It’s getting to that time, when online shopping sites can no longer guarantee Christmas delivery. So don’t fret about selecting which cheese platter or fruit basket. Gifts don’t have to be material things. They can be experiences such as tickets to a show (reserved for pick-up at the box office), a song or story you share by email, membership to a club or organization, or lessons in a skill your friend has been eager to learn.
An appreciated birthday gift to my husband were private Tango lessons. We were already participating in group classes, but the private class was special—an indulgent treat paid for by our two sons. True, you’ll need the inside track on what someone wants— to become a better dancer, learn how to swim, or weight train—but true giving from the heart requires time. A little detective work, and you might find a way to show someone how important they are in your life, giving an experience that will get their year off to a great start.
Fitness is a popular gift, because as the New Year begins, most people are trying to lose weight. Consider a gift certificate to a yoga studio or time with a fitness coach. The Pandemic reduced the interest in health clubs and gyms as many people took up running, hiking and golf, but the interest in organized exercise routines such as cross fit has never truly waned.
Pilates is my personal favorite. It has many styles and variations, so be aware that all Pilates studios are not the same, but the basic principles are similar. Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. A German émigré first to Britain and later to America, Joe Pilates developed equipment and exercises to strengthen the muscles of patients injured in World War I by attaching springs to hospital beds while working as a nurse. All kinds of equipment was eventually developed by Joe Pilates and his disciples. His system of exercise enabled dancers and athletes to recover from injuries and train their body to maintain power and flexibility.
As someone who has suffered minor injuries in automobile accidents and a major injury in a horseback riding fall; I’m a big proponent of the benefit of Pilates. Exercise for me prevents pain. A strong core prevents an aching back.
Pilates equipment can includes apparatus with names that might baffle the novice: reformer, tower, guillotine, chair, barrel, arm chair. Classes can also be taught on mats with or without “props” such as elastic resistance bands, handweights, and balls. The equipment provides tactile feedback. Working out on the mat or on various equipment requires strength and endurance. It’s all good if you have the right instructor. It’s all beneficial if you are being supervised and guided to work the correct parts of your body. Too many students in a class and even the best instructor can’t do a good job. They can’t physically watch dozens of people at the same time.
So, if you are thinking about giving someone a gift of Pilates lessons, and you can’t afford the cost of private lessons—which initially I’d highly recommend—then choose a studio that offers small classes. Most of the classes I participate have an average size of three with a maximum of six. This really goes for any exercise related experience. You need feedback from your instructor. Too large a class, and some students will be doing it wrong and the teacher won’t have time to correct them.
Whether you give the gift of an exercise class or private lesson to yourself or a friend, consider observing first. Also find out in detail the Covid-19 safety protocol and vaccination requirements for instructors and participants. If you watch carefully and maybe try something once or twice, it will make it easier to decide if it’s the right choice. Happy Holidays. Stay well. Exercise and take care of yourself.
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