Strengthening and Lengthening at Core Pilates and Yoga
Most people nowadays associate Pilates with entertainment icons like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Anniston. But can you picture any of them doing their workouts in a prisoner of war camp using coiled bed springs taken out of moldy old mattresses? According to legend, that's how Joseph Pilates first developed his now wildly popular fitness method.
Born a sickly youth, Pilates dedicated his life to becoming fit. When he was imprisoned during WWI, he took it upon himself to create a workout regimen for himself and fellow inmates using what materials he had available. Many years later, he brought this system to New York and opened Americans' eyes to his unique brand of fitness, which sought to engage the mind with the body and breath.
"It's an interesting workout that focuses on strengthening, lengthening, balance and control," said Lynne Anderson of Core Pilates and Yoga on Hilton Head. "And it's all about the intestinal core; Joseph Pilates felt that every movement originated from the core."
Athletes and especially dancers have long favored Pilates because it helps tone muscles and correct posture. Katie Girardi, who grew up on the island and attended the Hilton Head Dance School for many years, discovered Pilates after dislocating both her knees during her first year of college. Not only did the new exercise regimen help her recover, it also greatly improved her dancing technique overall. She went on to dance professionally for several years before studying Pilates in New York and getting certified to teach.
"I think with the spring resistance training, you get very lean muscles without the bulkiness," said Katie, who came back to Hilton Head two years ago, bringing her knowledge of Pilates with her. "But it can also be ramped up for hard-core athletes; so there are two ends of a broad spectrum and it can work for everyone."
Katie and Lynne opened the Core studio in March of this year, offering a range of Pilates and yoga classes as well as personal training sessions. Both women are full of stories about the wonders of their discipline-an aging ex-golfer who took up Pilates and was finally able to play again without back pain; a 90-year-old woman who had been doing Pilates once a week for years and now has the grace and agility of someone half her age; even people who literally grow half an inch, thanks to improved spine alignment.
"Pilates goes with you out the door," said Lynne, who has been interested in health and athletics her entire life. "It's not like a cardio workout or a weight-lifting session where you go home, hit the shower and it's over. Pilates teaches you to tuck your tailbone, keep your abs engaged up and in, hold your shoulders down your back and be aware of your posture in every activity you do."
Of course, the benefits of Pilates go beyond just the physical aspect. Your practice will inevitably spill over into every area of your life, from a stronger immune system to higher energy levels.
"It makes you feel great when you've done something good for yourself for an hour," said Katie. "You will sleep better, digest food better, and your joints will thank you a hundred times over. You'll just want to pat yourself on the back."
Hometown: Owensboro, KY Been on Hilton Head: 25 years Other business: Anderson Communications Hobbies: skiing, football and anything with her kids Family includes: husband David and children Tosh, 19, Ian, 18, Grace, 13 and Riggs, 11 True confession: "I love great food and great wine. I'm really bad at denying myself, that's why I like to work out."
Hometown: Hilton Head Other activities: teaching at the Hilton Head Dance School and sewing a lot of their costumes Family includes: husband Mickey and cat Smokey Guilty pleasure: Hershey's ice cream kisses Cherished Sunday ritual: eating a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes at her parents' house Inspirational figure: Karena Brock-Carlyle, owner of Hilton Head Dance School