Protege Pilates provides the personal touch

By on October 7, 2011

Photo: Rana Kosten (pictured) and Donna Anderson lead the new Pilates class on Tuesday evenings at the Elburn Community Center. Photo by John DiDonna

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Taking a Pilates class can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. A type of exercise that requires concentration on alignment and breath while performing a series of movements, Pilates can tone and strengthen your body with minimal time and effort.

At Protege Pilates, held at the dance studio in the Elburn Community Center, students get the personal attention of not one, but two instructors. They receive detailed and encouraging instruction starting with the basics. I took a class and discovered a fun atmosphere and a great workout.

The instructors, Rana Kosten and Donna Anderson, alternate teaching with helping students with their form. The first five-week session introduces students to the basics. They will understand the concepts of breath, alignment, concentration, and fluidity as they learn a group of about 20 exercises.

“It’s a foundation class,” Kosten said. “They will know the basics. They won’t be ready for intermediate work, (but) we will be pushing and challenging them.”

She estimated that it takes about 15 classes to be ready to progress, but that doesn’t mean participants aren’t getting an intense workout. During the class that I took, I felt the work in my abdomen, legs, shoulders and neck. I was working my muscles at the same time that I was lengthening them. Kosten and Anderson talked in class about the saying that people who do Pilates become taller.

“It’s true that you will seem taller because of the way that you hold yourself,” Kosten said. “When your posture is improved, you appear taller.”

Anderson recounted founder Joseph Pilates’ quote that after 10 sessions you will feel a difference. After 20 sessions you will see a difference. And after 30 sessions you will be on your way to a whole new body. She also emphasized that Pilates is appropriate to any age and any fitness level.

“There are always modifications and variations that can be done. ‘Safety First’ is our motto,” Anderson said.

The class consists of students of all fitness levels and lasts an hour. The instructors added stretching in between exercises with time for brief breaks for water. Anderson explained the movements and did them along with the class, while Kosten walked around the room helping adjust form, suggest modifications and add gentle reminders.

“They are fortunate to have two teachers,” Kosten said. “As a student you need the extra help. It’s like playing the piano. Once you get to know what the moves are, you can get better at it.”

Kosten and Anderson are not new to exercise. They are both certified fitness instructors at Curves in Elburn. Kosten was inspired 10 years ago to try Pilates by her oldest daughter. She’s been teaching for the last five years. As a long-distance runner, Anderson was advised by her doctor to cross-train and began taking Kosten’s class.

“Rana mentored me through my certifications,” Anderson said. “We talked about working together for a long time.”

The second five-week session will begin Tuesday, Oct. 11. Classes are held at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, and the session costs $50. New participants are welcome. As demand increases, classes may be offered in the mornings and afternoons.