Contrology and the 6 Principals of Pilates Method

Joseph Pilates in NYC Studio

According to Joesph Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology, first published in 1945, there are six guiding principals for the exercises. Contrology is defined as “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” Through Pilates discipline performed correctly at least 4 times per week and in specific order, “Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong posture, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”

Here are the guiding principals of the Pilates Method: Breath; Centering; Concentration; Control; Flow and Precision.  Interesting that 3 of the 6 principals are focused on the importance of the mind and mental discipline.  Pilates saw the exercises as truly the connection of mind, body and spirit, and did not believe that you could separate the physical from the mental discipline.

Breathing: Is the first act of life and the last, our vary life depends on it. Pilates emphasized that students should use very full, deep breaths.

Centering: Joseph Pilates emphasized the powerhouse of you body which is the area between your lower ribs and hips and it includes the lower and upper back muscles. Centering the mind through focus on the core is key.

Concentration: Simply put, Pilates requires that you bring your full attention to the movements of eat exercise. “Concentrate on the correct movements EACH TIME YOU EXERCISE, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value. Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine activities. Contrology exercises build a sturdy body and sound mind fitted to perform every daily take with east and perfection as well as to provide tremendous reserve energy for sports, recreation, emergencies.”

Control: having control of all movements directed by the mind. Pilates famously said, “Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control.”

Flow: The elegance of the movement is defined as flow.  Movements are performed with grace, elegance and fluidity.

Precision: Pilates emphasized correct form and alignment.  Instructors are taught to use precise cueing in order to make movements more precise.

Joseph Pilates emphasized that over time the body would move according to the six guiding principals in everyday life, making the exercise something that is incorporated into a person’s overall well-being and health vs a separate activity for the sole purposes of an isolated form of exercise.

Myth or Fact? The Top 5 Myths about the Pilates Method

pilates reformer classes stoneham
Small Group Training WellBarre Pilates Stoneham, MA

As a Pilates Instructor and studio owner I am aware of the many myths surrounding Pilates when clients are new to Pilates Method. When clients are new to Pilates there tends to be a lot of misconception about what Pilates is and what it is not.

Here is list of the top 5 myths about Pilates Method:

1) Pilates is not challenging

Pilates utilizes all muscle groups which can be very intense and challenging for many people. It is normal to experience muscle soreness after class as you are using under-utilized muscles that are neglected as part of everyday life to include sitting, driving and inactivity which leads to de-conditioning.

2) Pilates is like Yoga

Although Pilates includes stretching, the primary focus of Pilates is on the spine and what’s known as the Powerhouse. The powerhouse area of your body goes from the bottom of your ribs all the way to your hip line. It includes the abdominals, glutes, low back muscles, pelvic floor and muscles surrounding the hip joint. Powerhouse muscles work together to support and stabilize the trunk, but they also create and support big-movements of the body. And they give those moves their dynamic strength. Joseph Pilates emphasized this area of the body in the program of training he designed.
The core muscles are included in the powerhouse and are the deep stabilizers. The pelvic floor, the psoas, the transverse abdominus and the multifidus are included.

3) Pilates is for dancers or celebrities

Although in recent years there is a proliferation of beautiful celebrities like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston, known for their devotion to Pilates, the method is appropriate for all bodies and can be modified to suit most bodies. People who are post-surgical and with limitations in movement or body-awareness can help improve these conditions through mindful movement that protects the joints and back.

4) Pilates will eliminate excess body-fat

Pilates will not burn-off the ice-cream you ate last night. In-fact, no-exercise will do that despite claims that you can “burn-off” excess body-fat. Abs are truly made in the kitchen through a diet that is balanced and includes healthy fats and low in processed foods and refined sugar. Pilates can give you an amazing cardio workout by the use of the Jump board or when Pilates is done in a HIIT format.  Abs can be sculpted as well as glutes and other muscle groups, but if you have excess body fat you will need to change your diet.

5) Pilates Reformer is appropriate in large group settings

Unfortunately, Pilates Method cannot be successfully taught in groups larger than six participants. Pilates Method was originally intended to be done in private training and small groups only. Pilates Instructors should be appropriately certified in the Method and attentive to safety and body-limitations. This is difficult to replicate in a group larger than six.

 

Pilates Post Breast Cancer

Spotlight: Eve Gentry – Pilates Elder, Breast Cancer Survivor

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am struck by the devastation of the diagnosis and the few resources made available to women post treatment. If you are like me and watched someone you love go through very grueling breast cancer treatment, or have undone breast cancer treatment yourself, you are probably very aware that the effects of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy drugs wreak havoc on the body. Although my mother had excellent life-saving care, she was provided very little information about what to do moving forward. Common side-effects following cancer treatment are emotional changes and memory issues; swelling/lymphedema; fatigue; decrease in arm/shoulder mobility; neuropathy; and postural imbalance.

Eve Gentry teaching Pilates Method

However, according to the Nation Center for Biotechnology Information, several studies have shown the tremendous benefits of Pilates Post Breast Cancer Surgery. A literature research and review through March 2017 of five studies showed that Pilates or home-based exercises are better than no exercise in each individual study. Also found was that significant improvements were evident in the Pilates groups as compared to home-based exercises. Improvements were observed in range of motion, pain and fatigue. The conclusion was that the evidence showed that Pilates or home-based exercise should be encouraged to women with breast cancer.

A regular Pilates practice can promote circulation in the arms, ankles and feet, reduce swelling and increase range of motion in the arms following surgery. Deep breathing through-out a series of intentional movement helps reduce stress which helps the mind and body heal. Eve Gentry, a modern dancer and protégé of Joseph Pilates underwent a radical mastectomy in 1955. Chronic joint and back issues led her to Joseph Pilates’ studio where she worked as a teacher with Joseph Pilates from 1938 until 1968. Following breast cancer surgery in 1955, she returned to Joseph Pilates for help. The surgery had removed so much muscle she wasn’t able to lift her arms. With Joe’s training method she was able to return to dance within 12-months. Even eventually went on to co-found The Institute for Pilates Method in 1991. She lived to be 84 years old.

If you or some you know needs help following breast cancer treatment, give us a call. We are a supportive and private space and are happy to answer questions about how we can help.