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Put in Place by a Bendy Pilates Queen

October 24, 2009

Yesterday morning I went to Golborne Place, a pilates and gyrotonics studio in Ladbroke Grove (gyrotonics is a pilates spinoff if you please). It’s the new hot place for west London luvvies and the odd celebrity to flex their spines and aquire balance of body and mind.

I was instantly seduced- first by the picaresque proximity of the fruit and veg sellers outside the front door (“you’ve got to ring, darlin! That’s it darlin!”), then by the contrast of the expensive airy wooden interior, then – most of all – by Monica, the Spanish ex-ballerina and gyrotonics instructor that set up the place. She was ludicrously close to what God intended for the human race – lithe, spare, au natural, soft of foot, soft of voice, strong of arm and stomach. She probably weighed 40 kilos, had extravagantly big, almond shaped eyes, cut glass jaw bone and skin of a 20 year old. We sat opposite each other on stools while she showed me how to move my shoulder, sternum and arse in figure eights. I was tired from just sitting up straight on a stool. She, on the other hand, passed a pilates contraption with foot rests and a metal frame above, and leapt up, two feet in stirrups, body arching up to the sky, all done in a split second.I looked at this human arch: flat, strong, bendy, and felt surer than ever that I am from a different race. There were moments when I came close to the figure eight motion and I was quite good at the thigh machine. When it comes to sheer muscle strength, I’m not bad. Beyond that, me and Monica seem to have as much in common, physically, as a tomato and a dog.

All this said, does anyone else find the commands of yoga, pilates and mediatation erm, impossible? I’m told to feel a ray of light going from the sky down through my bum, or a line rooting me to the floor, or to suck my belly in till it reaches my back, or to rotate so that my guts are moving in a slow circular motion. WHAT? How? How do people know how to interpret this? Then there’s the age-old problem with yoga and meditation: told to relax, I begin to think.

It’s a disaster, but then, maybe that’s the difference between me and Monica .

PS Gyrotonics equipment is amazing: it looks JUST like torture contraptions, only with fine woods, sliding seats and comfortable handles. Othewise, the straps, cogs, stirrups, and the enormity of each machine instantly remind one of agony. For such a soft, gentle practice, this is – well, funny.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Oliver permalink
    October 25, 2009 11:13 pm

    Mantras are supposed to help bring the mind back from thinking and displace the unwanted thoughts. These are routinely used in meditation, but not in yoga or pilates. Seems like these three skills span that range from more physical to more mental.

    I agree about workout equipment being reminiscent of medieval torture racks. When you see someone quivering under a 70kg bench press, it looks like the torture is being applied as well.

    Are you going to keep any of these disciplines up? They take months before you get good enough to repa significant benefits.

  2. ms fan permalink
    October 28, 2009 2:18 am

    Those flat stomachs and flexible limbs of the pilates instructor/dancer
    Incentive or deterrent.
    Has to be good for you.
    Anyway -don’t fudge the exercises
    In fact, avoid the fudge altogether

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