A Little Tinkering is a Good Thing: Pilates ProMethod with Jenn Seracuse

On Tuesday afternoon, I finally made it over to Pilates ProWorks to take their signature “Pilates ProMethod” class with Jenn Seracuse, the head of their Pilates program. I had met Jenn briefly when I had gone to Steven Little’s TRX class and had immediately liked her, so I knew I would be in good hands. Plus, I have been SO curious about what their take is on the new trend to use “amped-up” versions of the classic Pilates’ Reformer. There was a time in my life when I was totally obsessed with Reformer classes and for about a year, I took at least 3 a week. Those classes were my gateway into working out at all, changed what I thought I was capable of and because of that, I am hard pressed to think that a great reformer class needs much tinkering with. Of course, those original classes were taken over 10 years ago and really, sometimes things need a little tinkering!

Pilates ProWorks’ take on the classic is called the FitFormer and damn, is it a pretty machine! According to their website, it is made from stainless steel, titanium and bamboo but it is also just an elegant, sturdy machine, with super cushy pads and basically just super swanky. Jenn went over the machine with me before class so I wouldn’t be lost, since really, the class was filled with a group of super strong regulars. I was immediately sorry that I hadn’t at least worn a pair of regular grippy socks since everyone had on special toe-socks – grippy on the bottom but open toes. It totally didn’t occur to me that we would wear socks during the class! It was also at that moment that I realized my socks that morning didn’t even match. Sigh… at least I remembered a towel! It is worth noting again, they don’t stock towels here, so if you are sweaty like I am, remember to bring your own.

The class started with a quick warm up, which I always miss when a class just launches straight into the workout. The music pumped in the room but Jenn was great about giving clear, helpful instructions on what we where supposed to be doing on each exercise. She roamed the room, demonstrating on different machines, so we were always able to see what the move was meant to look like and she was able to keep a keen eye on everyone’s form. The moves we did felt like Pilates moves, sometimes tweaked a little bit but always feeling grounded in that original practice.  We also got to do the Frog, a classic Reformer move that I swear hits a part of your inner thigh that no other exercise targets quite as effectively. It was always my favorite move and it was all l could do not to clap when she announced it.  Thankfully, I managed to not make a total ass of myself by doing that!  I was absolutely the worst in the room, so I got a lot of physical corrections (always ok with me!) but her cues to the whole class were really helpful and precise. They were very much Pilates cues, but for this kind of workout, that is really what you need. It was a class filled with regulars who were all so strong and graceful…I might have been the worst but I kept up and was totally inspired.

I always think the best sign of a Pilates based class is when it is challenging but never hurts as you are doing it, yet still makes you feel like someone sucker punched you in the stomach the next day. The day after my first Pilates ProMethod class, I winced every time I laughed – making every funny thing I heard just seem really mean. In my book, the sign of a great Pilates class…or perhaps just that I really need to do more of them!

 

Top image from Pilates ProWorks NYC’s Facebook page, image of Jenn from her Twitter profile @leanbodypilates

Sometimes it takes time: I finally take my 3rd SLT class…

I’ve mentioned it before, but my goal, always, is to only talk about classes that I love. I don’t write up a lot of the classes I take, some because I have written about them so much that unless something new happens, I figure I have covered it. Some classes, though, it is because for whatever reason, I just didn’t love them. That doesn’t make them a bad class, per say, just not for me. There are classes people adore, that I spend the entire time wanting to throw my shoe at the instructor’s head. These days, I have gotten pretty good at knowing what I will hate and just skipping it. However, there are some classes that take a little bit to warm up to, which is why if there is a deal for something that seems like something I will love, I will snap it up. SLT was one of those cases.

This week, I went to my final SLT class, I had gotten a 3-class Gilt City deal ages ago and have been really slow in using them up. My first SLT class was with Jamie Lugo and I liked it but didn’t LOVE it. There wasn’t anything bad about that first class, but it just didn’t hook me. The second class I took with Natalie Uhling Pozatek, I really loved her class and it made me realize why people were completely hooked on SLT. Then, I got a tweet last week from a devoted SLT’er about joining her in a class, and I immediately said yes. After a little back and forth, we figured out the perfect time… and then I realized it would be with Jamie again. I signed up, figuring it would be fun anyway, even though I hadn’t been crazy about it the first time.  I was right.  It probably didn’t hurt that it was my 3rd class, the Megaformer moves were less foreign, and I was able to pick up what was supposed to be happening a little more quickly.  In this class, I was totally won over by Jamie. She was sweet, helpful and had good, solid corrections. All of her sequences flowed, were really challenging, with moves that were interesting and creative. My friend, who I went to class with, has been going every day and it was completely evident. She was so strong and I had to work extra hard, not to match her skill at this method (that wasn’t going to happen) but at least to keep from making a total ass of myself. It made the class tons of fun. I like it when someone in class is so inspiring – especially when I know them!

By the end of class, I was tired and felt really challenged by the great, interesting workout. I was also really sorry that it was the last time I was going to get to do it.  It might have taken me a little while to warm up to SLT but by the end of those 3 classes, I really loved the method and think it would be an amazing addition to any workout regimen. I finally really get exactly why they have such a devoted following.  They are one of the FITiST studios, though, so next time I spring for one of their awesome 4 packs, I might just have to make my way back to SLT….

Top image & design from SuperBrutte

Natalie Uhling Pozatek & finding the love for SLT…

I finally took my second SLT class on Monday (SLT, short for Strengthen- Lengthen- Tone, is a Pilates-inspired class that uses an apparatus called the Megaformer, which is basically the standard Pilates Reformer on steroids.) This time, I took the class with Natalie Uhling Pozatek, an instructor who also teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp. I had heard some great recommendations for Natalie but the kicker was when Kira Stokes mentioned her and said that Natalie was a stickler for form too! I knew my next SLT class HAD to be with her since really, praise like that doesn’t come every day. When it comes to any workout method a form stickler for me is a good trait, but in something so new and challenging like SLT, it is an absolute necessity and that missing piece was what kept me from adoring SLT the first time I took it. I liked it a lot, but didn’t love it.

On Monday morning, I finally made it into Natalie’s class. In person, Natalie is just as stunning as she appears in all of her fitness modeling gigs but much more importantly, she is ridiculously charming and personable. She has a sweet, goofy side that made me immediately like her. Natalie is just so comfortable when she starts to teach and most importantly VERY sure of what she is teaching. Seriously, nothing charms me more than that. Charming and commanding is a hard line to walk and she does it with ease.

In SLT, like in Pilates, it makes all of the difference if you are doing the moves correctly and the moment Natalie started the class, I knew we were in good hands. Her instructions were clear, concise and with almost every move she demonstrated it long enough to make sure that we were all doing the move before hopping off and making the rounds to each of us. She was very hands-on and I LOVED her for it. The moves are really challenging in SLT and it is easy to over compensate by leaning out of alignment, but she never once let anyone of us get away with any cheat at all. She would quickly move over to anyone doing the move wrong and correct us.  Even though Natalie’s corrections made the moves a million times harder, it also made the class intense, exciting, AND a fun experience – because even though I knew I would be sore the next day, I also knew her keen eye wouldn’t let me hurt myself by doing something wrong. That is a huge big deal, if I know an instructor is really watching, correcting and intensely engaged with making sure I am doing the move right, I will do anything asked. Two days later, I was still sore (seriously there were some crazy moves that apparently hit muscles in my inner thighs that I didn’t know existed) BUT I am now completely smitten with SLT, which is exactly what I had been hoping for when I walked into class on Monday!

I can’t wait to take another class with Natalie…

Top and bottom images from SLT’s website. Middle image of Natalie Uhling Pozatek from a recent photoshoot by Coty Tarr via Natalie’s Facebook page.