July 18, 2016
Recently a family friend asked me what Pilates was. Wasn't it something yoga-ish performed on torture devices? Well.....kind of. Joseph Pilates was a visionary who created Pilates by pulling together multiple strands of movement (boxing, tai chi, yoga, etc). So yes, there are some yogic aspects to some of the choreography.
Here's my more formal response to those who don't really know what Pilates is about. And more importantly, why I believe it's good for so many of us.
Why Pilates is more relevant than ever.
The human body and brain require dynamic movement* to function optimally. (*My humble definition: the ability to move in multiple planes, bearing multiple loads and ranging in paces from slow to fast. Ie: bounding through the woods, climbing trees, jumping, hanging, crawling, lifting and dancing, to name a few.)
In most Western cultures however, we are plagued by movement limitations and chronic injuries that stem from our increasingly static seated posture both at our work desks and on our living room sofas.
Pilates is a low-impact, core-focused exercise system performed on special apparatus that encourages the body to move in a controlled, symmetrical and balanced manner.
Pilates is the ideal intermediary exercise method for transforming our static, kyphotic, (occasional-weekend-warrior) selves into the dynamic movers we are designed to be. Pilates’ temporarily removes gravity’s relentless pull and allows us to fine-tune our breath and redirect any inhibiting muscular recruitment habits so that when we eventually stand up we can integrate postural change into our bodies. Many people who incorporate exercise into their lives go from 0-100, with little regard to form, which inevitably leads to injury.
Pilates therefore is not the answer since there is no singular answer when it comes to movement. The body needs all types of movement. However, a consistent Pilates practice provides you with a strong foundation on which you can safely build any movement experience you choose. You’ve got to start with stability before you add mobility. Pilates helps you on that journey.
“You have a beautiful studio–gorgeous–with more Pilates equipment than I even knew existed. Everyone I met there was warm, friendly, helpful, and encouraging.”
“The comparison between my experience at Aldrich Pilates and what was called Pilates at my health club and at physical therapy is rather like the comparison between an Italian dinner at a wonderful restaurant in Florence versus pizza from a pizza delivery chain. Both are Italian but they are very different.”