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Pilates Integrates Body and Mind




©Virginia Nicholas. Used with permission.

What is Pilates?
Pilates had been the best kept secret of the stars for years. It is pronounced "puh-lah-teez." Pilates helps movie stars maintain optimum shape. Dancers used Pilates as a matter of course to stay fit or as rehabilitation. Pilates integrates body and mind. In Pilates it is more important to execute a few repetitions of an exercise correctly versus numerous, mindless repetitions. A Pilates student is fully engaged in this form of exercise during class. The result is longer, leaner muscles, clarity of mind, and a feeling of "refreshment" after class. Pilates incorporates elements of Yoga, swimming, Greco Roman exercise, breathing techniques, boxing, rowing, dance, and gymnastics.

Who invented Pilates?
Pilates is a body mind exercise system developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates approximately 80 years ago. Born to a Greek father and German mother, Joseph was a sickly child. He suffered from Rheumatic Heart Disease and other afflictions. In order to strengthen himself, he became physically active. He was a boxer, gymnast, and circus performer. During World War I he was interned in England because he was a German National. During that time he worked as a "nurse" in the hospital (today his role would be more closely related to a Physical Therapist). Joe "exercised" the patients, and taught exercise to the other detainees at night. What was significant about this is that it was during the time of the Spanish influenza where many millions of people died worldwide. No one in Joe's care died. Hitler heard of Joe's exercise methods and asked him to train the SS troops. Joe declined.

Joe left Europe to come to America. En route from Europe to America he met his wife, Clara. Clara really was a nurse. They married and set up a studio in New York City. Joe worked with dancers, theatre people, and ordinary citizens helping them with injuries, rehabilitation, posture, and general fitness. He developed numerous pieces of equipment to improve strength, flexibility, and core stability.

How does the equipment play a role in Pilates?
Pilates equipment is special because it allows participants the option of exercising in non weight bearing, partial weight bearing, or full weight bearing positions (lying down, sitting, standing). Exercises can be done upright, upside down, forward, or backward. The equipment is so unique, it accommodates many ranges of motion, which are essential to optimum human performance.

How does Pilates improve the mind and spirit?
Pilates enhances the body/mind/spirit connection by fully integrating the breath, intention, and focus into a workout session. The participant leaves everything else that is happening in life outside the doors of the studio. For one focused hour the client is completely engaged with the Self. The result is a profound feeling of well being and healthfulness.

Can anyone be a Pilates instructor?
There are many training programs open to potential teachers. Core Dynamics Pilates is a 450 hour training program that requires proficiency in all areas of Pilates (understanding all the Pilates equipment). I am a Core Dynamics Teacher Trainer. In addition to teaching Pilates, I train and certify teachers in Pilates. Other programs may require a weekend certificate to teach Mat work only. The range of requirements vary. For more information on a person or studios certifications contact the Pilates Method Alliance.

Where can I get Pilates training?
There are many places to receive Pilates training ranging from mat classes in gyms to private lessons in studios. Moving Breath Pilates Studios is a full service Pilates studio with all the Pilates equipment. Other studios include Kinesphere, located in Central Phoenix, and Fitness Solutions near Indian School Rd. and 7th Avenue in Phoenix. For a complete list contact the Pilates Method Alliance or Balanced Body (1-800-PILATES).

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Virginia Nicholas is a certified teacher, and teacher trainer for Core Dynamics Pilates. Virginia, and Moving Breath Pilates Studios, is certified as a teacher training facility. Moving Breath is located at 1801 S. Jen Tilly Lane, Suite C-20, Tempe, Arizona 85281. You can learn more about Ms. Nicholas and her studio at her Web site.

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