I just spent my entire weekend with Pilates instructors observing the Pilates body up close and personal. I have to say the one word that always comes to mind with Pilates is lithe … graceful lines, toned limbs, fluid movement.
The experience was total immersion, something I haven’t done since my instructor trainee days well over a decade ago. Usually I just pop in for a two-hour continuing education workshop and then disappear for months. Watching people for three days, all I could think was, “It’s spectacular what people can do to move!”
The arc of Pilates has come a long way. It was October 1998 when Oprah Winfrey was on the cover of Vogue that Pilates was first written about in the mainstream. Before that, Pilates was this burgeoning secret. Actresses as far back as Raquel Welch in the 1970s were devotees, and the New York dance community has been doing Pilates since the Jerome Robbins days. But no one told anyone else what they were doing! They didn’t want to share!
But once that fateful Vogue hit the streets, I watched my business break wide open, so busy that I could barely remember my clients’ names (sadly that’s true). I opened my own studio, Modern Pilates, in 1999 and I haven’t looked back.
What is a Pilates Body?
The Pilates body is lean. You can definitely see muscles and lots of tone, especially the arms, abs, and legs. There isn’t any bulk at all. Before I was a Pilates devotee, it was a running joke how klutzy I was. After a couple years of Pilates, I started getting asked every now and then if I was a dancer. I laugh (a real dancer knows I’m not), but at least it proves I’m moving with more grace than I had before.
While having a sleek body is a goal for a whole lot of people, here’s the secret sauce for Pilates. You are so much functionally stronger. Your sense of balance improves dramatically and your body awareness becomes so refined, you’ll be amazed at how specific you can be when you move.
You’ll find other fitness activities are easier to do too. That’s another little Pilates secret: we make everything else work better. That’s why so many athletes do Pilates as part of their training, from golfers and tennis players to ice skaters and runners. They all use it to keep their joints strong and fluid.
Which segues into one of the best reasons to have a Pilates body … If you have aches and pains, you’ll likely find them gone or greatly diminished. And you’ll be less injury prone than before. At my studio, we’ve helped people avoid shoulder surgeries, recover from hip replacements, car accidents, broken limbs, cancer, all sorts of things. It’s one of the most gratifying parts of my job, to help someone who is in pain, and watch it melt away over a few weeks time and have them feeling better.
Would you like a Pilates body? One that is lithe, graceful, strong, looks darned good in a little black dress, and will carry you through a night dancing on 4″ heels? Then try out a Pilates DVD (um, how about mine?) or head to your local gym or studio. Just use Google and you’ll find we’re everywhere.
Do you do Pilates? What do you think are the benefits? I’d love to hear your point of view.