Patience with Pilates

Mabel Sieh

Designed to lengthen and strengthen the body, Pilates has many benefits for your health

Mabel Sieh |

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Mabel Sieh gets to grips with Pilates at Options Studio, Central, with the help of instructor David Claase.

After my less-than-10-minutes of fame on Young Post's YouTube Olympic series, where I received some gymnastics tips from a professional coach last year, I decided to continue my sporting stardom.

I volunteered to try Pilates, and was lucky to find a friendly certified instructor, David Claase, at Options Studio in Central. Before being trained in Pilates, David was a professional ballet dancer. He danced with a ballet company in his native South Africa, and also with Hong Kong Ballet.

David's qualifications gave me a big dose of confidence as I stepped into the studio with all the funny-looking equipment, including the "cadillac" and the "reformer".

First, David told me about the origin of Pilates. "Pilates was founded by a German named Joseph Pilates, hence the name, in the early 20th century," says the 33-year-old. "It was originally for people who had suffered from an injury. It helped them to maintain their health while in hospital.

"It is still very relevant today because it helps to lengthen your spine and strengthen your muscles, which works wonders for Hongkongers who have to work long hours every day in the office, sitting in a contracted position. The exercises help counteract many problems."

On that note, I felt ready to try out the apparatus in front of me - the "cadillac", which looked a bit like a torture machine!

But David eased my tension with his clear, step-by-step instructions: sit down with my tailbone straight; put my hands on the "arms spring" and place my feet against the poles. I then extend my arms and curl my back as I lie down slowly.

Gradually, I could see what David meant by "lengthening and strengthening" my body parts - I felt wonderful!

David says many students feel the same when they try out the exercise, and become hooked on Pilates. "When your body agrees with the movements, you feel great," he says.

And the benefits go far beyond just making you flexible. "When you develop a strong core in your body, your other senses also benefit," he says. "You're more able to think and concentrate at work, and can sit longer without feeling pain."

I then moved onto the "reformer" and worked on stretching my thighs and legs, trying to balance myself while moving my legs away from each other.

The slow motion needed for each of the steps made everything 10 times harder than it looked. To add to the challenge, I had to remember how to move in certain ways, to create the right kinds of effects for my body. It was a test of physical and mental strength.

Despite the effort, I had a great, fun workout. I couldn't think of any other exercise I'd done that was so relaxing and enjoyable, while also being demanding on the brain and personally satisfying.

When David told me I had done a wonderful job as a new student, I knew I couldn't ask for more.

Special thanks to Options Studio (Central)

The cadillac

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