When I started taking Pilates classes a year ago I didn’t imagine I would one day be participating in a photo shoot for Alvin Ailey. Okay, for The Ailey Extension.
That’s what Dan and I found ourselves doing yesterday evening. Our Pilates instructor, Sarita, cleverly ensured that we would participate in the shoot by telling us “you two always look good” when she invited us.
Dame Joan Bakewell, the British journalist and television presenter, turned me on to Pilates. I watched her in a 2010 interview in which she verified that she was 76 and was asked “What’s the secret to you looking so good?” In part, she attributed it to doing Pilates twice a week for 18 years, and she swears by it.
Upon hearing Joan’s secret, I told myself “I could do that” — but I didn’t. Not for quite a while at least.
It was when we accompanied Nicole to an audition at Alvin Ailey that I learnt about the “extension” where they offer “Real classes for real people.” Oh, people like me, I thought.
Once I experienced the high level of energy inside the Alvin Ailey building, on the corner of 55th and 9th, I thought it would be fun to do Pilates there.
It took me quite a while to get into the Pilates groove. While it doesn’t appear strenuous, it is. I spent the afternoon following my first class crashed out on our sofa.
I remember my first class well. I was the only guy amidst a group of women whose ages range from twenty-something to seventy-something. Most, if not all, of them had being taking the class for some time. As the class is for people of all levels, I followed Sarita as best I could and went with the flow.
When I arrived the following week Sarita commented that she and some of the regulars had just been speculating as to whether I would return for a second class. I’m glad I did return.
Since starting Pilates I have gained greater balance and flexibility, and I always feel good after a class. The benefits were most noticeable when I went skiing earlier this year and was able to pick up where I left off eight years before. That was very satisfying.
I am no longer the only guy in the class. Dan started attending a few weeks after me and is experiencing similar benefits. Sometimes other guys attend the class as well.
We had fun at the shoot, and while I don’t expect to attain the levels of balance and flexibility that Alvin Ailey did, I am very grateful we have the opportunity to enjoy the facilities that bear his name.
live. enjoy. repeat.