what is PILATES?
concentration. control. center. flow. precision. breath.
Pilates movements lengthen the spine, create flexibility and strength, ‘wake up’ deeper core connections in the body, align the bones, and introduce breath control. Joseph Pilates (1883 – 1967) wrote a book called Return to Life Through Contrology in 1945 in which he outlines his philosophies on life and health. In this book, he offers pictures and explanations of his matwork. Many of his original exercises are still used in modern Pilates classes. Integrating Pilates with current scienctific knowledge of biomechanics, the fascial system, and the shifting field of anatomical understading is essential to proliferating the advantages of Mr. Pilates’ work. A Pilates class can be executed on the machines invented by Mr. Pilates in a private or semi-private setting. During your private equipment session, we work on the Reformer, Full Cadillac (Trapeze Table), Wunda Chair, Ladder Barrel, and Spine Corrector. Our signature group equipment class, CardioCore Circuit, challenges your cardiovascular capacity in addition to your strength and precision on all of the Pilates equipment. In a group mat class, we explore Mr. Pilates original mat exercises as presented in Return to Life, as well as updated variations and exercises.
We have all heard how Pilates ‘strengthens your core.’ What else is it good for? Who is it good for? And what is a “core?” Pilates work has become synonymous with strong abs. If you check for a washboard or a six pack, though, you might not find it. The muscles Pilates focuses on strengthening lie beneath the cosmetic “six pack” muscles. When you work your core, you are working CLOSE TO THE BONE. The surface muscles that you can see are antithetical to the core because they are are part of your external, or global, muscular system. In Pilates, the focus rests in the pelvic core (the ‘hara’ in Aikido, the ‘dantian’ in T’ai Chi, the ‘seed center’ in GYROTONIC® exercise, the ‘center’ in ballet, the Mula Bhanda in yoga). The pelvic core is comprised mainly of the transversus abdominis and the multifidus; you can think of the core as being capped on top with the breathing diaphragm and from below with the pelvic floor diaphragm. A properly engaged pelvic core can be visually observed (or felt hands-on) to pull inward at the level of the belly button giving you more of a waist. (This is not a complete anatomy lesson and there’s more to it than that!) If you keep your abdominal muscles TUNED (but not too strong), then your lower back, the most mobile and therefore the most injury-prone part of your spine is protected. In order to properly engage your pelvic core, breathing is essential! I often tell my students that if they can get the breathing, then the rest is a cinch! In all honesty, it can take years to get the breath/abdominal thing going. Pilates assists in reteaching your body a breathing pattern that is it’s birthright but that maybe has gotten lost somewhere along the way. It’s a process, not a quick fix. Dedication to learning and re-learning can keep a student interested in Pilates for years to come.
PILATES WORKS for a broad range of people:
- Post-physical therapy patients
- Professional athletes
- The movement-curious (In the terminology of Gil Hedley, a ‘somanaut’)
- People with aches and pains
- Professional desk workers
- Artists and musicians
- Service industry workers
- Pre- and post-natal bodies
- People with respiratory problems
- People with pelvic floor issues
If you have a serious medical condition, it is necessary for you to obtain your doctor’s approval before entering an exercise program.