"How do you feel after the weekend?" Carlota asked on lesson one of week two. "Do your abs hurt?"
"No," I said. "Is that bad?"
"Just means you're not doing it right… yet!"
Feeling annoyed with my body for struggling with the simplest moves, we begin the class. Today the main aim is bottom squeezing, a key part of "activating the power house" (a.k.a. abs and bum or problem areas).
Surprisingly, my muscles jumped to attention faster than expected. Although just one week into my Pilates career (and after a heavy weekend of pisco tasting, chip eating and star gazing up in Chile's Elqui Valley where we stayed at the fabulous astronomic hotel, Elqui Domos), my muscles are performing like neglected puppies eager to work.
As each class passes, I can see my body changing below me. I have more control of my muscles, especially in my stomach, and I'm learning how to rearrange my torso to make it straighter, longer and more streamlined.
Week one was mainly sit-ups - the aim being to improve control of my stomach muscles whilst trying to persuade my ribs to "kiss each other".
Week two and we're graduating to legwork. This is easier for me as most of my strength is in my lower-body. Plus it means being able to use the straps and handles on the Pilates table: the fun part!
As though on Pilates safari, on lesson two we start with the frog before moving on to the elephant. As Keka steers my limbs around, for the first time in my life I feel like I'm doing exercise that is actually making a difference, changing my body in a controlled and measured way.
All too often in the past I've pounded away on a treadmill, hammering my knees, trying to get past 20 minutes, watching the clock as though serving a sentence, whilst all along wondering whether it's doing more good or damage. Some say do more time, some say do less; it's all so confusing.
That's not to say Pilates at The Place is easy. By the end of lesson three I feel like a pile of jelly.
But who doesn't like jelly?! The amazing thing is that after just two weeks my body is changing. My stomach is flatter and my back is moving from rigid and stiff towards a smooth curved C shape.
Right at the end of my last class of the week, I (admittedly very briefly) put my head on my knees. Something I've never before been able to do when sitting with legs stretched out in front of me.
And this in just two weeks… I think I might be hooked.
Photographery: Alfonsina Riffo, Mujer Magazine, La Tercera Newspaper