Demystifying Pilates: Explore Your Core

by Kimberly Alt-Brinser, E-RYT 200


Have you ever seen a Pilates class listed on the Group Exercise schedule and wondered what in the world Pilates is? You are certainly not alone.

Pilates is a core workout named after Joseph Pilates. Growing up, Joseph was physically challenged with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. Each of these ailments inspired Joseph to become physically strong and recover while also sparking a fascination for natural movement, anatomy, and therapeutic movement as an aid for healing both animals and humans.

After World War I, Joseph started to work with bedridden patients. He used bedsprings to develop a mechanism which helped support and strengthen his patients to regain functional movement; thus, the Pilates Reformer was created. Joseph’s methodology focused on the core, or “powerhouse” of the body, and placed an emphasis on strength from the hips to the shoulders. He became known for using precision in his exercises to control the body—something we now call “controllogy.”

My first exposure to Pilates was in the 1980’s. My sister had ordered a few exercise videos from Sports Illustrated Magazine, one featuring Christie Brinkley and focusing on an abdominal workout called Pilates. I saw my sister’s body transform after consistently exercising with her videos and purchased the Windsor Pilates video soon after. Many years later, I was diagnosed with serious spinal issues after suffering from arthritis. My doctor recommended that I again train for Pilates—I am so glad I did! Finding my core strength through Pilates has helped me deal with the debilitating occurrences of my spine.

Is Pilates easy? Of course not! Any exercise routine that truly works takes commitment. It’s a practice that will allow you to grow stronger and stand taller. Perhaps with consistency you may achieve a nice six pack, but more importantly you’ll gain greater durability; for me and others with similar back problems, a strong core is key to aid better posture and back health.

I would like to challenge you to explore a Pilates class. After practicing Pilates both at home with my exercise videos and in person with an experienced teacher, I must say that a video does not even compare to a mat Pilates or Reformer class. A teacher can assist and guide a student to proper alignment while emphasizing controllogy. Plus, it’s easier to measure your progressions when surrounded by other students and a teacher who is observing your every movement. Leave your expectations of perfection outside the door, enter the room, and have some fun with the amazing healing practice of Pilates.