“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.” – Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86.
What exactly does this form of exercise have to offer our bodies? Well let me first start by giving you a brief history about Joseph Pilates and how this practice made it’s way to what is used today.
Pilates created this discipline last century. Having struggled with asthma and rickets, he was obsessed with finding the perfect balance within the body. He combined the physiques of ancient Greeks and the meditative strengths of the East, which encompassed intense concentration and centered on a strong abdomen, deep stretching, and focused breathing. Pilates found this as a way to treat himself. This type of physical medicine enabled him to become a boxer, diver, skier, gymnast, and yoga devotee; all from someone who was once a sickly child. His teaching spread and came to the US in the early 20th century where Pilates began working with boxers and dancers before spreading his practice to the rest of the world.
Here at AIM we use a lot of the same techniques Pilates used that have proven to have a profound impact on athletics.
Some of the benefits athletes receive with Pilates are:
Body awareness: Lets face it, even as adults we are not always aware of how our bodies are aligned and how they function physically. Working with young athletes and their body awareness sets them up for developing good habits on how to train their minds and bodies to build coordination and symmetry as well as everyday personal awareness. Being able to recognize how you sit or stand on a daily basis will translate onto a playing field or court.
A strong core: I have always said, think of a tree. Does it have all its strength in its limbs? No, because a tree is only as strong as its trunk. Without a strong trunk (or in our body’s case our core), the tree would topple. This does not mean you’re going to ‘develop abs or a 6 pack’ rather you will have a healthy back and body required to perform at an optimal level in your respective sport.
Pilates also helps this area of your body to become more flexible. When a muscle is flexible it can become strong. Tight muscles are not very functional. Think of how limiting this can be to an athlete. Body control: Being able to move is so important. It does not matter what sport you play. A synchronized body works well. If one part of our body is unable to move as well as the other we slow down, we block ourselves from reaching balance. For example, take a team who doesn’t play well together. They tend to not have has much success as a team who does. Most successful teams are structured with teammates who work well with one another, who are compatible, and who are in sync. This is the same for our own body structures.