Lynchburg Humane Society Hosts Pilates Class With A Twist

When someone thinks of exercise, many things pop up in association — weights, cardio, sweat, shedding a few pounds and … cats?

The Lynchburg Humane Society combined two unlikely things– cats and Pilates – when it hosted Purrrlates March 28. The organization gave people the opportunity to support a good cause and nail a good workout in one go. 

YMCA instructor Lucy Hathaway, a regular volunteer at the humane society, taught the class. She is currently working towards receiving her Pilates certification and decided to reach out to the shelter and offer to teach classes.

“Part of the certification requires that I teach 40 hours, so I’m a group fitness instructor at the Y(MCA), so I do it a couple a times a week,” Hathaway said. “I wanted to escalate that a little bit faster, so I reached out to the shelter since I am a volunteer there and I do cat yoga there as well and asked if they would be interested in doing Pilates.”

Hathaway originally wanted to do Pilates with the shelter’s puppies.

“First, I wanted to have it be ‘Pupplates’ with the puppies, but the puppies have to be all vaccinated completely before for kennel cough reasons, so we thought ‘Purrrlates’ would be a better avenue,” Hathaway said.

To get involved in the class, students signed up through the humane society’s website.

“They just register. There’s no prework or anything for them to do,” Hathaway said. “I work up through the entire session for the hour, and they just have to enjoy cats.”

According to the society’s website, the class accommodated all ages and skill levels. 

On the website, it had a suggested donation for anyone who wanted to donate pet care items to the shelter when they came to the class. 

Hathaway noted the benefits of Pilates to a person’s health as it strengthens the core and builds flexibility. 

 “Think of long, lean muscles, kind of like a dancer’s muscle, very long and lean and elegant looking,” she said. “That’s what Pilates does for the body, and it builds, and it really works on strengthening the core muscles. So, basically from your ribs down, that’s the main focus.”

Combining Pilates with cats does have its drawbacks. 

Hathaway warned participants not to bring an expensive yoga mat.

“Depending on the cats that we have in the room, some like to actually knead on the mats,” Hathaway said. “So, (you) just have to be careful that they know that they’re not bringing a very expensive mat in case, you know, it gets torn up by the cats.”

The shelter involved cats that were already social, and the number of cats used depended on the number of people registered for the class.  

“Right now, we are limiting probably two to three adult cats or older cats into the room, and that’s really because as they’re older, they’re not as social as the kittens are who just play with everybody,” Hathaway said.

While cats and Pilates might have been an unconventional combination, Hathaway encouraged participants to sweat, burn calories and have a good time with the cats along the way.

Woolwine is a feature reporter. 

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