“But why? What’s the point?” Have you ever asked that question? I have asked that question, repeatedly, as the owner of an extremely active and playful, two-year old Boxer-Shepherd mix dog, named Kacee. You see, I’m trying to teach her how to release items – a ball, but also socks, shoes, papers, etc. We’ve been working with her for some time, and when you say the word “release,” she thinks that means “grab on for dear life with the intention of winning the tug-o-war” (especially while I’m on the phone). So, in our training session the other day, when we were not making any progress, I asked myself “What’s the point”? Moments later, to my surprise, we finally got the result we were working toward, when in desperation I said “release”, and she dropped the item from her mouth. That was the answer to my own question. I received results from continuing to train with Kacee over time, even though I did not notice the results immediately day by day.
This simple question came to mind as I thought about Pilates. You yourself may have wondered, “What’s the point of Pilates?” The Pilates method is a unique grouping of exercises that were put together to create a healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy life. Practicing these principles, over time, will strengthen your core and give you many other benefits. I’ll take you straight to the point, with the P’s of Pilates.
The PERSON behind the Pilates exercise method is Joseph Pilates. Joseph Pilates was born and raised in Germany. He was a sick child, struggling with asthma and rheumatic fever. As a young man, he became determined to strengthen his weak and sick body through muscle control. As he perfected his method, he taught it to internees during the First World War. The “point” or result: the “subjects” maintained their health through the flu epidemic in 1918. In 1925, he came to the U.S. and his techniques gained a following in the dance world.
The PURPOSE of Pilates exercise is to lengthen, strengthen, and tone the spine and the muscles supporting the spine. These are the muscles that make up our core: the abdominal muscles, the lower back muscles, the gluteals, and hip muscles.
The Pilates PROGRAM focuses on stretching and strengthening exercises. The result is improved posture, increased flexibility and balance, stronger muscles, and improved muscular balance in the body. The program also promotes a focused mind-body connection and increases circulation through effective breathing techniques.
Pilates PRINCIPLES are key to making sure you are executing the exercises properly. They include proper breathing and important placement of the pelvis, rib cage, shoulders, and head.
Another fun fact is that Pilates is PORTABLE. No fancy equipment or location is required. You need only the floor (though I prefer a mat) and your own body. Of course, there are tools you can add to increase the difficulty, but the exercises can be very challenging with just your body weight for resistance.
After reading this list of P’s, you may be thinking “PERFECT!” but how do I get started?
To PERFORM these exercises well, you will probably need some training. There are many, many exercises that incorporate the principles, but they may be difficult to master on your own. You can look up exercises online, go to a gym that offers Pilates classes, or better yet go to a Body & Soul Cardio/Strength & Flexibility class near you. You’ll learn to master the “hundred,” “double leg stretch,” “corkscrew circles” and more.
Once you get the hang of it, you will be living PROOF of the point of Pilates! But do keep in mind that it’s a PROCESS, just like working with Kacee to release. We must be faithful to continue our training sessions, whether it’s with exercise or training our much-loved pups.