What sometimes gets lost in our large pool of get-fit and get-better techniques is the understanding of the fundamentals that make Pilates exercises, the equipment, and the instructors effective.
It is time for me to wax poetic about Joe the inventor. Well before his time, almost 100 years ago, Joseph Pilates brought efficiency, mindfulness, and equipment fit for an upscale dungeon, into fruition. The best bragging rights come in the form of imitation. His work is quoted, copied, studied, edited, updated, and incorporated into many current movement trends. As a movement specialist, a sleuth of faulty motion patterns, and an educator of injury prevention, Pilates proves to be a great tool, a foundation of reliable skills.
• Efficiency: Longevity of your joints fare better over time when the muscles around them are balanced and unnecessary strain is reduced. We are not always aware of how we compensate for weak or tired muscles. Efficiency helps us move without stumbling, and allows us to walk and sit for long hours. This is why efficiency and longevity go hand in hand. How long do we want our joints to last? The answer is always forever. And under an educated and watchful eye, you can learn to find the coordination to achieve this balance in motion, no more and no less. It is a tangible skill. In a class or studio the dynamic interaction between the instructor and the client is key to improving. Pilates teacher training, at its best, has been nurturing this interactive dynamic since its inception. Currently, master educators strive to bring movement science into the eyes of the instructor. Learning good form optimizes your stamina which is necessary in both basic functions and in sports performance. It can make the difference between winning and losing.
• Mindfulness: Mindfulness is dynamic brain activity that makes your mind your body, and your body, your mind. Unconsciously, we develop as we interact with our environment, and become skilled movers. This underlying skill, proprioception, is what gives you awareness of where your limbs and body are in space. And yes, this can be improved. Agility is a beautiful manifestation of mindfulness. Our brains are capable of imprinting a movement without moving. Visualizing can help form new movement patterns that alleviate pain. It is a powerful tool. Thankfully this dynamic mind/body duo is not a fad; they are finally getting all the attention they deserve. Our brains evolve and manifest through motion.
• Equipment: Joseph Pilates got so much right. Nothing is more exciting than watching satisfied clients after they have pushed and pulled on the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair. The equipment offers an opportunity to test your strengths and movement skills. As a teacher and motion detective, I find it incredibly useful to watch for movement strategies, and muscle fatigue while clients perform Pilates vocabulary. Having good form under a personal dose of resistance is very helpful for injury prevention. The variable set-ups on the equipment provide a challenge for novices, allows for safe injury recovery, and offers a good foundation for high intensity sports training.
Joseph Pilates understood the value of movement as an integral part of a healthy body. It is not that Pilates is a one-size-fits-all, so much as it has great capacity to be adapted to meet your individual needs. Yes, I am mostly speaking of private one on one instruction. Here at Kinetic Body Lab I take classic vocabulary to a level that is specific to you. Pilates is not magical, it's practical.