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Flexing muscle at Village Hall, and no politics involved

Feb. 10, 2010

I didn't know my abs were in a long-term relationship, but apparently they were engaged last week.

Engaged while doing Pilates, that is.

And I can't even take credit for that joke. Grace Gunnlaugsson said it first during a Thursday morning Pilates class at Village Hall.

We were balancing on our backsides with our legs in the air and our backs at a 45 degree angle - table top position - and moving a blue ball back and forth across our body, engaging our abs in the process.

Someone had the nerve say, "Oh good, the ball," at the start of that set. "I don't think so," I thought as I struggled to maintain my balance.

Gunnlaugsson is one of the core members of the Pilates class offered by the Elm Grove Recreation Department. She has been coming to the class for six years and is a former Elm Grove resident. She lives in Hartland now.

So why does she still drive to Elm Grove for fitness classes?

"Because they are such fun people," she said. "It just makes you feel good, and everyone is so fun to see."

And she's not the only one who thinks so.

Colleen Clark comes in from downtown Milwaukee, just a bit longer of a drive than from her former home in Brookfield.

"I love the group. I love (the instructor)," she said. "It's like we're her groupies."

Clark said the class is a positive environment, and instructor Jayne Massopust is supportive and helpful to the women.

"We've struck up friendships just coming here," she added. In fact, a group of women were headed to Le Cakery for coffee after class.

Massopust teaches two Pilates classes a week at Village Hall, and she is able to constantly change the routine - even between the Tuesday and Thursday classes - because of the large volume of material available on the topic.

"Pilates is really about lengthening and stretching, improving flexibility, improving balance, that core strength," Massopust said.

Elm Grove resident Phyllis Hoyer has been attending classes for a year and found it wasn't as tough as she had thought it would be.

"It's so much easier to do exercises with a group of people," she said. "Someone always says something funny, or we all groan at the same time."

The Pilates class isn't the only Recreation Department fitness class with a core group of participants, Recreation Director Amy Jeske said.

"Everyone just gets to know each other," she said. "And if you are not there, they ask, 'Well, where is she?' "

The department has seen an increase in fitness class attendance this season, but that's mainly because the department keeps adding classes, Jeske said. And those classes are filling fast.

One of those new classes is Nia, a blend of cardio workouts with global dances, martial arts and yoga. Jeske said it combines mind and body work, but participants still work up a sweat.

This summer, the department is planning to offer a 5-kilometer training program and to start a boot camp class.

"I've heard nothing but positive comments from the people who've taken (our classes)," Jeske said.

Reasonable prices - one session of 20 classes is just $74 for residents - make the department's classes a good choice for people looking to explore a particular form of workout without making a large financial commitment, she added.

At the end of my Pilates experience, the women asked me, "So how was that?"

At that moment, I was feeling pretty good.

"Tomorrow you'll feel our pain," Sonia Stowe, an Elm Grove paramedic and fellow classmate, said.

And she was right.

Get in the action

WORK IT OUT: Changing up workout routines is important to keep the body reacting to the exercise. The Elm Grove Recreation Department offers different classes to help out.

• Body Blast: weight class for toning muscles

• Nia: work the mind and body

• Pilates: move through the movements

• Yoga: hold the movements

• Ulitmate Fitness Sample: every week is something different

• Zumba: latin dance sensation

GET IN THE GROOVE: Check out the class schedules at elmgrovewi.org/rec.htm.

MAKE IT HAPPEN: Register in person at Village Hall, 13600 Juneau Blvd., during normal business hours; online registration is expected to launch this spring.

Julie Ann Marra is uncovering the heart of Elm Grove, its people and places. Call her at (262) 446-6634 or e-mail jmarra@cninow.com.

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