Pilates Monthly Focus: The Powerhouse
by Zoey Trap
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 introductory work. This is the time when the body learns a new movement vocabulary, it is a time of learning by doing. Read more
All of the exercises found in the advanced and super advanced work are underpinned with the lessons learned in the mat and reformer introductory order. One of the great things about Pilates is that the more advanced you become, the more deeply you can work, and often the intro exercises seem to become more intense.
Now that you understand how important is these exercises are, you might be asking yourself, just what is the most important concept to learn? 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 intro mat order, the Side Kick Series isn’t about the legs. We let the legs go walking only if the powerhouse is not rocking! 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 to stabilize, so that you can build strength and stamina.
Fundamental exercises like breathing, ISO-abs, and neck curls, help to develop and build our powerhouse awareness and strength. These simple exercises can be done every day by just about anyone. If you do not know how to perform these exercises ask your instructor for a handout.
During private sessions and group classes put your concentration on maintaining the powerhouse and working in a range of motion that can be controlled without sacrificing alignment or form. Session by session, class by class, you will find yourself improving. This will translate into your life by helping you enjoy recreational activities, improving sports performance, and you will find yourself looking and feeling better. Joseph Pilates said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your body.”