By Kim Hackett
Green’s Pilates class, above, meets Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4:15 p.m.; Saturdays at 12:15 p.m., at the SKY Family/Venice YMCA, 701 Center Road.
Randi Green’s 13-year-old YMCA Mat Pilates class changes not just bodies, but lives.
Green, 63, puts her own spin on Pilates by incorporating music and dance into each 55-minute workout.
“I was hooked the first day,” says Jamiesue Boggess, a prekindergarten special education teacher, who has lost 100 pounds since she started eight years ago. “Randi has joy. She generates energy and good vibes.”
The class members range in age from 34-year-old Liz Bacon to 91-year-old Frank McKenna, who has been exercising with Green for eight years and shows up for class five days a week. “It seems to be working,” says McKenna. “My doctor says I have excellent balance.”
Deep friendships have been forged over the years. Members show up at each other’s homes with casseroles when someone is sick. They share birthdays, family news and cosmetic surgery updates. Class members who are ill will often hear from Green via Facebook asking if they’re ready for the magic cure—chicken soup with matzo balls.
Newcomers keep signing up, so the class is always evolving. And she doesn’t tolerate grumps, when snowbirds pack the class and long-timers get territorial about people encroaching upon their “spot.”
“We are a true family,” says Green, a native New Yorker who taught aerobics and once owned kennels in New York and Venice. “The people care about each other.”
When Green decided to walk in a 60-mile, three-day trek to raise money for cancer in honor of her sister, some class members joined her while others opened their wallets. The class raised $20,000. A collection for homeless veterans a few years ago garnered 3,000 pairs of shoes and 750 blankets. At an annual Christmas party, Green buys pizza and drinks for the class and recognizes a man and a woman who made the biggest strides.
“She brought tears to my eyes,” says Marsha Ouimette, who was named most improved woman for 2014. “The class has been life-altering; I am more focused and have more energy and my clothes fit better. It’s also opened up a new world of friends and a feeling of belonging.”
Class size ranges from 30 to 50 in season. Some classes are lights-off, traditional Pilates moves, combined with ballet-like stretches on the mat, all to classical music. On “Wacky Wednesdays” Green includes dance-aerobics, barre moves and ball workouts. It’s not unusual to hear Katy Perry mixed in with Frankie Valli and Sting. Before a visit to Graceland last year, Randi played nothing but Elvis.
Green also teaches at her studio, Pilates with Randi, but she says, “The Y is my home. I love this class.”