For those of you who don't have access to a gym that provides classes and find your exercise in less costly ways such as jogging, riding your bike, or sprinting away from danger, pilates is a practice of exercise that involves doing 7,000 sit-ups in varying ways for one hour. You'd be surprised at the number of moves that require you to use your abdominal muscles. Almost all of them are done while lying flat on your back with your legs in the air. Which means that most of the time you're exercising, you're not trying really hard because you want a good work-out, you're trying really hard because you don't want to embarrass yourself by passing gas. Celia and I went to pilates after work today. I put my mat in the back of the class as I always do--in part, because I don't want anyone behind me to follow my lead and end up spranging his or her back (there was actually only one "his" in the entire class). I am fine for most of the class because it's the kind of exercise that is very individual. You can either try or you can fake trying and no one can tell. The one exercise I can never do is the roll over. That's when you push your legs over your head with the sheer strength of your lower abs. For me to accomplish this, I have to basically vault backwards from a standing position, hoping that the force of movement will tip me over. Meanwhile, everyone else in the room is able to do no problem; they don't even break a sweat. They are able to hold the pose for, oh, thirty minutes while also filing their nails. But we made it through the class without embarrassing ourselves and we may even return.