Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Power of the Fairer Sex

I recently started taking pilates classes at my gym which offers it every Sunday at 5pm. For 50 minutes we do a variety of exercises, our arm, leg and ab muscles trembling from working hard. Our teacher is quite accomplished -- he can instruct us and do the exercises at the same time.

Pilates is different from yoga, in that it works on core muscles as well as balance. Poses are held longer or doing challenging moves that require balance and stamina. It's not uncommon for us to break into a sweat in the first 10 minutes.

Most of the attendees are women, most in their 20s and 30s.

However, today a rotund Chinese man in his late 40s, early 50s decided to give the pilates class a try. As we were waiting for the Latin dance class to end, he seemed obnoxious, talked loudly and drank from his water bottle, while the rest of us quietly and patiently waited for the dance teacher to finish.

He seemed like the stereotypical Chinese man who thinks he is superior to others just by virtue of who he is. There are many of these men in China who hardly consider women as their equals in any way. Unfortunately most of these men are in power positions, making it almost impossible for women to rise to the top.

Anyway, last week our pilates teacher saw that a handful of people were new so he worked more on basics. Each week is different so I haven't had a chance to see if I'm improving at a particular move.

And today the instructor decided to take a more difficult tack and gave us more challenging poses to do.

We started off with legs apart and knees bent in a squat, our arms straight, reaching for the sky. We had to hold the pose for more than a minute, but when I looked over to see how one of our newest fellow pupils was doing, he didn't seem to be doing too well, only slightly bending his knees and not holding up too well.

Later on we moved to lying on our stomachs on our mats and then grabbing our ankles and raised ourselves up. Granted not everyone could do this well, but the Chinese man could not do it, thanks to his big round stomach. He couldn't even grab his ankles and just lay on his stomach, exhausted.

Not soon afterwards -- less than half way through the class -- I saw him get up and leave, not even putting the yoga mat back on the pile -- not surprising that men leave things behind for women to pick up.

But it was come uppance for the women in the room who were sticking it out to the end and obviously showing greater core strength than their male counterpart.