SIMPLY PILATES

SimplyPilates

2004, $2.00, at Out of the Closet Superstore in Glassell Park

First Impression: I like those purple yoga pants!

Second Impression: Seriously, where can I get them?

This workout is aptly titled. The set is a plain white background and one floor mat. The production team has also decided to save money by not splurging on silly frivolities like lighting or a sound department.

What this DVD does have are title cards. So many title cards, with the name of the move, such as “Pelvic Tilt” in a curlicue font, accompanied by the most wonderful saxophone riff. It’s a slow, mournful leitmotif that could easily be the interstitial music on a 70’s sitcom about starting over in middle age… which in the 70’s, was like, 32.5 years old.

Before each move the instructor tells you what to expect in her charming Australian accent, delivered in a sincere closeup. She sits casually, hugging her knees in a friendly pose that suggests “tampon commercial.”

I’ve viewed a lot of Pilates videos from Australia and they are all very serious about breathing and moving slowly. American Pilates seems to be about moving fast to loud, pumping music, because we don’t sound cool like Australia and we have something to prove.

I like this routine because it’s so slow. I would say “easy,” but the difficulty sneaks up on you, Trojan Horsed inside the melancholy toots of a reed instrument.

The exercises all involve moving just one part of your body while using your abdominals to hold the rest of yourself stationary. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and about halfway through, you definitely feel the effort in your core.

Then towards the end, the instructor suddenly gets demanding and wants you to fling your legs over your head and drag your feet along the floor. You can’t change the rules this late in the game, so during this part of the workout I just relax on my mat and try to mimic her Australian vowels.

After a light cooldown of dainty stretching, the instructor appears again in her close-up, saying, “I hope you’ve enjoyed exercising The Pilates Way,” and I wonder if I’ve just been indoctrinated into a cult. Everyone here is no nice!

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