Today: Aug 24 , 2019

Fitness Quest: Pilates

20 April 2015  

I have learned in my Quest to NOT investigate exercise types before I try them. 

A good example is Buti yoga.  I watched a video that scared me terribly; in it all the women wore makeup, smiled, spun and danced effortlessly.  I knew I wasn't coordinated enough to do that, and dreaded heading to that class.  What I experienced was an entirely different thing altogether; from that point on, I closed my options off to preview future forms of exercise.  I would experience and learn about them from the facility/trainer, not a Googled YouTube video.  Thus, going into Pilates with certified Pilates instructor Lucille Noggle at Wellbridge Health Center, I wasn't certain what to expect; my only experience with "pilates" was a fusion class with other types of exercise combined.  

Lucille shared with me that she first discovered Pilates while in the dance program at San Francisco State University.  As a dancer, she was surprised at the weaknesses that Pilates identified, and was intrigued by the strengthening she experienced.  Seeking more knowledge, she became a certified classical Pilates instructor and trained with Pilates grand master teacher Romana Kryzanowska, becoming certified by Romana in 1998.  Lucille is also a Certified Life Coach and hypnotherapist.  Her first point of order was to introduce me to the equipment used in classical Pilates, namely the Reformer and the Tower.  The designs of each echo the early 1930's utilitarian design by Joseph Pilates, who called the exercise program "Contrology" when he first developed it.  He established six core principles:  Concentration, control, centering, precision, breathing and flow.  When combined properly, fewer repetitions of exercise are utilized (Lucille had me do as few as 3 and as many as 8) with greater results; indeed, I was surprised to feel tightened muscles the morning after our first session. 

Each exercise uses springs for both tension and resistance, combined with body awareness of breathing, centering and muscle tightening.  Lucille was able to correct my form, remind me to tighten and pull back my shoulders (my posture was of great concern) while guiding me through each exercise.  Instead of keeping count myself, Lucille kept count with the appropriate number of repetitions; it amazed me how she called time almost exactly when I thought I could not do another.  Our first two sessions included only one or two repeat movements; Lucille would change the format by switching from legs to arms, switching springs and spring tensions, swapping straps and rings.  Watching her move with a dancer-like grace, I asked about the different exercises.  "There are around five hundred different classical Pilates exercise movements," she shared.  "When you become fully acquainted with the exercise, the movement of changing the setting on the machines become fluid, almost like a dance."  I marveled as she switched bars, changed out springs and directed me in new exercises.  My first two sessions each worked out my legs and arms, with a continued focus on my core and pelvic floor.  Being uncoordinated, it was difficult at first to align myself with all six principles, every single exercise.  Lucille's gentle voice guided me, reminding me of the the different areas I needed to control. Her watchful eye kept track when my overwhelmed brain could not, and I appreciated the individual care and attention to every movement. 

Normally during exercise, even when I try to concentrate on the form or movement, another thought overwhelms and hinders the process. Not so in classical Pilates.  While actively trying to engage all 6 principles (and succeeding at perhaps three or four), my mind heard and listened only to the needs of my body.  This was a new experience; I wasn't concerned about running out of breath or energy, I was focused on doing the movements correctly (and hopefully without shaking!)  At the end of both my first and second sessions, I was surprised when Lucille announced, "You're cooked!"  The workouts had been workouts - yet I had only a mild sheen of sweat, and I did not feel exhausted.   Both mornings following, however, I woke up with delightfully sore abdominals and arms.  My sore muscles proved the workout had occurred, even if I didn't feel so at the time.  Surprised by this, I asked Lucille if we could continue the Quest into a second week at her studio; I was intrigued by the changes I was feeling.  She agreed, and I was curious to see what our next few sessions would bring.

Lucille Noggle, CPCC, CHT practices at Wellbridge Health Center, 1055 Ruth Street Suite 9B in Prescott, Arizona. Phone:  (602) 418-8969

Katie Cornelius

Katie labels herself a Solutions Engineer; she is the creative powerhouse dedicated to supporting and growing small businesses in the Prescott area.  She spent the past twelve years working in sales training and business coaching, specializing in mom & pop shops.  Currently Katie is on a journey to get healthy after a severe concussion and some personal challenges.  Her corresponding blog, Fitness Quest, relates the quirky issues faced when following a  fitness program.  Finally, you can visit and coment on the Quest on Facebook.