FRIDAY'S FEATURE: The Art of Contrology
Joseph Pilates called his exercise system "Contrology". The root word, "control" denotes the ability to "manage" or "command" our body's movement. He even said, "Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles." One of the greatest benefits of a Pilates practice is the sense of self-mastery; when your focused mind allows you to achieve something you once deemed impossible. It's so worth developing the art of control.
Pilates is an ongoing practice in which you patiently learn and hone the fundamental principles of the technique and progressively apply them to the more advanced exercises. It's so tempting to bypass the basics and rush into the advanced exercises in pursuit of a "tough workout". Surprisingly to many, however, is how physically and mentally challenging it is to shift focus (concentration) toward initiating every exercise from a strong and stable powerhouse (centering). Add to that, the challenge of honoring the details of each exercise (control) and executing them with proper alignment (precision). And it's even more challenging to maintain your powerhouse connection and attention to details while seamlessly transitioning from one exercise to the next (flow) and allowing your workout to be guided through conscious breath-work (breath).
It's actually easier to plow through a series of exercises relying on brute strength, speed and momentum. But, controlled exercise at an appropriate fitness level fosters strength and reduces potential injury. Training above your fitness level without awareness of your form or technique will rob you of all the potential benefits of Pilates. The Pilates Method was designed as a conscious form of exercise that trains the body to function as an entire unit rather than inefficiently training isolated muscle groups. The mind, body and breath are trained to work synergistically to create true, functional strength. Plus, beyond the strength and aesthetic benefits, you can also achieve postural balance, improved circulation, increased joint range of motion and flexibility.
After all these years of doing Pilates, I'm always surprised at how the beginner system can kick my butt when I pay attention to the details. Like they say, "the devil is in the details". Try it yourself:
55 Minute Beginner System Workout:
one leg circles
rolling like a ball
single leg stretch
double leg stretch
single straight leg stretch (scissors)
spine stretch forward
footwork series (toes, arches, heels, tendon stretch)
leg circles & frogs
stomach massage series (round back, straight back, reach up)
short box series (round back, straight back, side-to-side, twist, half tree)
knee stretch series (round back, arched, knees off)
roll down/roll back
(parallel w/ feet/legs together)
(parallel w/ feet/legs hip width apart)
going up front
ENDING AT THE WALL
lengthen and articulate spine to wall
roll down with small arm circles
For more detailed instruction on each exercise, I highly recommend the Power Pilates Educational Materials. Have fun developing the art of control!
Rock Your Powerhouse!