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PIltesIntel Article 2: Pilates: more than just the exercises…

Another PilatesIntel article published!

Here’s another article I had published in PilatesIntel: a very valuable Online Pilates Magazine that is worth subscribing to!

Here’s the editor, Brett’s introduction:

The original article can be found here, or click on the image.


Brett Intro 2


The Summary

From reading Joseph Pilates’ little known pamphlet (published 1957) we can learn directly from Joe how he envisaged his method and how he wanted it to be taught.  We run our studio as close to this vision as possible:


Notion #1: Pilates is education, not medicine or physical therapy

From the Pilates Pamphlet:

“(…) Contrology is not “medicine” or even “physical therapy”. For its aim is not specifically corrective but generally body-building and coordinating. Hence its users are neither “patients” nor “treated”. Each student is given as nearly as possible the same regimen (…)”

The italicised “student” is not mine but was written like that by Joe himself. Both “student” and “learn” are used ten times in just the few paragraphs that make up the pamphlet. Clearly, Joe saw Contrology as education.

So, if we are teaching “students”, the next question becomes “What are we teaching?”.


Notion #2: There’s a “Syllabus”

If people doing Pilates are students, everything changes: then, we are learning Pilates

So, “what is Pilates?”!

“Pilates” is a surname so it has to be the exercises that Joe Pilates would recognise and on apparatus like his.

“No medicine or other balls are used …”

“Nor is one given heavy weights to elevate… “

“… no high bar, parallel bars, horse, box, climbing rope, stall bar or Indian Club. Even the mats are significantly different from those found in other gymnasia.”

Progressing onto Handstands
Walking on front legs… that’s progressing!

“Exercises” now became “evolutions”:

“Kindergarten movements – the “multiplication tables” of Contrology – learned, new evolutions are taught (…) the student progressing imperceptibly from elementary to higher (more complex…) movements…”

“Later, more difficult evolutions are learned.”

We aren’t just doing exercise, but “evolving” through a syllabus.


Notion #3: “Teachers are facil-itators, not instructors”

There’s too much moll-coddling and control in the Pilates world. People need to be allowed the freedom to move.

If there’s a syllabus, the objective has to be that the student (that’s learning) becomes independent from the teacher.

So, the instructor needs to be a facilitator: making it easy for the student to learn.

I aim to teach Pilates, steering my students towards becoming independent practitioners. I want them to know what to do and when. I want them to know why they are doing what it is that they are doing. And I want all that to be easy.


Notion #4: “Teachers should talk less… it’s about learning, not teaching”

If the teacher is constantly teaching, the learner remains dependent on the teacher.

Teacher taking a back seat

Jay Grimes is reported to have said:

“Think like a sculptor: Get rid of the big chunks first. Don’t start with the eyelashes.”

Start with the Foundations. Later, as we progress, we can fine tune & evolve.



So, what are the Practical Implications?

… coming in my next article for Pilates Intel!

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