The Healing Power of Pilates
Our bodies are amazing machines, enabling us to climb mountains, swim, carry our children and hold onto our loved ones. When injury strikes or the aging process slows us down, we can find ourselves in uncharted territory. Perhaps a torn meniscus puts an abrupt end to the marathon you were training for, a new baby has rendered your body unrecognizable or age-related arthritis requires you to tweak your daily workouts so they are easier on the bones and joints. While these limitations may seem devastating for active adults, there is a safe way to help our bodies, minds and spirit return to balance. Pilates offers exercise and strength training for healing and rehabilitation that is suitable for all ages and abilities.
“Pilates is a great workout for those in top shape but can also be a wonderful rehabilitative workout,” explains Sarah Gevinski, who, along with Heather Rhyu, owns Club Pilates, in Ardsley, Mount Kisco and Scarsdale. “Many physical therapists and doctors recommend our studios to their clients as a way to build their core strength and get back into an exercise program without reinjuring themselves.”
Carol Dodge Baker, who owns Equipose, A State of Balance Pilates and Wellness Studio, with fellow Pilates Instructor Vandy Lipman, says, “We have guided people through joint replacement surgeries, disc issues, arthritis, frozen shoulders and knee surgeries, to name a few. Pilates reduces pain through increased strength, circulation and flexibility. The method can accommodate any underlying issue or condition one might have through carefully guided sessions with one of Equipose’s knowledgeable certified instructors.”
Injuries, surgeries and the changes that come with age are often the catalysts that bring newcomers to Pilates. After they experience how effective the modality can be, they end up becoming long term practitioners. Elaine Ewing, owner of Rhineback Pilates, has witnessed this phenomenon. “Pilates can reduce pain from many issues such as arthritis, back pain, stiffness and ‘text neck.’ Many people begin Pilates due to these physical issues and imbalances and, once corrected, practicing the method becomes a lifelong habit.”
“Your powerhouse—or core—is the most essential part of your body,” explains Baker. “It is what affects every other part of your body, posture and alignment. You have to keep that strong for longevity and optimum health.”
Gevinski agrees, saying, “If you strengthen your core, you can do anything. Not only can you move your larger muscles more freely, but you can help to stabilize and balance your entire body. A stronger core makes your day-to-day living easier.”
Joseph Pilates, founder of Pilates, said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” This principle is at the core (no pun intended) of the Pilates method. Ewing witnesses this principle in action in her studio on a regular basis. “Time and time again I hear students of Pilates say how the method has improved their ability to perform the physical activities they love to do,” she muses.
Joseph Pilates often said, “The number of years we’ve been on this planet is not what makes us young or old, but it is the fitness, flexibility and strength of our bodies that determine our youth and vitality (or lack thereof).” Unlike many exercise programs we find in our local gym, Pilates does not exclude anyone. It can be modified and practiced by students of all fitness levels and ages. As individuals build strength, they tap into that vitality and are able to live a fuller life, doing the things that they love.
Ewing notes, “Joseph Pilates described his method as ‘complete coordination of the mind, body and spirit.’ It is this coordination that sets Pilates apart from all other methods of core training and is the reason why it is so beneficial for health and vibrancy at any stage of life.”
Inclusivity is the hallmark of Pilates. All genders, ages and fitness levels reap benefits from the practice, whether they are in search of healing after a surgery or injury, trying to build strength or seeking an overall improvement in the quality of their life.
“Pilates is for every body,” states Ewing. “I teach Pilates to men and women of all ages who come to the studio for all types of reasons. No matter what the reason for starting Pilates, everyone sticks with it—most people for a lifetime—because the practice of coordinating the mind, body and spirit is so powerful and effective.”
Sources: Heather Rhyu, Club Pilates Ardsley, 875 Saw Mill River Rd., Ardsley, NY, 914.292.1292, ClubPilates.com and Club Pilates Scarsdale, 365 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, NY, 914.449.4411, Club- Pilates.com; Club Pilates Mt. Kisco, Sarah Gevinski, 30 E. Main St., Mt. Kisco, NY, 914.362.8414, ClubPilates.com; Carol Dodge Baker and Vandy Lipman, Equipose, A State of Balance Pilates and Wellness Studio, Bailey Court, 334 Rte. 202, Somers, NY, 914.276.2056, EquipoisePilatesAndWellness.com; Elaine Ewing, Rhinebeck Pilates, 6400 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck, NY, 845.876.5686 or RhinebeckPilates.com.