HEALTH: Getting to the Core of What Matters with Pilates
Today, I’m launching my 2013 Health and Wellness series with a focus on fitness. Before diving in, I just want to say how important it is to understand the whole mind, body and spirit connection as we get older and encounter the inevitable changes (trust me, twentysomethings reading this, it happens to everyone). I speak from experience and encourage individuals to take it upon themselves to research all avenues for optimal health and well-being. Whenever you can, share the knowledge.
DISCLAIMER: Health and wellness material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or to prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. You should consult a qualified health care professional before starting any diet, supplement, home remedy or exercise program, or if you have or suspect you may have a health condition.
FITNESS FOCUS: PILATES
First things first: I’ll admit it has been months since my last Pilates session. With that said, I can still attest to benefits gained from this gentle, effective method of exercise and I’m continuing along this course. Find yourself suffering from limited flexibility, joint mobility problems, bad posture or poor circulation? Speaking as someone with chronic knee problems and lower back pain for years, consider Pilates as a welcomed alternative to encourage a more natural sense of balance and realignment. Group classes are in abundance throughout New York City, but I prefer individual sessions under the attentive guidance of Anthony Phillips, a professional dancer and licensed massage therapist and teacher who intuitively understood what body work would best address my situation. I’ll also suggest reading, The Book of Pilates: A Guide to Improving Body Tone, Flexibility and Strength by Joyce Gavin, which covers a lot of ground.
Primary focus of the Pilates Method involves a series of breathing techniques and movements to strengthen what is commonly called the “core” (center of the body) by stabilizing, conditioning and toning the deep abdominal wall and spinal muscles. “It’s really good at activating deep joint movement,” says Phillips, director of Smush|Space for Body Work in Union Square East. “It develops the muscles, so that they’re toned and lengthened at the same time … it distributes the strength.” In my case, Pilates seemed most effective combined with massage and acupuncture, a component of Traditional Chinese medicine commonly used to treat pain.
Joseph Pilates was decades ahead of his time when he founded “Contrology” as World War I escalated. Early on in life, he studied anatomy and distinguished himself as a body builder, wrestler, gymnast, boxer, skier and diver. Though born in Germany, Pilates was placed in forced internment while in England during WWI. He eventually came to the U.S. and taught in New York from 1926-66, gaining a following among the professional dance community, musicians, actors, athletes and others seeking a holistic approach to exercise. He also created an innovative equipment system based on resistance training using springs. The most widely used piece is still the Reformer, along with the Cadillac and Chair. To date, the method remains a preferred fitness regimen among professional dancers.
Smush|Space for Body Work: http://www.smushstudio.com/