Yoga’s evil twin unveiled

A few months ago I decided to master yoga. By “mastering it” I mean I went to a few classes, moaned in what I called “victory pain” and my instructor called “too distracting.” I understood. It was probably annoying to have someone who just started be so perfect at something she spent years attempting to perfect. She was also not very “Namaste” about my impromptu positions where I’d freeze in various Charlie’s Angels poses.

Figuring I’d step it up a notch, I enrolled in pilates. I was told it was a bit more “up tempo” than yoga, which I figured I could handle after seeing all of the older women enrolled. In fact, it was mostly women.

“Are you in the right class?” one skeptical woman asked me.

I could’ve responded with a courteous, “Why yes!” but I didn’t like her attitude. Instead, I pulled out my American flag sweatband and put it on without breaking eye contact, thus communicating that I, in fact, was incredibly unprepared and probably going to die.

Our instructor, Satan, was a petite, jovial lady in her mid-50s who, judging by her far-too-tight and brightly-colored Spandex outfit, looked like she was a recently-retired trapeze artist. It wouldn’t have shocked me if she routinely dove from a tightrope into a tiny cup of soy milk. When she wasn’t teaching pilates she probably had a similar job whipping wealthy businessmen.

Of course her name wasn’t actually Satan, though that quickly became my nickname for her because she made me do rigorous things like stretching.

Once we were all gathered, Satan instructed us to retrieve the yoga mats. I was dismayed that pilates didn’t have their own type of mat. Get your act together, pilates. Stop living off of yoga’s coattails. As I unrolled the mat I noted it had the thickness and cushion of a flour tortilla. Of course this made me want tacos, instantly putting me in a worse mood because I doubted the session ended with them. If anything it would end with a bowl of rice noodles or a towel floating in lotus water that we weren’t even allowed to smell.

Being the ONLY male in the class, I felt particularly creepy putting my mat next to anyone, fearing they would instantly think I took this class specifically to hit on them.

“Where are you going?” Satan asked, sweetly, as I started dragging my mat towards the bathrooms.

“Oh you know, back here,” I replied. “Don’t worry about me. As long as nobody flushes I’ll be able to hear you just fine.”

“Nonsense,” she replied. “Come up here.”

Reluctantly I returned to the class and unrolled my mat next to a lady.

“I’m married,” I greeted her, apologetically.

“Ohkay?” she replied, devastated.

Whoever decided to schedule the class after lunch has a date with my garden hose. Not long after we began stretching did I realize what I was doing to my body was like trying to deflate an air mattress. My concern mounted the more we did, effectively agitating an already unstable element. As tightly as I was clenching I could’ve easily dangled a pair of pugs between my cheeks.

I quickly learned one of the basic rules of pilates: you’re not supposed to do something if it hurts. However you’re not doing it completely right unless it does. It was like competing in a frantic game of Simon Says mixed with Twister, where the object was to not die.

“Be sure to breathe at impossible intervals!” Satan would call out. “Like during your exhale, actually inhale. Make sense?”

Everyone nodded like it made complete sense.

Twenty minutes later my abs were burning, my legs were tingling and I couldn’t see straight. “This can’t be right,” I thought, trying not to die. “I’m just doing pilates! And these women beside me are barely breaking a sweat!”

The only way I could get a break between stupid exercises was to fake pass out, which I thought I did rather convincingly seeing as though I actually did. The worst part about passing out in pilates class is waking up and realizing it isn’t over yet. That’s because it’s never over and you’re actually in hell.

“Kelly? Are you OK?” Satan asked when she noticed I wasn’t moving.

“Probably not.”

“Do I need to call someone for you?”

“Yes. My mom. Tell her I love her and you’re the one that killed me.”

“Very funny. You can do it. Here, sit up and hold this impossible position for four hours. See? Johanna has been here holding it since she was six.”

Against what my body was saying I sat up. Of course that’s when the air mattress valve sprung a leak.

“Johanna!” I scolded, turning to another lady. “Some people, am I right?”


Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative and marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via his place of inner peace, which is a kiddie pool full of jelly beans. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny so you can move him around to his important engagements all Weekend at Bernie’s style because he’s so sore he can’t move.