Twice a week, Life in the Boomer Lane takes a Pilates Reformer class at her gym. The “Reformer” is a big, lightly padded board on wheels, with levers, pulleys, weights, and other components, all employed without the benefit of a user’s manual. It was either invented by Mr Pilates, the same person who invented people like Madonna, who is one of his disciples, or, it might have been invented by some unnamed person who wanted to “reform” what Mr Pilates invented, since regular Pilates consists of human beings working out on the floor, whereas this gives a person thousands of dollars worth of apparatus to insert between the floor and one’s body.
LBL chooses to take Reformer classes instead of regular Pilates, because when she tells people she does “Reformer Pilates” they have no idea what she is talking about and so are completely impressed. They assume it is some advanced form of Pilates, known only to Victoria Beckham and other anointed individuals. The exact opposite is true. Reformer means no working on the floor, which is much easier. And, because space is limited due to the size of the machines, it also means much smaller classes, affording either individual attention or, on really good days, some kibitzing among participants that can waste some time.
There is a lovely, older woman in her Reformer class. She is in her eighties and brings her portable oxygen equipment with her. LBL is not making this up. LBL likes having her in class, because she needs extra time to arrange her oxygen whenever the class switches position, and this corresponds exactly with the extra time LBL needs to figure out what the instructor is talking about, since she is usually initially facing the exact opposite way that everyone else is.
One day last week, the sweet older woman suggested to LBL that she take a class called “Body Flow,” which is, like regular Pilates, included in gym membership. She, herself, takes Body Flow once a week and Reformer once a week. It works perfectly for her. She said Body Flow allows people to work at their own level. This sold LBL. First off, she likes the phrase “Body Flow.” And it has the added advantage of being something else that others are unfamiliar with when she will tell them what she does at the gym.
LBL took the Body Flow class a couple days later. There were about twenty women in the room, whose combined weight equaled one large meal. Equipment consisted of a mat the thickness of a good quality paper towel. LBL should add that the sweet older woman wasn’t there. As LBL came into the gym, she had noticed the sweet older woman in the Reformer room. This was a bad sign. Aside from two grey-haired women who each looked like when they are not at the gym they are hiking the Appalachian Trail, LBL was old enough to be everyone else’s mother.
The instructor started with the following words: “We have a really, really tough workout planned today! Get ready! We will twist our bodies around in all kinds of ways that human bodies are not meant to twist! This will be brutal!” LBL scanned the room, Apparently, these words were greeted as positive, since everyone around her looked like hyenas just presented with a fresh zebra kill.
The instructor proceeded by throwing out names of positions in rapid-fire manner. Most of them involved animals. To LBL, everything sounded like “The Down Dirty Dog,” except for the one called either “Ape” or “Gorilla,” which involved bending over from a standing position and placing the entire palms of one’s hands under one’s feet.
After awhile, LBL really wasn’t paying much attention. She sort of slumped down on her mat and wondered why an eighty-something year old woman with portable oxygen equipment would do this to her. Wasn’t there some kind of rule that when people got to be a certain age they couldn’t screw around with your life?