Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Class #68 Pilates Tuesday 5:30 p.m. (Jackie)

There are eight Pilates classes on our weekly schedule and tonight’s class makes my sixth one on the quest. What makes this class unique and interesting for me though is the teacher. I’ve known Jackie Roberts for about twenty years. I met her through her husband Tom who I’ve known since I was about 8 years old and who also happens to be my dentist. Tom was one of the “big kids” when I got started on the YMCA swim team in the early 60’s – he was also one of the best swimmers in the state. About 15 years ago, he asked me to introduce him when he was inducted into the Arkansas swimming Hall of Fame, which I was honored to do.

I’ve also known Jackie as a (good) tennis player and a tennis mom. She and Tom’s son, Matt, is one of the best tennis players ever from Arkansas. In fact, the past two years Matt was a player in the St. Vincent’s Professional Tennis tournament, which is held annually this time of year at Pleasant Valley Country Club. Matt even made it to the finals one year but decided to quit playing professionally last summer to accept a job coaching the Michigan State tennis team. Anyway, Jackie, who spent countless hours watching, transporting, feeding and cheering on Matt, wrote and got published a book about the trials, travails and rewards of raising a junior tennis star. That’s how Jackie is – when she gets in to something she goes all out.

Matt Roberts (St. Vincent's Pro Tournament - 2009)

Jackie told me that she first became interested in Pilates for it’s injury prevention potential. Jackie said that at the time she was suffering from a lot of nagging aches and pains as a result of playing competitive tennis. She discovered through Pilates that her body, while strong, was not flexible nor was her strength well balanced or integrated.

Therefore, Jackie became an early adopter of Pilates in Little Rock. In fact, she and her daughter were the very first students of Barbara Sarnataro when she began the Pilates program at the LRAC. Jackie fell in love with the practice and with Barbara’s teaching - becoming a regular in her classes for 8 years. Then one day, she was walking down the hall at the LRAC and Lisa Cooper approached her to say that the Club needed another Pilates teacher – would she consider getting certified? Jackie thought it over and decided to take this on as a new challenge and growth opportunity. She got certified in Austin under the Power Pilates system three years ago and has been teaching 3-5 times a week since then.

Tonight though, is my first time to experience ‘Jackie the teacher’. Not surprisingly, she comes across as totally competent and all business. Jackie, while slight of frame, is a strong woman in every sense of the word and she commands the class’s attention quite effortlessly. She is passionate about Pilates and wants her students to achieve the same benefits she has, to do that she knows – it has to be done correctly.

Jackie Roberts (and friends)

In tonight’s class Jackie has us use the elastic bands that I’ve only tried before in the Sculpt classes. The bands work really well for Pilates. By employing the inner actions (holding in the low abs, drawing together the legs, etc.) each exercise with the band becomes a mind/body effort. It also makes many of the exercises more difficult – leave it to Jackie to figure how to make the practice even harder but the truth is I really like the novelty and effect of using the bands.

As usual, the practice of Pilates relieves some stress in my low back and while strengthening my core muscles and hip flexors. The mixture of flexibility and strength work provides the kind of balanced workout that I enjoy.

There are about 15 in class tonight but only one other guy who happens to be Tom Roberts. I love it that he’s a regular in Jackie’s classes – talk about a supportive husband, not to mention, it’s good for him. I play tennis with Tom once a week and I know that the increased flexibility and core strength will help his game and who knows, maybe even his dentistry. I hope so because I have an appointment with him tomorrow.

The $25 gift certificate goes to Madison Derden.

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