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Pilates Edge

By Andrea Krakower

“This makes flipping tires look easy!” Within the first ten minutes of his session, one of our Fitness Quest 10 athletes made this statement with a mixture of surprise and frustration. What could possibly challenge this athlete more than flipping tires, the ultimate test of strength and power? It wasn’t repeats on ‘the hill’ outside Fitness Quest 10, nor was it sled drags through the parking lot. This workout took place in a room where the challenge is not how much weight you can lift, how fast your can run or how high you can jump, but how well you can stabilize your body and focus your mind. The purpose of this workout was to address the weaknesses and muscle imbalances in the body that can ultimately result in injury, decreased performance and in some cases, the end of an athlete’s season, or career. This workout was Pilates.

In the early part of the 20th century, Joseph Pilates created a series of exercises that emphasized stabilizing, stretching & strengthening the body resulting in optimal function and movement. While a Pilates practice is invaluable to all people, athletes have much to gain from it, including core stabilization, which is the foundation for building strength and power; postural alignment & control; enhanced body awareness and injury prevention.  There are several factors that influence peak performance in sport such as genetics and access to resources. As athletes progress from youth sports teams to high school, college, and for a small percentage, the elite level, it is paramount that they have an edge. Although Pilates is not marketed as a performance enhancing workout, there is no denying that an athlete who possesses core stability reduces their risk of injury, develops postural control and thus has more efficient movement patterns, which ultimately results in a competitive edge over his or her opponent. This ‘edge’ could be the difference between a season-ending injury and a college scholarship for a young athlete or an appearance in the post-season and a subsequent bonus for a professional athlete.  

Until recently, the evidence to support the importance of core training for athletes both to prevent injury and enhance performance has been largely anecdotal. Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support these observations, strength and conditioning specialists, athletic trainers and coaches continued to preach the importance of core training to their athletes. In the last five years, several compelling studies have been published to verify what Joseph Pilates discovered by carefully observing his clients decades ago- that core stability training is a vital component of any athlete’s training program. If an athlete cannot sit or stand at rest with proper posture and alignment, they will not perform optimally. If an athlete does not posses core stability, he or she will not be able to build the strength and ultimately, the power necessary to perform at a high level in sports without causing injury. In short, without the structural integrity and basic movement principles that a Pilates practice can provide, an athlete runs the risk of developing muscle imbalances and compensation patterns that can derail his or her athletic career.  

Athletes of all ages and abilities come to Fitness Quest 10 from around the United States seeking an edge. Between personal training sessions, team practices, hours in the weight room and games, it may seem daunting to find the time for Pilates. What is important for athletes, coaches and parents to understand is that incorporating Pilates into the athlete’s schedule is really quite easy to do. For example, the Pilates mat work, which is the foundation of Pilates, can be done anytime, anywhere, with or without small props such as bands, balls, gliding discs or the foam roller. The mat work can easily be included in a warm up or used as an active recovery workout. Further, Pilates is a safe and effective form of exercise for all ages, making it a great addition to any athlete’s training program. Although more and more athletes practice Pilates with great results, there is still confusion about what Pilates is and how it is beneficial for athletes. Many athletes discover Pilates after they become injured, only to return to competition stronger than ever. Just as with other types of training, the best results are achieved with consistent practice.  While the most significant predictor of an athlete’s success is ultimately genetics, a competitive edge comes from a balanced training program that includes sport specific strength & conditioning, Pilates, bodywork, adequate rest and recovery, proper nutrition, and of course, plenty of tire flips.  

Andrea Krakower is a Pilates instructor at Fitness Quest 10 where she works with individuals from all walks of life, including professional athletes, pre & post natal clients, people recovering from injury and those who just want to have a strong, healthy body. Andrea is passionate about educating her clients and is committed to helping them achieve their goals through the utilization of all services that are offered at Fitness Quest 10. She is also a contributing author for the newly launched health & fitness website For more information on how you can begin your Pilates program visit Andrea can be reached via the contact form below [easy-contact]

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