WHAT IS PILATES? Pilates is a unique series of strengthening and stretching exercises originally designed over 90 years ago by a man named Joseph H. Pilates This exercise technique strengthens and tones muscles, improves posture, provides flexibility and balance, and creates a more streamlined shape. The focus of each exercise is on alignment of the spine, mobility of the joints, and flexible strength in the muscles. We will work towards restoring the natural curves of the spine, building the strength to keep them there, and improve the way we look and feel along the way. You will be introduced to a series of exerices performed either on the mat, or on specialized pilate's equipment, to develop a strong, stable torso. Then building upon this foundation of core strength you will re-balance and realign the rest of your body. An emphasis on movement quality, posture, and breathing makes pilate's a safe and revitalizing workout. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level can do pilates Exercises can be modified or varied to change the intensity to suit your needs. Whether you are recovering from an injury, in great shape already, or just want to improve your posture, you will realize the unique benefits, not found in traditional strength training programs.
BENEFITS OF PILATES
Relief of Pain and Tension
Builds Core Abdominal and Back Strength
Tones and Elongates Muscles
Heightens Athletic Performance
Improves Balance and Muscle Function
Enhances Mobility and Agility
Develops Muscular Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance
Improves Circulation and Body-Awareness
GETTING STARTED Your first step in joining our Pilates program is to have an introductory private lesson. This 60 minute appointment is one on one with an instructor and is required before going into any small group class. In this initial lesson your instructor will explain the pilate's principles of alignment and stability, and begin teaching you some fundamental movements. You will also have a postural assessment to gain insight into what your body's needs are and how to focus your attention on these during class. You can choose to start in a Small Group MAT class or a Small Group APPARATUS class - or both! You may also decide to stick to private or semi-private lessons. MAT classes involve the traditional challenging floor exercises. We will keep classes interesting by incorporating small Pilate's equipment such as toning balls, foam rollers, fitness circles, flex-bands, and stability cushions. APPARATUS classes involve using the Pilate's Reformer and Cadillac Wall Unit. This specialized Pilate's equipment uses spring tension for resistance.
Q) What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?
A) There's definitely a mind-body connection and a very similar fluidity in both. But one difference is that there's a whole line of equipment in Pilates that doesn't exist in yoga, so it provides a different angle: In Pilates you're doing exercises with the assistance and resistance of springs and pulleys. The springs may assist you or they may make an exercise more difficult, depending on the exercise. Another difference is that while Yoga requires moving from one static posture to the next, Pilates flows through a series of movements that are more dynamic, systematic and anatomically-based. The goal with STOTT PILATES exercise is to strengthen the postural muscles while achieving optimal functional fitness. Pilates and yoga both increase flexibility of the muscles, and mobility of the joints...each method takes a different approach to the body to achieve those physical changes. We believe that any movement and form of exercise is fantastic and diversity is best for the body and mind!
Q) Pilates machines look like torture devices! Why would I want to get on that?
A) Some Pilates equipment can look like some kind of medieval torture device, which is ironic because it makes you feel so good. The most commonly used pieces are the reformer, the cadillac and the stability chair, but there are several other small pieces of equipment, too. The traditional mat workout can be intensified with equipment such as the fitness circle, flex-band, toning balls, arc barrel and more! The reformer is a rectangular frame with four legs and a cushioned mat, or carriage, that slides back and forth on wheels with the resistance of springs and pulleys. The cadillac is a trapeze-like table that's 26 inches off the floor and has a canopy from which a trapeze, springs and pulleys hang. Because it's elevated, it's nice for older people if they have trouble getting down on the floor. The stability chair has two pedals that are on spring tension and challenges the body by providing instability as the body applies force to the pedals. A unique workout!
Q) I've heard there are 'principles' for the Pilates method... can you explain these?
A) Joseph Pilates had 6 ‘principles’ that are to be considered when doing each exercise. At our studio we teach the Stott Pilate's method which is a contemporary approach to the works of Joseph Pilate's Below we’ll list the original 6 principles, as well as the Stott Pilates basic bio mechanical principles. Joseph’s... 1. Concentration. This is the most important principle in Pilates You must be very mentally present as you do the exercises, aware of every aspect of your body's movement, alignment, sensations, muscle flexes .... 2. Control. Every movement is to be done with control, so you aren't just throwing your body around. 3. Centering. so that you are evenly using your body. Think of a plumb line down the middle of the body working both sides evenly. 4. Fluidity. A smooth transition from one exercise to the next important because once you've learned the routine, it should look something like a dance, where every movement flows into the next. 5. Precision. You try to make each movement as precise as possible; alignment, placement of your limbs, position of each part of your body is paramount and a central aspect of how and why Joseph Pilate's designed this system of exercise. 6. Breath. How you breathe is very important in Pilates exercises. You don't want to hold your breath at all. Deep, steady breaths will help you maintain concentration and precision, too.
STOTT PILATES 1. Breathing. Proper breathing ensures that enough oxygen is flowing to the muscles you are using, and helps prevent unnecessary tension. A relaxed and full breath pattern encourages focus and concentration.
The STOTT PILATES breath pattern involves an expansion of the rib cage out to the sides and back without allowing the shoulders to lift. It is also important to breathe into the lower part of your lungs, because there is more efficient gas exchange.
The breath pattern used in STOTT PILATES will help engage your deep abdominal muscles and stabilize your torso. 2. Pelvic Placement. STOTT PILATES emphasizes stabilization of the pelvis and lumbar spine (lower back) in either a neutral or an imprinted position: Neutral Placement: Maintains the normal curve of the lower back. When lying on your back, front of hip bones and pubic bone should lie parallel to the mat, and your lower back should not be pressed into the mat. This is the most stable and optimal shock-absorbing position for your back.
Make sure you're not arching your back to achieve neutral alignment. While breathing and engaging abdominal's in this position no strain should be felt through the lower back. If you feel muscle tension, shift the pelvis to a more comfortable position.
When to use: This is the ideal position when one or two feet are secure on the mat or other equipment.
Imprinted Position: The lower back is moving toward the mat. Avoid pressing your lower back all the way into the mat or tilting the pelvis too far by overusing the abs or glutes. Note that the amount of contact between the lower back and the mat is different for everyone.
When to use: An imprinted position should be used to ensure stability of the lower back when both feet are lifted off the mat. 3. Rib Cage Placement. The rib cage position affects the alignment of the thoracic (upper) spine. When lying on your back in a neutral position, maintain the sense of the weight of the ribs resting gently on the mat (i.e. maintain the normal curve of the upper back). Don't lift off or push your rib cage into the mat. Pay particular attention to the placement of your rib cage when inhaling or while performing arm movements overhead.
Using the breath pattern described below and engaging your abs will help stabilize the rib cage. Emphasize breathing into the back and sides of your rib cage during inhalation. When you exhale, allow you ribs to soften, with the two sides gently closing in toward each other. 4. Shoulder Stability. Stabilizing your scapulae [shoulder blades] on the back of the rib cage is as important as contracting your abs during the initiation of every exercise. This will help you avoid strain through your neck and upper shoulders.
To achieve proper placement, a sense of width should be maintained across the front and back of the shoulders. Make sure you neither allow your shoulders to round forward too much nor squeeze together toward the spine. Shoulders should not be lifted too far,or over-depressed. Placement should be somewhere between these two positions.
The shoulder blades have a large range of motion, so remember to maintain stability (but not rigidity) at all times: a) when the spine is neutral and the arms are resting; b) when the spine is moving, and; c) when the arms are moving in any direction 5. Head & Neck Placement. Your cervical spine [neck] should hold its natural curve with your head balanced directly above your shoulders when sitting, lying and standing. In some cases, a small pillow should be used when lying on your back to put your head and neck in a comfortable position.
Whenever you lift your head and upper body from the mat, lengthen the back of your neck and nod your head forward without jamming the chin into the chest. There should be enough room to fit your fist between your chin and chest. Once your head is in proper position and your shoulder blades are stabilized (Principle 4), the upper torso can be lifted by contracting the abs and sliding your rib cage toward your pelvis.
When lying on your stomach and lifting the upper torso, pay particular attention to maintaining an even line from the upper back to the neck. Avoid lifting the head too high and crunching up the back of the neck.