October 1, 2023
In this installment of Wellness and Pilates thoughts, we will begin with Contrology. You can catch up on any posts you might have missed here.
“Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce only bulging muscles.”
“Contrology,” Joe Pilates said, “was conceived to limber and stretch muscles and ligaments so that your body will be as supple as that of a cat, not muscular like a brewery-truck horse or professional weightlifter you so much admire at the circus”. You can read more of his thoughts in his book Your Health.
“Contrology” was the name Joseph Pilates gave his methods. It was a clear reflection of his belief in the importance of the mind’s control over the body. He said, “It is the mind itself which builds the body. The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.” Contrology became known as Pilates because that’s where his students said they were going, (meaning to see Pilates, the man). It stuck over time – less of a mouthful! Today, with so many flavors of Pilates out there, Contrology is synonymous with Classical Pilates (meaning the work as Joe created it) and is what we teach in the studio and in the RPTT teacher training program.
We love our chairs in Pilates.
We have the wunda chair which was meant to be a piece of home apparatus for Joe’s students to continue the work over the summers while he was away. You can watch him demonstrate it here. We have the high chair which is often used as a training ground for the wunda chair because it has handles, and the arm chair,
which we covered in our “A” post , is ideal for neck and shoulder issues as well as for pregnant clients. We may train going up front and going up side on the high chair and graduate it to the wunda chair (look ma, no hands!), but we still love to do it on both pieces. You can go slower and with more control on the high chair and really build stamina.
A Classical Pilates private session is broken into three parts. A being the reformer, B is the mat work and C is anything else in the studio that may be required specifically for the person being trained. During the C part Joe and Romana were rumored to tell clients that the exercise was “just for them”, meaning that it was what their body specifically needed, but it probably made them feel very special too! While it is not unheard of to have a lesson comprised entirely of C parts (all the lessor used apparatus), it is not the norm and not how a traditional workout was structured or how we teach in our Real Pilates Teacher Training Program.
Yes, Pilates can count as cardio. One of the markers of Cardiovascular health is the ability to raise and lower your heartrate. You do not need to log miles on a treadmill to do that. Sure, getting your 10K steps a day is super important (in fact we are obsessed with it), cardio can be accomplished by doing big muscle group exercise in Pilates and of course by doing Pilates faster. It can be structured as a type of interval training with exercises to raise your heart rate (knee stretches) followed by one to lower it (running).
We live in a fast world. It is not uncommon to buy breakfast, eat out for lunch and either order in or go out for dinner because it is fast and easy. What was once a special treat maybe once a week, is a daily occurrence in modern society and surely has contributed to obesity rates and the myriad of autoimmune issues that plague so many. You can’t have all that convenience without preservatives and other chemicals to make us want more. There is a very simple step you can take in the right direction – cook and eat more of your meals at home.
It’s doesn’t need to be the end of a social life. People used to do what we regularly do now in restaurants at home. Even if it is simple meal prep of fruits and veggies for snacks, you will eat less, spend less and ultimately drink less if you aim to have more of your meals at home or from home. You can read more about the benefits of cooking here.
“Research has shown that crafting, regardless of the medium you use, can bolster mood, improve self-confidence, and reduce stress overall. In addition, crafting has also shown to improve mental agility, improves both gross and fine motor movements, and decrease cognitive decline.” You can read more or get inspired here. Honestly, I am jealous of all the knitters and painters I know. To have a hobby you love is really a gift. I have been on a quest to find my perfect hobby for years, and while I have not found one that stuck yet (sewing, painting, coloring, gardening, or mosaics just to name a few), the journey has been great fun. Inspiring and humbling at the same time.
“Centering usually refers to our mental and physical state of mind. It’s the place we know we must get back to when we’re not feeling like ourselves. (“What Is Centering? What Is Grounding? | Psychology Today”) When we’re not centered, we might feel lost or out of touch with ourselves. When we center ourselves, we bring calm to our emotions.” You can read more about that type of centering here. Centering is also the name of a Pilates exercise on the Pedi Pole.
The Pedi pole is a special piece of apparatus that Joe used with Eve Gentry after her radical double mastectomy to help restore mobility and range of motion after the loss of the pectoral muscles. At the time the medical community could not believe the results they achieved and to convince them she ultimately performed the exercises topless to convince the doctors that it was not some sort of a scam. As we enter October and our attention goes to Breast Cancer Awareness, this apparatus and Ms. Gentry should get a special recognition.
The trapeze table was developed in the mid 50’s or early 60’s. Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method, made all his creations in the basement of his building. (“Facebook”) When he brought it up into the studio, one client saw the table and said, “Hey Joe, is that your new Cadillac?” and the name stuck. The Cadillac is very much like the Wall (Tower) Unit, but it is raised making it easier for older clients to get on and off. It also has the trapeze, hanging straps, and the top pipes which can be used like parallel bars for more advanced exercises.
For these reasons, like the car itself, Joe’s Cadillac was considered the best of its kind.
Ever feel blocked? It might be your Chakras.
“Chakra (cakra in Sanskrit) means “wheel” and refers to energy points in your body. (“Chakras: A Beginner’s Guide to the 7 Chakras – Healthline”) They are thought to be spinning disks of energy that should stay “open” and aligned, as they correspond to bundles of nerves, major organs, and areas of our energetic body that affect our emotional and physical well-being”. Check out this great overview to understand a bit more about Chakras.
According to Joe Pilates, his method is “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit”. It makes sense then that one of the reformer exercises is called Coordination and that it is a thorn in the sides of so many students. This exercise coordinates movement and breath and requires concentration as we are asking the body to move in a way that is not natural. Specifically, inhale as the head raises and arms and legs simultaneously push out. The legs open and close and you exhale as you draw the legs back in before the arms. Hence the coordination.
I CAN LIVE FOR TWO MONTHS ON A GOOD COMPLIMENT. ~ MARK TWAIN
While it may feel amazing to be on the receiving end of a good or genuine compliment, the wellness benefits could be even greater when you are the giver of the compliment. “Genuine compliments build relationships, improve communication, motivate people, and boost one’s self-esteem and self-confidence”. Read this article for 7 benefits of giving and receiving compliments. And while we are at it, in the words of Stuart Smalley and SNL: You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you!
This is one of the most used Pilates exercises. It can be done on the reformer, Cadillac, Pedi pole, and standing with weights, a magic circle or against a wall. While it is a breathing exercise first and foremost, it is also a balance exercise, a neck exercise, and an eye exercise. Such was the brilliance of Joe Pilates. If you have only ever done this exercise one way, let us show you all the variations out there in a private session.
I love to use crystals as art in my home, they are beautiful, and I believe they have special properties. “There are several different types of crystals. Some people believe they have healing abilities for the mind, body, and soul.
Many ancient cultures — including ones in Egypt, Greece, and China — believed that crystals have healing properties. (“Healing Crystals 101: Finding the Right One for You – Healthline”) Some people claim that crystals promote the flow of good energy and help rid your body and mind of negative energy for physical and emotional benefits. They believe certain crystals benefit your sleep, help you manifest your desires, and add an additional healing element to reiki.” You can read the rest here. My personal favorites are amethyst, citrine, and clear quartz.
It seems fitting to end this post with compassion. Remembering to have compassion for yourself and others is one of the most important things you can do to enhance wellness. We generally are much harder on ourselves than we would be on another person, and having compassion instead of losing our temper has benefits for you and the person on the other end as well. You can read more about the wellness benefits of compassion here.
This list is less than complete, but a place to begin! Join us every 2 weeks as we dive into Pilates and wellness topics to bring you a little closer to your best self in a way that might be sustainable. Each post will tackle another letter of the alphabet and 14 topics that begin with that letter. You can experiment with any or all the topics over the next 14 days and keep the ones that work best for you. Stick with it as we add the next letter. Before you know it, you will have habit stacked your way to wellness one letter at a time.
The road to wellness is about the journey, not the destination. We often focus on the body, but true wellness is mind, body, and spirit. I’d like to be your wellness concierge in addition to you Pilates instructor.