Pilates terrifies me. Somewhat because I have a bad lower back. Partially because I fear the amount of pain I'll have to endure before ever being called "lithe." Mostly because it's the S&M of physical fitness, with its chains and springs and loops and other things that make me go, "Really? I can't lay here and just pretend I'm doing work like all the other good times?" But I ate too much chinese food while in San Francisco, woke up on East Coast time, stared at the scary photos on the website and eventually got spooked and decided I'd play it safe by going to the gym around the corner instead.
Then I saw this photo of the gym:
Beautiful rape city, San Francisco!
I caved and decided to go spread my legs for the sake of fitness, but realized I misread the Irving Street location schedule and instead of every class being open, every single class was full. The only opening for the rest of the day was for 7:30am's pain chamber. It was 7:08. I charged it to my credit card, threw on shoes, blew my nose and quelled the "I don't know where I am and they're setting me free, I'm not independent enough for this" nerves while diligently following a Google map the two blocks to the studio.
The class was a mix of strength training, pilates and cardio interval training, or as I prefer to call it, "sweaty pilates fusion." Long story short, you jump a lot, then keep jumping, then lift things until your arms quiver, then do a bunch of burpees (aka go from standing to a plank back to standing, which my body won't allow me to do), then do some planks, then pull on some cords, then jump more, then pull on cords again, then oh my god is this done yet?, then do some leg jibberjabbers with cords, then more cardio ughhh cardio!, then more arms, then more leg jibberjabbers, then look at the clock even though the Yelp review said you won't look at the clock, then more cardio, then are we done yet?, then more arms, then stretch, then done!
I spent half the class thinking, "man, this would kill in New York" and the other half thinking "oh my god I'm going to shit my pants." Halfway between elation and torture, I signed up for two more before I left. It was hard, it was good, and most important it was results-driven: I felt a little longer, a little taller, and a little more ready to pound Korean BBQ later that night.
Website / Online Signup
Donde?: Inner Sunset, San Francisco
The Rundown: Takes the best part of Pilates and pairs it with quick strength training and looks-easy-but-isn't cardio bursts.
Cost: $19, or $14 with the promo code "postcard"
But would I recommend this?: Yes
Is it difficult to get in?: Yes, but only because it's confusing. Everyone with a monthly unlimited membership signs up for everything so the classes are mostly full, but there's a 5-person wait list, and if you show up, you'll almost absolutely get in. It gets even trickier with moving off the waitlist and payment and whether or not you get charged for not showing, which is how I ended up at the studio, in person, hungover like never before, being told i didn't have to come because i wouldn't have gotten charged. Messy, but at least I saved nineteen bucks?
Is there any spiritual prayer involved?: Nope!
Death class factor (scale 1 to 5): About a 4. None of us seemed to be able to do it all-out, but even modifying the moves was exhausting
Teaching style: Friendly, helpful, and actually attentive, but class styles vary between instructors
Demanding in a: I'm your favorite high school dance teacher and I'm here to encourage you kind of way
Parts that hurt the next day: Ass, arms, and abs plus thighs, if I would have done the exercises correctly
(I was the only person who took them, obviously. Who's surprised.)