with a professional listing of what to expect (there’s even an app!).
- There are ladies only classes.
- There is a huge range of classes and times.
- The largest class maxes out at 20 people.
Overall, I thought the class was:
- Challenging. Well, of course it was! I was not pushed (too far) beyond my comfort level, however, I will definitely feel the workout tomorrow morning.
- Full of humor. While I think it was the personality of the instructor, Paul (I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for one of his classes again), the room seemed to be about going at your own pace, but within the parameters of the exercise at hand. Clearly in control of the class, he kept things moving and all in good fun. Honestly, I didn’t once think about the clock, how long the class was, or how much time was left (a pretty rare occasion for me).
- Different. Although somewhat similar to Physique 57 (if anyone is familiar), the Pilates Core class seamlessly moved through muscle groups so that this was truly a full body challenge.
So, while I completely recommend a visit to the studio (and honestly, just ask me and I’d be happy to meet you there any time in the next month), during the holiday season it’s not always easy to get away (guests, shopping, etc., amirite?).
Fortunately, the studio was kind enough to provide me with some at home Pilates moves for the holiday season:
- Swimming Preps: Swimming Prep is an excellent exercise to improve core stability and strengthen shoulder girdle. To begin, kneel down with hands directly under shoulders and knees under the hips, keeping your spine in a neutral position. Reach one arm forward and the opposite leg back, gently engaging the abdominals to keep the spine neutral. Bring yourself back to the initial position and repeat the exercise with opposite hand and leg. Watch for not sinking in the lower back or between the shoulders or rotating the body. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Side Kicks: The sidekicks are great for building core stability while strengthening your thighs, especially your glutes. This exercise is not about how far or high you can kick your leg, but how still your body can remain while your legs move freely. To begin, lie on your side with ribs and hips aligned, and bring your legs slightly in front of your body (bend your bottom leg for extra support if needed). Rest your head on your bottom arm and place your top hand on the mat in front of your abs, making sure your shoulders relaxed and stable. Next, raise your top leg to hip level. Keeping your torso stable and muscles around your waist tight, inhale as you flex your foot and swing your leg forward, and exhale as you point your foot and press your leg back. Repeat 8-10 times and then switch sides.
- Tricep dips: The tricep dip uses your body weight to strengthen and tone your triceps, which are very useful muscles needed for everyday functional movements such as lifting yourself out of a chair, getting up from a lying position, and pushing a heavy door. When done correctly, this exercise will help reduce stubborn underarm jiggle, and can also strengthen your shoulders and improve overall posture. To begin, sit on the floor with your knees bent, and feet and hands flat on the floor with your fingers facing forward. Next, lift your hips off the floor, and slowly and gently bend your elbows directly behind you and as far as comfortable to lower your body, keeping your chest lifted, your shoulders down and abs engaged. Push yourself back up by fully straightening your arms and not just lifting your hips. Repeat 12-20 times.
For more information about booking a class, please call 04-4585399 visit http://www.real-pilates.com or use the Real Pilates free app to book your place. Alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Classes start from AED85 and packages are available.
A to Za’atar was a guest of Real Pilates. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.