Sunday, August 26, 2012

CORE CONTROL - Why YOU should be doing Pilates

Boxer, wrestler, circus performer, body builder, yoga practitioner, anatomy model, trainer-of-fellow-inmates in a WW1 internment camp turned trainer-of-the-stars in New York City, the once prisoner-of-war Joseph Pilates, creator of Contrology (now known as Pilates), has a life story and list of accomplishments that are almost unbelievable. Some day I'd like to write a book about him, but for now I'll just talk to you about why you should be practicing Pilates. Actually, I'll let this photo of Mr. Pilates talk for me:


Here's what bums me out about Pilates: it's got a weird rap- a middle-aged soccer Mom who got tired of pumping tiny pink dumbbells kinda rap- and while in the last 25 years or so it's appealed to that demographic*, that's not what Pilates IS. It's a total-body workout that offers everyone something- from cardio-nuts to body builders, from teenagers to elderly folk, those who are injured, those who are not. Not to mention it's portable and scalable- always at your level on the road, at home, or at the gym.

No matter who you are PILATES WILL:
  • Increase your flexibility (...and if you lift, you know you need this.)
  • Give you better posture (no more being dumpy!)
  • Help create muscular symmetry (ooooh!)
  • Create deep core strength (back, abs, pelvis- and you know what you can do with that!)
  • Elongate your muscles ("lean" and "toned"- maybe you've heard of those?)
Sound awesome? Of course of it does.

Pilates (or Contrology) is done several ways: on a mat (sitting, laying, and standing) using only body weight, on a mat using weighted balls, rings, bands, etc, or on Pilates "APPARATUS" (I just love that word, it sounds like a medieval torture device) which look like this (here with the man himself- and yes, they still look like this:)

So uh... I've never used any Pilates Apparatuses. They're not available at my gym and I'm too broke to go to a Pilates studio. But mat work I can vouch for- it is excellent. Challenging (even for people who are in shape- I do it with my musclehead bros all the time and they make it maybe 1 minute before they collapse, cores shaking), fun (probably because it's so challenging), and after adding it to my routine for a few weeks the difference in the way I felt and looked was incredible. I was at the doctor's recently and after she pushed on my stomach she remarked on how "very strong" my middle was and said " must work out." I've since made it my mission to bring people to Pilates, or Pilates to the people- because it's really a great method and I don't want it to be like one of those bands you hate because their fans are so annoying.

Ok, so Pilates is based off 6 principles. Centering, Control, Concentration, Precision, Flow, and Breathing. Basically, fluid, controlled movements executed with perfect form, breathing to oxygenate the muscles. You don't need me to explain why this makes great fitness sense or why that would be a good thing to do for your body. Y'all are smart, you got it. So get on it.


Most gyms offer pilates classes, or you could hit up pilates studios.You can watch instructional Pilates videos on youtube (I'm a big fan of  Pop Pilates - Cassey is so sickly sweet it enrages me... which somehow motivates me), or pick up a book and teach yourself. I have and love The Pilates Body by Brook Siler.

There is an endless amount of info online, loads of different forms of Pilates to check out (Classical - this is based completely off what our friend Joesph Pilates did, Contemporary, Yogalates, and lots more. I'm currently writing this at work- I work at a gym by the way- and I'm looking at a flier for our new class "Pilates with a Punch!" which is dance, boxing, and Pilates all combined), and literally not a single reason not to add it to your routine.

Joseph Pilates, we salute you.

*Nothing wrong with them, but they ain't me.

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