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All photos: Antwone Walters

Walking through the spacious green and white lobby of Hotel Monaco, the nerves started to kick in. The lobby staff looked at me bemusedly as I wandered through the hotel’s entryway clutching my yoga mat. I walked through Poste, the hotel’s brasserie, to Hotel Monaco’s huge courtyard outside. In the back corner was my Pilates class.

My first-ever Pilates class, I would say, was a resounding success. The class was a motley crew of around 20 mostly female participants, of all ages. Most of us struggled—collapsing in a huff after each move, our muscles reduced to quivering heaps by the end of the session. There were a few superhuman goddesses who breezed through each move without a moment’s hesitation, leaving the rest of us far behind in envy as they contorted and squeezed in effortless grace.

Pilates On the Patio

Despite the fact that this class was possibly the hardest thing I ever put my abs through, there were many factors that made the situation easier to deal with. It was a gloriously crisp day, and the cloudless sky of the courtyard stretched before us as we pushed our hips heavenward. Instructor Chauna Bryant pushed the boundaries of our bodies with cheerful words of encouragement. Because the members of the class had such a mix of experience and fitness levels, Chauna did a great job of finding a middle ground. It seemed like the pro Pilates people were enjoying themselves. Although us Pilates newbies were crying on the inside three-quarters of the time, as they say, no pain no gain!

When Chauna told us that class was over, it was as if the heavens opened up and God declared a dance party. My body ached, and I could tell this was going to hurt the next morning. We all folded up our mats, smiling blissfully to one another as we waited for the real reason we were there; champagne!

Pilates On the Patio

A few members of the class left before the bubbly with their healthy bods intact, but the rest of us swigged and schmoozed, and talked about how great Chauna is.

After Pilates, Poste offers a dazzling array of brunch options. You could opt keep the party going with brunch cocktails and mimosas. Chauna’s favorite brunch items, she said, are the duck hash and the crab Benedict. Her “healthy pick” is the egg white omelet.

In all honesty, I probably never would have dragged my college kid ass out of bed at 8:30 a.m. to go to some Pilates class if it wasn’t for the boozy sips afterward—and Chauna probably knows that. She said the post-class treat allows people to stay and hang out, and build a sense of community among class goers.

Pilates On the Patio

I asked Chauna why it’s okay to drink champagne right after class, and she told me what I wanted to hear. “Life is about balance,” she said.

Info about the class: Pilates on the Patio happens every Saturday until Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. It is hosted by Chauna Bryant, who teaches Pilates at Equinox in Bethesda and privately. The class is $19.00. At the Poste patio inside Hotel Monaco (555 8th Street NW, Washington D.C.)

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