Health & Beauty

Get To Know Pilates

December 9, 2023

Our current healthcare system is falling apart and is extremely difficult to maneuver through. More and more, people are looking for personal ways they can improve their health and their longevity. Pilates has been around for a number of decades, but appears to be taking up part of the spotlight of wellness in recent years. You may have noticed a number of Club Pilates or smaller boutique studios cropping up in your neighbourhood and have been curious about what it entails.

Joseph Pilates opened his first studio in New York in the 1920s. His new exercise regime focused on body conditioning using the mind and breath, and this mind/body connection is so important in our current world of sitting hunched over a computer, phone, or steering wheel. Humans were not built to do so much sitting, with the 10-pound weight of our head hanging forward while we look at our tablets. This constant position creates so much stress and imbalance which ricochets down the spine, into our shoulders, pelvis, limbs, and feet. This, coupled with our inevitable injuries and health issues through our life span, creates a body that is yearning for balance, release and strengthening. “Change happens through movement and movement heals,” according to Joseph.

When you set foot into a Pilates studio, you will see mats and possibly a number of pieces of classical Pilates equipment. As a beginner to Pilates, the instructor will assist you in connecting your mind and your breath to the movement, working in your body’s range of motion to strengthen your individual joints, dependent on the exercise. The equipment is there to either make the exercise harder, by adding resistance with springs or bands, or using that resistance to take away some of your body weight to make the exercise easier.

As you continue your practice, you will strengthen and expand your range of motion. You will have a full body workout, using all body parts, including your core, and you will have also worked through all planes of movement; flexion and extension, bending from side to side, and rotational exercises. You will leave the studio feeling more open through your chest, shoulders and back and you will also feel taller. In fact, I have a student that gained a half inch of height from doing Pilates consistently! This openness and decompression will last longer and longer, the more often you do your sessions. Eventually, this posture will remain with you as you move through your daily life. Any imbalances you have due to injury or surgery can also be improved upon. This important work will create even and natural space for your organs to operate as they are intended. Your mobility and balance will also improve, which is so important as we age.

Pilates really is for everyone; whether you are a young person, elderly, suffering from health issues or are an athlete. “Pilates,” said Joseph, “is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” —Tara Cyr

Tara Cyr has taught Pilates for four years and currently teaches in South Surrey and Langley, B.C. She is a co-organizer of an inaugural Pilates conference being held in Richmond on February 24 and 25, 2024. All levels of Pilates enthusiasts are welcome to attend and more information can be found online and on Instagram.


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