I wrapped up the first round of the aptly named Joseph Pilates Challenge in November. As I gear up for Round II of the challenge starting next week, I’m reflecting on the man’s most quoted saying…
“You’ll feel better in ten sessions, look better in 20 sessions and have a completely new body in thirty sessions.”
Mr. Pilates proclamation only holds true if you “perform your Contrology exercises regularly only four times a week as outlined in Return To Life, you will find your body development approaching the ideal, accompanied by renewed mental vigor and spiritual enhancement.”
For my studio challenge I set the goal to three times a week because it seemed more doable than four and I wanted my clients to succeed and boy, did they ever! The goal was to get my clients and myself to the thirty session mark in a zippy ten week period, to build the consistency that wins every time. And the results have been nothing less than awesome. Round II, I’m giving a little wiggle room and we’re doing it in 12 weeks.
I watched newbies begin unsure of themselves, stiff and wobbly and end the ten weeks with confidence, way more flexibility and stability in their bodies. Even for advanced practitioners like myself, I see and feel improvements by religiously doing the exercises in the order Mr. Pilates intended with the energy and vigor he intended for about an hour, three times a week. It takes work, little by little, day by day.
Check out Janna. On week one, she couldn’t do a full push up. Now she bends her elbows, her face inches from the floor and presses back up with strength. That didn’t happen overnight. She chipped away at it class after class.
Same with Victoria’s Roll Up. Week one she had to have her feet in straps and jump up into the exercise. Now, week ten, she rocks it with a smooth strength like she was born doing it. See her doing backbends in the Traditional Ending? No problem.
I’ve always struggled with the exercise, the Neck Pull. With my sway back, it’s the first exercise to go off the rails if I slack on my regime. After these ten weeks of training, I can do it with my heels firmly planted on the mat, legs straight, hands all the way behind my head. Bam. I feel so powerful.
It’s hard not to share the many gems from Joseph Pilates book, Return to Life, published in 1945. It’s a quick read I recommend for anyone interested in Pilates. He called his method “Contrology,” the art of control. We only began calling it Pilates after his death. He writes, “Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” Yes, please! I’ll take a helping of physical vitality and and elevated spirit.
He goes on to say his method is like taking an internal shower, driving fresh oxygenated blood into every fiber in our bodies. He was so ahead of his time. Though it’s funny when he condemns “this modern age of fast living” in 1945, many decades before cable TV, any TV for that matter, computers and smart phones! But if 1945 was too modern and fast, 2021, with all our technological advances has failed us. The state of the human body in the majority of the American population is real bad – overweight, under developed musculature, slumped posture, stiff with our heads living in front of our bodies instead of smack on top of our shoulders. We have to fight. I feel compelled to do something – to help!
I think Mr. Pilates would be alarmed to see what’s happened to the human body. That’s why I do what I do. I have a call to duty to get bodies in alignment so their heavy heads rest where they’re supposed to, on top of their necks, which are on top of their shoulders, which are on top of their pelvises. I get people to feel the power of a strong middle, core, abs, powerhouse, whatever you want to call it. To feel their back sides – bum, glutes, rear ends.
I am trying to get my hands on as many people as I can in my lifetime to stand up straight with a lifted spine. Don’t look down for crying out loud! I strive to get people to feel abdominal support and powerful, balanced legs. It’s an uphill battle when I see young people- kids! Twenty-somethings already with horrible posture. It’s very sad to me and I’m not shy to correct people I hardly know. If you’re slumped over with tech neck at 20, how do you think 80 is going to look? Eek.
I sound pretty doom and gloom but there is a solution! One that my clients have found. Physical fitness through the healthy, biomechanically correct movement of Pilates. That, along with keeping your weight in a healthy range is the solution because as Mr. Pilates said “Physical fitness if the first requisite of happiness.”
I’d love to get you all in on the next round of the challenge starting Monday, January 10th! Get all the details HERE. We start in a week. Join us!