There didn’t seem to be any ques­tion. I had the faintest sus­pi­cion of what could only be abs

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - NEWS -

up; you lie on one side and ‘clam-shell’ your legs apart. Con­tract­ing your pelvic floor is a cru­cial as­pect to the prac­tice, and it’s tough to know if you’re do­ing that right. Your teacher can hardly check; only en­cour­age you with awk­ward ref­er­ences to ‘ the mus­cles you use when you’re burst­ing for a pee’.

De­spite this, I left that first class know­ing I had just done some­thing nec­es­sary for my back – it felt looser, more com­fort­able – and also, filled with the in­de­fin­able feel­ing

I might ac­tu­ally be able to get good at this.

So I kept go­ing. Just that one, weekly class up a back­street. Not a huge com­mit­ment, or a huge in­tru­sion into my life, and £9 a pop. A cou­ple of months af­ter I started – months dur­ing which I hadn’t felt so much as a twinge in my back, hooray! – I found my­self stripped down to my un­der­wear in a Zara chang­ing room, about to try on a dress, when the light caught my stom­ach.

‘Bloody hell,’ I thought. ‘ What’s that groove down the left side of my stom­ach?’ I twisted the other way. ‘And that cor­re­spond­ing one, down the right?’

I twisted again, and again. Could it ac­tu­ally be…? No! Surely not! But, then, what else was I look­ing at? Not re­ally know­ing what else to do, and this be­ing the 21st cen­tury, I re­sorted to the nar­cis­sist’s favourite en­abling tool; I reached for my phone and snapped a pic of my re­flec­tion. I looked and I looked at the pho­to­graph. There didn’t seem to be any ques­tion. I had the faintest sus­pi­cion of what could re­ally only be de­scribed as abs.

Ridicu­lously en­cour­aged, I upped my Pi­lates sched­ule to two classes a week. I switched the raggy track pants for some fancy-schmanzy Sweaty Betty Ly­cra as an ex­pres­sion of my com­mit­ment. I got put up a level, from be­gin­ners Pi­lates to in­ter­me­di­ates; then on to ad­vanced. I went on a Pi­lates re­treat. I was hooked.

Then I started see­ing Pi­lates in­struc­tor Alex Cole­man – aka Lon­don’s abs queen – for one-on-one ses­sions on the re­former ma­chine, a ter­ri­fy­ing-look­ing con­trap­tion that adds springs, weights, and ad­di­tional tests to your Pi­lates ses­sion. It’s ex­pen­sive, at £70 a go it’s my great­est weekly lux­ury; but it is worth it. I call it a pen­sion for my spine. And my abs re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it.

As they have got stronger and more de­fined, I won­dered to what ex­tent I can show them off. My boyfriend is the only

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