Pilates. Most people have heard of it, a lot have tried classes here and there, but many don’t understand just how beneficial this form of exercise can be. As a physical therapist in Charlotte, I not only incorporate Pilates within my personal routine, but I use it on a daily basis to treat patients of all ages. The movements are consistent from studio to studio by my two favorites studios to practice at are Club Pilates and Iron Butterfly Pilates.
Before I dive deeper into my personal experiences with this amazing form of movement, I want to make sure that people truly understand exactly what Pilates is.
Pilates is a practice of controlled movements that aim to enhance overall strength. This is accomplished by focusing on posture, alignment, flexibility, body awareness, and breath.
The practice was developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, a German-English immigrant who suffered from various ailments as a child and young adult, but had aspirations of becoming a renowned athlete. He was determined to overcome his health issues and invented a way to condition his body through adaptable movements. Later, he went on to open a “body-conditioning gym” in New York, where he and his wife Clara taught these exercises. The gym became an increasingly popular destination within the dance community, as members used the practice to improve their technique and recover from injuries.
In Pilates, the quality and precision of movement is prioritized over the quantity of repetitions. The six foundational principles of Pilates are concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow, and precision. It is the perfect supplement to sport or other forms of exercise and can help improve mobility, stability, and efficiency in other aspects of your physical lifestyle.
I first fell in love with Pilates in college. I was a BFA Dance Performance and Choreography major, so I was dancing for hours each and every day. My body was constantly sore and overworked, but then I started using Pilates as a cross training supplement to improve my strength and technique. It was the perfect way to maintain my training without overtaxing my body. Having this form of workout was great when I was healthy, but it saved me when I was injured. I had to take months off of dance due to various injuries and health conditions but Pilates was the one style of movement that could always be adapted to keep my body moving despite whatever health issues I had going on.
When my dancer injuries sidelined a potential, professional dance career, Pilates was the perfect direction to pivot in. After transitioning the focus of my studies and getting a degree in Dance Science, I began teaching Pilates classes. When I made the decision to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, I knew Pilates would always need to remain a focus of my career and how I work with patients. It is a form of movement that I use daily at Carolina Sports Clinic – SouthPark when working with injured athletes.
I firmly believe that every person – whether you’re young, old, an elite athlete, or just someone trying to break into a new movement practice – can benefit from incorporating Pilates into their weekly routine!