Living in NYC, I cannot feasibly recount the number of Pilates and yoga studios I pass everyday. Even if I'm on the train to school, all the smaller Westchester County towns are bursting to the brim with "alternative" ways to exercise.
When a new student wants to begin exercising, how do they decide on Pilates? And further, how do they decide to study Authentic/Classical Pilates, and why should they?
Where many new students decide to practice is highly dependent on the "sexiness" of the studio and the way the business and exercise techniques are marketed. It doesn't surprise anyone to hear that "yoga" (including all popular forms) is en vogue and represents a certain lifestyle that perhaps also includes health food stores, fancy water bottles and meditation. Let me say this, I go to health food stores weekly and meditate numerous times daily; both are integral parts of my lifestyle! That being said, it's important when deciding to begin exercising to be discerning. If you're going to spend money, why not get the biggest bang for your buck!?
Pilates may seem intimidating to those who haven't exercised much before. The word itself is synonymous with dedication, professional dancers, the "abdominal series" and in some cases, being a "medieval" form of exercise; and ya know what, it's kinda true! Joseph Pilates used springs and metal to completely astound the medical community at the time and demonstrate his incredible ability to condition and rehabilitate bodies.
Classical Pilates as opposed to quick-fix, divergent forms, focuses on the original principles Joseph Pilates and his successors envisioned upon creating the techniques.
I harp on repeating the Six Principles of Pilates, but in an Authentic Pilates method, Concentration, Control, Centering, Precision, Flow and Breath, offer the necessary components to achieve the same high level of fitness, meditation and health that is synonymous with the yogi lifestyle. Pilates IS "yoga" in a denotative sense; "yoga" itself is a Sanskrit word for discipline and Pilates IS discipline. Mainstream Yoga and Pilates each have strengths and some similarities, but they are exceedingly different.
When practicing the Classical method of Pilates, you can be almost certain that your instructors have received intense time and experience based substantive training. Instructors in Classical methods don't simply get their certification in a couple of weeks or a month, they receive something exceeding 700 hours of experience before working as professionals in the industry! When taking a non Authentic class, there is no way to know if your instructor has the necessary background in anatomy and physiology and in observing other instructors to offer helpful "expertise," rather than destructive and under-tested forms of stretching and strengthening. What's the point in doing Pilates and becoming in worse shape? Pilates is a great element in the process of rehabilitating a body and helping to deal with injuries, but not all studios are created equally.
I think of myself as a discerning individual, partly because I want to help my body become stronger, and also because I simply don't have the time and money to spend on something that's not going to help me in the long run. I would never attend a college or university for a program that I didn't first heavily research. Pilates is an investment, and it might just be the investment that changes the way you live the rest of your life.
Tease On and Know the Difference!!