Every Body is a Pilates Body
I fell in love with the practice of Pilates in 2005. Three years later, I became certified to teach. In working with clients since 2008 I’ve learned that there are a lot of misconceptions about who can/cannot practice Pilates. (If you don’t have the time right now to read this entire post, let me tell you upfront that every body—yes, every body! —is a Pilates body.) Keep reading to get the 411 on who can/can’t do Pilates:
- I don’t look like a dancer, so I cannot do Pilates.
While it’s true that a lot of dancers do Pilates, every body is a Pilates-ready body. We have this misconception that if you’re not “tiny”, or “skinny”, or “visibly six-pack ab muscular” that your body cannot “do” certain exercises. I have watched people of all sizes master head stands. Pilates builds your core strength from the inside out and gets you moving—regardless of your size and dancing skills.
Who Can/Can’t Do Pilates
- I need to be stronger and more flexible before I can do Pilates.
Psst: I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Doing Pilates is exactly how you get stronger and become more flexible! There are more than 500 basic Pilates exercises. A good instructor will evaluate what your body specifically needs to become stronger and more flexible—and then custom design a workout that helps you move your entire body equally and efficiently.
- Pilates is not for men.
Ladies and Gentlemen: This is 2016, and I’m here to tell you that Pilates does not discriminate against any body or any gender! So grab two mats and get started with your significant other (SO). You’ll be amazed at how your positive energy supports each other during your workout–and how connected you’ll feel by the end. (P.S. If your SO needs more convincing, tell him that Joseph Pilates was a boxer—and that he originally designed this exercise for dudes. Also, NFL and NBA players do Pilates regularly.)
- I’m too old to start doing Pilates.
I love this Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” It’s never too late to start. I can work with any client, regardless of her ability or age. My mentor had a 90-year-old client who was still engaged in an advanced Pilates practice. Can you lower yourself to the ground by squatting down without using your hands? My friend has an 81-year-old client who can. These women never stopped moving their bodies in flexible, strong ways. They are still going into the studio and doing their practice. And just as it’s never too late to start, it’s never too early either. I work with two, 10-year-old dancers whose bodies are growing at such a rapid rate that they are having a hard time controlling their movements. Pilates is giving them the strength they need for better body control.
- I have physical limitations that prevent me from doing Pilates.
I broke my leg, and I could still perform my entire mat-based series of Pilates—minus two exercises. I’m in awe of the work being done by Pilates instructors who participate in “Heroes in Motion”, an initiative of the Pilates Method Alliance, which facilitates functional movement with comfort and ease for those who experience severe impediments to motor control (such as military veterans with prosthetic limbs), as well as those who experienced traumatic brain injury.
Thanks to Pilates
The human body is an incredibly amazing instrument! Thanks to Pilates, my core is now so strong that I don’t have to force myself to stand up straight and pull back my shoulders. (Sounds so simple, so basic, right? But I’ve been 5’9” since I was 12. Back then I was constantly being told, “Pull your shoulders back!”) Now my Pilates practice does that for me; I don’t even have to think about it.
Thanks to Pilates, I look my best aesthetically, but MOST importantly, I am so much stronger on the inside. No self-help book—I’ve pretty much read them all!—could have cultivated my inner strength any better than my Pilates practice did and continues to do.