Pilates Benefits, History of Pilates, Finding Pilates Classes, and More

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On a bed-like machine with a moving carriage, straps and springs, Robin Harrison balances on her shoulders with her bare feet in straps above her head. From this impressive position, she bends her neck pain have disappeared for some, inches have for others.

“I could really tell the difference after about two months,” says Harrison. “Since I was stronger in my abs, I had a lot less back pain.”

Little Rock lawyer Wooten Epes has been plagued with chronic low the spine, says George. “We work our arms and our legs, holding our bodies still. As for the stomach, we either skip it altogether, or we do a few crunches at the end of a workout.”

As a result, she says, people forget how to move their bodies and articulate through the spine. Pilates gives that back.

Another advantage, says Carpenter, is that people with chronic injuries or painful physical conditions such as arthritis can rehabilitate using the apparatus without risking injury. But she does warn against just anybody running out to take a mat class.

“The downside is, some of the moves in a mat class are very difficult, even for a fit person. You need to respect your body and know what your limitations are,” says Carpenter.

It’s also important to be an educated consumer.

The increasing demand for Pilates classes, particularly in gyms, has created problems, according to longtime Pilates instructors. With no regulating body overseeing training, there are vastly different levels of education among teachers.

Kevin Bowen, president of the Pilates Method Alliance, a nonprofit professional advocacy group, warns those interested in learning the method to seek out an instructor who has been through a qualified, comprehensive teacher training program.

“There are currently no national education standards,” says Bowen, “so training programs run the gamut from six hours to 900, and anyone can say they’re a Pilates teacher and the public is none the wiser.”

The group is working to change that and create a national certification.

Done correctly, say proponents, there’s no end to the benefits long after leaving the studio.

“Pilates helps people become more conscious of their posture, how they move, sit, and stand,” says George. “They can learn a lot of things with a good Pilates instructor that can affect the rest of their life.”