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Yogilates, a soothing blend of exercise forms

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Yogilates -- I don't think it's for me.

The blend of Hatha yoga and Pilates in an hour-long class at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays in Bldg. 3705 seems better suited for an intermediary or expert, rather than a beginner like me.

Structured similar to the yoga class offered at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Gerrity's Fitness and Sports Center back gymnasium, students line their personal or the gym's thin mats in rows in a room walled with mirrors and follow directives given by the instructor.

The class is held in the dark with groovy, but relaxing music playing a notch or two softer than the instructor's soothing voice.

The class began with a breathing exercise, followed by a warm-up that included both yoga -- a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that combines flexibility and balance with stretching poses -- and Pilates movements. Upon completion, the first half of class was primarily devoted to yoga movements, while the second half focused on Pilates, a body-conditioning practice.

The six other women in the class clearly knew what they're doing and when the instructor offered new commands, they snapped right into position. Me, I felt like I was at a zoo or the main attraction in the zoo. Undoubtedly, I had no idea what I was doing, and most of the time I could not keep up with the instructor's pace. While she did offer an explanation of some moves there were others that were foreign to me and that I only got after watching her perform them several times.

Luckily, I wasn't entirely a stranger to yoga. I did know the warrior, child's pose and downward dog moves. But, swan dive, chair, monkey and crocodile were absolutely beyond me.

Despite my lack of experience, I never felt unwelcome in the class. At one point, the instructor stepped away from her own mat and helped me contort my body into the correct position. I was grateful.

Repetition was key in both segments, which proved to be a both a blessing and curse. The blessing was, it enabled me to actually figure out the moves and get some of them in before the instructor moved on to the next sequence. I even performed several in sync with the rest of the class. But, the curse was, I wished it to end far sooner than it ever did. I'm not that strong or toned.

While the yoga portion focused on synchronizing breathing with whole body movements, Pilates centered more on smaller muscle groups such as core muscles and legs. As a whole, I found that section easier, but it did wear out me and my hip flexors.

The class wrapped with a few minutes dedicated to relaxation.

If interested in the class, there is a $3 charge that is collected at the front desk. Also, wear comfortable and loose clothing, but avoid over-sized and baggy T-shirts. I spent a good portion of the class pulling down and straightening the T-shirt that threatened to slide right off me -- particularly when I was supposed to be in the downward doggy position.

For more information, call 734-4664.