When I first found out about Pilates in the 1990’s, it was one of the best-kept fitness secrets in New York City’s dance community. Prior to hearing about Pilates, I had unwittingly created a home routine based on my favorite mat exercises from various fitness and aerobics classes, and I made a fascinating discovery: all of those exercises were designed by Joseph Pilates. These exercises made sense to my mind and body before I was even aware that the mind-body connection is the foundation of Pilates.
Before I became a Pilates instructor, I was a stressed-out producer. In the television world, everything needed to be done yesterday. To meet deadlines, I spent most days sitting behind a desktop computer, allowing my head to fall forward into my monitor, or collapsing my ribs to one side while negotiating a deal on a corded phone. My posture was terrible, and my habit was to forget about my body as I plowed through the various tasks of my busy day. By this time, I had lost the disciplined habit of my home exercise routine but the idea of Pilates and how everything connected kept gnawing at me.
During my first “official” private Pilates lesson, the instructor asked me to touch my toes. I was mortified when my fingertips could not pass my knees. When did I get so tight? I was always the flexible one in workout classes. How could this be where my body was at? Had it been that long since I worked out? My memory of my flexible youth was just that—a memory. The reality was, I spent most of my days at a computer, in front of a television monitor, in an edit suite, or in meetings, sitting, sitting, and more sitting.
After I learned how to properly stretch my legs with the assistance of the Pilates reformer, my flexibility began to return to my hamstrings. Now I could proudly touch my toes. The Pilates exercises allowed me to find a strength and support for my mobility that I had never experienced in my youth. Pilates became my bridge back to my body, and it led me to a career I love.
I wrote a little Pilates poem in the acrostic format. Can you identify the exercise I’m describing? Let me know in the comments!
In the straps
Lift your legs
Allow your breath and abs
To connect your core
Effortlessly through your
Spine and limbs.