Don't Get Bogged Down in Methods

It is well known that Pilates is a superior form of exercise: it has stood the test of time and is scientifically proven. But what, exactly, is Pilates? Is the Pilates that I teach the same as the Pilates that is being taught at the studio down the street? What about the trainer at the local gym that says she is Pilates certified? What, exactly, is she teaching?

These are good questions.

Of course, they don't have straight forward answers.

The reason for all of this confusion is that there is a debate in the Pilates community itself about the best approach to this form of exercise. Should it be taught exactly how Pilates taught it, when he developed the exercises in the early 1900's? Should it be modified to reflect recent scientific findings? Should the core ideas be preserved or expanded upon?

There are several schools of Pilates that have offered their take on the above questions. Romana, Power Pilates, Fletcher, STOTT, and Winsor are among them.

Kryzanowska was one of Joseph Pilates' proteges, and she runs a school called Romana's Pilates. Romana made a commitment to Joe and Clara Pilates to continue their work. The method she teaches prides itself on preserving Pilates' exact method, also known as Classical Pilates.

Power Pilates is another well known school of Pilates. The directors and one of the co-owners studied under Romana Kryzanowska in the 1980's. They teach Classical Pilates in what they term an "innovative way."

Winsor is a well known philosophy as well, largely due to good marketing and a celebrity following. Winsor Pilates differentiates itself by offering a routine that includes "dynamic sequencing." Dynamic sequencing refers to the order and pace of the exercises performed. Winsor stresses that her routines promote weight loss and body sculpting. Her workouts tend to focus less on precision of technique than some of the other schools.

Ron Fletcher runs Fletcher Pilates. He was one of Clara Pilates' students. He expanded upon Joseph Pilates' breathing technique, creating what he terms "percussive breathing." This type of breathing is defined by rhythm and movement. Fletcher also modified Pilates' original exercises to create "Fletcher Floorwork" and "Fletcher Towelwork."

STOTT Pilates was co-founded by Moira and Lindsay Merrithew. They used a team of sports medicine specialists, fitness professionals, and physical therapists to refine the original exercises. They made modifications to exercises given the latest scientific principles and findings, particularly those of spinal rehabilitation.

I believe that the STOTT modifications represents the best of both worlds. The essence of Pilates' original exercises is preserved. Yet STOTT leaves room for improvement and alters based on what science has learned since the 1920's. Preserving the core and altering based on the latest advancements? To me, that is beautiful. (Yes, I am STOTT certified. Yes, I am biased).

So what is the lesson learned here?

Every one of these methods has avid followers. Each one is unique and brilliant in its own way. Try out the method that makes the most sense to you. Should you need to change schools or instructors you can easily do so. Just get out there. It is the first step in finding your way to a healthy, strong, lean, beautiful, you. After all, that is what it is all about it. Isn't it?

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