From one client to another, I think you should know about Pilates. I’ve been taking class with Marie since she first opened Move It 8 years ago, and was able to take the Pilates Teacher Training with Deb Nehlig a few years ago. I’m not a teacher, but I love movement. And, I want to share my perspective as a client, to maybe remove some of the mystery around this practice and encourage you to try it! So, here’s my review:
Pilates – Just what is it and why in the world would anyone want to do it? Good questions. Not so easy to find good answers. Let’s start with some background. Pilates was developed by none other than Joseph Pilates. Mr. Pilates was born in Germany in 1883 and, from what I’ve read, suffered from asthma and other ailments. Determined to overcome his illness, he studied various types of exercise and succeeded in becoming a boxer, skier, and circus performer. While interned in England during WWI he trained other internees in his exercise regimens and developed and refined his exercise program. He came to the U.S. in 1923, married Clara (a nurse), and opened a studio in NYC.
Pilates called his method Contrology. Over the years it became Pilates, which does not really give much idea of what it is about (name contest anyone?). Mr. Pilates believed Contrology should encompass one’s whole life, from waking up and brushing your teeth, to going to sleep – without a pillow! My impression is that over the years Pilates took on a somewhat elitist aura as many of his original students were already high-level athletes and dancers. Joseph Pilates however, believed his methods would benefit anyone and everyone. He would look out the window at passersby and cry out that this or that person needs Contrology!
So now for the hard part. Just what is Pilates?As mentioned, the name is not very revealing. Most people probably know it has something to do with exercise but aren’t exactly sure what that is. Well, for starters, Pilates believed that proper breath, a strong core, and a flexible, strong spine were the keys to good health. He developed exercises that anyone can do to achieve that. In all his exercises there are six keys to getting the most out of what you do: breath, concentration, control, center (working from your core), precision, and flow. Won’t go into details about all of these now, but as an example, let’s compare Barre with Pilates. In Barre class, at least for myself, the pace is fast and it can be difficult to keep up and focus on the movement at the same time. I do find myself tripping over my feet on occasion – won’t say how often!
In Pilates the pace is slower. The goal is to integrate your mind and breath with the movement, concentrating on what you are doing, trying to do it gracefully and with control, developing, among other things, that strong and flexible spine.Try rolling like a ball – a basic Pilates movement – with a stiff, inflexible spine. Help! I’m stuck at the bottom and have to kick my legs to get up. Now roll like a ball with a rounded spine, using your core to roll up. There is a big difference. You may not want to do that at the office, but we all have to get up from the couch after eating that dish of ice cream, or from the chair after sitting for hours in front of the computer, trying not to grunt or groan too much.
Pilates can help. Kidding aside, Pilates does translate into other activities. If you like to run, or lift weights, Pilates can help keep your muscles from getting tight and stiff and to keep your joints flexible. As we age, the same things happen to our joints and muscles, tightness and stiffness. Again, Pilates can help. Pilates is different. It is not static stretching. Coordination of breath with movement, a strong core, a strong and flexible spine, long, strong and supple muscles and supple joints are its goals.
Some might say, ‘Pilates is not for me, I don’t think I can do it’. Not to worry, it takes time. As long as you are concentrating and focusing on doing the movements correctly, you are doing it right! The rewards will be worth the effort you put in. Hope to see you in class on Saturdays at 10:30 AM. We all need it.
A thoughtful client.