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Pilates: How to Choose the Right Instructor
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(ARA) - The Pilates Method, developed in the 1920s by Joseph H. Pilates, is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility and strength for the total body. The Method consists of a series of controlled movements engaging the body and mind, performed on specifically designed exercise apparatus and supervised by extensively trained teachers.

Over the past few years, the Pilates Method, once used mainly by dancers, has been discovered by legions of devoted fans, from celebrities to soccer moms. With this growing popularity comes the issue of locating a reputable instructor. So many fitness centers and trainers have hopped on the Pilates bandwagon, it is more important than ever to make sure that the instructor you choose is comprehensively trained to teach the Pilates Method.

“Comprehensively, competently trained and knowledgeable instructors are the essential elements to realizing one’s potential and enjoying the process of learning Pilates,” says Kevin Bowen, president of the Pilates Method Alliance, a nonprofit alliance dedicated to advocating high educational standards for instructors.

Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits including increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing; strength and flexibility, especially of the abdomen and back muscles; and coordination, both muscular and mental. Posture, balance and strength are all enhanced. “Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of life,” says Bowen. “It is really the only mind/body practice native to the United States,” he adds.

While Joseph Pilates began developing his ideas in a WWI internment camp in England, it wasn’t until after he and his wife Clara moved to New York following the war, that he opened the first Pilates studio. Pilates devoted his adult life to fine-tuning and proselytizing his method. With his emphasis on extensive training, Joseph Pilates would probably not be impressed by the influx of “quickie certifications” available for would-be instructors wanting to be trained in a weekend or two. He worked at length with his own instructors, allowing them to assist and then finally teach after sometimes as long as two or three years of training.

“While excellent training programs exist in the marketplace today, some are clearly condensed and homogenized, producing less than adequately qualified instructors,” says Bowen. He offers the following guidelines for choosing a qualified Pilates instructor:

* How long have the instructors been teaching Pilates?

* Are the instructors trained through a comprehensive training program?

* Did that training program require a written and practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?

* How many total hours were spent in the training program?

* Does the instructor have any other movement related teaching experience?

* What is the instructor’s or studio’s philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and rehabilitation?

* Does the instructor or studio teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all pieces of apparatus?

The Pilates Method Alliance’s Web site has a list of members, all of whom have completed rigorous training programs; you will also find information on the history of Pilates, and much more. Visit the Web site at www.pilatesmethodalliance.org. You can also reach the Alliance toll-free at (866) 573-4945.

Courtesy of ARA Content




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