Stacey Margaret Jones: The Fitness Odyssey Continues

I went on a fitness odyssey with Angel to help her find her fitness fit, the activity that will be for her what running has been for me.

And what is running to me? It’s the activity that, while keeping me healthy and strong, is also the thing I love so much. When I’m out for a run, I have a reflexive guilty feeling, as if I’ve skipped work to go to a movie in the middle of the day.

Happily, this shared fitness odyssey is helping me find new activities I enjoy and also see more good in the activities I already love.

Angel decided to try Jazzercise with me several weeks ago before I scaled back on everything in my tapering weeks before the Little Rock Marathon. She gave me a review.

“My legs were super sore,” she said, remembering how she felt after the 60-minute workout. She mentioned it was more difficult than she expected it to be. “But I really liked it!”

“Being in a room full of other people brought out my competitive drive to try to do every move correctly … without slacking or cheating. And the hour flew by as I was concentrating on the moves. By the time I thought to look at the clock, the class was nearly over,” she said.

She doesn’t like that it’s not convenient to her house, and the morning class time at 8:50 doesn’t work with her schedule, but she wants to try other times on the weekends and the afternoons, because she enjoyed it and worked hard.

“I’m looking forward to trying Zumba and other things, too, but right now, Jazzercise is a winner for flexibility, reasonable price and a hard workout!” she said, assessing the experience overall.

Because I liked my original experience at the Pilates Studio of Little Rock, I went back for a reformer class with my friend Brooke.

The reformer is an apparatus used in the class to support the fitness goals of Pilates, which, according to Wikipedia, include building flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, improving spinal and pelvic alignment, coordination and breathing. Participants use the machine for resistance and flexibility workouts in various positions.

I absolutely loved the reformer class and I preferred it to the mat class I attended initially, though I see how they are both important to advance. I found that the reformer really allows the user to make the most of the movements, regardless of limitations in flexibility – this is something runners can struggle with, because that interminable pounding down the roads for miles and miles can make muscles pretty tight and short.

Brooke said she likes Pilates in general because there are only seven to ten reps of all the movements, “which is so refreshing after working with a trainer who made me do what felt like hundreds of lunges!” She also likes the benefits of the classes. “My muscles look long and lean, instead of bulking up.”

She noted that for Pilates to really work, you must have proper form, and that’s why she, too, likes the reformer classes. “The apparatus offers resistance training but makes it easier to maintain form, so it works and really changes your body into that pretty dancer body (ideally), like the instructor’s.”

As a Reluctant Athlete, I’m so happy I tried more than one iteration of Pilates, and I’m hoping to recruit more friends to running and Jazzercise. Angel and I have other plans for her odyssey: cycling weather is just around the corner!

Stacey Margaret Jones, M.S., APR, (@sharkushka) is a market research consultant and a member of the inaugural class of the Arkansas Writers MFA program at the University of Central Arkansas. She lives in Conway with her Chaucerian husband. Jones, a South Dakota native, does not play team sports, unless you consider cocktailing a competitive event.

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