The Pilates Method at Soma
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Pilates called his method "Contrology," or the study of the ability to control the movement of one's body. Pilates' method is practiced worldwide and has been studied for its ability to condition the body, improve body awareness, and as a system to prevent and reduce back pain.
Essence of Pilates's Method
In his 1945 book, Return to Life through Contrology, Joseph Pilates presented his method as the art of controlled movement, which should look and feel like a workout (not a therapy) when properly manifested. If practiced with consistency, Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body. It puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance. The core, consisting of the muscles of the abdomen, low back, and hips, is often called the "powerhouse" and is thought to be the key to a person's stability. Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced or to any other level, and also in terms of the instructor and practitioner's specific goals and/or limitations. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.
Mat Pilates Classes
Mat Pilates uses, obviously, a mat and your own body to perform seated, reclined, and plank exercises that challenge the entirety of your core, the area from your hips to your shoulders. Yes, your arms and legs will definitely get a workout, but the majority of the time you'll be focusing on your abs. If your primary focus is to develop your core strength, then start with the mat. The other thing to know is that mat work is a smaller part of the entire Pilates repertoire. Using just your body and no props, there are about 50 or so exercises. It's a great, fast-paced workout and you'll definitely be challenged, but if you go to a mat class regularly, you'll start to experience a lot of moves again and again and this might become boring to you. That said, if your instructor is into props (as most instructors at SOMA are) such as a fitness circle, therabands, or small hand weights, these can double or triple the diversity of moves for a mat class.
Joe Pilates was an avid inventor and innovator. He created an array of apparatus to expand the repetoire and range of challenge of the exercises in his method. There are over 250 moves you can do on a Pilates Reformer and another 400 or so on the Trapeze Table, Ladder Barrel, and Wunda Chair. That's before you start getting into props or some of the newer moves that have been developed over the past few years (the choreography has really exploded in Pilates in the last 20 years). This means equipment classes provide about ten times the number of exercises as a traditional mat Pilates class. The Reformer with its moving carriage is considered the workhorse piece of equipment in Pilates. Instructors can work with anyone on a Reformer, from a recent car accident victim to a professional athlete. The exercises range from rehab focused and therapeutic to absolutely sweat-dripping, butt-kicking hard! SOMA is fully equipped with group classes offered on all Pilates' Equipment.
Learning the Pilates Method at SOMA
Once learned the Pilates Method of movement can applied to all aspects of life. There are two paths to learning the Pilates Method at SOMA:
Begin with the Pilates Method Fundamentals group class (Tier One). This class is taught partially on the Trapeze Table and partially on the Reformer. The goal of this workshop style class is for you to understand how to apply the Pilates Method of coordinating breath and movement to exercises on the Equipment and Mat. You are invited to take as many of these group sessions as necessary for you to feel comfortable exercising on the equipment and applying the method. Then you can continue on to regular Reformer/Equipment (Tier Two) and Mat Pilates (Tier One) group exercise classes.
SOMA offers an attractive New Client special for those clients who prefer learning the Pilates method in a one-on-one setting with an instructor. The SOMA instructor will perform a posture analysis and introduce you to exercises all the Pilates equipment over the course of three private sessions. After these private sessions, you will be confident in proceeding onto to group Pilates exercise classes both on the Mat and on Equipment. Call (860) 470-MOVE (6683) to schedule your first private Pilates session!