Pilates is an exercise that builds on progress. It trains the body to optimize the breath, maintain good alignment and efficiently use muscles. People of all ages, physiques and strength levels could benefit from this method of exercise. By Ivy Ong
Have you ever seen the Spread Eagle? It’s one of the most common images you’ll see of pilates posted on social media. It’s an exercise wherein you use your hands and feet to hang from horizontal bars, drawing strength from the core to stabilize the body into a long, neutral line; you bend the elbows to pull the torso up and open the chest with the head looking to the back.
As impressive as the Spread Eagle is and other pilates exercises similar to it, sometimes pictures on social media are unable to fully express the reality of pilates and may even make it seem inaccessible to people who, maybe, aren’t as athletic, agile, youthful or adventurous. On the contrary, you can’t progress in doing pilates without a solid foundation in the basics. You couldn’t run a marathon without first learning how to walk, and you couldn’t walk without first learning how to crawl, could you?
Joseph Pilates, the creator of what has become modern day pilates, was weak and sickly in his youth. He was so determined to overcome his poor health that he taught himself anatomy, yoga, gymnastics, bodybuilding and martial arts. World War I brought the German Joseph under English custody as he was then in England. He was a circus performer, professional boxer and the self-defense teacher of the police force, but along with fellow Germans, Joseph was confined in a camp for whom the state considered enemy aliens. There, health conditions were subpar.
By then Joseph had already been developing his method of exercise for physical and mental well-being, which he called “Contrology”, and he encouraged everyone to exercise with him daily. He also improvised resistance equipment onto sickbeds to rehabilate injured and weakened German soldiers. Those who exercised with him were said to have remained among the healthiest in the camp.
Today, people do pilates for fitness as well as for rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation. You’d be surprised at the diversity you’d find in a pilates studio. You’d meet anyone from athletes to people who have had little to no exercise. There are college students who spend most of their time in front of the computer to the elderly who need to mobilize their bodies more. Some people are recovering from injury or illness, others do pilates to cross-train for running, high intensity interval training or other physical activities.
A typical pilates class is done one-on-one with a trained instructor. The exercises are unique to each person because every body is unique so each body’s needs are different. Pilates aims to bring the body back as closely as possible to good alignment, which is known as “neutral” in anatomy, and a body in neutral alignment is at its most stable and strongest position.
Every pilates exercise teaches you to use the breath and develops core strength – the core, those deep muscles forming a supportive corset inside the torso, is the body’s powerhouse. Even the most basic exercise trains you to recruit the core and then isolate the correct muscles involved in that movement. With a consistent pilates practice, the entire body grows stronger, moves more intelligently and breathing becomes fuller. As your strength progresses, you also becomes less prone to injuries and find that you could move with greater ease even in daily life.
Grow stronger and stronger with All Core Pilates, located at Upper Ground Floor, Alabang Town Center. Call or text 0917 187 2207 for more information.