Fitness Fridays: Personal Attention from Pilates O Ka La Studio

Stretch and strengthen, without strain.

You could say that you and strenuous exercise have a tense relationship. In fact, you couldn't be more rigid about how you work out. Weight lifting? No way. Sprinting? Uh uh. You, at Crossfit? Ha! Talk about a stretch.

We feel your pain (and not just because we've got that next-day muscle ache). That's why we sought out Pilates instructor Chelsea Peck at the newly opened Pilates O Ka La studio for some one-on-one time.

And with our totally taut muscles? We'll go out on a limber here and say we really needed it.

What it is:
O Ka La offers instruction for individuals or groups of two. You can have as heavy and hardcore or as slow and focused a workout as you want with that type of special attention. Pilates draws from yoga, dance, martial arts and gymnastics, with the addition of a versatile spring-based apparatus that can be adjusted to accommodate various strength, flexibility and health levels. Use the apparatus to assist you with crunches, push against them with your leg lifts, or angle them to give you that perfect stretch. Weights aren't involved—just the resistance on the springs—so there is less strain on joints, and muscles become lean, not bulky. Pilates focuses on core strengthening, whole body movement, breathing, balanced muscle development, concentration, control, centering, precision and rhythm.

Our reaction:
"We're going to get strapped into THAT thing? Wait a minute, this feel awesome!"

Sweat meter:
The session alternated between us getting our butts kicked with strength-training moves against the apparatus and focusing more on breathing into a just-out-of-reach stretch. Because Peck can adjust the workout, how sweaty you get depends on what you want and how much your body can take. Once we get ourselves limbered up, we're sure we could kick the sweat meter up into some pretty high gear, especially since her California-style brand of Pilates is a bit more intense than many other instructors on the island—if you want it to be.

We love the amazing stretch combined with the core work. In fact, our leg muscles felt like they had just been given a good massage. The machines really helped us target those tense parts of our legs more than we could have on a mat.
Go in pairs to get a discount!
Communicate. Looking to get more flexible? Let the instructor know. Trying to recover after an injury or experiencing back problems? Pilates is perfect for physical therapy because of the low-strain, customizable aspect of the machines.
It's a bit of a fitness splurge, but we definitely want to incorporate it into our regimen after feeling ourselves work and stretch our muscles more thoroughly. If you're looking for a targeted, in-depth, individualized workout, this could be worth the money you'd spend going to generic workout classes and crossing your fingers that you're engaging the right muscles.

$75 for a 45-minute private session or $210 for three sessions as part of Pilates O Ka La's grand opening specials. Check out for duo pricing. 3150 Monsarrat Ave., Suite 202, 772-3172. Sessions available Mondays–Fridays, 6 a.m.–8 p.m., and weekends and holidays, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.