Although our bodies are a true marvel of evolution, there are many moving variables and sometimes the systems within our bodies can get out of control. When we see our image in pictures or a mirror, we often want to improve something. It could be the shoulders that hinge forward, a neck that disappeared inside the shoulders, or the overall posture. How did this happen? How did we lose our height and fitness shape and become less active? Is it because of past injuries or a work schedule that is too demanding? There is probably a combination of things that have brought this about, and there is no simple answer to it.
My background in gymnastics and flying trapeze helped me to better understand the special gift of proper body alignment. Professional athletes and circus flying trapeze artists face danger with every performance. One wrong move or step could result in serious injury or even death. Of course, our daily life is not that extreme; but in a way, it is similar to working out at the gym. Although it takes longer to wear and tear your joints in normal gym routines, the same results can occur because of poor body alignment while performing the exercises.
There are many activities and workout options available at local health clubs such as personal training, and different varieties of yoga and fitness classes. All these can help to accomplish certain goals, but can they really rebuild your body and work you out from head to toe? Is there anything else available to us that could fill in for the missing puzzle piece? Yes, it’s called Pilates. Let’s explore this new direction in the fitness industry.
Pilates has only been around since the 1960s, and it exploded like fireworks around 2000. Joe Pilates, the founder of this method, created his program while rehabbing wounded soldiers during WWI. We can only wonder what kind of injuries he witnessed and rehabbed. His method got recognized by the scientific community when he worked with Eve Gentry, one of his students who lost some of her muscles during radical mastectomy due to breast cancer. Eve was told by her doctors that she would never be able to lift up her arms and dance again. But Joe Pilates designed special workouts in order to help retrain different muscle groups that could take over the tasks and help to restore her proper body alignment. These are but two examples of the benefits and results of total body training and fitness with aligned purpose through the Pilates method.
More specifically, there are few specific elements that make Pilates so unique. First, Pilates restores “the powerhouse” of the body, which includestransverse abdominis, diaphragm, rotators, multifidus, quadratus lumborum, and the pelvic floor. These muscles play very important roles in everyday posture and in preparation for movement. By proper use of the Pilates method, a strong “power house” can potentially prevent various injuries that otherwise may have occurred to poor body mechanics.
Secondly, Pilates training focuses on movement where the joints are retrained and aligned according to proper biomechanics of each joint. Often, injuries that were not rehabbed properly end up creating overcompensation by one part of the body as the injured area remains weak and/or immobile. For example, an ankle injury changes the way we run, walk or even stand. Pilates re-educates the brain’s neural communication in order to illuminate the limitations.
Third, Pilates works on the mind-body connection, which is the most important part of this journey. This type of awareness helps one to stay healthy and injury free for the years to come. Any type of workout can be performed efficiently with proper posture when mind-body awareness is achieved. It becomes second nature to keep posture within the certain parameters while working, moving or doing whatever needs to be performed. Last but not least, educated Pilates trainers go through very intense and comprehensive training. It takes hundreds of hours of studying the anatomy of movement and postural assessment, self-practice, observation hours and teaching apprenticeship in order to become a Pilates teacher. All these ingredients combined provide a guarantee for your fitness success if you commit to Pilates.
Over the 12 years of my Pilates career, I have seen many different clients’ achievements. Some clients have noticed that Pilates training on a regular basis helped them to relieve stress, improve their attitude and confidence in day-to-day life. Others adapted to a new healthy diet and active lifestyle, but one thing stayed in common. It was the proper body alignment and mind-body awareness that they learned through this wonderful method which we simply call Pilates.
Come by the Village and find your inner strength with a Pilates class at any one of our 4 locations, you won’t be disappointed!
About the Author
Oksana was born in the Soviet Union. She joined an internationally well-known gymnastics club when she was six years old. At the age of 17, Oksana was accepted to Vladimir University but she decided to challenge her destiny and join the Moscow State Circus instead. She traveled with the circus perform-ing a ﬂying trapeze act until Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus approached her with a contract in 1997. Oksana performed for the next six years traveling all over North America. In 2001 she moved to sunny Arizona. Her love for gymnastics helped to determine the direction of her career. After moving to Arizona, Oksana worked as a coach, personal trainer, and physical therapy tech before getting certiﬁed in Pilates. In 2010 she graduated from ASU with pre-med and bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. Oksana originally taught Pilates at Camelback Village for many years but took a break after the birth of her second child. In 2018, she joined the Lolita San Miguel’s program to become a second generation Pilates instructor. Oksana travels and continues to learn from internationally recognized Pilates educators.