house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Pilates por Pilar

I'm back from a Pilates class at the fitness centre across the road. It is one of those places so bright and modern you feel shabby, awkward and horribly obese as soon as you walk through the door. Light and colour flood every wall, fill every corner. Fitness equipment lines each room and spills into the hallways. The receptionist, I would imagine, could have a full workout between handing out locker keys...

The place also has a sauna and a Turkish bath. It offers water massages, wraps and tanning. Fitness classes take place in a room lined in mirrors; one of them magically turns into a drawer and all kinds of colourful gadgets (read tools of torture) pop out when required. The changing rooms are cosy and gleaming and there is no place to hide. Is this a small town gym or the Spaceship Enterprise?

At nine a.m. the place is deserted, which is the main reason I stay. The sight of young perfect people doing whatever they need to do to stay young and perfect forever would probably send me spinning out the door.

The Pilates teacher waits in the hallway and kisses all her clients, me included. The class starts and I have no idea what she is saying. She has a cold and her voice is gone, but that's not it. Suddenly I get it: she is Spanish, she speaks Spanish. Not Galego which, really, is Portuguese spoken loudly with a strong Spanish accent. No, she speaks pure Castilian and yet everyone acts as if nothing could be more normal.

Have you ever been to a fitness class in Newcastle or Norwich where the teacher nattered instructions in Norse? No? Me neither. Yet here I am, in Portugal, trying to follow a Pilates class delivered in Spanish, and not one of the Portuguese pupils bats an eyelid. At some point one of them makes a joke about Pilar not having ever learned Portuguese and they all giggle and get on with it. Clearly they know some code words and moves, and they adore Pilar.

I'm glad Pilates is such a gentle, slow routine. Sure, I fell off the gym ball and got a neck cramp from peeking at what the others were doing, but I did manage to keep up and even earned a “muy bien” from Pilar.

At the end of the class she gave each of her pupils a little massage and they seemed to sink into their mats and fall into a deep sleep. When she stopped at my side, it all became clear: my hour of puzzled and painful Pilates petered away as Pilar plied a small portion of pleasure onto my shoulders and I happily dived into my own little trance. That sealed it: from now on I'm here twice a week, to do Pilates with Pilar.


At 4 December 2008 at 00:35 , Blogger Magnus said...

Tell me if you get this comment in your comment box. I think you need some. Your words are like the Minho, flowing and rich. (Easy-going too like the dragon).
Why does nobody comment? Where are your fans now?
This is great stuff. I am hooked, but maybe that's because i was there, and see the funnyness second time round.
Keep going. You don't need photos. They will detract. I'll do the photos thing, just tell me which ones, where, how, when. So all i really have to do is clik a few times.
Far too late to be up talking about this so i'm off to bed.
bon noite (aha, so they use this for both good evening and night night. an interchangable night time goodie)


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