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Pilates 101

Posted on August 20 2011

Whether you’ve seen it driving around town, in the latest “what Jennifer Aniston does to get that awesome bod” article in People Magazine, or you had to ask your friend what the heck they’ve been doing lately to look so spectacular ... the word is out! Pilates is the new, old way to workout. It’s recently grown in popularity but has actually been around since the early 1900’s. Bringing Pilates into your life will give you the opportunity to reshape your body, correct any muscle imbalances, improve your posture, rehab injuries and create a mind & body awareness that will help improve your overall lifestyle. Pilates was created by a remarkable man by the name of Joseph Pilates, who was so ahead of his time that unfortunately he was never able to fully see the immense growth of his unique exercise method. That’s right folks, he was born in the late 1800’s and opened his first pilates studio in the booming city of New York in 1926. His new method caught on particularly with the elite of New York, circus performers and especially professional dancers.

I often hear people say “Oh, isn’t pilates some type of women’s exercise class?”, but in fact it started out with and for primarily all men. In an internment camp in England of all places, good ol’ Joe wanted to keep his fellow inmates active and healthy by getting everyone to participate in regular group exercises. So for those gents who were bedridden, he created spring-resistant devices from their beds for them to exercise with. Pilates has always had a small but devoted following, however, the last ten years this exercise method has seen its global popularity multiply to insane proportions. On 17th Street in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach alone, there are about 6 pilates studios - that’s within a one mile stretch! This is crazy talk, there’s not even that many yoga studios in the area. This brings us to the question of the day ... What on earth is pilates? In a nutshell, it’s a series of exercise movements that are used to help improve balance, flexibility, and strength. How do you do it? Pilates can be done on a mat using your own body weight or on a variety of spring-based machines such as the reformer. Who is it for? Everyone! What does it do? Realigns and shapes your body in ways you didn’t even think were possible. And are all these studios teaching the same thing? No sir, every studio has a different style and method. I’ll be describing some of the traditional, new, and hybrid methods that are out there in the following weeks. Within this three part series, I’ll be getting down to the nitty gritty of pilates. We’ll take an inside peak on what pilates can do for you, your body and your general well-being. We’ll show you some of the equipment you might encounter (torture device, perhaps?). And let you know about some of the studios in the area, so you can find the best fit for you. I want you to know what to expect when you walk into a pilates studio and be aware of the different types of pilates that are out there in your community. And don’t be surprised if along the way you find yourself a wee bit antsy to get your pilates on ... it’s okay, it’s only natural :).

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