No Pain, No Sweat

An old discipline takes the gym crowd by storm after other methods fail

Kym Bassett considers herself an expert in gym fads. She has taken orders from aerobic Step Nazis; she has pumped iron with the manly men. She ran like a rat on a treadmill and searched for Nirvana in yoga. Very little about her body changed over seven years, mostly because she seesawed from five-day-a-week workouts to none at all. Last November the Manhattan jewelry designer noticed a story about Pilates, a regimen based on stretching exercises. "I had no idea how to even pronounce it," says Bassett of her impulsive call to make an appointment. (It's Puh-lah-tees.) "I just knew I...

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