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Pilates: A Foundational Exercise for Everyone

by Lisa Hunsaker

Pilates womanA method of holistic movement created by Joseph Pilates during the early 1900s, Pilates is a sequence of exercises designed to strengthen the core of the body. Regular practice helps strengthen and lengthen the muscles, improve flexibility and balance and develop and maintain good posture. Beyond the gym, the method was intended to be used and applied to everyday activities, increasing participants’ longevity. Today, there are two schools of training: classical and contemporary.

Many variations of contemporary Pilates have emerged in response to its growing popularity. There are classes combining yoga and Pilates or using Pilates apparatus for strength training. Classical Pilates, however, is a full-body workout that requires concentration and engages the body, breath and soul.

Participants experience Pilates either in a traditional group mat class or in a private or semi-private session utilizing Pilates apparatus. The most common equipment used is the reformer, which looks like a bed that slides against the resistance of metal springs that can be used for more than 50 strengthening and conditioning exercises. Other equipment includes the Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Barrels and Magic Circles.

Classical Pilates sessions combine mat exercises with time on the equipment, working the body through a system of sequential exercises that increase core strength to facilitate better execution of other athletic and daily activities. The equipment helps place the body in the correct position and provides resistance, allowing an individual to control their movements. The most difficult set of exercises are those performed on the mat. A combination of both mat and apparatus sessions provide the best overall results, and twice weekly sessions are recommended.

Pilates offers multiple benefits, regardless of an individual’s fitness level or body type. It is a foundational, functional exercise method, as well as a mind-body movement system. Joseph Pilates had a saying: “In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20 sessions, you will see the difference. And in 30 sessions, you will have a whole new body.”

Lisa Hunsaker is a Power Pilates certified instructor and teacher trainer, American College of Sports Medicine Health and fitness instructor, ACE group exercise instructor, XtendBarre instructor and MELT Hand and Foot instructor. She owns Turning Point Fitness, LLC, 5890 Chandler Ct., Ste. A, Westerville. Contact her at 614-895-1433 or

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