Get Of Your 'Chair', Drive Your 'Cadillac', and Prepare to 'Reform' and Regain Your Posture!

Fitness enthusiasts and casual exercisers can take their work out routines to a whole new level by incorporating Pilates specific equipment – the Reformer, Cadillac and Chair! The current day surge in Pilates based programs is largely due to how traditional Pilates has evolved over the years – the focus is more on current thinking related to biomechanics that is backed by scientific research. The programming of exercises is vast – from athletic conditioning, golf specific to breast cancer rehabilitation – its possibilities are endless.

It isn’t just for dancers anymore! The rise in men and teenage athletes taking Pilates as cross training to their sport is evidence that the training techniques used are giving them a noticeable edge on the competition. Pilates is easy on the tendons and ligaments, allows for three-dimensional movement, and is excellent for joint flexibility and spinal mobility.

By way of background, Joseph Pilates was born on December 8, 1980 in Monchengladbach, Germany. Afflicted by many childhood ailments he studied bodybuilding, diving, gymnastics and skiing to help overcome them. His love of sports, the human body, and the mind, led him to develop a series of exercises that he called ‘Contrology’. Working as an orderly during WW1 he took springs from regular beds and attached them to the hospital beds as exercise apparatus used for rehabilitating the bedridden. Many know this as a model for the first piece of apparatus known as the ‘Reformer’ – the most recognized and universal piece of Pilates equipment.

Today the Reformer still uses springs for resistance and glides forward and backwards. It can be used for a wide variety of exercise and is one of the most popular pieces of Pilate’s home equipment. So what about the Cadillac and Chair? These too are fundamental pieces of apparatus used in a professional studio. The Split Pedal Stability Chair is probably one of the most underused pieces of apparatus but one of the most versatile as it takes up little space, facilitates several standing, seated, and side lying positions and can be easily adjusted to accommodate a clients size and strength. The Cadillac, known as the Trapeze, is truly the staple of every well-equipped Pilates facility. The Cadillac offers an extensive range of more than 200 exercises to challenge on different planes of motion from post rehab clients to athletes. Oh and there really is a trapeze attachment where you can see an advanced student performing a walkover, scissors in the air and more!

Don’t venture into this world on your own; see a qualified professional first to bring you up to speed or take a certification course or equipment-based workshop to understand the progression and focus of the exercises as well as the settings for the equipment. I have the fortune of conducting Teacher Training education courses here in Charlotte, NC and have been teaching for almost 20 years - I still love what I do and think that Pilates is an amazing conditioning workout that builds core strength, develops a graceful posture, and creates good body alignment.

We have been teaching clients of all walks of life: rehab, prenatal, athletes, celebrities and the everyday fitness enthusiast. It is has been a blessing to see how people’s attitudes have changed to functional exercise. Having clients realize that 20 minutes of mindful exercise is better than 2 hours of mindless exercise has created awareness for the quality of movements, not the quantity. Perhaps the greatest benefit that everyone can get from practicing Pilates is something so many lack and yet simple to attain…POSTURE! Correct posture without strain or effort can be an instant non-surgical correction to anyone’s body. A well- trained certified instructor can assess what muscles are tight, weak, shortened and lengthened and create a customized program in a session to bring awareness and a correction to those issues. Good movement is what it’s all about! Feeling good, feeling strong and healthy is empowering and as we age mindful exercise is no longer a luxury, but a necessity!

Monica Hoekstra

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