Woody Exley has just one regret about becoming a Pilates Defined client in 2011 at age 71. “It keeps me feeling young,” Woody said. “I just wish I had started sooner!” Woody had injured his back, and his now-wife, Barri Marks, a devoted Pilates Defined client, “convinced” Woody to try Pilates by gifting him with private sessions. “Barri used to say it was her favorite hour of the week, which I would take personally, but now I see what she means,” Woody said. “It’s really special.”
Woody continues to take one private and one class per week, along with an at-home practice. In addition to 40 minutes on the treadmill, Woody does his Pilates knee folds, stretching, abdominals on the arc barrel, planks and side leg lifts almost daily. When asked to describe Pilates Defined in three words, Woody gave careful consideration before answering: “Fun. Welcoming. Important.”
What benefits have you seen from practicing Pilates?
“I notice I feel stronger. I feel more flexible. When I lift heavy things, Barri says, ‘You never could have done that before you started Pilates.’ I’m not sure I believe her, but I feel healthier. My balance is better. I always feel better when I come out of a session than I did when I went in.”
Favorite exercise or piece of equipment?
“The reformer. It was just so new and different.”
What would you tell someone thinking of starting Pilates?
“Start! It’s a great way to exercise, and it’s sort of magical. It gives you a great feeling — a sense of mental, emotional, as well as physical well-being. It’s good for all ages and all body types. I’m thin and not very muscular, and I’ve improved my strength and my posture. “Like I said, I wish I had started sooner. That would be my advice to anyone. Just start doing it, and you’ll feel better.”
Woody was an avid runner in his 60s, until he hurt his back, and he has also seen a personal trainer, done Nautilus and weight training at the gym. He said he enjoys the community and the people at the Pilates studio, and he’d like to encourage more men to try it.
What is it about Pilates that keeps you coming back?
“It’s the relationships with the people that really make it something fun to do. When I come in and Jessica says, ‘How’s your body?’ it’s a caring thing. She listens to me and cares about how I’m feeling, and then she tailors the exercises to that.”