Pilates is a form of strength training that focuses on the core stability muscles (abs and back). I've been doing some pilates moves as part of my physical therapy for the past few years, but my therapist was pushing me to do even more. Last year she suggested I find a studio and join a group mat class and try to go twice a week.
A lot of towns don't have pilates studios, but San Francisco is filled with them. They are easy to find, but definitely not easy to add to your budget. On average a walk-in class can cost anywhere from $15-$20 and a month long pass only discounts it by $5/session or so. This was not something I could take on right when my therapist mentioned it, but around Christmas time I found a Groupon for a studio not far from work that made it totally affordable!
I've gone to three classes so far and I really enjoy them. One of them was a "Pilates with Props" class which which uses weights and other toys to engage the core for a good workout. The other class I've tried was pretty intense but fun. It's called "Booty Barre." It involved a lot of plie squats and work at the ballet barre (or bar for those less dance-oriented folks like myself). There were so many moments where my legs were shaking and I thought, I can't do this! But I did! And by the end, or rather, when it was all over, I felt really great. Definitely a challenge from my booty.
I'm hoping to go twice a week for two more weeks and use up the pass I bought. Then we'll see what happens -- if I can continue it at full price or find another studio offering a great deal.
Adding these pilates sessions to my routine of bike-commuting to work and going to the gym after work has been a little challenging, but I've been able to make it work. I feel more fit than I have in a long time.