Beautcamp Pilates: A man coming out of his comfort zone, in more ways than one.
Pilates, in some ways, is to men in 2010, what mineral water was in the later half of the 80’s. As Evian was a semiotic marker to a deviant embracing of femininity, as is, some of the more ill-informed amongst us will argue, Pilates.
Even I, the self-confessed ‘new man’ – I once wore man-scara in the late 90’s – struggled to find peace with the notion, prior to my inauguration. I specifically remember my mind trying to access some cult reference as to make sense of it all.
It was Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Impact, where at the beginning of the movie he’s in an L.A. gym in pink spandex teaching toned females how to do the splits. Ok, so that’s what it’s like. Fine, easy, I can do that.
LA has more pertinence here than I might otherwise have given myself credit for. It is from here that Beautcamp finds its provenance. The discipline was developed and mastered by Sebastian Lagree; a ponytailed, continental ex-pat with his own online TV channel, Sebastien TV. Oddly, a man that wouldn’t seem out of place as the bad guy in 80’s action flick, starring say, Mr Van Damme.
It rapidly gained fashionable impetus and became the must-do, must-have exercise regime to achieve that coveted celeb-style physique. Indeed it was and remains to be lauded by a number of Hollywood’s glitterati.
Seeing potential in the idea, Ex TV producer Dominique Day brought the classes to the UK and set up shop in Westbourne Park. And it is Westbourne Park, I visited.
Knowing well what I did about my body – that I have the equivalent fitness and flexibility of John Prescott on Boxing Day – I knew this wasn’t going to be Grazia magazine and a pedicure, but tough, nah.
A short warm up gave way to 50 minutes of intense, sustained physical exercise. True to the traditional mantra of Pilates, the exercise was focussed on the core – abs, back, bum, groin and pelvic floor.
Under this transmuted form though, we made use of purpose built benches which permit the isolated training of muscle groups and a range of otherwise impossible, gyrotonic exercises. Gyrotonic, contrary to me thinking it being the preferred beverage of the unemployed – get it? – is a system that offers three dimensional, circular movements, typically enacted in swimming and gymnastics.
Amongst the in-house quips of our pain inducing pied piper, we were ordered to crunch, lunge, stretch, twist, hold, drop, lift, shut up, stop slacking, start breathing and so on. With little or no time for repose we moved from one toning torture to the next.
Ok, I was wrong, this was hell. With five minutes to go, I looked up. There were 20 sweating, grunting bodies, all creased expressions of pain, all going what I was going through. No-one spoke, the jokes dried up. It became a fight to the finish line.
Done, thank God. Within minutes of finishing I felt astoundingly different. I felt well. I was in a good mood, I was actually chatty and I almost convinced myself I could go it again. Perhaps next week, I conceded.
This, if you haven’t already deduced, is not your token paint-imaginary-heart-shapes-in-the-sky yummy mummy nonsense book club. The evidence or warning, I guess, is in the neologised title.
This is a thorough physical work-out that develops and strengthens parts of your body that would typically go undeveloped. I know this first hand. I’ve been going for six weeks now and I unequivocally feel stronger and more physically able. As is true with most exercise, the knock-on effects to your mental wellbeing are also patent.
Subsequent to this first session, I’ve mixed things up with the co-ed classes and whilst they are less focussed on pumping the muscles you come away feeling no less exercised.
Next week I’m going to the advanced class – idiot – I’ll let you know how I get on.
In any case, now I can now hold my head high and say yes gentlemen, I do Pilates – Well, uh, I mean, Turbo-Van-Damme-Man-Mechanics, sorry.
Like what you see? Share and save