Back to Basics – Part 2 – Would Mr. Pilates Recognize That Exercise?

July 14, 2008 at 3:44 am 3 comments

Would Mr. Pilates recognize the exercises that you’re teaching.  Maybe they actually are the movements he created.  Maybe you are teaching his exercises, but are you teaching them with his dynamic and his intention?

Would Mr. Pilates recognize what’s going on in your studio?

I ask myself this over and over again.  I want to make sure that what I’m doing, what I’m teaching has the energy and the effort that was intended.  When I do…I see great changes in my clients.

As most of you reading this know, I teach only the exercises Mr. Pilates created and some tools that his disciples (i.e. our Elders) created to get to the heart of the actual exercise.  With that, I make it my great effort to do teach the workout with a strong intention:  That this is a workout at the level of the client in front of me that focuses on core strength.

What makes that happen?  The energy that you put in to your teaching.  The tone of your voice.  The manner of movement.  The rhythms.

Energy.  Your intention must be strong.  Your persona must be about strength.  This is a workout created by a man for men.  German Man for German Men.  That’s a very different persona than a petite woman from California or even me…from New York.  Different.  So, when I teach with the intention of an exercise by a man for men, even my frailest woman works differently.  She strengthens.  She “steps up” to the challenge. 

Voice.  When I use the lower tones of my voice, the exercises come alive.  When I get in to my higher tones…the exercises lose some of their value.  Dig in to your voice.  Find the lower register that sounds like Strength, Stability, Stamina.  Even Stretch can have strong tones to it.  Remember that Pilates is a workout.  Even if it’s for rehabilitation…it’s still a workout.

Manner of Movement.  Here’s where I wonder what Mr. Pilates would think if he saw what was going on!  While Pilates is flowing movement, it is not flowery movement.  No.  Pilates is not dance.  Remember that Mr. Pilates called it “Contrology”?  Does that sound like dance to you?  No.  Mr. Pilates was a boxer, diver, gymnast.  He held strong poses for long periods of time like a human statue.  He was not graceful in the dance way.  He was graceful in the strong-man way.  And that is the intention behind the exercises.  Please, work with strong arms and legs.  Read “Return to Life Through Contrology” and “Your Health”.  He describes how he wants the body to move.  Do not stray so far from his work because you’ve seen a lot of dancers do Pilates.

I’m a dancer…I dance in dance, I workout in Pilates.  It’s different.

Now, if you watch film of Mr. Pilates teaching…it is not pleasant.  He is rough on his clients and the movements are often ballistic.  I do not suggest that teach in that manner.  Without Mr. Pilates’ understanding of what works and what doesn’t, we may hurt our clients.  Let’s not.  However, I do suggest that we consider the strength behind his movements, especially the way he moved.  I return to this next suggestion:  watch film of Mr. Pilates!  You can find him all over the place now!  Go to Power Pilates’ website and buy the Archival Footage.  It’s incredible!  If you haven’t seen Mr. Pilates in action…it’s important that you do!  It’s invaluable!  (no…I do not get a percentage of the proceeds!)

Rhythms.  Do you know the actual rhythms to the exercises?  Did you know that each exercise actually has it’s own rhythm?  They do!  And they are important to do in order to get the most out of the exercises. 

How will you learn the rhythms if you don’t already know them?  Go to a great classical Pilates teacher, watch the films, contact me and ask!  I will give you the rhythms.  It’s important to use the correct rhythms.  You’ll find that the exercise changes…for the better…because of them.

If you’re playing music in the studio while you are teaching…that takes away from the workout.  It does.  If each exercise has it’s own very specific rhythm as they do, then the music conflicts.  See if you can challenge yourself to do and teach Pilates to it’s own music!

So, would Mr. Pilates recognize what’s going on in your studio?  If you question it, and you’re in Los Angeles, come take a session with me.  I work hard to do what I hope he’d approve of and respect.  If you’re not in L.A., consider your teaching and ponder what’s dance or yoga and what’s Pilates/Contrology.  Try to re-work your session.  Ask me questions…I’m happy to answer them!  Let’s do more Pilates in the Pilates studio!

****As always…please feel free to e-mail me at or comment here on the blog and let me know what you think as well as ask me any questions or pose a topic to have me blog on!  Enjoy!  ****

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Back to Basics – Part 1 of The Series Back to Basics: Honor Every Position…especially the last part!

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