Don’t be scared of the Pilates chair…

Fuse Ambassador Melissa Sharp gives us her review of Fuse Pilates Chair classes, including what initially kept her away in this guest blog post... I’ll admit it. The first time I saw the chair apparatus I was pretty intimidated. I’m new to Pilates, took my first Pilates class ever at Fuse this summer, so wasn’t sure I had enough experience to tackle a chair class. Fuse-Mariska-01-300x199I think it had to do with the fact that in the mat or (most of the time) in the reformer classes, you are lying down. When you are supported by the floor or the reformer machine there’s no chance of falling. With the chair, the sheer possibility of demonstrating to everyone else in the class that my core might not be strong enough to balance my body weight on the apparatus, well, that made me a bit hesitant to give it a shot. After hearing several Fuse Pilates students and teachers rave about it, I decided I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about. Really, how scary can it be? Sure I might not be able to do every exercise perfectly (or even anywhere close to perfect) but that’s a lousy reason to keep me from trying a fun class. Plus, from the vibe of all the other classes I’ve tried at the Playground, I knew Fuse wasn’t one of those snooty studios where I’d feel like everyone was judging me if my form needed some work. The goal is to be challenged in a fun environment, right? I love trying new things so might as well give the chair class a shot. I went for it, and here’s what I discovered. I was initially scared of falling off of the chair because there are a number of exercises where you are draped over the chair in one way or another, but I soon learned that you are in positions where you can always catch yourself by putting your feet on the ground if necessary. If you need a quick break to readjust yourself, that’s totally fine. Make the adjustment, and then rejoin the exercise. No one cares at all. Trust me the exercises are intense, which means that everyone is concentrating on their own abs, not yours. My second favorite thing about the chair is that I can see improvement in my technique right away. During my first class, when Mariska told us to try and hold the pedal still at about half way down, I thought she was crazy. My legs were shaking through the entire exercise, and I was unsure which muscles to exactly use to gain more control over the pedal. But the more chair classes I take, the better I’m becoming at controlling the apparatus. I can tell I’m getting stronger because I’m not shaking as much, and I can use my muscles to hold the pedal steady. That might seem like a small accomplishment, but it’s a fun one that is easy to recognize. Once you start seeing progress, you want to keep showing up to class to see what exercises you can master next. Speaking of progress, let’s talk about the illustrious pike exercises on the chair. There are various versions but the traditional one is the exercise you see being demonstrated on the website (the one I thought seemed pretty advanced and probably out of my reach). In the pike position you are standing on the pedal, bending forward looking at your abs, and balancing yourself on your arms. You have to fight to find your lower abdominal muscles and use them to lift your hips and legs so that the pedal can float up. My first attempt at this, I thought I was going to fall on my head. It’s an awkward position, but the teachers can spot you (don't hesitate to ask!). And once you get the hang of it, you understand what your body is supposed to do. It is still extremely challenging for me, but every time I find my lower abs and the pedal rises up, I’m pumped at what I’ve accomplished. It’s such a fun exercise; it is hard core, and it allows you to really measure your success. For me, that’s why I love Fuse, and it’s why I’m now taking at least one chair class a week. So for everyone else out there who hasn’t tried a chair class, I dare you to sign up for one. I promise you won’t be disappointed with the results.   We can tell you from our teachers' perspectives that Melissa is really rocking it in Chair classes these days. If you want to give Chair a go, there's the Test drive class option, apprentice classes for half price, and for the rest of October, enter the discount code CHAIR at checkout when you buy any package for a free chair class!

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