One of the biggest misconceptions about Pilates is that the workout was designed exclusively for dancers. Perhaps it's the class's typical clientele or the association of the workout with long, lean bodies, but it's a misconception that needs to be debunked according to Andrea Speir, Speir Method founder and owner of Speir Pilates. "Pilates was actually created by a man [Joseph Pilates], and in its most original form was meant to strengthen men," Speir explains.
While dancers adopted the workout as their own after discovering its ability to strengthen their bodies and athletic abilities, Pilates really is a workout that can benefit everyone, no matter their physical stature or flexibility. Despite another misconception about the decades-old workout, Speir stresses that Pilates really has nothing to do with flexibility, noting that the moves are more designed to help you find proper alignment.
In fact, Speir was first introduced to the popular workout at the age of 12 when she tore her meniscus and doctors recommended physical therapy to rehab her injury. Pilates helped her to strengthen the weakened muscles—both big and small—and she's been a devotee ever since.
While many come to challenge the "powerhouse," or core muscles, a Pilates session calls on a variety of muscles in the body—you may even feel muscles you didn't know you had. In addition to strengthening the body and helping to improve posture, Speir says it's the mind-body connection that keeps people coming back time and time again. "I've heard many people say that as you age, you want to make sure to play logic games and do things to constantly keep your brain sharp," Speir says. "Pilates requires you to connect your mind into the muscles you are using and really get to know your body and movement on a different level. That only builds over time as you continue your practice."
With 12 years of teaching under her belt, Speir's specific Pilates method fuses classic moves with modern cardio to create a heart-pumping, full-body burn you won't soon forget. Whether you want a core blast, a workout that makes you forget all the stress of the day or you're hoping to be a more poised version of yourself, get started with this 20-minute mat routine from Speir.
Do you practice Pilates? What is your favorite thing about the workout?
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