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
and Martha Graham, two of the most famous dance choreographers
in the world, sent their injured pupils to 'Uncle Joe' to help them
injuries. Among those pupils was a 16 year old Russian ballerina,
Romana Kryzanowska. During her first visit, she wondered why 'Uncle
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
Studio again and again. She eventually studied with Pilates
for 28 years and was ultimately entrusted to carry on his lifetime
a Master Teacher of the Pilates Method.
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