Pilates Past and Future

By On February 13, 2015 · Leave a Comment

While brushing up on my Pilates history, I began reading some of Joseph Pilates’ original works. I was struck by two things simultaneously: (1) he really was ahead of his time and (2) there were quite a few things he had completely wrong!

Considering that Joseph Pilates—by himself at such a young age in the late 19th Century without the aid of modern day imaging equipment—created an exercise philosophy that is still relevant today, I have always thought he was quite the genius. And I still do! His beautifully crafted equipment remains nearly unchanged to this day, testifying to the power and longevity of his creations.

spine x-rayHowever, not everything he stated was genius. For instance, he believed that the lordosis of the spine, or the forward curve of the low spine, was a symptom of poor posture and lifestyle rather than the proper curvature of the spine. He thought that our spines were supposed to be straight, like a pillar, rather than curved and spring-like!

Without curves, our spine would lack the ability to absorb shock and impact. The very structure that holds and protects our central nervous system indeed benefits from a healthy degree of flexibility and curve! I was shocked to find that this great genius of movement and the body so misunderstood the spine!

Rather than shaking my confidence in the Pilates repertoire, this discovery reinforced it. I am proud to be associated with a world of movement that does not hold tightly and blindly to the antiquated notions of its founder. Rather, it has wisely incorporated new and better understandings of the body and movement as they have come along.

And in this way, we have upheld Joe Pilates’s principles: that of implementing a healthy and innovative approach to the body and to movement that leads to a long and healthy lifestyle.

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