What is Pilates?

So what is Pilates?  It’s like the big question.

Kind of like the one about the meaning of life. What is it? If your answer is 42 then I think that’s pretty close (nod to the Douglas Adams fans). It’s something I’ve been pondering of late.

I think you bring your own interpretation of what the Pilates Method (Contrology) is to you based on your own experience with it. I think there isn’t one true interpretation of what the Pilates Method is or isn’t. It is what you want it to be. It really is many things to many people and it evolves and changes over time. To Joseph Pilates it meant this:

“Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.”

There’s a lot to unpack there and it speaks volumes about what was happening in the lives of people at the time and the history of physical culture that he had come from. To me, after over a decade of teaching, I have been reflecting on what the Pilates Method is for me. What is Pilates? I have come to a point where I think the Pilates Method is about creating and enjoying a living, moving body, one that will take me into old age with vigour and joy.

What is the Pilates Method to you?

After my own experience with the Pilates Method as a client, I kind of believed Pilates could ‘fix’ everyone. People with injuries and bad postures. People with chronic conditions or ongoing issues due to genetic diseases. They could all be ‘fixed’ with the wonder of the Pilates Method!

Now it’s probably about here you’re thinking – ‘But Dan, Pilates helped me with my shoulder injury – I can move it again’. Or ‘Pilates helped me recover from my last pregnancy.’ Yes, that is true – Pilates helped you. But over recent years I’ve been reflecting on ‘What is Pilates?’ and I have come to the position that Pilates doesn’t have a unique property to ‘fix’ people. Absolutely it helped you move and realise better pain-free movement but I wonder wouldn’t any well-thought-out exercise program, relevant to your body, help you return to movement?

Pilates isn’t inherently magical.  I’m not a sorcerer weaving a spell that will ‘fix’ you.  I believe no Pilates Teacher is.

I’m a Pilates Teacher.

I teach people how to move. Pilates isn’t wondrous.

What is Pilates?

It’s movement. Movement is fun. Movement is wondrous.

I guarantee you that if you look back at your life the best bits that you remember, the ones that give you the absolute most amount of joy, you know, the type of things that just make you smile like a 9-year-old kid again while you’re reading this sentence and reminiscing about them, you were moving.

Freely and without a care of what someone else thought. Don’t you want to move like that again?

Can you think of the ways your experience of Pilates has helped you move again?

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