As Graceful As a Peg Legged Ballerina

As Graceful As a Peg Legged Ballerina

My friend Lauren (who as of now I shall dub “L2” because I have another friend named Lauren whom I met before this one, and I don’t want to confuse all ten of you Mediocre Athlete readers whenever I talk about the other one) had taken a ballet Pilates class in the fall and urged me to take it again with her this winter. I had mentioned in my yoga post how I had tried Pilates once before and thought it was lame, but I’m generally a good sport about trying new things (plus I need blogging material for this site), so I agreed to take the class with her and her friend.

The class is supposed to be a mix of basic ballet and Pilates stretches, so I went in with the expectation that I’d be a wobbly, awkward mess since I am extremely clumsy and uncoordinated. (Seriously, ask Jason how often I drop something, spill on myself, run into things and trip over imaginary objects on a daily basis. The answer is “often.” The other day he just about died laughing after I squirted butterscotch all over my pants.) I arrived to class and saw that, unsurprisingly, the group of girls who were signed up were all wearing either yoga pants or ballet leotards, tights and ballet shoes. I, of course, was wearing a muddy pair of running shoes, athletic socks, running shorts and a sleeveless shirt. I dejectedly peeled my shoes and socks off, sighing about how sticky the worn wood floors felt under my bare feet.

The instructor began the class by having us all hold onto the bar and do little squat thingies down towards the ground. We were supposed to stand with the heels of our feet pointed towards each other and our toes in opposite directions, kind of like Charlie Chaplin. Or a penguin. I dunno. We then did a series of awkward ballet stretches that were in 2nd position or something. I didn’t know what any of these ballet terms were. The only French I know is whatever I can remember from ten weeks of seventh grade foreign language class and that one song from The Little Mermaid.

Anyway, the rest of the class pretty much consisted of the teacher explaining something for thirty seconds and then making us do some ridiculous ten step process immediately afterwards. Remember that episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy’s assembling chocolates on a conveyor belt, but then the belt speeds up so she can’t keep up? That’s pretty much how I felt trying to follow the teacher’s directions. It was a lot of “point your toes, pull in your stomach, straighten your leg.” Every so often I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I often looked bewildered and vaguely irritated, and the stuffy studio and piano player weren’t helping. (Yes, a woman plays piano next to us during class while the instructor tries to talk over her. No, she wasn’t playing ragtime. Yes, I wish she were.)

L2 and Chelsea asked me how I liked ballet Pilates after our first class finished up. They seemed amused with my reluctance and told me that they felt equally clunky and awkward when they took it in the fall. However, apparently they became much more flexible at the end of the class, so hopefully I’ll at least get some benefit out of skipping across the room and pretending to feel graceful. At the very least, my favorite falafel place is right across the street so I can always reward my efforts with a jumbo gyro and rice (which I did tonight).

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