This must be the question I get asked the most when I’m introducing Pilates as a concept to people who have never done it before. So I thought for this blog I would explain a little bit more about what Pilates is.
Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates - although it wasn’t called Pilates until after he died. He was inspired by Yoga, amongst other things, so there are elements of Pilates where you can see this influence. He was also inspired by martial arts and other forms of movement, and in essence Pilates is about teaching successful movement strategies. He worked rehabilitating soldiers and later training ballet dancers from his New York studio using equipment he designed to facilitate this.
Ok so that’s the history, what is Pilates now? You may have done Pilates in a gym before and think you have an idea of what it’s about. But coming to a dedicated studio with equipment, highly qualified teachers and small class numbers is a very different experience to the fitness style of Pilates gyms tend to offer.
I like to think of Pilates as almost a form of meditation. The ability to focus internally on what your body is doing is a form of being mindful and in the moment. So being able to meditate, be mindful and work on your strength, tone and posture has to be a majorly efficient workout right? And there’s a reason for that. Joseph was a big believer that health comes from not only your body but also your mind “Through Pilates this unique trinity of a balanced body, mind and spirit can be attained. Self confidence follows”
“Through Pilates this unique trinity of a balanced body, mind and spirit can be attained. Self confidence follows”
The challenge for so many people is they are conditioned to believe that to tone up or improve posture you have to ‘work hard’. We’re told that that no gain comes unless you’re in pain. Well what about those people who are often in pain? Or lead totally stressed out or insanely busy lives? Why put more stress hormones and strain through an already maxed out nervous system?
I’ve come to realise that most people are in pain in some way but we’ve conditioned ourselves to think it’s a way of life, “I sit at a desk so I’m going to have back pain”. It is true that as humans we were not designed to be sedentary and hence the surge in cases of lower back pain and neck pain can be attributed to our lifestyles.
But our posture isn’t a fixed thing. It is constantly evolving as our lives evolve. So whilst your desk job may have led you to have your current posture, you have the power to change it too.
Pilates is about creating strategies for movement which are efficient and effective. I spend most of my days teaching clients how to make movements feel easier. If you have the correct strategy, it should feel easy. Many of my clients tell me they leave the studio feeling lighter and more energetic almost like they’ve had a massage, yet they can see their bodies changing radically both in terms of how they look and how they feel. This surprises a lot as people think this can only happen from pushing yourself to work harder, train longer and sweat more. Not always.
Joseph Pilates said:
"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"
How many of us feel we can perform our daily tasks with zest and pleasure?
So if you’re one of those people who sees a physiotherapist or osteopath often or gets a regular massage as a way of managing your aches and pains you may want to think about why you keep coming back to the same place. Is it not logical to think that if you keep moving in the same way you are likely to require the same treatment? What if you learned to move differently, in a way that becomes second nature to you? That is our aim at Soul Pilates. So whether you are in pain, or want to have a better tennis swing, run a faster marathon time or simply sit in the cinema without aching, we can teach you to make movement more efficient.