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Today, I want to thank Molly Napolitano for her very gracious and inspiring article on her first Pilates experience, by making her the subject of today’s Blog entry!

I invite you all to visit Molly’s site: www.mollynap.com, a site dedicated to something very near and dear to my heart: the art of empowering women.

Thank you, Molly!

<July 28th, 2010 Posted in Exercise Routines ~Injury Prevention & Treatment ~Preventative Health Solutions

By Molly Napolitano

I have resisted Pilates since it became popular in the 90’s. It’s not because I didn’t want to look like all those sexy celebrities who swear by Pilates, I just thought it wasn’t for me. I always believed that running and lifting weights was all I needed to stay fit. Boy was I wrong.

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As you know, some things happen for a reason. For quite some time, I’d been thinking I should give Pilates a try to see if it would help alleviate some of the dysfunction in my thoracic spine. One day I woke up and decided that was the day I would find a Pilates Studio and give them a call. Later that morning, I met Jennifer Kries while walking Stella and Jessie in Washington Square. She told me she taught Pilates and I promised I would set up a session with her. After 3 months of emailing each other back and forth, I finally scheduled my first lesson. I knew it would be an educational experience but had no idea:

How much I would learn
How many misconceptions I had about Pilates; and
How incredibly talented Jennifer is
Jennifer is a true healer with an extensive background in mind-body arts and fitness. Her knowledge of anatomy, her verbal cues and her incredible teaching methods impressed me beyond words. She has inspired and empowered women around the world with her award winning Method Series DVDs (which she did not tell me about when I met her).


According to Jennifer, there are six principles of Pilates: concentration, control, centering, breath, flow and precision. When performed correctly, you learn to move with maximum efficiency while minimizing stress on your body. You are able to access new levels in your body and create a deeper, more complete feeling of fitness, energy and vitality that remains with you days after your workout.

Jennifer continues her explanation: “The focus is on the center of the body—the “powerhouse”. These corset muscles—also also known as the stabilizing core muscles of the torso—support the spine. The active collaboration of these major muscle groups creates a solid cylinder around the central spine. Keeping these muscles super strong helps prevent shearing or eroding forces from being applied to the vertebrae, ligaments and discs. Problems in the spine result from acute injuries, repetitive trauma and habitual patterns of movement that are unconscious and unproductive for the body and mind.”

My first day, Jennifer simply asked me to stand and breathe while she observed me. Can I tell you how hard this was? I would have much rather had her tell me to drop to the floor and do 50 push-ups. Because of the restrictions in my mid-back, taking continual deep breaths while standing with good posture is quite difficult.

To make a long story short, Jennifer’s trained eye saw many destructive things about my posture. My “natural” posture is causing a lot of compression on my low back and hips (which can also affect the knees). The tightness in my rib cage is causing me to round my shoulders which will continue to worsen my posture over time if I don’t do something about it now.

After 4 sessions, I’ve learned specific exercises that will help improve both my posture and my rib dysfunction over time. The extreme rigidity in my thoracic spine is improving and I’m definitely sleeping better. The deep breathing is still really hard for me, but it is getting a little easier.

I believe that Pilates is almost a necessity for people like me. No, I’m not a dancer or an actress; I’m a 46 year old woman with significant issues in my spine and I suffer from sporadic pain in my hips and knees. I am planning on taking Pilates at least one time per week for the rest of my life! With weekly classes, I am confident that my posture will be better when I’m 65 than it is today. I think it’s a good goal.

If you want to increase your core strength, improve your lung capacity and improve your mind-body connection, please give Pilates a try. You’ll learn to connect your mind with your body. If you’re willing, you’ll also learn to slow down and realize that life is not something we should strive to race through. We should embrace life every day by living in the moment.

If you’re interested in purchasing one of Jennifer’s DVDs, please visit her site at www.jenniferkries.com. If you’ve had a “life-changing” experience from performing Pilates, please share your story.

Stand tall and Breathe,

Molly”

3 Responses to “First-time Pilates: A Whole New World”

Hello,
I read Molly’s blog and I wish that I had the resources to do what she has done to take control of her physical wellness for I too have many of the same issues.

I’ve seen Jennifer Kries on the Method TV program and I believe that every woman should be taught by her.

Alida
September 14th, 2010

Jennifer sounds like a really good instructor. I’m really interested in purchasing her DVDs. When you had your first Pilates session, did you experience any painful aftereffects? I mean, we always get those after running or workouts, right?

February 21st, 2011

Hello Pilates Sock!

Jennifer here- thank you for your kind words, and I would be happy to answer your question about “painful after effects.”
The fact is that people rarely, if ever experience muscle soreness or physical discomfort after an initial Pilates session, for the following reasons:
In Pilates, one performs the fewest number of repetitions using the greatest focus and attention to detail as they execute the exercises. Students are taught to lengthen, stretch and strengthen the muscles of the body while breathing deeply and completely with each movement. The focused and conscious breathing that is done in tandem with the movement, facilitates the activation of the body’s lymphatic system and effectively helps the body to flush out the standard build-up of lactic acid in the body through the breath and through the sweat glands–two of the body’s largest means of dispelling toxins.
In a healthy body, the student feels enlivened, invigorated, empowered, taller, longer, stronger and more flexible than ever before, even after the first session, and if anything, feels only the slightest reminder (in the realm of muscle soreness or pain) of having worked his or her muscles- in a positive, “Wow, look what I did!” way.
Of course, if someone is coming to Pilates for rehabilitative purposes, it would be natural for the student to feel a very different kind of tenderness, or pain related to the part of the body that is being rehabilitated; fortunately, however, even in the domain of rehab., most students report feeling less pain with Pilates than they would with most standard physical therapy approaches, because the student, while focusing on improving the functionality and strength of a specific area, are taught to use the body as an integrated whole, and as a result, one’s entire being becomes positively involved, and enlisted in the process and the entire body benefits!
Hope this helps and definitely try a DVD! I would recommend my “Hot Body Cool Mind 4-DVD Set”
http://www.jenniferkries.com/lifestyle-dvds.html

My best,
Jennifer

February 21st, 2011