…Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment
and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable
of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily
tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure. – Joseph H. Pilates
Our Pilates Myth Busters
Let’s start by helping you demystify the Pilates Method and address some of the most prevalent misnomers.
The Pilates Method was intended for everyone, for whomever would use it. Joseph’s most passionate belief, as we’ve come to know it, was that his system could be used by anyone anywhere 30 minutes a day and it would change their lives!
Pilates is for dancers and was developed for dancers.
It wasn’t until after he opened his studio in New York city that the then burgeoning modern dance community (as well as professional dancers from all genres) began to flock to his method for it’s obvious benefits for dancers. Pilates is a beautiful and natural fit for dance of any kind, but was not developed for dancers.
You have to be in shape to do Pilates.
There are many reasons attributed to why Joseph developed his system. As we have come to understand it, he saw a world in need of movement, re-vitalization and a reconnection to the joy in their lives.
In his book “Return To Life”, Joseph writes about a utopia where everyone practiced his method – everyone! That means big, small, fit, injured, old, young, skinny, overweight and everyone in between.
In the early stages of its development, Contrology as it was called, was done by the sickly and de-conditioned people who were interned with Joseph on the Isle of Man. It has also been said that Joseph suffered from many ailments as a child and that his journey to heal himself was the motivation for creating his method.
Pilates is for movie stars and rich people.
Joseph’s dream was that anyone and everyone could practice his method because all you truly needed was a space on your floor.
It is hard to say exactly why Pilates took on an exclusive feeling as it broke into the mainstream. Perhaps due to the novelty of the equipment itself or the scarcity of qualified instructors in the beginning, Pilates became known for it’s expense and affiliation with the rich and famous.
As our industry grows and the ability for high quality programs to generate equally high quality instructors blossoms, Pilates is reaching more people with clearer intent. The intent is that Pilates should be affordable and accessible and that work on the equipment and on the mat have equal value.
Luckily, there are more and more studios offering a variety of entry points and who are dedicated to their student’s journey with Pilates as a lifelong practice. Whether that means mat classes or private sessions students have an opportunity to create a program that fits their fitness, financial and scheduling needs.
After all, if we can’t practice what good is this brilliant method?
- Increased abdominal and back strength
- Increased flexibility and whole body toning
- Pain reduction
- Injury prevention
- Increased body awareness
There is no other movement philosophy quite like Pilates. Innovative, intuitive
and physically demanding, Pilates is an opportunity to recover from injury,
maintain optimal body intelligence and strength as well as prevent from injury
Pilates is an exercise system made up of fluid, controlled movements that
radiate from the torso, the core of the body, the powerhouse. Made up of the
grouping of abdominal and back muscles, the powerhouse is the building block of
The engagement of the transversus abdominus, pelvic floor and other postural
muscles are integral in Pilates exercises. The specific recruitment of core
muscles supports neutral spine, which in turn promotes proper alignment through
stabilization and mobilization. In cooperation with breath and intention,
Pilates brings to our bodies and minds a balance that helps to rehabilitate and
protect from injury.
The Pilates mat exercises are designed to tone and strengthen those muscles
that support correct form and posture. From simple isolated movements that
train the body to move with efficiency to dynamic whole body movement, the mat
exercises take the work full-circle. Based on the six principles of control,
balance, centering, flowing motion, focus and rhythm, Pilates is a life-long
journey. From the most beginning level to the most advanced, there is always
something to explore on the Pilates mat.
Excerpts from Joseph Pilates’ “Return to Life Through Contrology.” 1945
February excerpt continued…
“All in all, we do not give our bodies the care that our well-being deserves. True, we do stroll in the fresh air whenever our whimsical spirit moves us, or whenever necessity compels us to do so, with the result that on these occasions we do, in spite of ourselves, exercise our legs to this limited extent, accomplished, however, at the sacrifice of the rest of our body which after all is much more important to us from the viewpoint of our general health. Is it any wonder then that this haphazard and wholly inadequate body-building technique of the average person fails so miserably in the acquirement of physical fitness!
Admittedly, it is rather difficult to gain ideal physical fitness under the handicap of daily breathing the soot-saturated air of our crowded and noisy cities. On the other hand, we can more quickly realize this ambition if we are privileged to breathe the pure fresh air of the country and forests without the accomplishment of the traffic roar of the city which constantly tends to keep our nerves strung taut. Even those of us who work in the city and are fortunate enough to live in the country must counteract the unnatural physical fatigue and mental strain experienced in our daily activities. Telephones, automobiles, and economic pressure all combine to create physical letdown and mental stress so great that today practically no home is entirely free from sufferers of some form of nervous tension.
Because of the intense concentration demanded by our work and despite the real enjoyment our work may bring some of us we, nevertheless, gladly welcome any additional relief in the form of diversified and pleasant recreational activities, preferably outdoors, in our constant attempts to offset the effects of increasing cares and burdens so common today. To ease mental strain and relieve physical fatigue we must acquire a reserve stockpile of nervous energy in order that we may really be able to enjoy ourselves at night. Hobbies and all forms of play tend materially to renew our vitality with accomplishing moral uplift. Play is not necessarily only confined to indulging in conventional games. Rather the term “play” as we use it here, embraces every possible form of PLEASURABLE LIVING.”
More information and inspiration about Joe: