Simply Zal's Fitness Series
Staying Healthy

How to Turn a Pot Belly into a Powerhouse


“When are you going to try this class with me, Zaleina?!” my co-worker Zantha yelled to me at least once a day.  She was young, slim and immaculately dressed.  She had handwriting that I wished for, so I could turn it into a new font – try the new Zantha font and add a touch of elegance to your notes.  I tried to hide in my cubicle to avoid the persistent requests from Posh Z but eventually, my curiosity won out.

She was so determined to add a new convert to her latest fitness craze but…why me, Plain Z?

I had just entered my 30’s and was a relatively new mom, with a toddler in daycare.  Before my child blew out her 1st birthday candles, I had already transitioned to Mom gear:  high heels became basic flats, tailored skirts devolved into dark slacks and pretty blouses were replaced with simple tops.  My exercise of the day was a 20-minute stroll from Penn Station to my workplace and an occasional yoga class on the weekend.  I barely broke a sweat and that was good enough for me.

What Zantha was asking me to do was equivalent to rock climbing, in my head.  And I was NOT looking for more challenges!

She said it was like yoga.  She promised it was for all fitness levels and the studio was a block away from our office.  And there was a coupon.  Finally, I caved.  Maybe she would give up on me after I tried one class.


On my first day, I thought of at least 50 reasons for bailing. I was just about to use my best excuse when the elevator opened with a soft ping.  Zantha happily guided me to the smiling ladies at the front desk of Pilates on Fifth.  I lost my chance to escape.  I signed away my fears, changed into workout gear, and tried not to gawk at the patrons manipulating the reformer machines.

The mat class started and at first, I thought, this is great!  It’s like we’re lying on the beach, stretching our calf muscles and rolling like a beach ball.  I had fully expected to be intimidated by my first Pilates class.

Then came the double-leg stretch and other endurance exercises.  What started out as simple movements progressed into aches and pains in muscles I never knew existed!  I did the best I could.  I could not keep up with the older ladies who effortlessly continued the class in the way I had started.  At the end, I was in awe of those ladies and their stamina while my own legs forgot they were attached to me.

To my surprise, though, I didn’t sweat much, recovered quickly and I walked back to work with such an incredible feeling of accomplishment!

I returned, week after week, sometimes without Zantha, slowly improving my skills.  I started to realise that I had settled for mediocre workouts.  Zantha helped me step out of my comfort zone!


Reason to Start PilatesAll you need is a mat, a DVD and comfortable clothes and you can start it at home.  My DVD trainer is Brooke Siler. This is my favorite workout video – it has a fantastic 18-minute cardo Pilates mat warm-up that’s handy when you are stressed for time.  There are also tons of cheat sheets online with various poses.

Pilates can make you feel like a graceful dancer while you’re doing the poses.  Enjoy the workout!

Reason to Start PilatesWhen I was consistent with my workouts, I strengthened my core muscles with very little equipment.  I tried out fun accessories like the Pilates ring and the BOSU ball in the studio but these items are not required.

Reason to Start PilatesWhen you are starting out, I strongly recommend you do a series of group classes first.  Mat group classes are best for beginners.  You can look over at the others for inspiration but don’t get frustrated.  You’ll get there eventually!

Reason to Start PilatesOnce you build and strengthen your powerhouse muscles, all your other activities will be so much better, even sitting!  Sometimes, in the days after a class, I’m driving and I suddenly have to adjust my mirrors because I’m sitting taller!  But seriously, any other exercise you’re doing will be enhanced by this quiet, sculpting of your core section.

FINALLY….go and do your hundreds.  Or at least, find out what they are!

Drop into nearby studio when you’re feeling unusually brazen one day.  Try it out once and cross it off your list….then Zantha….I mean, Zaleina, won’t bother you anymore.

If you’re already a pro at this, let me know what your first class was like!

Thanks to Scrapbook Gems ( for her awesome clipart.

13 thoughts on “How to Turn a Pot Belly into a Powerhouse

  1. I used to do a Pilates video regularly and never felt leaner or taller. It’s definitely time to pull it out again. Thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

  2. good for you! getting started and then coming back and getting consistent is the hardest thing. Thanks for the fun recommendation and motivation!
    and thank you for sharing this week at Encouraging Hearts & Home blog hop!

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