Woman performing an exercise on Reformer
26 Mar 2021

Pilates & Me

Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only attain it, but to maintain it. - Joseph Pilates   Firstly, I need to admit that Pilates wasn't my love at first sight. However, I somehow felt from the beginning that it is something special and that it will be definitely...

Woman performing an exercise on Reformer

Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only attain it, but to maintain it. - Joseph Pilates  

Firstly, I need to admit that Pilates wasn't my love at first sight. However, I somehow felt from the beginning that it is something special and that it will be definitely worth building a relationship with it. And my intuition hasn't let me down!

The longer I practice it, teach it and study, the more I'm excited and fascinated with its depth and complexity.

Joseph H. Pilates, who created this system at the beginning of the 20th century, was far ahead of his time and during his life wasn't appropriately appreciated. Pilates (the method named after his author) didn't achieve popular recognition until the start of the new millennium, but its lessons have become very requested and sought-after since then.

Nowadays, there are many schools and approaches to this method. Some of them are focused more traditionally and teach it the same way Joseph Pilates passed it down to his students and followers.

Others took rather modern approach and enriched it with current knowledge from physiotherapy and movement science. Both Pilates schools where I've been studying belong to this second category.

I learned Matwork (Pilates exercises on the mat, only with your own body, sometimes using little props like overball, flexband, Pilates circle, toning balls, foam roller, stability ball etc.) according to the Stott Pilates method. After several years I continued with the teacher training on the big Pilates equipment (Pilates machines - Reformer, Trapeze table, Chair, Ladder Barrel) which I completed at the Balanced Body University.

What I love about Pilates is that it similarly like yoga connects breath with movement which leads to the unity of the body and mind. All the exercises are performed mindfully with full focus on the technique, it can be said that quality is valued over quantity.

This kind of exercise might seem to be hard to understand and to do at the beginning, especially if it's your first experience with movement like this. It can be difficult to synchronize breath with the movement, just breathing according to the instructions of a Pilates teacher is a lot at first. They speak about the deep stabilization system of the body, they want you to use different muscles which you've never heard before in your life, they mention the pelvic floor often etc. Even if you do your best at the moment and are fully focused, the instructor keeps repeating to relax your legs, hips, get your shoulders down, head up and so on. On top of it, there is nothing special going on during the lesson, nothing particularly hurts (no pain no gain mindset doesn't work very well here), but the following day, OMG! You feel muscles which you haven't been aware of so far, there are some between the ribs? It makes you curious. And that's great!

After some time of regular exercise you suddenly realize that the half roll back feels different, that you thighs are not always in horrible tension and contracted, you discover unexpected space in your hips' area. You're aware of the deeper muscles, you're able to sweat while performing much easier exercises than before just because you do them correctly and you use muscles which are supposed to be used and don't compensate the lack of strength in one area with the rest of the body. And then one day, you roll all the way up from lying to sitting position smoothly and fluently without having to flick your arms forward like fisherman a fishing rod.

You feel few centimeters taller, your waist narrowed, there is not any pain in the lower back anymore. If you do another kind of sport regularly, it is suddenly easier for you or you improved your results, your spouse can't understand how it is possible that you're able to ski down the hill without taking even a single break while still the last year you had to stop at least three times.

I believe that Pilates is the kind of exercise for the whole life not because when you start with it you can't stop, but because it is incredibly beneficial probably to all generations and age groups and you can begin anytime.