A few years ago I took part in a fundraiser to help Mari Winsor in her battle with ALS. I took two classes: one taught by Brooke Siler and the other taught by Kathy Ross-Nash. Mari, Brooke and Kathy are all a tremendous inspiration to me!
During Brooke’s class, while teaching criss-cross, she instructed us to look back towards our back elbow, moving our eyes as far as possible to that side. She explained that, having a glass eye himself, Joe realized the importance of ocular health. Brilliant! Isn’t it incredible what a comprehensive system Pilates is? Joe realized the need for a holistic approach to health long before the word “holistic” become popular in the main stream.
That’s what makes Pilates such an amazing and enduring exercise system. It’s so beneficial for the entire body! More than just a workout, Pilates has long-term benefits beyond helping us look good. Pilates is a safe workout that teaches us to move more efficiently, thereby enhancing the quality of our daily lives and reducing our chance of injury. By strengthening and stretching muscles in a balanced way, Pilates helps us stay strong and flexible, therefore feeling good and aging gracefully.
In his book, Return to Life, Joe speaks of the importance of exercise, but also talks about the importance of breath (the “internal shower”), proper nutrition and good sleep. Joe said “Merely eating to satisfy one’s lust for good food is both foolish and dangerous to one’s health”. Joe also recommended that one “get all the sunshine and fresh air that you can”. He believed in letting the skin “breath” and therefore advised people to workout in as little clothing as possible. Joe encouraged body brushing, a technique using a stiff bristle brush, to stimulate circulation of the skin.
Pilates is a brilliant system of exercises that works every part of the body. Famous for toning the core muscles (including abs, back and butt), Pilates strengthens the entire body, including even the respiratory system, the hands and the feet. And, as Brooke pointed out, the eyes!
Joe knew that imbalances anywhere in the body would negatively affect other parts of the body. Pilates is a system of exercises and there are hundreds of exercises on the different apparatus to address a plethora of concerns, but I think what really rounds out the system and shows just how detailed and extensive it is, are the lesser known inventions. The foot corrector and toe exerciser address issues related to the feet because having strong, flexible feet is imperative for a balanced musculature with proper posture, balance and gate. The breath-a-cizer improves lung capacity and teaches us to breath fully and empty out the lungs as much as possible to get rid of stale air. The bean bag strengthens the hands and wrists.
Joe was a genius ahead of his time and dedication to his system will give you wonderful results that benefit every part of your body!