Pilates: The Power of Progressive Practice
Debby L. started practicing Pilates nine years ago and is still finding new ways to sharpen her workouts. She comes to Holly's Pilates Village three times a week, alternating group classes with private sessions.
"The first difference I noticed was that my feet got stronger," says Debby, who is an avid walker and a regular volunteer at Yew Dew Gardens in Oldham County. "I previously had always needed orthotics to support my arches, but now they stand up nicely by themselves thanks to footwork on the reformer. And my when I walk barefoot, I feel so wonderfully in touch with the ground."
Debby starts with a Pilates group class on Monday mornings because she says it helps her remember to engage her muscles properly and release any tensions she may have accumulated from the weekend. Wednesday mornings, she takes a private session with Pilates Teacher Jessica Goldstein. On Fridays, she takes a CoreAlign Cardio group class with Teacher Claire Greenlee.
"I think that having a private session is extremely important," Debby shares. "Yes, expensive too, but totally necessary, I think, to really learn how to focus on what you need to improve. I have really learned and absorbed so much good body awareness and strength from my Pilates practice. I used to feel crumpled in the middle when I walked. No more! Straight up now, thanks to Pilates.
"Now that I have added CoreAlign to my regimen, my walking has become much freer. My hops swing the way they should, and I feel like The Girl from Ipanema. In the car, I used to keep the seat very close to the steering wheel to try to keep my shoulders from rounding forward when I drive. Now they stay back all by themselves. Stronger back muscles and understanding (body awareness) that my shoulder blades belong down my back instead of up in my neck."
Debby's story reinforces the power of progressive practice with Pilates. Rather than become routine or boring, as some exercise systems do over time, the Pilates repertoire deepens with regular practice under the guidance of a knowledgeable coach. Using the Pilates principles (Breathing, Relaxation, Concentration, Centering, Control, Coordination, Fluidity, and Stamina) helps you gain greater functional movement and wellness throughout your life.
Layla G. says she is "amazed at how much there still is to learn and add to my practice" after taking Pilates from Claire Greenlee for nearly two decades. "The reason I have stuck with it for so long is that I am still receiving so much benefit from my practice. I have found that if I only take one class a week, I feel like I need to stretch out more. Working with Claire 2-3 times a week helps me feel strong and agile.
"I am able to take what I've learned from Pilates into my daily life. It has changed the way I stand, the way I carry things, the way I sit. I know how to adjust my body so that I don't strain my back or knees. I can almost hear Claire's voice in my head as I move through the world, whispering to have a slight bend in my knees, tilt my pelvis, engage my core, and so on. Pilates has changed my life!"
Elizabeth A. had benefited so much from Pilates that she decided to become a teacher and share the practice with others. She is in the final stages of becoming a certified Pilates teacher at Holly's Pilates Village.
Elizabeth has been practicing Pilates since she had her second child at age 34. "In the 12 years since then," she says, "I have had another baby, stayed with Pilates until the end of my eighth month, and was back to it six weeks postpartum. I have had a hernia and surgery to repair it, broke my scapula, and continued with Pilates during recovery. The orthopedic specialist told me the only reason I didn't require surgery was that my (strong) shoulder muscles held the break together, which came from Pilates. I used to be clumsy, often walking into the corner of tables and counters. I no longer do that. And I actually gained 1/4" inch of height over the 12 years."
A regular Pilates practice works well for people at any age. Joan M., who is the oldest student at Holly's Pilates Village, started working with Studio Owner Holly Holland at her home studio many years ago, and she still comes weekly for duet sessions with her partner Bob K.
"Now that I'm 90, I feel confident," Joan shares. "I'm still flexible and strong despite my arthritic back. I'm still working daily on my balance."