The Power of Pilates, and why it works….

     The Pilates Method is famous for developing long, lean muscular bodies while improving flexibility, posture and core strength. This remarkable method created by it’s founder, Joseph H. Pilates, helps you stretch, strengthen and re-shape your entire body. Pilates also helps you recover quickly from injuries and prevent future injuries. The six basic principles specific to Pilates incorporate the ability to pay close attention to yourself while you simultaneously activate your core muscles, elongate your spine and precisely moving through each exercise. Here’s a closer look at these principles. 

    Concentration truly embodies the mind/body connection that is the key to Pilates and why it makes it so effective and powerful. In Pilates, we move slowly and carefully, paying attention to each detail of every movement. It’s more challenging than you may think when you begin, but eventually it becomes easier and will transfer over to all of your physical activities.    
    With Pilates, it is important to be in control of every part of your body, during every aspect of the movement. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing at each moment in time, your movement will have no purpose. This type of “control” is not rigid or forced; instead, it is finding a way to move easily and gracefully, even with challenging movements.

    In Pilates, finding your center means isolating and activating your lower abdominal muscles. It is the starting place of Pilates, from where every movement develops, and is often referred to as the “girdle of strength.” Once you understand how to engage your center, it will change the quality of your movement for life. It will improve your posture, flatten your stomach, and give you a strong support for your low back.

        Flowing movement
    Flowing movement is a close companion to centering. Each movement flows outward from a strong center and is smooth and continues. No movement is abrupt or jerky, but transitions seamlessly into the next part of the movement or exercise. Each movement moves fluidly from one position to another, like a well choreographed dance, without stress or strain.

    Precision is a close companion to control, and I consider it a form of “physical fine tuning.” Working carefully with the precision of each movement recruits individual muscle fibers and the nerve fibers that communicate with them. Smaller muscles are now able to help your bigger, stronger, bulkier muscles. As a result, your smaller, weaker  muscles develop strength and your bigger muscles get longer, leaner, less bulky and more flexible. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

    In Pilates, the breathing is a major part of the ease and the flow of each exercise. The rhythm of the breath is smooth, even, flowing and natural; it is never forced. The exhale occurs during the most challenging part of the exercise to help engage the core muscles, elongate the spine and lengthen the limbs. This breathing pattern helps you complete the exercises effortlessly and gracefully. 
    These six basic principles and level of awareness, self attention and concentration can be applied to any exercise regime or physical activity. Give it a try, and let me know how it works out for you. You may be surprised at how good you look and feel!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP


A trip to Target and a lesson about “stuff”….

    The other day I decided to make a quick run to Target to pick up a few things that I really needed. I figured it wouldn’t take long, especially since I didn’t need much. I grabbed what I needed and stepped up to the checkout counter. There was only one customer ahead of me so I knew I would soon be out the door and on my way home. 

    Her basket was full of small items, and the cashier
meticulously turned each one over in his hands a few times before he scanned it. This was going to take longer than I thought, but that’s okay. I have a lot of patience and I’m pretty good at entertaining myself. I played Ninja mind games, I played with shifting my weight, and I looked at a few magazines. Good grief, this was taking forever! 

    I was tired, my feet hurt, and I worried about getting home to let my dogs out. They are Italian Greyhounds, and they are notorious for being lackadaisical about their house training, especially when they’ve been left alone too long. They aren’t malicious about it; it’s just not high on their list of priorities. Finally, the cashier pulled off the sales receipt and handed it to the customer. She looked at it and said, “This isn’t right. You overcharged me.” Uh-oh.

    It took a few moments for him to realize his mistake. He put in a call for his supervisor. While we all waited for her to arrive, he smiled at me and said, “Miss, this is going to take a few minutes.” No kidding. He was a gentleman, and I wasn’t angry with him, especially after he called me “miss.” But I had already waited long enough, and I politely replied, “It’s okay; I’ll come back another time. I really don’t need all of this stuff right now, anyway.” 

    The minute I said those words, I realized how true they were. There was nothing in my cart that I did need, except for the box of dog treats. After all, I had to give my little darlings something to keep them busy while I cleaned up after them. Everything else was just “stuff” that was getting in the way of my getting home, putting my feet up, and playing with my dogs. What was I thinking?

    I already have enough “stuff” in my life, and you probably do as well. The last thing we need is to collect more. Instead, perhaps we could focus on getting rid of the “stuff” we already have that may be getting in our way. Sometimes clearing out the clutter helps us gain clarity. I’m going to remember that the next time I feel the need to pick up a few things, and I’ll think about what it is that I really do need instead.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP