We have all heard that Pilates is corrective exercise. And it’s true. It works the whole body, correcting imbalances, muscle tightness and weaknesses thus making one feel better. However, Pilates was not meant to be for rehabilitation. I have heard a story that Joseph Pilates didn’t want people with significant physical problems to be at the studio with people who were there to exercise. In those cases Joe worked that person behind the curtains. Whether that is true, or not, it sure tells the most important factor in Pilates which is sometimes lost – that we should move from day one.
When you start moving blood flow increases naturally. It brings oxygen and nutrition into your body. That, in itself, helps those body parts which might have some aches and pains. (We’ve all been there!) However, when you break an ankle, for example, you do not go to Pilates. First, you see a doctor and then you go to a physical therapist for rehabilitation. After the ankle has been rehabilitated you continue with Pilates to make it stronger.
I am a Pilates teacher from Finland and one of our most common forms of exercise in winter time is cross-country skiing. People ski from all age groups – from young children to elderly people. It requires balance, coordination and it is somewhat strenuous activity, like Pilates. However, no one thinks skiing as rehabilitation. It is simply a form of exercise. And that is something I would like to see more in our Pilates world. We should see Pilates as a sport – does it have to be perfect? No. Does it have to look pretty? No. Just as long as it’s safe, makes us breathe harder and makes us feel good.
It doesn’t change the fact that we have a specific way of working in Pilates. Once you become familiar with the exercises you are able to move with control, concentrate better, you are able to listen to your own body and you start moving with ease. You exercise actively but in a relaxed manner. However, it doesn’t happen in a click of a finger and we do not have to be champions after a few times. Let’s lose the control part, a bit, in our minds to allow the body to move and feel the greatness of Pilates. Let’s make it fun, enjoyable and ultimately a form of exercise!