I swallowed an honesty pill today and can’t help but share my true feelings about Pilates.
Is it really worth your time and money?
In the past years Yoga has become a synonym for Mind/Body fitness, Barre classes have skyrocketed to fame among women with the determination of a prima ballerina, Crossfit has created a die-hard community like no other and HIIT has been getting all the praise from researchers and doctors.
But where does Pilates fit on this list?
Is it just an over-priced and over-the-hill fitness fad of the past?
After being a passionate Pilates advocate for many years I came to the point of rebellion against everything I knew and loved. A couple of years ago I decided to stop teaching and practicing Pilates. I needed a fresh and simple way to exercise and to transform my body. But honestly, even more than that, I was so tired of the Classical vs Contemporary rivalry among my colleagues that I simply had to get out of the Pilates world.
Here I was, not doing Pilates. The Reformer in my home studio was collecting dust and getting only occasional loving visits from my cat who loved to sleep on the headrest. I was rebelling against Pilates.
I tried about anything that seemed fun and right for my body:
- I started a Yoga practice to improve balance and flexibility,
- Added more runs to ramp up my cardio and lose a few extra pounds,
- Was obsessed with insane HIIT workouts to get stronger and more sculpted,
- Even started a 100-pushup challenge with my husband (and I absolutely HATE push-ups.)
I expected to feel bad and fall apart but in fact my body was loving the new workouts and I loved the changes in the way I looked and felt.
So were years of my Pilates training and thousands of Pilates teacher training dollars wasted in vain?
My love affair with Pilates started before I even knew what Pilates was. Back when I was living in Ukraine my fitness teacher brought a new type of a workout from her visit to the US. I don’t even remember if she mentioned the name “Pilates” and, honestly, there were very few similarities between classical Pilates mat work and what we were doing in class. But it was fun, it was different and definitely effective. I started researching every morsel of information that I could find online about Pilates (somehow, the name eventually came up in our trainings.)
Fast forward several years, I just gave birth to my first set of twins and was facing a huge issue. After being a fitness junkie for 7 years I could not do a single sit-up, even 6 months postpartum! I discovered that my precious twin girls have stretched my linea alba so much that I had DRA (Diastasis Recti Abdominis) with almost 4 finger separation. That’s when my Pilates love really kicked in. I knew that if there had been one workout that could help me regain core strength, Pilates would have been it.
Fast forward a couple more years, and here I was delivering my second set of twins (double blessings, right?) I knew that regaining my abdominal wall would not be a stroll in the park and was equipped to fight for it with the help of Pilates. Today (almost 5 years after my younger twins were born) I am still working on my core strength however most people would never know that core is my weakness and that I still have a 3 finger DRA separation.
When people ask me “What is Pilates?” my answer is “Pilates is all about building a strong core.” Yes, Pilates is a whole body workout but to me it all starts from the core. I know that some teachers don’t like to use the term “core”, others stick to the “powerhouse” and yet others simply use anatomical names for the muscles worked. “Core” is the term that has the most power for me because it means more than just major muscles that stabilize and control the pressure inside the trunk (Medical dictionary definition ) Working on the core also means working on your inner self by developing determination and commitment to your practice and your goals. You are working on your core from the core.
Coming back to my Pilates rebellion, I realized that Pilates was in everything that I was doing. None of the workouts that I tried were able to target my core muscles as much as Pilates ever did so subconsciously (I guess!) I was using my Pilates technique during each and every burpee, push-up and handstand.
Should I do Pilates, really?
The answer is in the core. If you want to build a strong foundation and develop good movement practices then Pilates should be the cornerstone of your workouts.
Yes, you will get more flexible if you are doing Yoga, but Pilates will give you confidence in every move on the mat.
Yes, you will build more muscle during weight training or Crossfit, but Pilates will protect your lower back and prevent herniated discs.
Yes, you will get more calorie-burning cardio from a run but Pilates will ensure good posture and alignment during your next 5k.
Yes, you will get more muscle definition after HIIT workouts but Pilates will guarantee the proper form during each move so that you can stay injury-free during explosive intervals.
In my opinion, nothing can compare to Pilates in its ability to build core strength and improve alignment in the body. Maybe Pilates will not have exclusive rights on your workout schedule but it definitely should have a spot among all the other fun things that you enjoy doing.
Pilates – power to the core!
P.S. There is always room for growth and improvement in Pilates. This is me trying my first Candlestick on the Trapeze Table (not perfect, but we all have to start somewhere;-). I could definitely appreciate the upper body strength that I built with my HIIT workouts and pushups but Pilates definitely provided the core power needed for this move.
Candlestick – Pilates love reignited!