Movements challenge coordination, concentration

June 02, 2000

In one session of Pilates, I learned about many of my weaknesses - physical and mental.

In soothing tones, certified instructor Diane M. Popper led me through movements that challenged not only my misaligned body but my coordination and concentration.

I figured since I stretch every day - even try to do yoga a few times a week - that Pilates would be a combination of moves I'm used to doing.

One round of leg circles with straps attached to my ankles and my preconceived notions were gone.

After a few single-leg pulls, which require coordinating legs and arms, I felt like I needed an "R" and an "L" marked on each to keep things straight. And when I was lying on my back on a mat, I found that the back wall and ceiling were tough to tell apart. That's when I realized that I wasn't concentrating, a component that is vital to success in Pilates.


Funny that the program's founder, Joseph H. Pilates, called this system of body conditioning "contrology."

I felt very out of control, which was unsettling, but was assured by Popper that all first-timers struggle, even the finest of athletes.

My experience with Pilates was brief but made an impact. I've been trying to concentrate more on my movements while exercising, focusing on proper alignment.

It's frustrating, I'll admit, but if it means I'll have a smoother, injury-free ride through life, so be it.

Maybe I'll regain that control after all.

Meg H. Partington is a staff writer for Lifestyle.

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