Contrology, known today as “Pilates,” is a form of exercise that was designed by Joseph H. Pilates to oppose the physical stresses we acquire from our modern lifestyle. For example, driving in the car, being in front of a computer, or traveling on an airplane are common activities that involve prolonged periods of sitting, which is characteristic of our contemporary society. Over time, if the habit of sitting is not opposed, undue stresses may develop in the body, such as tight hip muscles, tight chest muscles that pull the shoulders slightly forward, which cause the upper back muscles to become strained… the idea is not to limit the body to stagnation, or one, single, way of moving… a variety of movement, or movement itself, is key.
Undue physical stresses are not only acquired through the habit of sitting, but also through non-beneficial repetitive movements, tight muscles, or poor postural habits. The body also undergoes stresses from our daily activities, such as golf, running, or tennis. Moreover, if these activities are performed with improper form, or with a misaligned body, then more stress may be put on the body.
Pilates is a system of exercises designed to offset the non-beneficial repetitiveness, the habitual movements, incorrect postures, and improper form in movement, that our bodies are subjected to every day, due to the contemporary lifestyle in which we live. In addition, the pursuit to correct our bodies includes focusing on the physical imbalances each of us have, thus the pursuit of counterbalancing the physical stresses from daily living contains the achievement of a balanced body.
I have incessantly been amazed by what Pilates can do for the clients I have taught over the years. For example, I had one client who experienced chronic weakness in the legs, ankles, and feet, due to nerve issues of the lower spine; these weaknesses interfered with her ability to use stairs. This physical condition in turn affected my client mentally and emotionally, however, Pilates helped my client not only gain strength and functionality in the legs, ankles, and feet, but more importantly, it restored her confidence as her strength increased. Furthermore, I have discovered how Pilates can help a person gain flexibility, proper movement patterns, gain better awareness of the body, and, of course, a stronger core and spine, which helps support one’s body in various anatomical positions. Finally, I have observed how Pilates not only challenges, but also works, one’s ability to concentrate, through focusing on correct form and movement. Dexterity may be gained with the acquisition of the physical, and mental, benefits Mr. Pilates’s method can bring about for anyone along the physical-capability spectrum, which in turn will enable us to better receive, and respond, to all that we may encounter each day of our lives.