About a year ago, I joined a Mat Pilates (‘Pilates’) class in my neighborhood. At that time, it was logistical convenience and the need for exercise that led me to pursue it. But, it is no longer the location or the calorie-burn that draws my injury prone body every week.
The story of Pilates is fascinating! It was founded by Joseph Pilates who was born in Germany in the 1880’s. Ironically, he started his life as a sick child suffering from respiratory and malnutrition disorders. As a growing boy, his health and well-being improved tremendously after his father introduced him to gymnastics, martial arts, boxing and body building. During his lifetime, his perseverance to maintain good physical health led him to design a series of exercises and devices that we know today as Mat Pilates and Apparatus Pilates.
I sat down with Nataša Kastelic, my Pilates coach during the past year. My objective of this interview is to achieve a simple understanding of this form of exercise and spread the word.
I: What does Pilates do for our bodies?
She: Well, it basically strengthens our core and lengthens the spine. In other words, it promotes a stronger body and helps us stay free of aches and pains.
I: How is it different from Yoga, Cardio or Weight training?
She: Pilates is a combination of Yoga, Cardio and Weight training. A whole body Pilates workout includes stretching, breathing, cardio, strengthening and toning using mostly own body weight.
I: Who can do Pilates?
She: Everyone can do Pilates: Men, Women and Children. Children have the opportunity to derive great benefits from Pilates, because, it helps grow healthy bones and prevent injuries.
I: What about the aged/ heavier/ pregnant people who can’t sit down on a mat?
She: Pregnant women who have already been doing Pilates can continue by leaving out some exercises. I did Pilates throughout my pregnancies. The aged and the heavier folks can start from a chair and slowly build their strength. Everyone starts at the beginner level and moves on to the intermediary and advanced levels as they get stronger.
I: In the recent decades, there seems to be an insurgence in aches and pains in every family: Lower back, Upper back, Knee, Wrist, Arm, Neck, Slip-disc, Sciatica, Arthritis, etc,.
She: Most if it is due to the demands of our lifestyle. Too many activities are sitting-oriented. This leads to bad posture and sagging and trapping of the nerves in our body, thus causing aches and pains over a period of time. Bad diet is the other reason for these ailments.
Pilates helps strengthen the core and corrects one’s posture. With right nutrition, it can help alleviate these health issues.
I: What about those who are very active and still suffer. Example: sports injuries, constant travel, accidental falls, strenuous work-out, etc.
She: Injuries generally happen when you have overused or overstretched a certain part of your body that is not strong enough to take it. And mending that part requires rest and recovery. A lot of athletes in Europe and the United States are turning to Pilates for continued rehabilitation after undergoing severe injuries. Pilates is like continuous physiotherapy.
I: Please briefly describe your one hour Pilates workout (two times a week).
She: We start with a little Aerobic warm-up followed by slight stretching. Then, the workout itself comprises of exercise-routines that involve cardio, breathing, stretching, balancing and strengthening, all using own body weight or very little hand weight (maximum 1 KG). Most exercises target the core, challenging the abdomen, sides, back, hips, thighs, legs, buttocks and arms. Finally, we end with a static stretch.
I: Tell us why you change the exercise-routines and repetitions constantly…
She: The idea is to learn different exercises that target each part of the body in order to alternate among them. You don’t want your body to get used to a set of exercises/routines. It becomes easy and though it will work, progress will be slow.
Nataša grew up in Slovenia, learning Gymnastics and practicing Pilates from a very tender age. She currently resides in Hyderabad. She has been involved in teaching Pilates for more than 20 years. Check out her website celota.com for more information.
In conclusion, she adds, “Good form is very important in Pilates. And we have to remember that food and exercise go hand in hand. We can’t achieve fitness without both.”
Personally, I have enjoyed losing many of my aches and pains. Still have some ways to go and am looking forward to a stronger and fitter future…..
4 thoughts on “Pilates”
Its not a mere write up. Its an eye opener LP. Grt.
Fantastically written article – truly inspiring. Now my next few moments will be spent searching for Pilate classes near me. Ty Lakshmi:)
Good luck to you Nehchal! I hope u get stronger and fitter with it.😊