WHAT IS PILATES?
“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”
- Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86
Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits. Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing is a primary focus. Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination-both muscular and mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program. Posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased. Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time. Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of one’s life.
Around 1914, Joseph Pilates was a performer and a boxer living in England and, at the outbreak of WWI, was placed under forced internment along with other German nationals in Lancaster, England. There he taught fellow camp members the concepts and exercises developed over 20 years of self-study and apprenticeship in yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens. It was at this time that he began devising the system of original exercises known today as “matwork”, or exercises done on the floor. He called this regimen “Contrology.” A few years later, he was transferred to another camp, where he became a nurse/caretaker to the many internees struck with wartime disease and physical injury. Here, he began devising equipment to rehabilitate his “patients,” taking springs from the beds and rigging them to create spring resistance and “movement” for the bedridden.
In a way, Pilates equipment today is not much different than that of yesteryear. Spring tension, straps to hold feet or hands, supports for back, neck and shoulder are as important now as they were then. Because of the remarkable nature of the equipment to both challenge and support the body as it learns to move more efficiently, the inimitably designed pieces truly act as a complement to the challenging “matwork” exercises.
While Joe was the outspoken force behind his method, his wife Clara, a trained nurse, quietly incorporated his concepts and exercises in ways that benefited more seriously ill or injured clients. Her approachable style and special techniques spawned a dedicated lineage of teachers whose work flows through and uniquely colors the landscape of the Pilates method today. It is perhaps because of Clara that Pilates is clearly recognized as a positive form of movement-based exercise that truly can be tailored to any level of not just fitness, but also of health.
BENEFITS OF PILATES
- Get in shape without getting hurt
- Open, strengthen and protect joints
- Slenderize instead of bulking up
- Increased core strength
- Faster recovery from injuries
- Reduced tension and distress
- Increase flexibility
- Deeper sense of well-being
- Taller posture
- Relief from back pain
- Improved balance
- Better breathing for more energy
- Increased confidence and more self-assured
- Healthy and strong bones
- Maximize speed and agility for sports performance
- Improve circulation
- Greater ease of movement
Why should I try this?
Pilates exercise is one of the safest forms of activity, yet can also be the most demanding. The apparatus have been used for years in the most advanced orthopedic and sports-based rehabilitation clinics for injuries. Because you must use the whole body, you cannot progress to a higher level without uncovering isolated weaknesses and training them, thus your problem areas are immediately focused on. Any athlete is only as strong as their weakest part, and compensation for that part can lead to injury.
To be a good instructor it takes several years and firstly having solid prerequisites based in movement therapy. One of the most important things an instructor needs is a good logical brain and a really sharp eye because they basically have to see what is and isn’t moving correctly within the body. An understanding of what muscles are overworking, what is weakened and how all this affects the body, together with a comprehensive background in anatomy and physiology is required for excellent results.
For those interested in correcting a few ailments in the body, remember to shop around to find a good instructor. Ask their qualifications, references, what type of work you’ll be doing and why it is good for you. Whether you’ve had a back injury, have poor posture, want to de-stress and relax the mind or increase your sports performance, Pilates is a fantastic workout that is not only successful but also a lot of fun.
How is Pilates different from other forms of exercise?
Pilates affords us with length, strength, and flexibility, the three components of a healthy body!
Pilates exercise focuses on postural symmetry, abdominal and spine stabilization, mind/body control, and strengthening through the complete range of motion of all joints. Instead of isolating muscle groups, the whole body is trained, integrating the upper and lower extremities with the trunk. Nothing that we do in life uses only one muscle at a time and so Pilates is the perfect compliment to daily life. The result is strong, long, and lean muscles with equal strength ratios.
What should I bring to class?
Most importantly, bring a positive attitude. Leave all your worries behind. The class is for you. You need to be present minded when working out to maximize the benefits of the class.
Bring a towel as you will most likely sweat!
Wear loose, comfortable clothes that allow your muscles to stretch and your skin to “breathe”.
Jewelry is NOT a good idea. Your necklace may catch into the springs system (a nightmare to undo), and you may forget it or lose it. It creates too many opportunities for disaster (we know because we’ve seen it too many times), but wearing jewelry is a choice for you to make.
No cell phones during classes (please be respectful of others).
No strong perfumes as some students are allergic.
If you are about to renew, please bring your payment. Most of our clientele pay online using our automated system.
Please understand that no classes can be confirmed if you’re not prepaid.