The Pilates Body: Lithe & Graceful


photo credit: flickr

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. Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


2 Responses to The Pilates Body: Lithe & Graceful

  1. TraceyJoy May 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    The body is one beautiful machine and when properly care for it does amazing things. I’ve struggled with my weight since childhood it’s still a battle that I’m slowly winning. One of the sisters in my congregation said to me that she would love to have my walk. I was puzzled she explained there was an elegant grace and fluidity when I walk very feminine and charming. She said it made people notice me whether I knew it or not. I can tell you that I had no idea. My body size/frame is still very large and my feet overpronate something awful (one reason ballet was so challenging). You’d think I’d be very heavy and hard on my feet when I walk yet I’m not. She said I walk like I’m floating you do even hear me move, like a cat very soft. I was happy she shared this with me, it made me think how did I get this coveted walk. PILATES and ballet. It changed the way my feet and legs carry my body and my posture has improved. According to her my neck even turns with grace, it’s smooth soft movement. Totally shocked. Even after months of practicing your DVD’s I still have to follow Siga most of the time, I can follow you and or Ida at certain points. So I’m progressing. Pilates does wonders for your entire body in ways you don’t even think about like the way you walk and turn your neck.

  2. Lisa Johnson May 8, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Tracey that’s amazing to hear! I was a klutz too and Pilates has made me a lot more graceful too. L–

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