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Pilates for mind, body, spirit

THE INSTRUCTORS: Annika Dahl and Stacie Creps Smith are co-owners of Truckee Pilates with more than 20 years of combined experience.
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From childhood illness to teenage prowess, Joseph Pilates hurdled obstacles to develop a fitness regime loved worldwide by athletes, dancers, celebrities and you.Joseph Pilates was born in 1880 in Germany. He was a sickly child suffering from asthma, rickets, rheumatic fever and over all physical weakness. A family physician gave him a discarded anatomy book. I learned every page, every part of the body; I would move each part as I memorized it. As a child, I would lie in the woods for hours, hiding and watching the animals move, how the mother taught the young, Pilates is quoted as saying. He studied both Eastern and Western forms of exercise including yoga, Zen and ancient Greek and Roman regimens. By the time he was 14 he had developed his body to the point he was modeling for anatomy charts!He served in World War I, at first teaching self-defense techniques. Then Pilates worked as a nurse-physiotherapist on the Isle of Man with the many people who suffered from wartime diseases and injuries. He developed apparatus using bedsprings and furniture to create what has evolved into the infamous Pilates Reformer and Cadillac. The people he worked with became very strong and were able to survive the influenza epidemic of 1918 that killed millions of others around the world. He came to America in 1925, meeting his wife Clara on the way. She suffered from arthritic pain. Pilates worked with her during their passage on the boat and they later married. Together they opened a studio in New York City in a building that housed several dance studios and rehearsal spaces. Joseph called his exercise techniques controlology. They were cutting edge then, as now.An elite group of people came to Joe and Clara to learn these techniques, mainly dancers, celebrities and professional athletes. The general public was not tuned in to the value of physical fitness the way we are today. People just didnt spend time on things like Pilates unless it was related to their profession or they were rehabbing from an injury.Joseph enjoyed a 40-year career in New York City teaching his techniques. He died in 1967 at age 87. Afterward, his techniques were taught for 10 more years by his wife Clara and their protogees. It wasnt until the early 1990s Pilates started to become the popular fitness regime it is today, across the U.S. and around the world. Many of todays dancers, celebrities and professional athletes rave about the results to get and stay physically fit, to avoid injuries and rehabilitate from old injuries, surgeries and chronic problems.Over the years the techniques have evolved. There are still the original 34 exercises Pilates laid out but the equipment has evolved as well as teaching styles. Some people believe nothing should be changed and it should be taught exactly as Pilates taught it. Others have added some choreography and props that give interesting variations on the original exercises. The equipment is basically as he designed it, with adjustments for comfort and differences in peoples height.One thing that will always be true is that everything changes. As people are more interested in preventive maintenance for their health, as well as a desire for physical, mental and spiritual understanding, methods of teaching integrative movement, including Pilates, continue to evolve.At Truckee Pilates we understand that and we incorporate many styles.We like to focus on the ideas of lengthening muscles, opening joints, balance, and integrating the whole body as a fluid yet stable machine in motion. We work with proper breathing, which is often underestimated, yet tremendously powerful.We also include age-old eastern ideas about circular movement based on an understanding of how energy in our bodies flows and moves, without forcing and with minimal effort.We also offer Tai Chi, taught by a specialist in Yang style short form. Kelly Creps has been studying for nearly 20 years in San Francisco. We are fortunate to have him as a powerful instructor, committed to teaching the form as he was taught. This style of Tai Chi is amazing for creating strength and balance. The overall health benefits are incredible. For people with hip and back problems, it can mean the avoidance of chronic pain and in some cases, avoiding a future surgery. For digestive, gastro intestinal, kidney, or liver issues there can be miraculous healing. It is a fabulous ski conditioning class too!While our focus appears to be mainly physical, the effect is profound for the mind and spirit. When we focus on our bodies and get into rhythmic flowing movement, our minds quiet and our spirits brighten. When we feel grounded in our bodies, the rest of our life tends to flow better as well. Truckee Pilates instructors are committed to consistently learning and growing in our teaching and in each of our own practice. We feel this puts us in the optimum position to guide all of our students toward greater balance and well-being.In the early 80s there was a Saturday Night Live character played by Billy Crystal. He sat, in his polyester suit, at a table in a New York City restaurant smoking cigarettes and drinking some crazy cocktail. You, look mahhhhvelous! he would say. Followed by, It is better to look good than feel good. I have always gotten a kick out of that line. To some degree have even believed it! Now I believe that It is better to look good and feel good! Stacey Smith of Truckee Pilates contributed this months Health andamp; Wellness column. Contact Stacey at 584-1717. Please send future suggestions to aedgett@sierrasun.com, subject, health.

Pilates is one of the fastest growing forms of exercise in the world. In the U.S., Pilates participants have grown in number from 1.7 million in 2000 to 10.6 million in 2006 more than 600 percent growth in just six years. No matter what your age or conditionPilates improves core strength, flexibility, agility and economy of motion. from http://www.pilates.com


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