By Laura Scavuzzo Wheeler
Professor of English at Long Beach City College for (can it be?) twenty years.
I’ve been scheduling in an hour of Pilates six days a week for about two years now. Because I teach English, I spend inordinate amounts of time—hours and hours every weekend in addition to moments snatched between my classes and office hours—grading essays. After a good ten hours of grading, I can feel myself transforming into a hunched gargoyle; Pilates has helped to keep my posture and mood elevated and my days balanced. Nutritionally, I aim for moderation: I cook the meals for our family nearly every night, striving to help our family eat tasty, healthy, nourishing foods. Our daughter is off at college; our son, who’s a junior in high school, is often ravenous when it’s time for dinner, having run cross country and being, of course, a teenage boy. I don’t do diets or any extreme regimens. Instead, we eat lots of Mediterranean dinners, a nod to my Italian heritage—I could never renounce carbs!—and lots of fruit and fresh veggies, which I love. An occasional indulgence—cheese, wine, dessert—is part of the pleasures of life.
As someone who grew up not playing sports but studying ballet, I find that Pilates appeals to my sense of discipline—ballet emphasizes form and control—and leaves me feeling better than when I came into the studio. Five Starr Pilates has been wonderful. Not only is it close to where I live, but its schedule allows me to manage a class after work and before I make dinner, or to come in early on Saturdays before the real day’s activities begin. The variety of instructors keeps classes from feeling routine. I am consistently amazed at the creativity the instructors bring to their approaches—some emphasize breathing and form and classical Pilates moves, others more athletic conditioning and cardiovascular challenges.
My running days are, I think, past—I find the notion of running uninspiring now that I seem to develop shin splints!—and intense training that involves my being yelled at has never been appealing. But Pilates offers me an avenue to fitness that I can sustain, and I can feel the ways in which I’ve grown stronger as I’ve made Pilates a consistent part of my routine. Once it’s scheduled, my time in Pilates becomes part of my day, and even when I’m exhausted on my way to class, I’m always glad I’ve gone as we finish and stretch. I’ve been inspired to see my classmates in Pilates who have been doing this form of exercise for many more years than I have, and I hope to be able to keep up my flexibility, strength, and balance for years to come as a result of this practice.