During the post-holiday season, millions of Americans are struggling to lose the unwanted but inevitable weight gain that follows the holiday celebrations. There are many methods of weight loss to choose from, including hours at the gym, dieting and even expensive cosmetic surgery.
Pilates is a form of exercise that is more delicious than anything you will eat during ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’
“Everyone has different goals when it comes to pilates,” said Brie Neff, a certified pilates instructor and owner of Equilibrium, a pilates studio in Society Hill.
“When people come to learn pilates, they may want to lose weight, strengthen and tone their bodies, become more flexible or strengthen a part of their bodies that has been strained or operated on in the past,” Neff said.
The Pilates Method, named for its inventor, Joseph H. Pilates, provides a powerful solution to men and women wanting to lose weight and strengthen muscles. The method involves more than 500 specific movements designed to expand and strengthen specific muscle groups, including muscles in the abdomen, the back and the buttocks.
In addition to the somewhat aerobic nature of the exercises, pilates is also a deeply mental experience. Concentration and controlled breathing enable a person to get the most out of the exercise. Results can occur after just one session.
A lowered risk of injury and a visibly improved posture are just two of the benefits received from the empowering routine. According to Joseph Pilates’ personal mantra, “In 10 sessions you feel better, in 20 sessions you look better, and in 30 sessions you have a whole new body.”
Today, that would equate to working out three to four times a week on a regular basis, a concept that has suddenly caught on, along with the sudden surge in popularity for the Pilates Method.
Despite the availability of pilates instructional books and videos across the country, Neff warns that there’s only so much to be learned from these sources.
“The [pilates] books and videos should be used as a supplement,” Neff said. “They’re wonderful in addition to private instruction. The best way to learn pilates is by private instruction – you need a teacher to teach you how to do it properly so that you can get the most out of it.”
So how does a person decide which pilates instructor to go to? The first quality to look for is certification with experience.
“It doesn’t hurt to do your homework and ask around,” Neff said. “A newly certified instructor isn’t going to have as much knowledge as someone who’s been certified for some time.”
A well-equipped studio is the second most important quality of a good pilates instructor. Many of the exercises are performed on seven main apparatuses. The instructor must not only have access to the equipment, but also have a working knowledge of each piece.
Once you have found a good Pilates instructor and know how to do the exercises proficiently, the rest is up to you.
“My biggest success stories come from the people who stick with it,” Neff said. “Pilates is for everyone. They just need to apply themselves.”
Brie Neff’s Equilibrium Pilates studio offers private lessons and group classes in the classical pilates method. For more information, call (215) 923-3669.
Marta Rusek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org