Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Pilates Story . . .

 I was thinking today about how I write about our life on my blog and the things in my life that I am passionate about, Jesus, my family and adoption, when it occurred to me that I have left one of my passions out. PILATES!!! I teach Pilates everyday and do it myself as often as I can and I LOVE it! So in honor of March MATness (seriously, go check out this website!), I am going start sharing with you about Pilates on occasion, especially during the month of March. I thought it would be fun to do this in a interview format. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments!

How did you discover Pilates? 

My Pilates journey actually began quite some time ago when I was about 15 or 16. My ballet studio was looking for a way to improve our practice so they brought two Pilates instructors from New York all the way to our little studio in Oklahoma City. We had a special Saturday workshop where we learned a sequence of Pilates Mat exercises. I diligently wrote out the exercises in my little notebook and diligently practiced the Hundred, Roll Up, Rolling Like a Ball, etc. . . at home and definitely saw an increase in my connection to my core and in turn an improvement in my balance and movement control when dancing.  

Flash forward about eight years. I am now married, living in Maryland, working for a U. S. Senator and missing ballet very much. I started searching the internet for places to work out when I suddenly thought, what about a Pilates studio. Is there such a thing? I had not encountered one as yet, but I found a place about 15-20 minutes away in Annapolis where my new Pilates adventure began. After just a few private lessons and numerous mat classes, I knew that I had found my new love and a future career. So I signed up for the next Pilates mat training and the rest is history. I spent the next two years getting all my certifications through Power Pilates, and I am now a fully certified Pilates instructor on all pieces of apparatus and teach Pilates daily! Now I am about to take my Pilates journey to a new level thanks to Peak Pilates. More details to come in the next month. 

Why Pilates?

To quote Joseph Pilates himself, "Contrology (what he called his method of training) develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit." 

Pilates embodies the following principles: concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision and flowing movement. We focus on strengthening all of the abdominal muscles and back muscles of which there are many as well as working to maintain proper pelvic alignment. When we strengthen these muscles (tranversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae group, rhomboids, serratus, deltoids, and trapezius), we can activate them to protect our spine during movement, and we can use them to create space through all our vertebrae to avoid spinal compression. If 31 million people experience low back pain in the United States according to the American Chiropractic Association, I'm sure you can guess why this is a passion of mine. I want to help people live a life free of pain! 

I also love Pilates because the work we do elongates, lengthens and stretches the muscles while also creating strength. It's truly a wonderful feeling!

Pilates Apparatus?

Good question! Joseph Pilates was a genius when it comes to invention. The equipment he developed to work with the body and aid it in deepening the work is truly amazing! 

The primary Pilates apparatus include: the cadillac (or tower is you don't have space for a cadillac), the reformer, the high chair, the low or wunda chair, spine corrector, small barrels, ladder or high barrel, and the ped-o-pull. Each piece is wonderful and magical in its own way but what is even more amazing is how the exercises draw on each other as move to each piece of apparatus. In the picture below, you can see me demonstrating teaser on the reformer with straps. We also do teaser on the cadillac, chair and in mat work.  

How has Pilates changed your life?

Pilates has made a huge different in my life and brought me back to full function from several injuries and issues. 

I have suffered off and on for many years with lumbar (low) back pain and tightness. As a young child, I started to experience pain in my low spine so we had some x-rays and it was discovered that I have an extra vertebrae in my lumbar spine which causes overcrowding and leads to pain when it pushes my spine out of alignment. Pilates has been a life saver for me. As I have strengthened my abdominal muscles and back muscles, I am able to protect my spine as I go through daily life and exercise. When I slack off in doing my Pilates practice, my back pain begins to return. 

I have also fallen three times on the same knee resulting in a recurring injury. The third time I fell I could not fully straighten my knee for six months, and it was Pilates that rehabbed my knee and brought me back to full function.  

So, as you can see, there are many reasons why I love Pilates! Join me this month and try out a daily mat routine and see how you feel! 

Questions? Please ask!!

Have I convinced you to try Pilates?


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