Muscle Madness: designing the Pilates body
It's the journey, not the destination... even in our Pilates practice. How often do you see clients in mat class insist upon doing The Hundred with their shoulder blades barely hovering above the mat, their legs 2 inches off the ground, their abdominal muscles protruding, and their faces beet red from holding their breath? Despite our clear explanation of the technique, the modifications we offer and our specific cues; it's as if our words fall on deaf ears. One of my teachers used to say, "If it ain't in your powerhouse, it ain't Pilates!"
It's unfortunate when people miss the essence of Pilates by skipping over the journey. I often wonder why they're so impatient that they'll cheat themselves of the opportunity to develop real strength, stability, stamina and flexibility. After all, there's no shame in doing the hundred with your legs in tabletop; especially if your powerhouse is deeply engaged. As you get stronger, extend them to 45 degrees and scoop deeper. Finally, when you're advanced (and only when you're advanced)... then you can perform the hundred with your legs 2 inches off the mat and actually benefit from it.
(front-back:Shari Berkowitz, Carrie Macy, Heather Burns at The Vertical Workshop in Beverly Hills)
Teaching in a group setting is always challenging. It demands that each student take greater responsibility for their own personal practice while sharing the attention of the instructor. It challenges their minds to discipline their bodies. But when people are open to the journey, the benefits they'll reap from a consistent practice are innumerable. Mr. Pilates said, "In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see the difference, in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body". But, you have to trust the journey.
What is the Pilates Journey?
Our journey is developing the ability to apply each of the 6 Pilates principles into our practice... during each and every exercise. The principles should define our practice.
Centering: Initiate all movement from a strong a stable powerhouse (aka "core"). Be aware that your abdominal muscles are drawn in and up for the duration of your Pilates session. Or, do you sacrifice your powerhouse connection by working at too advanced of a level?
Control: Develop strong body awareness and manage your movement.
Concentration: Approach each exercise with focused intention. Pilates is not just choreography or a series of tricks. Each element of every exercise has a purpose. Discover them.
Precision: Strive for optimal alignment! Form = Function.
Flow: Make your practice fluid, dynamic and rhythmic. It's a workout!
Breath: Breath fully and efficiently with special attention to a deep exhale to facilitate your deep abdominal muscles. Your movement should follow our breath. Breath = Life.
Enjoy your Pilates journey and...
Rock Your Powerhouse!