If I haven’t already mentioned Romana’s simple and sophisticated definition of Pilates, then I should for posterity sake: stretch, strength, and control. In every exercise. At least, that’s the gist of what I understood. I think about that crystallized idea often as it’s a good measure of the work being done on my watch, and a good way to keep tabs on my understanding of the work. (It’s very easy to veer off track with Pilates because our bodies encompass so much of what we experience from day to day).
I know that I already shared some thoughts on control a while back. Today, I’ll share some on strength. Here’s a story that I think goes a long way toward conveying what strength means in the world of Pilates.
When I was a Romana’s Pilates apprentice, along with working diligently on my Pilates workouts, I had decided that I wanted to be able to perform a pull up and a chin up. Everyday when I worked out, I’d do a few of each at the end. Months went by and I didn’t make a lick of progress. (Yes, I realize that this proves that I am a slow learner.) During one of my lessons with Sari at TPNY, I was working on the standing arm series and she was monitoring my low back. Thanks to her wise and sensitive hand, it quickly became clear that with each movement I lost my connection to my center. With her unwavering guidance I figured it out. The proof of that being that upon returning to my daily pull up / chin up regimen, I could actually perform both. It turns out that the strength had been there all along, but the coordination had not.
Sure Pilates builds strength, but always in a coordinated way. Always with stretch, always under control. This ends up building a very different sort of body than one that is focused purely on strength. Strength alone doesn’t amount to much in terms of function. On the other hand, consider a well coordinated body; that has a perfect balance of stretch and strength which is harnessed by mental control. Now that’s what makes a powerhouse!