Pilates and Children
Pilates is for everyone ...

How can Pilates help our children?
Children, an Inspiration for the Pilates Method
"Uncle Joe's" Studio in New York City
The Benefits of Pilates for Children
The Pilates Studio in New York City
What Children say about Pilates

How can Pilates help our children?
Many of our clients have expressed concern about their children's physical conditioning and the lack of programs that target core strength, flexibility and balance. In response, we plan to tailor two group classes to children aged 9-12 and 13-16 and would welcome your suggestions for class days and time. The following presents the benefits of Pilates for children.

Children - An Inspiration for the Pilates Method
Children's flexibility, strength and ease of movement inspired Joseph Pilates to study the phases of child development. He noted the natural sequence in which infants develop muscle control and core stability. He used this knowledge as a basis to design and sequence his exercise program in a manner that parallels a child's motor development. An understanding of motor development underpins beginner, intermediate and advanced exercise routines. At the core of each exercise, Pilates integrated simple movements that babies and animals make naturally. The way animals stretch, run and tend to their young was also of interest to Joseph Pilates. All of this knowledge, combined with eastern and western philosophies of exercise, and the essence of every sport he practiced became known as The Pilates Method.

" Uncle Joe's" Studio in New York City (1926 - 1967)
Joseph Pilates has offered his progressive method of exercise to children since he first opened the doors to his studio in 1926. George Balanchine and Martha Graham, two of the most famous dance choreographers in the world, sent their injured pupils to 'Uncle Joe' to help them heal their injuries. Among those pupils was a 16 year old Russian ballerina, Romana Kryzanowska. During her first visit, she wondered why 'Uncle Joe' asked her to move her whole body, rather than just work on her injured ankles. She only returned because he promised her a refund if she did not get better in five lessons. The positive impact those five sessions had on the young dancer's body and career brought her back to the Pilates Studio again and again. She eventually studied with Pilates for 28 years and was ultimately entrusted to carry on his lifetime work as a Master Teacher of the Pilates Method.

The Benefits of Pilates for Children
While gaining incredible popularity with adults, the Pilates Method also offers a range of benefits to children. Among these benefits are increased strength and flexibility of the abdominal and inner muscles of the body. This combination provides a platform for other activities and exercises. It is a basis for improving posture and spinal alignment, increasing strength and flexibility, promoting rehabilitation and fostering excellence in a wide range of athletic activities. Through Pilates, children can also gain awareness of their body, learn how to move efficiently and prevent injury and pain.

The Pilates Studio in New York City
When I studied Pilates in New York City, I was fortunate to meet apprentices from around the world, people of varied talents and backgrounds, who were committed to learning Joseph Pilates' method of exercise and bringing it to others. Three educators stood out for their interest in introducing the Pilates Method to children. One of them was a Physical Education teacher from Portugal. She was determined to bring Pilates to her gym classes at school, to improve her students' physical conditioning, as well as for injury prevention and relief. Another teacher-in-training was a retired Olympic skater from Lake Placid, now a children's coach. She was convinced that Pilates exercises could offer young skaters a competitive edge. Thirdly, I met a retired school teacher from Chicago. She was learning new skills and specific movements to integrate into her work with children living with multiple sclerosis.

What Children say about Pilates
I spoke with a few of the children who attend classes at Symmetria to ask about their impressions of Pilates. They reported improvement in activities they enjoy, such as swimming, skating and dancing. Their strong abdominal muscles are allowing them to excel in school competitions, such as sit-ups or bean bag competitions in their gym class. An increased level of body awareness and muscle control allows them to better perform activities they had found difficult in the past. The positive results I have witnessed so far in my clients, combined with my knowledge of Pilates, have led me to believe that children can derive tremendous benefits from practicing Pilates. Pilates can help children to develop improved posture, better strength and flexibility, as well as a platform upon which to build athletic activities and superior physical performance. Those who participate in Pilates also talk about achieving a state of general health and well being. Such benefits are clearly in the interest of our children, and provide the foundations for active, healthy lives.


 

   

Symmetria - Michaela Sirbu