He Says Pilates, She Says ... The Method?
exercise technique by any other name still be as effective? Because
of trademark restrictions (which have several organizations embroiled
in lawsuits with the owners of the term), some studios refer to
their Pilates-like technique as "the method," or even the phrase
the "p word." Are you wondering what all the fuss over Pilates
is about? The word has been tossed around quite a bit lately.
Pilates (pronounced Pi-lah-teez), used primarily by dancers
for deep body conditioning and injury rehabilitation, is a 70-year-old
exercise technique first developed by German immigrant, Joseph
Pilates. Only recently has it migrated from its long-held position
at the fringes of traditional fitness methods such as aerobics
and weight training. Hollywood has been a key factor in turning
the spotlight on Pilates, as numerous models and actresses pay
homage to Pilates for their beautifully toned, fit bodies.
Focusing on the Core
and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body's
core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by
developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition,
the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility, and build
How can one
exercise technique claim to do so much? The Reformer, a wooden
contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding
boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily
using one's own body weight as resistance, participants are put
through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite
the appearance of this, and several other equally unusual-looking
devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact.
who typically work one-on-one or with two to three participants,
offer reminders to engage the abdominals, the back, the upper
leg and buttocks to stabilize the body's core.
sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and
strength limitations. Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized
machines, however. In fact, many gyms across the country now offer
Pilates floor-work classes. These exercises also stress the stabilization
and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles.
Connecting with Pilates
connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral
part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous
repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed
with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes
will all this focus and stabilization get you? Well, according
to its adherents, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles,
a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve posture. Of course,
these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such
as a well-balanced diet and regular, aerobic exercise. (Though
some may claim that Pilates is all you need to develop stamina
and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component
may be advisable.)
Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows
the instructor to pinpoint strength and flexibility weak spots.
This is the time to become familiar with Pilates' unique breathing
patterns, which don't always follow the exhale-on-the-exertion
pattern of traditional exercise.
typically run 60 minutes, at a cost of $30 to $50 for private
sessions, and $8 to $25 for group sessions. If you're more comfortable
exercising at home, there are several Pilates and Pilates-type
videos available, including the Fit & Flexible series, and The
Method Precision series.
versions of the Reformer also are currently available on the market.
Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor,
Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve
flexibility and incorporate the mind/ body element into one effective
squabble over terminology shouldn't keep you from finding a reputable,
qualified instructor. You can access a comprehensive list of Pilates
studios by calling Pilates, Inc., at 800-474-5283, or the PhysicalMind
Institute, which refers to its technique as The Method, at 800-505-1990.
This article has been supplied courtesy of the American Council on Exercise, one of FoodFit's Resource Associations.