“We’ve altered our bodies with society. Your body has these kinks, it reforms itself to get around the pain, and soon you’re out of balance. What Pilates does is it puts the spine back in its original design,”Miramont Lifestyle Fitness Pilates Personal Trainer Mary Steiner explained.
Steiner described the practice as “developed exercise. You build strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, balance, and good posture. It encompasses the whole body.”
At its core, the practice consists of varying series of exercises that use the whole body rather than targeting a single muscle group. Those exercises might be done on a mat, with light weights or TheraBands, or using specially designed equipment such as the Pilates Reformer. But pinning down exactly what Pilates is can be tricky for a newcomer. After all, it was never copyrighted, so classes can vary.
Steiner, who received her comprehensive certification from Peak Pilates in Boulder and Denver, uses the classical system as a starting point. But, she changes it up to keep things fun, interesting, and relevant to her clients. “I have a jump board class I teach on Saturdays. It modifies the Reformer and it’s a cardio workout, jumping using the core. Then we have a fusion class that combines Pilates, the Reformer, weights, and barre. So there are different kinds of levels you can create with these classes… Basically, we have the exercises, and it leaves room for newer exercises to come in”.
To make matters more confusing, Pilates training emphasizes an in-depth study of anatomy that prepares instructors to make person-centered modifications. “We’re trained how to teach to the specific body in front of us,” said Steiner. Steiner and her colleagues not only know that a person with osteoporosis shouldn’t roll on her spine, they know which alternative exercises offer similar benefits without the risk. So within a given class, the exercises might not look the same, even if everybody is working toward similar outcomes.
But it’s that ability to adapt to the client that makes Pilates so beneficial for so many people. Like many devoted instructors, Steiner’s passion for Pilates comes from experiencing the reach of its benefits first-hand. A long-time runner, she was sidelined by hip dysplasia. After undergoing surgery, she was advised to give up her high-impact sport of choice, and looking for an alternative that would help her heal and regain her fitness. She approached a Pilates instructor, who helped her rehabilitate her hip using Reformer-based exercises. “I recovered so fast, and I believed in it, so I went and got certified”.
Steiner enrolled in Peak Pilates’ training program, diving into long weekends of class and 2,000 hours of personal practice and student teaching. She has now been teaching at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness for over six years and continues to be impressed by the benefits the practice brings to her clients.
Miramont Lifestyle Fitness offers a range of group, semi-private, and private Pilates classes both on the mat and using specially designed equipment like the Reformer. Though newcomers can certainly try starting with a mat class, Steiner recommends they begin on the Reformer. “In these private and semi-private sessions, [the instructors] get to know your body. We can teach you how to modify an exercise in mat class for your body. The basis is a relationship. Yes, you can start with the mat, but the Reformer is very beneficial to do it correctly,” she said.
For those who are intimidated by taking the leap into an equipment-based class, this fall brings the launch of a basic Reformer class at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness. “People can start on the same level and be together and move up and move on,” said Steiner.
Comprehensively certified Pilates instructors like Steiner are uniquely positioned to develop targeted fitness and rehabilitation programs. And Miramont Lifestyle Fitness makes use of that skillset. Miramont Lifestyle Fitness Pilates personal trainers have an ongoing relationship with Rebound Sports & Physical Therapy and are essential resources in the Healthy Back Program. Steiner has designed and taught classes for individuals with Parkinson’s, often aimed at helping them retain balance as long as possible. And she has seen the practice help football players dodge back surgery and older clients open up their chests after years of hunching over a walker.
“Pilates is about getting people moving in the best way possible for their body,” Steiner said. “It takes a lot of knowledge and some hard work, but anyone can see good results with these programs and a good trainer. Helping to contribute to those positive results for all different kinds of people with Pilates is really rewarding.”
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