Hi! My name is Tina Sprinkle and I am the owner of Pilates 1901, a Pilates fitness studio in Kansas City.
As someone who has been in the health and fitness business for nearly 30 years, and as someone who now practices Pilates, I am often asked, “What exactly is Pilates and what can it do for me?”
Well, the short answer is A LOT! Pilates is core based movement that focuses on total body connection and conditioning. Simply stated, Pilates is all about creating movement, rather than reacting to movement. I am amazed how many people have absolutely no awareness of their core muscles, despite the fact that all functional movement is enhanced from a stronger core connection.
For example, I work with many former ballet dancers who have turned to teaching Pilates after dancing. They know that as dancers, they required a deep level of strength and connection to execute the precise and graceful movements the art demands. A ballerina is able to stand on point with the opposite leg in the air not just from great flexibility in her legs, but from strong abdominal, back and gluteal muscles- all connecting and firing at the same time to create the stability needed to perform extreme movement.
While we may not all aspire to become dancers, the benefits of Pilates training offer the same opportunities to each of us. Based on five basic principles, Pilates enhances our breath, mental focus, body awareness, core connection, strength, flexibility and stability.
At Pilates 1901 we work with professional athletes, geriatrics, rehab clients, equestriennes, fat loss participants, aging golfers and teenage athletes: and despite the discrepancy in age, fitness level and goal, they all receive the same benefits:
- stronger, longer and more toned muscles
- enhanced metabolism and energy for daily life
- greater core strength, connection and tone
- improved joint stability, flexibility and balance
- greater sense of body awareness, connection and control
The fact is, Pilates truly is appropriate for everyone! That includes people who think they hate to exercise! I can’t tell you how many people start out feeling they will never be able to commit to an exercise program because of this only to find out they love Pilates because “it doesn’t feel like exercise!” Why is that?
Probably because Pilates doesn’t hurt. That old adage of “No pain, No gain” simply does not pertain to getting stronger through Pilates training. That does not mean once you’ve built a solid foundation on the basic principles that Pilates cannot be extremely challenging and make you sweat- to the contrary! It simply means that you don’t have to feel beat up, over trained or sore to be doing effective work! You will actually leave your workouts feeling better, more energized, motivated and centered! How’s that for a concept?
The very nature of Pilates is to build a strong foundation through the five basic principles. These are the building blocks on which your new Pilates body will be built.
- breathing – to focus your mind, attention and relax hyperactive muscles
- shoulder stability- to decrease tension and over use of our neck and shoulders and improve posture
- rib cage placement- to learn to connect to our core muscles for greater functional stability and power
- pelvic placement- for greater strength, stability and balance in our body and movements
- head nod- to finally be able to curl forward without hurting our necks and learn to use our core muscles
All Pilates movements, from mat work to equipment work are based in these five basic principles. You might learn them on some of the equipment first (for instance, the Cadillac or Reformer) because it may be easier to feel with some assistance provided by the machine, but they are always the foundation for your Pilates practice. Many people have tried Pilates mat classes and felt frustrated and I don’t blame them. Depending on the teacher and the students understanding of the work, it could be a nightmare. In fact, I believe mat Pilates to be the most challenging introduction to Pilates as it demands the deepest connection: it’s just you and the mat. That’s why we start most of our clients out with Pilates equipment training.
The most popular piece of Pilates equipment is called the Pilates Reformer. The Pilates Reformer has a sliding platform attached with springs at one end and it can be moved by pulling on ropes or pushing off from a stationary foot bar. The machine is weighted by springs which glide smoothly or move back and forth on the rollers. The springs are used for resistance instead of weights. These springs provide variable or measured resistance — from light to heavy — to the muscles while exercising. The springs offer more resistance at the strongest point of muscle contraction and less resistance at the starting and finishing point. This type of resistance reduces stress on the tendons and ligaments in the body.
The swivel pulleys allow variable angles of resistance as you can pull the ropes easily in any direction. The rope length adjusts swiftly and easily with nautical cam cleats. The curved head and shoulder help to stabilize your body and refine breathing patterns. The adjustable straps allow you to locate the proper arm and leg positions. The wheels move in vertical and horizontal way. The three-position headrest is upholstered with synthetic leather and helps in making the movements smooth. While the headrest can usually be set in two positions, the foot bar could be kept in four positions. The non-slip frame caps keep the strong steel frame in place when you are performing exercises.
You can perform a wide variety of exercises in different positions: standing, sitting, kneeling or lying down on the Pilates Reformer. In fact, the variety of movements and their abiity to be modified for each client’s needs and goals is what keeps them mentally and physically challenged. Remember, while the original repertoire was created using just the body weight and the mat, you also have the Pilates Reformer, Chair, Arc Barrel, Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrel and Edge to provide variations and new twists on the original work. The combinations, exercises, application and RESULTS are limitless!
Pilates is a unique and effective exercise system that can work for everybody regardless of age, fitness level or ability. Mindfulness is the first step towards any real, lasting change. At Pilates 1901 we know, you must change your mind before you can change your body. That’s because we don’t just change bodies- we change lives.
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