The Evolution of Pilates

Pilates with a twist!


For people familiar with different exercise methods, the word Pilates may conjure up images of precise movement sequences controlled with impeccable posture and rhythmical breathing. This isn’t far from how the original method of Pilates was and still is taught by many practitioners and teaching establishments today. Although the Pilates principles of alignment, co ordination, control, breathing and flow are all fundamentally important components of an effective workout, the question is- how functional and effective are the movements and sequences commonly taught in both mat based and reformer classes?

Specificity is one of the most important and established principles of fitness training. This basically means that we should train our body for the tasks we want it to perform. So if you want to be a better sprinter, you train your muscles explosively in patterns of movement that closely resemble the technique of sprinting. If we apply this to Pilates, we can argue that although we are focusing on our core, promoting good postural awareness and muscular control, we’re not doing these things in a truly functional manner that will significantly improve our clients activities of daily life.

 Generally speaking from experience, I think fitness enthusiasts are guilty of buying into different methods, trends and paradigms without actually questioning their validity or evidence. My intention isn’t to pick Pilates to pieces, because of the many exercise methods I have encountered, Pilates has been one of the most effective for me and my clients, many of whom have used Pilates to overcome chronic injuries. I am a trained Pilates practitioner and fully endorse it’s principles, but the question I would like to pose is:  Is core stability exercise done laying on your back as beneficial to a persons strength and stability as standing exercises such as squatting, lunging, bending etc?

If we are to bide by the tried and tested fitness training principle of specificity, Pilates should be taught in a way that gives people functional strength and stability for their day to day activities and beyond. In other words, if we train people lying on the floor for 45 minutes, they will become good at training on the floor but not necessarily efficient or strong in the standing position. We need to challenge our clients in the bipedal stance (standing), with exercises that mimic actions such as bending, lifting, reaching, gait, changing direction etc. By applying the fundamental and sound principles of Joseph Pilates original method to such movement patterns, we can make our sessions far more challenging, creative and specific.

If you want to experience a different take on Pilates that teaches the core principles with functional movement patterns, and an in depth understanding of anatomy and biomechanics, Join me every Saturday morning from 10.15- 11.45am at the Buddhist Centre, Holloway Rd, N7 8JG, for some of the most effective and exhilarating Pilates London has to offer.

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