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Stretching for fitness in Malta

Health-conscious residents of Saratoga County looking to tone their bodies now have a new option thanks to the opening of the Malta Pilates Center in the Parade Ground Village off of Dunning Street. The upcoming classes promise to provide a low-impact fitness experience for both newcomers and old hands of the discipline.

This will be owner Diane Lynch's first business excursion, but she has been studying or teaching Pilates for 10 years. She got involved in the exercise style after developing scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.

I never had any health issues until I was in my 30s, and then I started suffering terrible back issues, said Lynch. "Physical therapy would work to a point, but I really had to strengthen my back rather than just get it fixed, and in searching for a way, I came across Pilates."

By building up her back's strength, Lynch said she has effectively eliminated her back problems.

"I like it so much I wanted to get other people interested in it," she said.

The Pilates exercise program is named after its founder, Joseph Pilates, who pioneered the low-impact workout in the 1930s. Its popularity has exploded in more recent years, however. The routines focus on the body's "core," the area between the shoulders and hips. With slow, controlled movements and proper breathing, users strengthen their backs and become more flexible.

Pilates can be practiced on a mat, much like yoga, but Lynch's studio also has a number of apparatuses that help with the exercises, such as the case with a "tower" workout, where participants use a bar attached to a tall frame by springs.

"You use the springs as resistance, and you get more of a workout," said Lynch. At the same time, it guides the user's movements to make the most of the exercise.

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