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Curious about Pilates?

If you’ve ever peeked into the Pilates Reformer Studio in our Mishawaka facility, the equipment may have looked strange to you. The Reformer and Cadillac, in particular, resemble to some a hospital bed. As it turns out, there’s a reason for that—Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, developed his exercise program to rehabilitate injured soldiers during WWI and people confined to hospital beds and cots. With those limitations in mind, he experimented with springs, straps and bars to facilitate the movement, tone, and strengthening of weakened muscles.

Today, we recognize many of the tools and philosophies first developed by Joseph Pilates a hundred years ago. Men and women of all ages, sizes, and abilities practice Pilates to strengthen and “lengthen” the muscles of the back, abdomen, butt, arms, and legs. While you can’t actually “lengthen” your muscles, what you can do is increase joint flexibility and move through a more complete range of motion, and that’s where Pilates is so effective. Increasingly, it’s also being used more and more for rehabilitation, too.

By definition, as a comprehensive Pilates Instructor, I’m a bit of a form nerd and posture critic. I know the benefits of a regular Pilates practice because I see it every day, in my clients and in myself. “I stand taller,” I feel better and stronger,” I am more stretched out,” “My back hurts less,” “I am more aware of my posture,” “I sit taller in my car,” “I am less stressed,” “I have better balance,” and “My golf game is improved,” are some of the comments I’ve heard from regular participants.

Whether it’s using the Cadillac, Chair, Ladder Barrel, or Universal Reformer, beginners can build a foundation that will serve them well for life, while athletes train to improve athletic performance. Some exercises may not be appropriate for everyone, but the equipment itself is.

But how is using the equipment different from mat-based Pilates? With floor exercises, we do not have the support from straps, springs, or bars to allow our skeletal structure to move in the way it can on the equipment. The apparatus allows us to make mindbody connections in movement that might be missed with just mat exercises. Some people have said, “Mat is so much harder
than reformer.” The truer statement is, “Mat allows us to practice what we have felt on the equipment, more successfully.” In a perfect world, the combined practice of equipment and mat exercises enhances our knowledge of movement and our bodies can benefit from the discipline of both.

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