I cannot tell you how often I hear prospective clients, and people on the street, express a certain amount of fear of Pilates. Not that I approach random people on the street, trying to get them on the Reformer.
However, if accosting strangers on the street meant that I could dispel this pervasive fear, which as we all know is just false evidence appearing real, then gosh darnit, I would. Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, don’t hold me to it. Where was I?
Oh, yeah, fearing Pilates.
Did you know that Mr. Pilates called his method Contrology? Is that scary? Maybe you have control issues? Let go. Give it up. There’s so little that any of us have control over. The good news is that, through Pilates, we can learn how to control our bodies and how we move, so that we keep moving up until our very last breath.
Moving on. Moving. You see, it’s all about Pilates.
Return To Life Through Contrology was written by Mr. Pilates. In it he discusses basic principles, and concepts. If you’re afraid of righting your slumped shoulders and bad posture (put that friggin cell phone down already) or balancing your body so that it works efficiently when you’re working or playing, then stop reading and go lay down and turn off the lights.
However, if you’d like to face your fear head on, then read on.
Breath was Mr. Pilates’ A-number-one must have. Think about what would happen if we didn’t breath. Exactly.
He believed that the more one could pump air in and out of the body, the healthier that person would be. One of the many benefits of Pilates is developing greater lung capacity.
Who among us wants to suck wind walking from our car to Target, or from the subway to Subway, or carrying your 16-year old daughter up the stairs to bed. P.S. If you’re carrying your 16-year daughter (or son for that matter) to their bedroom, may I suggest you read another kind article.
I touched upon this earlier. When performing any and all of Pilates exercises, every muscle is being controlled, even if a muscle is not visibly working. You, the muscle’s owner, is still controlling it. This is a powerful concept, and even more powerful when put into action.
Pilates exercises are generally initiated from the center of the body, utilizing laser focus and energy. The center of the body considered to be the square (or rectangle) from one armpit, down the side body, across the low belly, and up the other side to the other armpit and across to armpit number one.
Pilates is a mind-body system that requires the practitioner’s full and undivided attention. Concentration ensures that each exercise is performed with integrity.
To perform the exercises correctly, and efficiently, concentration is paramount. The machines have a lot of moving parts, as do the exercises. I’d hate to see someone get whacked in the head because they were thinking about Chris Hemsworth, instead of where their head was in relation to the push thru bar on the Cadillac.
Each Pilates exercise requires specific placement of the body, and if you’re using Pilates equipment, there is specific placement of said body in relation to the equipment. Just for the record, rounded shoulders, neck jutting out past those shoulders, with your belly extended over the waist and hanging out on your thighs, is not proper body alignment. For the record.
Ideally, a constant flow is applied to the exercises, moving gracefully, and easily, from one exercise to the next, like a giselle or like Gisele the model.
If one is on the Reformer, for instance, and not flowing with concentration and control, the Reformer will make noises, such as banging springs. Some instructors, like yours truly, call this ‘crashing’.
I have been known to shame and humiliate a client that crashes the Reformer, because it may be an indication that they’re thinking about Chris Hemsworth. Sometimes tough love is the only kind of love.
When these principles are integrated and practiced as a whole, the results are kick-ass. A tight kick-ass. A lifted kick ass. Are you scared of that?!
Other principles include: Stabilization, Flexibility, Mobilization, Opposition, Range of Motion, and Body Awareness.
It is all valuable, and anyone who dares practice this scary thing called Pilates, will see and feel a slew of benefits in no time at all. Now that’s something to be afraid of.