By Alexia Simmons
I’ll just say it: Fifteen years into my Pilates career, I had a loose caboose. It might be a saga of genetics, wherein marriages between long-forgotten relatives created a legacy of DNA coding to frustrate future generations with a flapjack fundament; then again, the cruel drag of time isn’t exactly known for being charitable to aging bodies.
The story of reinflating my dragging and gassed glutes, however, begins with a Tower class I took under the watchful eyes of a friend and fellow instructor. I had been neglectful of my biweekly class regimen, being overwhelmed and besieged by the demands of opening a studio in NYC. In short, I was, uh, a little behind on my once-regular class-attendance record. I went to talk shop after class, and she greeted me with the unexpected, “It’ll get better once you practice Pilates regularly again.” I let out a little gasp, mortified that my lapsed routine was so obvious to others. When I got back to my own studio mirrors and, uh, assessed the damage, I noticed that my form had indeed fallen a bit…behind.
Providentially, it was the end of February: The Pilates community was about to start March MATness, our social media tribute to Joe’s brilliant body-changing 34 mat exercises. My bottoming out in that Tower class made me determined to retrench my commitment to daily practice, new studio or not. Thus, my 34-day odyssey and serendipitous derriere transformation began at page one of Mr. Pilates’ illustrated mat bible. My humiliation from that class burned: I went hard and I went large in my goal to kick my own keister into shape—and there was no looking behind!
I started with The Hundred on March 1 of the leisurely one-exercise-per-day and photograph-then-post custom of MATness. But then I got serious and deviated with prejudice! I promised myself that I would not cease until my sweat-drenched fingers had turned the last page of the entire repertoire. My determination was “aaaall aboard,” and there would be no satisfaction with mere mortal effort; I was on a mission to right my Pilates body train, to get it back to the tight and lifted rails! I did mostly complete the entire mat routine daily, too. There were less than a handful of days when I only got as far as the Series of Five (or “ab series”). I did mat Pilates every damn day in my zeal to reclaim my powerhouse. Joe’s axiomatic “give me 30 sessions and you’ll have a whole new body” is—I can intimately report—true down to the last word!
This post—specifically zeroing in on my now-high-kicking can—didn’t even occur to me until I began scrutinizing the tight, firm and lifted musculature that was my month’s reward. In just 30 days, while adhering to Joe’s mat canon, I discovered that not only had my ass had once again become as fabulous as it would ever be, but that my body was again delicious. My mat sessions, having over the years become relegated to maintenance status, mostly struck me as focusing on abs and keeping a solid core. However, matwork is deceptively comprehensive and dynamically effective on your entire body. Only a few weeks into my personal quest for Pilates integrity, I started to notice, when my hamstrings had that sweet, gentle tug of strengthening, radiating like divinely comfy pantyhose up into the higher elevations of my backside, that something unexpected was percolating. My nates were no longer in…dire arrears. As is often the case for us, in the vestigial camp of passionate Joe Pilates purists, yet again I discovered myself marveling at a cornucopia of serendipitous benefits coming from what began as a specific focus on the basics. As usual, Joe was a century ahead of his time and—in this case—a month ahead of me on the mat!
Alexia Simmons is the owner of Pilates Perfect Studio on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where she teaches the classical Pilates method to all age groups and abilities. She is an adjunct lead teacher trainer for Core Arts Pilates in California. Alexia recently collaborated with the Museum of the City of New York to create a community Pilates Mat Series program. In her previous capacity as director of education of a NYC-based Pilates teacher-training program, Alexia developed the syllabus and established unique guest workshops with luminary Pilates figures. She maintains regular attendance of seminars that feature renowned industry leaders, specialized Pilates education, physiology and anatomy courses, as well as national conferences. For more information, visit pilatesperfectstudio.com; follow Alexia on Instagram (@pilatesperfectstudio).