“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
– Joseph Pilates
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a full body work out that focuses on six key principles: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath and flow. It is a system of exercises created by Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) to strengthen the body, increase flexibility, improve posture and enhance the mind-body connection. Joseph Pilates used this method to cure his own physical ailments, rehab war veterans and then to train boxers, athletes and dancers. He created many apparatuses to help move the body into the proper position for his exercises and to add resistance using springs.
What makes Pilates different than other forms of exercise?
1. Pilates is for everyone, and you can never be too old or out of shape for the exercises. There are also many modifications for any injury or illness you may have. If one part of your body doesn’t work, you can exercise the rest of it to make everything stronger.
2. It stretches while it strengthens. With Pilates, you don’t need to do your strength training and then stretch when you’re done. Your muscles are stretched as they are strengthened with spring resistance which creates longer, leaner muscle than other types of strength training. And who doesn’t want to be longer and leaner? 🙂
3. You can do it anywhere! You obviously can’t carry a reformer or cadillac with you everywhere you go, but Joseph’s original series of exercises was meant for the mat. All you need is a yoga or pilates mat and you’re good to go! You can strengthen and stretch your entire body just about anywhere you can imagine. Some of my favorite places are in an airport or hotel room while traveling, or outside in a park or at the beach on a beautiful day!
4. It is widely used for rehabilitation from many injuries. You can use Pilates to fix an injury you’ve already sustained or to prevent future issues. It can improve posture, body alignment, knee, hip and back problems. Many people also choose Pilates because it is a low impact form of exercise that is easy on the joints but still a challenging workout.
5. It strengthens your mind just as much as your body. Pilates takes a lot of concentration and coordination to master. It uses breath control and creates mind-body awareness that many other forms of exercise do not utilize.
Pilates can offer you much more than I’ve already mentioned, but these are some of the reasons why I love it so much!
Me and Pilates
I first tried Pilates when I was studying musical theatre in New York City. I was drawn to it because it is great for dancers. I was extremely active and had long days on my feet and it was fabulous to be able to stretch and work out simultaneously. It also helped with body awareness for acting and improved my posture and presence on stage.
I tried it for the first time with my mom when I was home for summer break. She had been taking mat classes at her gym regularly. When she was 16, she was in a car accident that left her with 22 broken bones and a collapsed lung. Growing up, I rarely noticed the effects of the accident because she was so active and could do almost anything, but she still complained about not being able to ice skate because of weak ankles. She repeatedly rolled her ankle and once broke her foot when I was in third grade. She struggled with posture and lost a lot of air capacity that she once had. Pilates completely transformed her body. She no longer struggles with weak joints and she is stronger than ever. Her breath capacity and posture are improving with every session.
When I moved out to Los Angeles after college, I decided to get certified and become a Pilates instructor because I was so passionate about fitness and the results I have seen from Pilates are life changing. Every day, I am amazed by the transformation of own body and those of my clients. It doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives.
“In ten sessions you’ll feel the difference, In twenty you’ll see the difference, and in thirty you’ll have a completely new body.”
– Joseph Pilates