Instead of staying with a babysitter, Kate Blyth would attend pilates classes growing up with her mom.
Years later, she got her certification to become a pilates instructor and has been a pilates mat instructor at Pilates and More for more than three years.
Many of the techniques Blyth teaches in her classes reflect the original method of body conditioning developed by Joseph Pilates in the late 1920s.
“Most of the foundational exercises are found on the mat, where we use the body’s weight as resistance to develop strength and flexibility,” Blyth said.
The exercise of pilates has been used to develop body awareness, strengthen the core, increase flexibility and improve posture. Pilates and More not only offers regular mat classes, but provides rehabilitation pilates for clients with back, shoulder and neck problems.
“In our practice we see a lot of people come in needing some rehab from something,” Blyth said. “They come to us because those and a multitude of others can be helped by pilates.”
Blyth’s mother, Debra Murphy, utilizes her clinical physical therapy background and teaches her clients how stability in the center of one’s body helps control the factors that contribute to back pain, hip issues, knee issues and neck issues.
Another common practice that shows increase in stability and strength is yoga, but in the end, pilates and yoga work toward two different end goals.
“In pilates, you’re not sitting and holding a position for an extended amount of time. You’re moving, and some exercises go more quickly, others have a longer, slower flow to them,” Blyth said. “Another difference from yoga and a core basis of pilates is that you set up a stable part of your body and then you challenge that part of your body with your movement. You’re trying to strengthen your stable part and then stretch and increase range of motion of that moving part.”
Even though pilates is not as practiced as yoga, Blyth has seen the exercise grow as a practice with the help of technology.
“In a lot of ways, I think it’s becoming more mainstream. There are a lot of different iterations of pilates out there, and you can find millions of YouTubers doing different kinds of pilates,” Blyth said. “I think it’s a really cool way for people to get exposed to it no matter what pilates they’re doing.”
Murphy, owner and fellow instructor at Pilates and More, recognizes the popularity of yoga is still greater than pilates, but the exposure others are giving the practice have helped immensely in its recognition.
“It takes quite a bit of training to become certified in pilates, so there aren’t as many pilates instructors as yoga instructors,” Murphy said. “But the number of people participating in the pilates industry-wide are growing. Things like club pilates and the gyms that offer different pilates workouts make the name known and increase the industry, regardless of the type of method they employ.”
Michael Clevidence, an associate lecturer of exercise physiology, can testify that the rehabilitation aspect of Pilates and More is beneficial for the clients wanting to relieve some pain.
“The application of pilates as an intervention is wide-ranging, and positive results have been demonstrated in cancer rehabilitation, conditions associated with pregnancy, arthritis, high blood pressure and even multiple sclerosis,” Clevidence said.
As useful as pilates can be in helping an individual surpass physical obstacles in their lives, it’s also a form of exercise that Clevidence believes brings people delight.
“I am always in favor of any form of physical activity or exercise that helps people improve physically and is low risk, high reward,” Clevidence said. “The best method of exercise for any individual is the exercise method that provides enjoyment and consistent participation.”