Exercise changing views of working out

By Gary Brode | gbrode@wcia.com

Published 07/06 2014 10:38PM

Updated 07/08 2014 11:00AM

CHAMPAIGN -- You'll need concentration, controlled breathing, and core. This is a workout anyone can learn to do, but it's no walk in the park. Pilates is changing people's view of exercising.

"If you really dive in deep to the work, it can be very therapeutic as well as a kick-butt workout," said trainer Elizabeth Gehrt.

For more than a century, exercise enthusiasts have been using Pilates to strengthen the body from the inside out.

"It's a method that was designed to stretch, strengthen the use of control through different exercise movements to elongate the muscles and strengthen the core," explained Gehrt.

It's sometimes confused with a different type of stretching exercise.

"Yoga is non-apparatus based," said Gehrt. "It's traditionally done on a mat. While we do ofter mat classes in Pilates, how we differ is that we are not holding the poses necessarily."

At first, Gehrt was like many, tired of her old ways of training and looking for a new way to stay in shape. It didn't take long before she found her passion.

"I was always athletic, but I needed something that kind of changed from the weight lifting to the running," said Ghert. "I walked in one day, signed up for lessons, and it totally changed my outlook on how to work out."

Ghert now trains others, like Cathleen Conlin at the Dulak Pilates Center, downtown.

"I was rather stunned by how much physical work goes into this," said Conlin. "If you watch it, you don't think a lot is happening."

She wasn't the only one. It might look simple, but it's far from it.

"I don't feel like I'm doing calisthenics, so I don't feel like I'm going to the gym and repeating things," said Conlin. "I'm constantly adjusting, moving, working with my breath."

No matter your age, sex or ability, Ghert says Pilates can really be for anyone.

"This is the only form of workout that I do. I don't run, I don't lift weights," said Ghert. "It's low-impact and there's no pounding on the body whatsoever."

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