Fuse Pilates Fans: Liza & Andrew Strelka

We must admit that we get a special sense of (slightly sadistic) pleasure when one of our female students brings a male friend or significant other to class for the first time. As we’ve discussed on our blog here (and here, and here…), there’s still a stereotype that Pilates is for women, and there’s nothing we find more satisfying than shattering stereotypes one teaser at a time.

For the record: Pilates is for women — super fit and hardcore women like Liza Key Strelka, the star of this month’s student testimonial. Liza has been a Fuse devotee since we opened our doors in 2011, and she loved it so much that she shared her love of Fuse with her husband, Andrew. He finally agreed to give us a try, and took Mariska’s famous Pilates for Men workshop as an introduction to all things Fuse.

In this interview Liza shares her story of overcoming both a knee injury and workout fatigue from classes that didn’t challenge her, and Andrew describes his first experience with not-so-girly Pilates.

Fuse Pilates Student Testimonials Liz and Andrew

Couples that sweat (and selfie) together, stay together.


Had you done Pilates before you came to Fuse?
I had done a a fair amount of Pilates classes before coming to Fuse and enjoyed the stretching and strengthening they offered, but I found them repetitive and slightly boring. The same moves, the same sequence, and no music to push me through those harder moves! I would get bored of the routine and stop going every few months.

What did you expect from your first class and how did your experience compare to that?
I wasn’t sure what to expect my first Fuse class (which was a Toys class, no less), but the combination of a workout tailored by request and great music was really revolutionary to me. After I attended a few classes and realized that each class is COMPLETELY different depending on requests and teachers, I was hooked.

Pilates with Props

Toys can make mat work even more fun. It's why they're called Toys!

What about Fuse Pilates made you feel like you had found your fitness studio “home”?
First, the teachers. I’ve never been in a studio or gym that was so in tune with their clients’ needs and limitations, or worked so hard to adapt a workout to each individual. All of the teachers exude positive energy, knowledge of anatomy, love of music, and a slight mean streak with their extreeeemely slow counting during repetitions.

Second, the variety of classes. I enjoy both mat and machine classes and switch up the schedule as much as possible to keep my body guessing.

Pilates Reformer Classes in DC

Mix up your mat routine with a machine class. Check out this move on the Tower that works upper back, arms, abs, glutes and legs in a single exercise!

Third, the location. I’m lucky that the Dupont studio is less than a block from my office, making it really difficult to find a good excuse NOT to workout.

What made you want to introduce Andrew to Fuse?
I benefited personally from the overall strengthening offered by Fuse. When I first started going to classes, I was having hip and knee issues due to running. After visiting a doctor and hearing that my knee pain was do to a lack of strength in my hips and legs, I decided to augment physical therapy with Fuse. Since starting Fuse 3.5 years ago, my knees have been completely pain-free. I knew that Andy, who has a lingering elbow injury from a bike accident 5 years ago and general “sitting at a desk all day old man aches”, would also benefit from Fuse.

How has Pilates changed your body/self?
I think the main way Fuse has changed me is in my concept of strength and health. For a while my only workout was running, logging miles and miles a week, and I thought I was fit. I had a rude awakening during those first Fuse classes as I struggled to do a roll up because I had no real core strength. And planks were even worse. Fast forward three years and they are two of my favorite exercises. Fuse has given me a more holistic view of fitness, and now I know the importance of both cardio and strength training to prevent injuries and stay hardcore.

Pilates DC Strength

Yes, planks can be fun!


How did Liza approach you about trying Pilates? Why did you agree to try it out?
Like most things, Liza probably mentioned it about five or six times until I finally realized that she was right. I was suffering from an old college football injury…okay, not really…my neck and back hurt from sitting at a desk 12 hours a day. With just one day a week of Fuse to supplement my normal exercise, I’m inoculated to old man injuries and my weekly running has increased without harm.

Office Posture

Desk posture looks painful. It feels even worse. Pilates can help.

Can you explain a little bit about your first Fuse experience and how it met or differed with what you expected it to be?
I had tried Pilates once, maybe a year or two before. Except for the instructor’s hilarious wardrobe malfunction, it was a disaster. My Fuse experience was completely different. Mariska customized my experience, making it challenging but not discouraging. I’d say that statement continues to apply to each class I’ve been to since.

What was the most surprising or interesting aspect of Mariska’s Pilates for Men workshop?
I suppose I had always associated Pilates with reformers or with that odd plastic ring that appeared on Liza’s side of the closet one day. I had not really realized that you could get an extremely challenging workout just using a mat – something I had always associated with yoga. The mat classes are solid workouts – without chanting, sitars, or 110 degree rooms.

Fuse Pilates Toys Class

That odd ring is called a Magic Circle, and yes, it looks a little like a tiny torture device.

What tips would you give to other men who are considering Pilates for the first time?
Don’t be afraid to tell the instructor and the people next to you that it’s your first time. You’re only competing with yourself so everyone else can only help you. There are also no magic position names to learn like “downward facing barking cat” – the instructor will tell you in plain English what body parts to move and where. Also, clip your toenails. No one wants to see that.

Fuse Pilates for Beginners

Everyone is a beginner at some point.

Sweat together, stay together. Challenge yourself and your better half with one of our mat classes or our tough new ladder class at Fuse on 14th. Want to learn more before you jump in? Get more student perspective here

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Posted in Back Pain, Fuse Ambassadors, Fuse Pilates, Pilates, Pilates DC, Pilates for Men, Student Perspective and tagged , , , , , , , ,

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