Life lessons from Joseph Pilates.
A few years ago, I was a Pilates fanatic. Like I took classes four to five times a week and went so far as to get certified in the Mat modules. Over time, I moved away from my teacher, my schedule changed and I fell out of regular practice, save for the occasional one-off. But while I was drafting a new program last week, I got to thinking about Joseph Pilates, the man behind the discipline and some of the things he espoused as part of the workout. Here are a few favorites:
- Mind over matter - As a kid, Pilates was sickly. Like asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever-kind of sickly. Sick of being sick, he decided to take matters into his own hands and improve his health through physical exercise. He started taking gymnastics, lifting weights and practicing martial arts. Eventually, he became a model for anatomical posters.
- Do your research - In developing what he referred to as "Contrology," Pilates studied other forms of movement including ballet, yoga and even looked to animals for inspiration. Chances are, whatever it is you're looking for, it's out there in some form or another. Take the time to learn before jumping into anything head first.
- Slow and controlled - Pilates instructors often repeat the mantra, "Slow and controlled." This reminder applies to the coursework and life in general. For best results, focus intently on the task at hand. You won't glean the benefits by rushing through the movements. In the words of Ron Swanson, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
- Less is more - Sounds easy, but I struggle with this one. Pilates advocated for using the mind to move the muscles just enough to activate them, all the while breathing deeply and maintaining alignment. That's taking on more than enough right there. You don't need to be checking your phone at the same time.
If you're interested in learning more about Pilates and his method, I recommend checking out the documentary about him, "A Movement of Movement," or his seminal text, "Return to Life through Contrology."
Image via Cyril Saulnier on Unsplash