Method or madness?


I am a professional Pilates instructor which means I operate in world where exercise fads change as quickly as the clothes we take on and off our backs. Back in the day there was Jazzercise. Then came Tae-bo (I admit to being sucked into that one grunting and punching in a carpeted room that reeked like prespiration). Followed by the likes of 8 Minute Abs, Buns of Steel, and of course Suzanne Somers’ Thighmaster. Today we bow at the altar of Soul-Cycle, Physique 57, or Tracy Anderson. We fuel the fad like a flame by stoking it with our demand to have the perfect body- and right now! So when this ‘new’ thing (Pi-LOTTS?) enters the scene we roll our eyes back in our head with doubt. What can Pilates do for me that all the other fads could not?

Although many uninformed self-proclaimed fitness buffs merge it with all the other flash in the pan exercise regimes, Pilates is not a fad. It is actually older than most of the originators of these so called “methods”. Pilates began in 1914, with Joseph Pilates who was born with various ailments such as Rickets and Asthma, but had a penchant for anatomy and health. He developed his system of body balancing called “Contrology” while in a WWI internment camp. When he immigrated to the states in 1926 he opened the first Pilates studio here in NYC. Joe’s philosophy was to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. This creates a healthy body in and out with a supple spine, increased circulation and breathing capacity, as well as mental stamina and alertness. Pilates leaves it’s impression on all areas of the practitioners life.

Today, before my session with Bob Leikens, we got to talking about this fad foolishness (It was peaked by my interest in what he thought of Power Pilates’ new ‘Beyond Barre’ classes). “I just don’t understand why these kids are so crazy over this?”, he muttered in his thick accent. “If you want to do ballet, take a ballet class! People these days have the attention span of a fly. They get bored, so they try to create, create, create these watered down classes. If they’re bored it’s because they’re not focusing, distracted and just want the results without doing all the work.” I can certainly see his point. While I like to dabble in trendy calisthenics, I never stray long and always seem to make my way back to deeper techniques like Pilates or yoga. Does that mean that a true method has ancestry with deep roots that can lead you places you never thought you’d go?

What is a method anyway? According to Wikipedia a method can be defined as- ‘a systematic and orderly procedure or process for attaining some objective.’ Though there is much written about the man himself, there is hardly anything in writing about the challenges he must have faced constructing his method and what he was confronted with in it’s inception. What we do know is that he poured himself into anatomy and physiology books, watched the movement of animals for hours, and practiced various disciplines himself including yoga, boxing, and gymnastics. His commitment to well-being went farther then a 6-pack and a tight bum- it was complete healthiness. Trial and error lead way to a lifetime of practitioners and lives transformed.

So, as Seth Godin posted in his blog the other day, quoting Sarah Jones, “the market has become a swarm of fleas” or “Un essaim de puces” in french. ‘Short attention spans, flitting from place to place, a hit and run culture.’ When you practice a true method it’s results are cumulative not waning. The depth for progress is limitless with the road leading you there full of obstacles and surprises.

Come and join my team at FORM Pilates Union Square and learn the method for yourself! We are a fully equipped boutique studio in the heart of NYC with a unique way of bringing the joy of Pilates to you. Find out how FORM works or email studio [at] formpilates [dot] com our Pilates Concierge for more info.

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