How Pilates Heals the Body

In May, three of our Pilates Coaches – Dana Davidson, Theresa Gonzalez, and Anne Zbar – attended the Merrithew Pilates Symposium. The symposium focused on wellness, and how Pilates is being used:

  • Manage joint pain, especially in the shoulders, hips, and knees
  • Improve posture and neck and back issues
  • Help people function better in daily life activities

The blog below is the first in a series of three blogs about the symposium, and how we will be implementing these Pilates practices at the JCC.

How Pilates Heals the Body

By Anne Zbar, Licensed Physical Therapist and JCC Pilates Coach

As our knowledge of the body and exercise evolve, so has the practice of Pilates from its original inception. Initially, Pilates was also known as “Controlology” with a focus on a still, “controlled” core, with challenges added through moving the limbs. There was a very rigid progression of exercises initially embraced by the dance world that then expanded to a larger more diverse group. As our lifestyles and bodies have changed over the decades, so has our understanding of muscles, bones, and fascia.

The practice of Pilates has grown and diversified to address healthy, fit individuals, as well as those of all ages, incorporating modifications for illness and injuries.

Here is a summary of the courses I attended, and how I have been incorporating what I learned from them into the group classes I teach at the J, as well as my one-on-one private sessions in our Pilates studio.

My first session was Golf Conditioning, which turned out to be universally applicable to my clients and, in particular, those with shoulder issues (myself included). I have integrated these exercises into my warm-up and throughout studio sessions, and I will attempt to modify for my classes as well. My clients have consistently reported feeling “warmth and flexibility” in their shoulders after doing these exercises.

The Twist Ball workshop focused on full body movements. In particular, swinging the ball gives a dynamic challenge to the fascia by stretching and then allowing recoil. This creates a healthier, more resilient fascial system that supports the body. It also provides multidirectional challenges that are so important for maintaining bone health.

The Halo Workshop focused on movement patterns that connect the shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle to the spine. These exercises are aimed at improving functional movements.

Overall, each of these workshops expanded my knowledge and practice of Pilates. I am applying the knowledge gained in our Pilates studio as well as in my group fitness classes.