The CrossFit crowd has found a way to make Pilates more challenging.

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I HAD NOT experienced Pilates like this before.

There were disco balls. There was loud, motivating music. And there was grunting. Or was that just me?

I went to Mind and Body Pilates in the Central District for an interval Pilates class. A CrossFit trainer had recommended the class to me, saying it was like CrossFit mixed with Pilates, and it was a real butt-kicker. For better or worse, those are fighting words to me.

Mind and Body Pilates

2022 E. Union St., Seattle


I showed up for the interval Pilates class. I was originally interested in the AMRAP Pilates class, which takes its name from the CrossFit term “as many rounds as possible.” I was relieved when timing worked out instead for the intermediate interval class.

Owner Dana Belkholm has been teaching Pilates for years, and weaves his own experience in CrossFit classes into the interval class. He sets up stations at various machines with four rounds (or more) of each exercise, then you move to the next station.

I was buddied up with another teacher, Verna, who helped me with machines and technique. After a warm-up round that included an awful lot of core under Dana’s watchful eye, we started the first full round with goblet squats using a kettlebell for 30 seconds on, 10 or so seconds off.

I can do weighted squats for four rounds, no problem, I thought. We moved on to weighted side-oblique work holding a medicine ball overhead, and then, eyeing the upcoming exercises, I chose modified push-ups.

During some of the core work, Dana prompted me not to let my front ribs blow out like a gymnast, something I have been working on. I was happy when a station called for simple side stretches. Because it is Pilates, core strengthening seemed to be the theme at every other station, and I was grateful when Dana unhooked a spring or two on a machine to make my workout easier.

By the time I got to tic tocs, moving a weightlifting bar side to side in a side lunge, my heart rate was up. I hoped the next full round would be easier.

I should have known.

Our first station for the second round started with ring rows, followed by jumping lunges. You can mix them up with jumping squats, Verna offered helpfully, as I gasped during each 30-second interval.

I no longer wanted to hold planks with TRX straps, nor did I want to hang by my elbows from a bar and pull my knees to my chest (non-kipping knees to elbows to you CrossFitters out there, also known as “extra hard.”) When I saw the incline situps, I might have internally sighed as Dana instructed me to roll up and down as smoothly as possible.

The last few rounds included more core work, sliding our feet back and forth on a blanket, and a deep lunge exercise with one foot on a rotation circle to challenge stability.

I was beyond relieved when the ending buzzer rang. I was exhausted, and my body fully worked. I knew I would be sore.

The Pilates Playland also changed my previous ho-hum attitude toward Pilates. I liked trying all the machines, from the Reformer to the Wunda chair. We moved so quickly from machine to machine, I was interested in every exercise. I also liked the focus on technique and form; there was no encouragement to go faster than we were able. As tough as it was, I liked the workout. This is a Pilates class I can get down with.