Learning Classical Pilates has been compared to being given an owner manual for your body. Your body is an instrument, and you need to learn to take care of it and how to use it well in order for it to make beautiful music. This begins with reclaiming the mind and body connection and mastering the basics. Regardless of fitness level, all new Pilates students begin with the Basic Work. This is the time when the body learns a new movement vocabulary, it is a time of learning by doing.
All of the exercises found in the advanced and super advanced work are underpinned with the lessons learned in the basic order. One of the great things about Pilates is that the more advanced you become, the more deeply you can work, and often the basic exercises seem to be harder as a student progresses.
Now that you understand how important the basics are, you might be asking yourself, just what are the basics? The most foundational concept found in Pilates is the powerhouse. This band in and around the center, supported by the inner thighs and seat is the core but more! It is the place where all movement begins and is stabilized from. Joseph Pilates devised a series of exercises on different apparatus in which the periphery is used to challenge the powerhouse. For example, in the Basic Mat order, the Side Kick Series, isn’t about the legs. We don’t let the legs do big walking if the powerhouse is rocking! Instead, the leg movements challenge the powerhouse to maintain stability and hold the torso steady. When you begin Pilates, one of your first challenges is to learn to use your Powerhouse so that you can build strength and stamina over successive sessions.
Key Concepts are basic terms that describe movement and alignment and are uniformly applied in all Pilates exercises. Beyond Powerhouse, at a basic level you focus on holding into your Centerline, maintaining your Box (hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder alignment), working within the Frame of your body and the frame of the equipment, and developing Length & Opposition. Applying these concepts consistently will change the way you stand and move, and keep you safe. Working without the basics, is like building a house without a solid foundation, it just doesn’t make sense and won’t lead to permanent change.
As you work out this month, your instructor will be bringing a solid focus to these basics. Think of this as a chance to tune up with your instrument and gain a deeper understanding of the work.
Next month: We will carry the Back to Basics theme forward by looking at the Pilates Principles.