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The Power of Pilates

by Andrew Krakower

It is hard to turn on the television or walk into a gym without hearing about Pilates. The series of exercises created by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1900s has gone from ‘the’ celebrity- endorsed workout of the moment, to a mainstay in gyms and studios around the world. Despite all of the hype surrounding Pilates, many people are unclear about exactly what Pilates is, and more importantly, how it will help them reach their health & fitness goals. This article will explain exactly what Pilates is, debunk some common myths associated with Pilates & provide insight about how you can make a Pilates practice a part of your workout routine.

Joseph H. Pilates developed the series of exercises now known as ‘Pilates’ to help individuals from all walks of life strengthen, stretch & stabilize their bodies. Similar to Fitness Quest 10’s philosophy of physical, mental, emotional & spiritual balance, Pilates’ believed in total body wellness, with physical fitness representing only one component of an individual’s well-being. The basic principles of Pilates emphasize development of the mind & body through balance, breathing, concentration & controlled movement. Those who practice Pilates can expect to not only experience postural improvements and increased body awareness, but a fit, strong body, as well. Physical therapists incorporate Pilates exercises into their patients’ rehab programs, celebrities use it to achieve a long, lean look and professional athletes practice Pilates to enhance core strength and flexibility, prevent injury and maximize performance.

Pilates is performed on different pieces of apparatus, and on a mat with or without small props, such as balls, bands or foam rollers. The reformer, cadillac, chair & barrels are the most common pieces of equipment typically found in a Pilates studio. The use of apparatus in a Pilates session allows the instructor to maximally challenge each client in a safe and effective manner. Many of the exercises performed on the apparatus can also be done on the mat, making Pilates more accessible to everyone. While the portability of a Pilates workout makes it appealing to many people, it is also important to practice with a trained instructor to ensure that you are doing each exercise with the precision & control that is the hallmark of Pilates.

As Pilates has increased in popularity, so have the myths & misconceptions associated with it. Perhaps you have heard some of the following: “Pilates is for dancers & women” or “Pilates is just like yoga.” While there is SOME truth in both of these statements, it is important for people to understand that Pilates is an effective, results-oriented workout that will help you build core strength, improve flexibility and move more efficiently in both the gym & the real world. Whether your reason for doing Pilates is to decrease back pain from long hours of sitting at a desk, or perhaps enhance performance in your favorite sport, Pilates can help you achieve these goals. While Pilates is ideal for improving strength & flexibility, it is important to realize that a Pilates practice should only represent part of your health & fitness program. In the words of Joseph Pilates,

“…proper diet and sufficient sleep must supplement our exercise in our quest for physical fitness. Another important factor in this connection is that of relaxation…throughout our workday wherever it is possible to do so, since this practice keeps us physically fit after we have obtained physical fitness. The man who uses intelligence with respect to his diet, sleeping habits and who exercises properly is beyond any question of doubt taking the very best preventative medicines provided so freely and abundantly by nature.”

At Fitness Quest 10, we offer customized personal training sessions, healing massages & bodywork, dynamic group classes and world-class athletic coaching in addition to a Pilates program. This comprehensive approach to health & fitness embodies Joseph Pilates’ philosophy of total body well-being, and will help you achieve your health & fitness goals. 

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