Health & Wellness

Learning the Ropes (and Bends) of Pilates in Warren

Working out doesn't have to be boring


On my very extensive “things I have common with Jennifer Aniston” list, I can now add that when it comes to Pilates, we both prefer the classical Apparatus method. I was introduced to this strengthening yet gentle exercise method by my personal trainer, which is something that I also sort of have in common with Jenny A, since I technically had a personal trainer at True Balance Pilates for about 55 minutes during my private session there.

Before my first experience with the classical method, my Pilates history involved group classes with mats, bouncy balls and stretchy bands. Never really knowing if I was in the correct position at any point during the exercise, I preferred to place my mat in the last row, just out of the instructor’s line of sight. It was more like Chill-lates. Therefore, I was nervous about having a one-on-one session for an entire hour.

Upon meeting Jill Cuzzone, the owner/instructor at True Balance Pilates, I was immediately put at ease by her calming persona combined with her sunny, open-air studio. I had a strong feeling that I was not going to be scrutinized too harshly or told to drop and give her 40 if I performed a motion incorrectly. Jill went over the exercise plan she had put together for me and described each apparatus that we would use during our session. She also filled me in on the history and origins of Pilates. Founder Joseph Pilates (and yes, the Rhode Islander in me loves that Pilates was created by a guy named Joe Pilates), was quite an interesting man. During WWI he aided in rehabilitating wounded soldiers, turning their hospital beds into exercise machines by attaching springs. He also preferred to exercise in his underwear, while his wife wore a full nurse’s uniform. Sounds like he would have loved him some Lululemon.

One of the first things I had noticed walking into the studio were wooden structures, which resembled rowing machines combined with Ikea bunk beds. I would learn that these fabulous contraptions were spring-loaded Pilates apparatuses called “Reformers.” They were capable of a wide range of exercises as well as tension relief for the entire body, with virtually no undue pain or stress caused. This is one of the reasons why they are so popular with elite dancers. Since I’ve been cutting a serious rug to Sister Sledge and all the wedding classics these past few weeks, I desperately needed a good calf stretch myself.

Naturally, my favorite part was that each exercise could be accomplished by either sitting or lying down, without ever feeling too repetitive. Jill was also very mindful of each exercise position, making sure I was correctly executing each motion in order to get the maximum gain with the least amount of discomfort. Jill even taught me the ability to “jump” while lying down, which is way more fun and way less jiggly than the real deal. I learned that one of the greatest benefits of Pilates is that each motion can be adjusted, making it possible for people with injuries, chronic pain or limited physical capability that want to exercise comfortably able to do so.

Feeling refreshed, recharged and reformed, it was now time for some Redcord! Not a video streaming service nor part of Christian Grey’s repertoire, Redcord is a Norwegian exercise method using ropes and suspension for a fierce upper body and core workout. Jill went a little easy on me here, because I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to anything involving planks and pushups towards the end of a workout. However, I can imagine this would be a great way to tone up before Summer 2017, so I’ve got eight months to procrastinate.

In addition to private sessions, Jill also offers semi-private sessions and small group circuit training. She’ll gladly tailor each exercise to fit your physical needs, and she also offers other Pilates apparatus such as the Wunda Chair and Barrel, as well as Pilates Mat classes. I highly suggest a private session for the first time experience to become familiar with the equipment, new exercise methods and also because having your own personal trainer (albeit for only an hour) is awesome. Who said you couldn’t do Pilates while pampering yourself?

True Balance Pilates
8 State Street, Warren