Recently, ironyfreemodellawyer convinced me to try out a class at Carrie’s Pilates Plus. It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing – I love Pilates. I go to Pilates 3-4 times a week.
I didn’t realize the “Plus” would be so…plussy.
My favorite studios, Eden and Fitmix, are bright, clean, airy, refreshing, etc etc. Basically, everything you’d expect from the #1 workout of the fro-yo/$12 juice set. (Myself included. Hi, Yogurtland. Hi, Juice Served Here’s #15.)
The traditional reformer might look a little like a medieval torture device with its straps, bands, and springs, but the soft grays and light woods of Eden’s and Fitmix’s machines soften the sadistic aesthetic.
There is nothing soft about CPP. (Including this woman’s boobs.)
That infomercial-ready signage covers the entire left wall of the studio. This has to be some sort of parody on LA workout trends, right? Right??
CPP’s roided-up take on the reformer is called a megaformer. What’s the difference? As far as I can tell, the only real difference is that the megaformer makes you feel like you might not be cool/strong enough to use it. I have friends – friends who never talk about their workout fetishes – who have recently come out of the closet as megaformer evangelists, speaking of it with a Crossfitter-type reverence. Online article after online article waxes poetic on its superpowers. Amazingly, none of these endorsements include any actual specifics on actual/miraculous physical differences between this machine and the OG. What they do focus on is the aggravated intensity of the megaformer workout.
Welp. I guess we’re about to find out.
I spend the first three minutes of class staring at the megaformer in confusion. Most of the standard mechanisms are hidden, making it much less intuitive to set-up and use. This delay does not go over well with my very muscular instructor, whom we shall call Mr. Boot Camp, if only to relay the fervor of his demeanor.
MBC: ARE YOU READY ARE YOU IN IT ARE YOU SET UP HAVE YOU EVER DONE THIS BEFORE?
(This barking takes place approximately three inches from my face, but I still have trouble making out some of the words over the bass-heavy jams blaring from the speakers.)
Me: Yeah, well I mean, I do, like old-school Pil –.
I stammer as I stumble on the shifting carriage.
MBC: THIS ISN’T OLD-SCHOOL PILATES. ARE YOU READY TO SWEAT? BECAUSE IF YOU’RE NOT READY TO SWEAT –.
He leans down to make adjustments on my megaformer, leaving that ultimatum unfinished.
If I’m not, I should what? Leave? Don’t tempt me. Also what makes you think I’m not ready to get schweddy, Sir?? I was an athlete. Once upon a time. Two decades ago.
I am offended and annoyed, but also feel a deep desire to prove myself. Hello, high school insecurities, so nice to see you again. He shows me how to adjust the knobs on the machine. One of these knobs immediately strips off half my thumbnail. This is not starting off well.
It gets slightly better a few songs in. Most of the exercises are the same as my “old-school” classes, but I dig the newly athletic vibe. And MBC stops accosting me for a while, letting me do my own thing in the back row.
Mid-class, MBC switches tactics and slips into that I-Know-What-Your-Body-Needs thing trainers love so much.
MBC: Do you have pain right here in your lower back?
It’s still so hard to hear over the unce unce unce.
MBC: You have pain right here in your lower back, don’t you?
I rack my brain. Do I? I don’t think I do, but somehow it seems like the right answer is yes. I nod my head.
MBC: I knew it. I could tell from the way you walk.
From the way I walk? How the f*ck am I walking? Cool, something else to weirdly obsess over. This is just fantastic.
He pushes me down into the deepest front lunge I’ve ever done, maxing out my hip flexor’s [lack of] flexibility.
MBC: This will help. Hate me now and love me later.
Step one down. I'll keep you posted on step two.
When it comes time to switch to the other leg, I’m feeling pretty decent about things. I’ve got the machine figured out, I know what’s coming next, my muscles are nice and warm…
MBC: It’s easier on this side isn’t it?
I nod, feeling quite self-satisfied.
MBC: That’s because what one side of your body lacks, the other side makes up for. Remember how weak this leg was right here?
He looks up at me, waiting for a response. All signs of satisfaction, self and otherwise, have left my face. I nod. Yes, I remember the pathetic feebleness of my right inner thigh, thank you so much for asking.
Onto the outer thighs we go! I can do this movement all day – or at least I thought I could. Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong my entire Pilates career.
MBC comes sprinting over in horror.
MBC: No, squeeze it. Squeeze it out. SQUEEZE IT OUT. Look at me, look at me.
I look at him, caught somewhere between an urge to punch him and running to hide in the corner.
MBC: Think about a snake.
Me: A what?
MBC: A snake. Think about a snake.
I think about a snake. Said thought doesn’t go very far. MBC can tell.
MBC: Think about it – if a snake couldn’t squeeze its prey, it would starve, right?
I think about it. Sure, I guess? I’m not really up on the snake’s wilderness meal plan. I guess I sort of assumed they could get something with their fangs, too – or that each breed of snake might be different. Like garter snakes – those sweet little guys couldn’t possibl –
He interrupts this significantly longer thought process to bring me back to the crisis at hand.
MBC: The snake needs to squeeze its prey, right?
I nod, because I’m pretty sure yes is the only option here. MBC pats the cushy area on the outside of my thigh.
MBC: This is the prey. Squeeze that prey. If you want to get rid of it, you have to squeeze it.
He just referred to my, erm, wobbly bits as prey. Ok, fair. But who’s the snake in this scenario? Clearly, I haven’t been starving – I mean, I think that “prey” makes that pretty clear.
While I mull this over in my head, the booming beat comes to a stop. Class is over.
Holy f*ck I survived. I won’t say I thrived, but I will say I’m a big fan of the 45-minute situation. I thought for sure we had another 15 coming our way. I can feel the Stockholm Syndrome already beginning to set in.
ironyfreemodellawyer and I wipe our machines and leave class, unsure if that was the absolute best or absolute worst experience of our lives.
The next day, back in my beloved Fitmix class, I find myself squatting lower, sweating more, and yes, even squeezing the f*ck out of that prey.
Ok, MBC, I get it.
See you next week.