Debora Kolwey helps a client with a therapeutic  Pilates exercise at The Pilates Center in Boulder.
Marty Caivano
Debora Kolwey helps a client with a therapeutic Pilates exercise at The Pilates Center in Boulder.

Workout of the Week

The Pilates Center, 4800 Baseline, Boulder, 303-494-3400,

Instructor: Deborah Kolwey, of Boulder, who has been trained in Pilates since 1985. Before, she was a modern dancer in New York City and an aerobics instructor.

What is the workout? I took a private Pilates lesson to help ease me back into exercising after serious abdominal surgery. Pilates is ideal as therapy because it offers resistance for muscle strengthening, while balancing muscular force at the joint, according to The Pilates Center.

Focusing on breath also helps; the oxygen and circulation help with healing. Kolwey calls this an “internal shower.” The oxygen washes through the blood and detoxifies your entire body.

In addition, Pilates promotes new neuromuscular patterns, a body-mind connection, flexibility, proper alignment and coordination, all of which help with recovery.

What does it cost? One private lesson costs $80.

Who does it?Pilates students range across the board, including elderly people, pregnant women and elite athletes.

When:The typical private lesson lasts 55 minutes.

Level:Personalized. Because I had not done anything beyond lying on the couch and the bed and the hide-a-bed and the futon for six weeks, I found the class pretty tough. But the perfect amount of tough. It was a challenge, but I did not hurt myself or push beyond what was safe.

Format: Pilates lessons are built around standard theories and movements, but you add more exercises and speed as you improve. As Kolwey described it, “Everyone does ‘A’ and ‘Z,’ and you fill in the middle of the alphabet based on your skills and need.”

Equipment:The Universal Reformer and “The Cadillac,” aka the Therapy Table. Most of the class was spent on my back, which I was oh so used to.

What to wear: Comfortable clothes and no shoes.

Muscles worked:Everything, especially the “core,” and that muscle in your head (in case you need to work on that muscle, we’re talking about the brain). Pilates develops balance and coordination of the body, mind and spirit.

One new move:“The Breathing.” Lying on your back, place your legs on a padded spring-supported bar, and hold a spring-supported crossbar with your hands. Pull the bar (working your triceps) down toward the table, and simultaneously lift your hips up off the table. While you hold your lower body off the ground, draw the breath in and use the strength of that inhale to strengthen your pose.

What’s different:Private lessons can be tailored to your needs to assure safety, especially crucial after an injury. Other people just prefer the extra nurturing, want to learn more about themselves and bodies or need more specific help.

The Pilates Center studio is unique because it has been open since 1990. Not only does the staff here teach classes to clients, they also teach teachers. Their Pilates training center is well known and respected.

What I loved:With such a strong focus on the core, Pilates sounded scary and painful for someone with new abdominal injuries. But it ended up being exactly what I needed. Kolwey was slow and attentive to everything going on with my body. She noticed the tiniest changes and movements. For example, she noticed I was not using my left hip as much as my right (I had no idea), and asked if my injuries had been worse on my left side to warrant the behavior. She was right. No one without extensive training would have noticed this.

What I didn’t like:Getting back into exercise was mentally tough. I could not do things that I could do just two months ago, and it was frustrating and a little sad for me. Instead of wallowing, I will try to use that as a motivator.

How I felt after the class:When I got home, I was so exhausted that I cried.

How I felt later:Perfectly fine. I expected to be deathly sore the next day, but I was not. I felt strong. And I realized last night’s teary exhaustion was probably dwelling in my “head muscle” — not my abs.

— Reported by Aimee Heckel.

Know of any interesting workouts? Tell us about them so we can check them out: or 303-473-1359.