The trials and tribulations of zoom pilates


By Connie Evans / 20 February 2021


Illustration by Elisabetta Panico

A pile of stretchy latex bands of varying lengths sit to the right of me and a long cylindrical piece of foam is to my left; according to my mother, I’m going to need these strange looking objects over the next hour.

During a moment of madness, I committed to joining my mum for her Zoom Pilates class and I am already deeply regretting it. She swears by it as a way of “keeping mobile,” and “stopping your body from seizing up.” But I’m more of a cardio person myself, I enjoy running and swimming (when the pools are open of course). I’ve never been one for slow-paced exercise, nor am I remotely flexible so Pilates has never had much of an appeal.

However, like every other person in the country at the moment, I’m bored. I’m bored with my daily routine and I’m bored with my typical exercise regime, so I’ve decided to give Pilates a go in an attempt to mix things up and try something new. Who knows, I might be surprised and thoroughly enjoy it… The courteous chit chat of South West London women (and one lone man) fills the living room as my mum logs onto the Zoom call. There’s talk about husbands and children, as well as one woman explaining that she’s recently done her back in so might not be able to manage all the moves in today’s session. After a few minutes the authoritative voice of Sue, the Pilates instructor, cuts through and the class begins.

We’re instructed to lie down on our backs and put our legs, whilst bent at 90 degrees, in the air, I glance at my mother and she looks like a dead bug on the floor in front of me, so do all the other women (and man) on the screen in their respective living rooms. Next, we’re moving our legs and arms in various ways and I get the worrying feeling that I’m engaging muscles I never even knew I had. After some time on the floor, we’re instructed to get back on our feet and retrieve the longest of the latex bands. Whilst holding the band taut, I’m putting my arms behind my head and out to the sides, all the while listening to the heavy breathing and groans coming from my mother and the other participants as they all do the same.


The next thing I know, Sue is telling us all to do our ‘Beyonce bum, then sit on the toilet!’

However, Gloria (who has hurt her back) is to stay on the commode this week so as to not risk further damage!’ I’m taken aback and look up at my mum for clarification as to what on earth that is supposed to mean. She has no time for my apparent ignorance and continues without me. She pushes her bottom out as far as she can, supposedly, I assume, emulating the figure of Beyonce, then proceeds to squat, as though sitting on a toilet, so I, rather reluctantly, do the same.

It is at this point that I really begin to question why on earth I ever thought it would be a good idea to participate in an exercise class with my mother. But there’s no time for regrets as it’s time to move out of the toilet pose and wrap one of the long stretchy bands around the bottom of my foot and hold on to either end whilst I flex and relax my toes. It’s then back to the floor where we’re told “Lying on your back. Just a chickpea under your belly button. Knees bent. Feet hip-distance apart. Now drop each knee out to the side in full smear position.” My jaw drops and I wonder if I’ve just heard correctly but nobody bats an eyelid, my mum barely sniggers. 

Before the class, my mother had warned me of the fact that ‘Sue isn’t your normal Pilates teacher. She’s rather unique and can come out with some comical comments.’ It appears that I hadn’t quite understood the extent of this warning… As the class draws to a close my muscles are burning, I never want to see a stretchy latex band ever again, and I suddenly have a newfound respect for my mother given that she participates in this class twice a week. Pilates is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. More specifically, Pilates is most definitely not for me.



Art by

Elisabetta Panico
Words by
Connie Evans

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