For those of you who know me, you certainly know I am obsessed with Pilates! Truly obsessed! I was introduced to Pilates back in college some 20+ years ago (ugh, I’m old!) and have been practicing it ever since. And don’t let my post-baby-fluffy-mom figure fool you—Pilates can dramatically change one’s appearance. In fact, it has been reported that many people have grown almost an inch taller due to the stretching and strengthening principles upon which Pilates is founded. This phenomenon is not some miracle height enhancer (otherwise Tom Cruise would be a Pilates master), though it is known to correct a person’s posture, all the way back to one’s pre-computer/cellphone/sitting height. Which reminds me… here’s a fantastic image that perfectly depicts today’s electronics-fueled sedentary lifestyle:
As of late, I have been practicing the exercise regimen almost daily (sometimes twice per day!) at Club Pilates. This super cool studio makes Pilates affordable and available to the masses, while providing a fun and inviting atmosphere. My first class at Club Pilates was with Shawna M., a very talented instructor with whom I was highly impressed. What I instantly loved about her class was the variety of women who attended each week. There are a few pros, older women, heavyset ladies, and moms like myself. An exercise class that draws such a diverse gaggle of gals is hard to come by! What is unique about Shawna is that she makes everyone feel extremely comfortable regardless of their fitness level. And from what I have witnessed in the past three months of attending her classes regularly, many of the ladies are eager to work hard to achieve their goals and improve their ability.
To learn a bit more about Pilates and educate y’all, Shawna and I had a bite to eat and chatted about the basics of Pilates in the Q&A below.
Q: What exactly is Pilates? And where did it originate?
A: Pilates is a type of exercise designed to improve muscular strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, endurance, and enhance mental clarity and awareness. It teaches people about proprioception; having that mind body connection, focuses on breathing and proper alignment. Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, after whom it was named.
Q: Can anyone practice Pilates?
A: Yes. That’s what’s wonderful about it. There are so many different ways to modify exercises so that way you can work with all different types of people.
Q: What’s your best advice for someone looking to start practicing Pilates for the first time?
A: My best advice I can give is to take the time to get into a private session. You want that one-on-one time to learn the basic principles, get a full posture analysis, and to learn how to use the equipment safely and efficiently.
Q: What inspired you to become an instructor?
A: I was working in physical therapy and I was able to help clients out with their injury. The reward of them achieving their goal with my help meant the world to me. I am also really compassionate and helpful and want everyone to succeed on their own path, so once I learned about Pilates and the reformer, I knew that is what I wanted to do because the Pilates practice is the only type of exercise that worked for my body.
Q: What is your best advice for someone who is interested in becoming a Pilates instructor?
A: You really need to be good with people. Very friendly and very compassionate and want to help people. And be comfortable with all different types of people—older, younger, obese, injured, and so on. Also have to love Pilates! Duh! Haha, but really you have to have that understanding of the practice itself.
Q: With all the trendy exercise classes out there, why did you choose Pilates?
A: Simply put, it is the only type of fitness that has worked with me. I’ve tried it all and I only saw results with Pilates.
Q: What is the personal benefit you have found by practicing Pilates?
A: Flexibility has always been an issue for me and Pilates has increased my flexibility so much! I was never able to touch my toes before, but now I can. It also sculpts my body and enhances my curves. Oh and my abdominal strength is amazing.
Q: Without mentioning names, what’s your biggest success story with a client?
A: I have a few, but I had one client who couldn’t do much with her shoulder. Doctors told her to get surgery or live with the pain, and even surgery wasn’t going to solve the issue entirely. So she felt stuck. Once she got into Pilates she fell in love with it and couldn’t believe the results she saw. It increased her mobility and reduced her pain. I also had a client with knee issues and once she did Pilates she built all the muscles surrounding the knee, so it made it where her knees don’t hurt anymore.
As much as I clearly love Pilates, I realize it’s not for everyone. There’s a meditative element to it, which may be a turnoff to folks who prefer high-energy regimes. Pilates also teaches posture, form, and balance, which creates a much slower tempo in the class itself. For those of you who wish to try this one-of-a-kind exercise, I suggest finding a studio near you and taking an intro class. And, FYI, intro classes are usually free, so there’s no risk — winning!