Rome Opens My Eyes: Pilates’ Place in the World of Fitness!

June 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm 20 comments

Roman Statues - Did these men do Pilates? - Rome June 2010

Rome does many things to many people, I’m certain!  Among the incredible sights, sounds and tastes I experiences in this past week in Rome, it became even clearer to me why I do Pilates and what the value of Pilates is in the fitness world at large.  It’s not a brave new thought.  It’s surely something you’ve considered consciously or subconsciously before, but it’s worth stating.  It’s vital to “state the obvious” from time to time:

Pilates is the source of eternal fitness.  It’s the one type of workout that you can do no matter what age you are and no matter what ails you.  You can do it when you’re 8.  You can do it when you’re 88.  You can do it as an elite athlete.  You can do it when you’ve got a busted knee, torn hamstrings and a strained lower back…all at the same time.  With Pilates, you can get an incredible workout no matter what the situation.  So, it’s not just that you’re moving a little bit with your great age or your many injuries, but you’re working out to your fullest…appropriate to your personal situation!

I spent 4 days at the Festival del Fitness in Rome this past weekend.  The Olympic Stadium was filled with every sort of group fitness exercise program you could imagine.  From Italian army style workouts, to rock climbing, to aerobics in every form you can imagine (they are all the same, but just a different twist:  Macumba (a take off on Zumba which is dancerercise in the 21st C), belly dancing aerobics, step aerobics on the Bosu or 4 different variations of instable step-like props), martial arts, water fitness and more.  These fitness programs are extreme, high energy, high impact…they are for the young and healthy.  If you have an injury, you can’t do them.  If you’re aging or ailing in any way, you simply can’t do them.  What are you left with?

That’s not to say that they are not great to do!  Of course they are!  These aerobic fitness programs are fun, increase the stamina of your heart, lungs and muscles and give you and endorphin high!  On top of it, Aerobic exercise helps you lose weight if you need!  These are fantastic reasons to do aerobic group class or martial arts or any of these things.  I have and continue to invest my time in many of them!

But…there is such a limited lifespan in these exercise formats.  The hardcore boot camp workout especially.  They are not exercise lifestyles.  They do not teach you anything that you can use in or translate into the rest of your life.  They are about the moment.  They are not about longevity.  They have no balance.   They are exercise for exercise sake.  And that’s great…that’s their intention, but my personal angle is that there needs to be more.

The value of Pilates shines even more strongly in my mind when I see this.  Pilates is a lifelong endeavor.  You develop stability, strength, stretch and stamina both physically and mentally.  You develop fitness and health in every aspect of yourself and never have to stop it.  “You can do it no matter what ails you.”  I return to that concept over and over again because it’s one that has great importance to me.  I need an exercise that I can do when my hamstrings are pulled, when my shoulder is out, when my hip flexor is strained, when my back is sore.  I need an exercise that I can do when I feel low as well as when I feel high.  I need to feel that no matter what ails me, I can exercise and stay fit, not to mention develop even greater fitness.  When I look at the aerobic fitness lifestyle, I see why it’s not enough…it’s only for the healthy.  And we’re not healthy all of the time.

Do aerobic group fitness…absolutely!  Enjoy it while you can, of course!  But always do Pilates.  It’s the foundation for every activity you layer on top of it.  And seek out the sort of group aerobic fitness that has a high aim of longevity, vitality and increased ability.  They do exist.

It’s simply that I find myself more and more in awe of Pilates.  You can do it no matter what ails you!  You can maintain and increase your fitness no matter what!  Rome spread it all out on a platter for me to see, once again what I already knew:  Pilates is genius.

****Please take a moment to comment below.  I’d love to know who you are!  I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to read this!  If you have any questions about anything Pilates, please drop me a note in the comment box, as well.  All you have to do is click on “add comment” or “comments” and the box will pop up!  It’s easy!  If you’re in NYC and want to take a session, please contact me at I’ll be thrilled to set one up!  Thank you, again!****

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20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Steel  |  June 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Right again. A year or so after we opened the “new” Pilates studio on 56th St, NY – after Joe died in 1968 – AEROBICS started to catch on. And it was an uphill battle after that to keep Pilates alive. Indeed, after a few years it essentially went into hibernation. One of the circumstances that revived it was the number of injuries that resulted from Aerobics, and of course the boredom of those programs. As Joe predicted, the system has enduring attributes.


  • 2. Alex  |  June 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    “But…there is such a limited lifespan in these exercise formats. The hardcore boot camp workout included. They are not exercise lifestyles. They do not teach you anything. They are not about health and wellness. They are not about longevity. They have no balance. They are exercise for exercise sake.”

    This surprised me when I read it, and re-read it, and re-read it!
    They do not teach you anything?
    Dicipline? Commitment?
    Does something have to teach you something? Maybe there teaching you not to beat yourself up and go try Pilates?
    I was told the JP thought of Pilates as a “Martial Art”?
    Joe didn’t become the man he was through just doing Pilates did he?
    I thought he regarded Pilates as a stepping stone for everything else life has to offer, Running, Dance, Weights, Wrestling, Gymnastics, whatever puts a smile on your face, a building block as it were?
    I would never have contacted you about hip flexors if I hadn’t gone for a Jog “to think” and clear my thoughts!
    I can’t think AND do Pilates!

    • 3. theverticalworkshop  |  June 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm

      Right on, Alex! I appreciate your passionate reply! I was in a particularly passionate state, myself, when I wrote this blog and am glad it ignited your emotionally charge comment! Not only is it full of emotion, but quality points! Thank you!

    • 4. theverticalworkshop  |  June 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      Alex, I’ve edited my post, thanks to your comment. After re-reading it, I was pleased with the post because I do actually point out the value of aerobic group fitness, but I softened my edges on it a bit making sure that my main point was clear which is certainly not to diminish the value of aerobic exercise!

  • 5. Megan Berry  |  June 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    The caption under the photo “Did they (the Romans) do Pilates?” is such a tease!!! 🙂

    Alex raises a great point, as does Mr. Steel. Love your blog, Sherri and the whole discussion it has inspired.

  • 6. Megan Berry  |  June 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    The caption under the photo “Did they (the Romans) do Pilates?” is such a tease!!! 🙂

    Alex raises a great point, as does Mr. Steel. Love your blog, Shari and the whole discussion it has inspired.

  • 7. Alex  |  June 16, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Your kind Shari, thks, I would never look to be rude in a comment, just ask a question, or 2, sometimes not easy to put across electronicaly, maybe easier in a chat, a passing comment, a more naturally occuring enviroment, but not possible, so I am glad for this option.
    When I read the blog I thought, blimey she has had her fill of fitness this week!! Maybe overload! Let me guess all the people on show were really healthy ones?
    Maybe not quite balanced eh?
    But as always the positives are there, opening your eye’s opened your mind to thoughts and writing and blogging, and then to me and everyone else that reads and thinks (but may not comment) as so on, so there’s always a winner, no matter what you write.

    Try blogging your shopping list!
    I bet it will make someone think (maybe not comment) but def think…..

    Oooh she doesn’t eat that does she!

    Man alive, is there nothing bad for you in that shopping bag!

    And that’s the point isn’t it, to think, you always make / help me to think, so thank you.

    Depending on how this goes down I have another comment…..maybe!

    • 8. theverticalworkshop  |  June 16, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      And, Alex, you always encourage me to think, too! Thank you!
      As for my shopping list…umm…lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, tofu, amaranth and brown rice. Predictable? Yes, I’m sure. And…loads of dark chocolate. Loads of it.

  • 9. Jenn Powell (PilatesFun)  |  June 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Great blog, Shari and the photos are beautiful.

    I agree with you about the beauty of Pilates – you can do it for the rest of your life. Low impact with modifications for injuries or variations to continue challenging yourself — it’s a great pursuit. I found it 7 years ago and it changed my life so much I trained to become an instructor so I could pass along the health benefits to others. I especially like the part about you can do Pilates when you feel low – even emotionally – after a session of Pilates, you will feel lifted, not only in your spine, but in your spirit.

    Long live Pilates!

  • 10. Mary Lyon/ Chicago  |  June 26, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Hi shari, Thanks again for this great Website. I was an exercise junkie in my earlier years. Now I doubt if I could do the 2 hr step class or kwando class daily like I did in the past.
    Thank Goodness for Pilates in my life now.
    I can do Pilates and afterwards do some cardio on my jumpboard. Hey it works for me!!! Stay well and keep smiling.
    Sincerely Mary Lyon

    • 11. theverticalworkshop  |  June 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you, Mary, for what you said!

      I am a firm believer in some sort of aerobic exercise in life! Not to mention that I think that Pilates is meant as the great platform/foundation of movement so that we can do all sorts of other physical activities in life! In L.A., I had a client who was able to study trapeze work because of her Pilates! I know for myself, it’s Pilates that keeps me able to do any other sort of physical activity!

      And then…cardio on the jumpboard is pretty fantastic, too!

      Thank you, again, Mary!
      – Shari

  • 12. Mary Lyon/ Chicago  |  June 27, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Oh I forgot , I do dance a lot which is Cardio too.
    It just goes to show if you enjoy what you are doing it’s probably and exercise move that you don’t think about.. I have so much stamina it’s hard to find people to keep up with me. thanks J.P. Love to Salsa.

  • […] Rome Opens My Eyes: Pilates’ Place in the World of Fitness!2010/06/16 […]

  • […] Rome Opens My Eyes: Pilates’ Place in the World of Fitness!2010/06/16 […]

  • 15. Francesca kemitch  |  February 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Shari,
    Just read your article on Italy. I’m an Italian professor and I am also gettimg my certification in Pilates. At level 4 right now. Just wanted to let you know that if you ever need any help with words in Italian you can count on me…
    Ciao, Francesca

    • 16. theverticalworkshop  |  February 18, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Ciao, Francesca!
      Thank you! I imagine that I will take you up on your offer at some point! I hope you will ask me any Pilates or biomechanics questions as they arise, too!

      Congratulations on going through a Pilates teacher training program! Where are you located and which program are you working with?

      Enjoy and thank you for reading and reaching out!
      – Shari

  • 17. The Vertical Workshop's Pilates Teacher Blog  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    […] Rome Opens My Eyes: Pilates’ Place in the World of Fitness!2010/06/16 […]

  • 18. The Vertical Workshop's Pilates Teacher Blog  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    […] Rome Opens My Eyes: Pilates’ Place in the World of Fitness!2010/06/16 […]

  • 19. Karen  |  January 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Great blog Basil

    • 20. theverticalworkshop  |  January 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Karen, I’m glad that you enjoyed this blog…but it’s not by Basil as you wrote in your comment. It’s by me, Shari Berkowitz.
      All the best and thank you for reading,
      – Shari


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