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#1 Carole Amend

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:27 AM

Have any of you seen the article PILATES REVEALED, written April 3, 2000 by Dr. Mel Siff?

I read it years ago. I wish I could remember how I came upon the article, but I definitely remember trying to contact Dr. Siff, only to find out that he had died. The article was copied and pasted in my document file and I did not cite where I had gotten it. So, I searched on the web....and all links converge at "Siff Space" (Dr. Mel Siff's Forum). Found it!

The easiest way I have now found to access the article is to go to the link above.
(http://www.apas.com/...es_revealed.htm)

Then, at the end of the article, at page bottom there is a [Back to Index] link, which will lead you to Siff Space.
(http://www.apas.com/.../archives2.html)
There is soooo much info there. You will see the archive listing the article above.
I scrolled down and realized that might be where I first happened upon Richard Feynman's books, but it seems not all of the links work any more. Please note that this is also true regarding links cited in the article.

Dr. Siff unfortunately passed away on March 19, 2003 at the age of 59.
Here is a link to a site with a tribute by Dr. Siff's longtime friend, Paul Predecki.
(http://www.youronlin...passes_away.htm)

There's lots to discuss here. I look forward to your thoughts.

Cheers,

Carole : )

UPDATE 1/15/10
Another article "Pilates Myths" by Dr. Mel Siff is also mentioned in this discussion.

 

Edited 5/4/13 to fix links

5/5/13: By the way, in the Pilates Revealed article, the only cited link still up and running is bodymind.net


Edited by Carole Amend, 05 May 2013 - 06:27 AM.

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#2 taowave

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 09:04 PM

WOW,that was an awesome article.Carole,I can NOT thank you enough for the Siff article.I wish I could say it was enlightening,but I am of the same belief as the late Dr. Siff.This article only reinforces my preliminary findings(thanks to the guidance of this board),and certainly gives me great comfort in combining Pilates with stability balls,Progressive resistance/weight training (compound movements )and Gymnastic training(ring training).

Please dont take it as I am anything but a huge advocate of Pilates.I believe there is a "Joe" inside all of us,but "Inner Joe" is not going to come out by soley doing Pilates:)

Thanks again

T

#3 Pilates Core

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 09:46 PM

I agree with most of that, too. That's one of the many reasons I chose to certify with STOTT PILATES - we are allowed and encouraged to adapt exercises from the rest of the fitness world. I use personal training techniques in my classes all the time. As long as I comply with the principles of alignment, breathing and stability that STOTT PILATES endorses, I have a lot of freedom to learn from all over the fitness world. Maybe it's not Classical Pilates, but I do feel it offers a lot more of what's "out there".

#4 taowave

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:33 PM

For the record,I never combine other methods with classical Pilates when teaching..

When I train on my own,I do combine the Wunda chair with other methods of conditioning,mainly rings..

Am i the only one who finds the Wunda chair evil??




I agree with most of that, too. That's one of the many reasons I chose to certify with STOTT PILATES - we are allowed and encouraged to adapt exercises from the rest of the fitness world. I use personal training techniques in my classes all the time. As long as I comply with the principles of alignment, breathing and stability that STOTT PILATES endorses, I have a lot of freedom to learn from all over the fitness world. Maybe it's not Classical Pilates, but I do feel it offers a lot more of what's "out there".



#5 Big Calm

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:51 PM

Mel Siff was like a beacon of pure logic. Here's another Siff article on Pilates: Pilates Myths.

Edited by Tom Floyd, 13 January 2010 - 07:49 AM.
Removed a link due to inappropriate pictures.


#6 Carole Amend

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:21 PM

Mel Siff was like a beacon of pure logic. Here's another Siff article on Pilates: Pilates Myths.

Hey BC,
Love logic, I do.

I quoted the last line in the article you cite above in the Weak Gluteal Muscles Post:

Pilates teachers and weight trainers were getting along just fine until the commercial marketeers came along to distort the facts with their comparative advertising.

-Dr Mel Siff in 2000
I couldn't agree more.

The "Pilates Myths" article is labeled as "Another great article by Mel Siff, from his Supertraining List at YahooGroups."
Admittedly, I took the legitimacy of the article for granted because I am not a member of that Group. I got the date from another source on the web. So, BC, can you confirm?

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#7 Big Calm

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:36 PM

Hey BC,
Love logic, I do.

I quoted the last line in the article you cite above in the Weak Gluteal Muscles Post:

-Dr Mel Siff in 2000
I couldn't agree more.

The "Pilates Myths" article is labeled as "Another great article by Mel Siff, from his Supertraining List at YahooGroups."
Admittedly, I took the legitimacy of the article for granted because I am not a member of that Group. I got the date from another source on the web. So, BC, can you confirm?



Ah, you did too. Yes, I'm quite sure it's authentic. I've seen that exact article linked on many sites. If you have a Yahoo account you should be able to view all of Mel's posts on the Supertraining list here. I can't see any of the posts because I don't have a Yahoo account.

#8 SK3000

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 05:30 AM

That was a really interesting article Carole thank you for sharing. The first line that struck me was when it mentioned that Pilates excellence was based upon comparisons with limeted Bodybuildng regimes. Afterall this what most people who go to the Gym do. It wasn't until a few years ago that I learnt about Kettlebells and it's history that my perspective changed on weight training. Here was something that provided incredible core strength and viewed the body in a holistic way sharing many principles of Pilates. In fact Tom wrote a fantastic post about Pilates and Kettlebells.

See this thread

http://www.pilatesco...ls-and-pilates/

It was not long after I had learnt about Kettlebells when I saw Joe showing his 'Tens O meter' invention on the archival footage and wow he was built! No way do you get that physique from Springs on a Cadillac or Reformer. It then dawned on me when further reading about the history of Pilates how dancers had influenced Contrologys evolution. Dancers of course require different strength conditioning then a say a Boxer. Had say the Boxing communitiy embraced Contrology in the same way as the dance community I do feel that it would have evolved very differently.


Dr Mel C Stiff says at the end of the article

In fact, if Pilates teachers were to learn more about what advanced strength
training is about, they could raise Pilates methods to far greater heights



Maybe Joe would have elevated the method to these heights had the majority of clients been male Boxers rather then female dancers. Jay Grimes said Joe thought dancers distorted his method. As it is some male practioners do things like Kettlebells and Gymnastic ring training to get what modern Pilates cannot provide. I remember Bob Liekens mentioning about bringing in weights to attract more men to Pilates. In a sense rather then distorting the modern Classical method maybe it would actually be bringing Pilates back to it's roots??

#9 taowave

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 07:35 AM

Carole,have you or anyone else read SuperTraining by Dr Siff?



Have any of you seen the article "PILATES REVEALED," written April 3, 2000 by Dr. Mel Siff?

I read it years ago. I wish I could remember how I came upon the article, but I definitely remember trying to contact Dr. Siff, only to find out that he had died. The article was copied and pasted in my document file and I did not cite where I had gotten it. So, I searched on the web....and all links converge at "Siff Space" (Dr. Mel Siff's Forum). Found it!

The easiest way I have now found to access the article is to go to the link above.
(http://www.apas.com/...es_revealed.htm)

Then, at the end of the article, at page bottom there is a [Back to Index] link, which will lead you to Siff Space.
(http://www.apas.com/.../archives2.html)
There is soooo much info there. You will see the archive listing the article above.
I scrolled down and realized that might be where I first happened upon Richard Feynman's books, but it seems not all of the links work any more. Please note that this is also true regarding links cited in the article.

Dr. Siff unfortunately passed away on March 19, 2003 at the age of 59.
Here is a link to a site with a tribute by Dr. Siff's longtime friend, Paul Predecki.
(http://www.youronlin...passes_away.htm)

There's lots to discuss here. I look forward to your thoughts.

Cheers,

Carole : )



#10 reinbeau

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:05 AM

From what I understand, there is a vast part of Joe's work that's been lost, and that's the 'Pilates for men' part. He trained boxers, wrestlers, all kinds of men doing manly things- and I don't think he did it via ballet stretches.
- Ann, Peak Pilates Certified Classical Instructor, student forever!

#11 PilatesHB

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:09 AM

Wow! Now there is a blast from the past. I used to belong to a fitness board way back in the 90s when I lived in Asia. Dr. Sif was a member of the board and if I remember correctly, he was not a believer in the new trend towards 'core'. He was very negative and one of the members was constantly debating him.

Not to be blunt or cruel, but there was a bit of irony in that he died at age 59. He promoted a way of life that was supposed to be balanced and allow for a long life. We all know these things can happen. but at the time we saw the irony in the situation.

I am going to read your link. I remember he seemed extremely well informed, bright and passionate about what he believed.
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#12 PilatesHB

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:16 AM

I agree with most of that, too. That's one of the many reasons I chose to certify with STOTT PILATES - we are allowed and encouraged to adapt exercises from the rest of the fitness world. I use personal training techniques in my classes all the time. As long as I comply with the principles of alignment, breathing and stability that STOTT PILATES endorses, I have a lot of freedom to learn from all over the fitness world. Maybe it's not Classical Pilates, but I do feel it offers a lot more of what's "out there".
[/quote]>>


I love classical and pure Pilates but it isn't for everyone. I do different routines with different clients. My clients have goals and aspirations and although I am the one who knows what they might need, they are the ones who determine what they want.

I have had far too many personal experiences while doing my certification of instructors telling me what I need. Some even told me what was wrong with me (Goodness...if only they knew). I kept my Pilates background a secret and told them I was somewhat new to the method yet I moved like someone who knew what they were doing. Of course I learned from each and every experience, but if I had been a regular non Pilates teacher person (say that 20 times fast) I would have NEVER returned to that studio.

On the other hand, when I show up once in awhile at John Garey's Stott studio in Long Beach (and I am not Stott certified) I get a killer workout and I feel amazing. John and his teachers don't tout themselves as pure pilates but boy do they have a huge clientele.

So I am not sure what my point is here but I do think Pilates can be used with other forms of fitness if that is what the client wants or needs. :mad0228:
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#13 Carole Amend

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 09:07 AM

Carole,have you or anyone else read SuperTraining by Dr Siff?

I do not have it...it's been on my book list for a while, but it is lower down on my list, since I have other priorities atm.

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#14 Carole Amend

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 09:45 AM

WOW,that was an awesome article.Carole,I can NOT thank you enough for the Siff article.I wish I could say it was enlightening,but I am of the same belief as the late Dr. Siff.This article only reinforces my preliminary findings(thanks to the guidance of this board),and certainly gives me great comfort in combining Pilates with stability balls,Progressive resistance/weight training (compound movements )and Gymnastic training(ring training).

Please dont take it as I am anything but a huge advocate of Pilates.I believe there is a "Joe" inside all of us,but "Inner Joe" is not going to come out by soley doing Pilates:)

Thanks again

T

T and BC:
Nothing pleases me more than to have advocates of weight training understand the value of pilates! There is so much in Siff's writings that have yet to be fully clarified, but it's clear to me that he understood.
As comrades, I know that you will be sensitive to what is possible with pilates and honor its scope. : )
I'll bring to light here that many of my clients are attracted to pilates for its healing properties (I call it the "Clara factor"). For example, many do not like some gym environments.

PC and HB:
STOTT, Peak, and the others in the gyms, I'm sure are doing a great job at bringing the principles we advocate forward. : )

Edited by AASI, 13 January 2010 - 09:46 AM.

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#15 Vivian

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:17 AM

MYTH 1.

Weight training tends to shorten the muscles, but Pilates lengthens them. All
that lifting bunches up the muscles and makes one tight and stiff.

Hello,
First all, Good find Carole and thanks for sharing it.
This article is really worth reading and can really raise a lot of topic of discussion and questions. Just after reading the first myth, i already had something that questions not just the article but my own training, education and orientation of what Pilates is all about. I have known Pilates as strength development through resistance training. Of course when one is on the reformer the persons weight plays a factor in the exercise (still i'm not considering the exercises as weight training exercise). From the outside looking in the concept of Pilates, it reminds me of Newtons law of gravity, " for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction". For me Pilates training sits on "....an opposite and equal reaction"
When a person lifts weight, the person is absorbing a downward force that needs to be countered by an equal or greater force going up to prevent the weight equipment falling to the body thus getting injury. And thats where i thought Pilates training is all about, as resistance training. Resistance training that prepares the body to counter
any oppositonal factor that defies law of gravity in human body. I consider weight training either in parallel or the second level training after resistance in strength development. To counter an oppositional force is learning
where the opposition is coming from, positioning body's alignment, center of gravity, establishing tripod of support, then the exertion. Of its the same concept as weight training. The extent of Pilates doesnt stop in supporting body during the oppositional exertion. It teaches exercises how to bring back body into its normal gravitational pull after the exertion.

In Pilates there are exercises that use light dumbells and weighted bar, but my the learning is they are not for weight training (this could constitute different discussion, pls open one if anyone wants to get more discussion on this topic to avoid getting off track)

The first sentence of Myth 1 just didnt sit right with me. I just need a peoples' opinion whether Pilates is considered weight training. I consider Pilates as Resistance training, am i the only one? Why did it came out to weight training thus a "myth"? Who/Where he got the idea or information leading the understanding of Pilates as weight training, does Pilates really has 2000 weight training exercises? Pls name one.

The second sentence is partly right and wrong too. There's also discussions about this topic so i wont dwell too much on that. If anyone interested to put more details, help me find it, either continue with that post or create a new one.

I have to go back to work, so grammatical edit is welcome!

#16 Carole Amend

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:40 AM

MYTH 1.
Weight training tends to shorten the muscles, but Pilates lengthens them. All
that lifting bunches up the muscles and makes one tight and stiff.

....
The first sentence of Myth 1 just didnt sit right with me. I just need a peoples' opinion whether Pilates is considered weight training. I consider Pilates as Resistance training, am i the only one? Why did it came out to weight training thus a "myth"? Who/Where he got the idea or information leading the understanding of Pilates as weight training....?

This is Dr. Siff's answer to the myth Vivian quotes above from the "Pilates Myths" article:

FACT: All muscles contract and shorten when they are activated. All muscle lengthen
when they relax. If muscles appear to lengthen and flatten with training,
then this would imply that one is losing muscle bulk, which is not a highly
desirable state for anyone. This Pilates belief is total nonsense and betrays
a sorry knowledge of muscle physiology. It would also seem to suggest that
the more Pilates work you do, the longer your muscles become. That, of
course, would mean that your muscles would develop slack and you even tually
would not be able to move your joints!

Dr. Siff's point here, imo, was that pilates was being marketed in comparison to weight training, and that pilates proponents were incorrect in suggesting that weight lifting bulks people up and pilates does not. He was aware of the benefits of both and he saw no need for people to downgrade weight-lifting in order to bring pilates forward. (For me, this brings to mind the subject of people making claims against the classical method in order to build up the "contemporary" method.)

Thanks so much Vivian. I just posted the above to clarify that a bit. I'm at work, too. Later, I'd like to re-read all you wrote on opposition and address your "resistance training" question more. : )

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#17 PilatesHB

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:02 PM

Fascinating topic Carole and thank you mucho for bringing this to our attention.

I had a cancellation this morning (rain in Southern California...major disaster)so I have time to write on this board...yay!!!

The most interestng thing about this topic and what Dr. Siff is saying is that marketing and business can ultimately make or destroy an industry. Do you remember, and I know you do, when Pilates became very popular in the early 2000s and people were saying that it made you taller, leaner and gave you a supermodel body? I remember having to explain this to clients that it wasn't necessarily true. However, all the hype was a huge boost to the Pilates business and my phone was ringing off the wall. Of course when reality set in and people realized that they were not going to look like Cindy Crawford after 5 sessions, business was less brisk.

I strongly believe that those people who jumped on the commercial Pilates wagon have done us as much as a disservice as a service. The Malibu Chair is an example of this. On the one hand, they have made Pilates a household name and on the other hand they have mispresented what Pilates is and what it does.
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#18 Geniusall

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:56 PM

Hello all...carole was kind enough to forward this article to me some time ago....as she stated, there is much to "chew" on....I personally had to give up weight training when I started Pilates, because I am built like a swimmer and w/the trainer I had at the time (she had competed in bodybuilding, which imho has done the worse damage to weight training) I was over recruiting my upper trapz and it was hurting me...I now do functional training w/a trainer who also does Pilates w/me and it is a whole different ball of wax. I think of the picture of Joe "head" wrestling and indeed think there is much of his "manly" work that has been lost. I also think about the misconceptions about his work (ie lengthens muscles instead of shortens) and wonder how I made it teaching 11 years without killing someone.
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#19 Carole Amend

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:04 PM

That was a really interesting article Carole thank you for sharing. The first line that struck me was when it mentioned that Pilates excellence was based upon comparisons with limeted Bodybuildng regimes. Afterall this what most people who go to the Gym do. It wasn't until a few years ago that I learnt about Kettlebells and it's history that my perspective changed on weight training. Here was something that provided incredible core strength and viewed the body in a holistic way sharing many principles of Pilates. In fact Tom wrote a fantastic post about Pilates and Kettlebells.

See this thread

http://www.pilatesco...ls-and-pilates/

It was not long after I had learnt about Kettlebells when I saw Joe showing his 'Tens O meter' invention on the archival footage and wow he was built! No way do you get that physique from Springs on a Cadillac or Reformer. It then dawned on me when further reading about the history of Pilates how dancers had influenced Contrologys evolution. Dancers of course require different strength conditioning then a say a Boxer. Had say the Boxing communitiy embraced Contrology in the same way as the dance community I do feel that it would have evolved very differently.


Dr Mel C Stiff says at the end of the article

In fact, if Pilates teachers were to learn more about what advanced strength
training is about, they could raise Pilates methods to far greater heights



Maybe Joe would have elevated the method to these heights had the majority of clients been male Boxers rather then female dancers. Jay Grimes said Joe thought dancers distorted his method. As it is some male practioners do things like Kettlebells and Gymnastic ring training to get what modern Pilates cannot provide. I remember Bob Liekens mentioning about bringing in weights to attract more men to Pilates. In a sense rather then distorting the modern Classical method maybe it would actually be bringing Pilates back to it's roots??


Hi Sk3000! Don't know how I missed this this am.... So glad you've joined the discussion.

Great points! "Distorted'...hmmm...very interesting. Strong word. I always look at it as meeting the client where they are, then, make sure you know where you are leading them. : )

As one of my clients articulated years ago..."it's good to go deep and also to go wide." On the PCDB, I've written about how I think "the pilates 'high dynamic' work," as I call it (that is, as 'high' as one can go with spring resistance, and with the exercises utilizing weights, some perhaps already lost, as you and Ann...and now Deborah-heythere!...point out) runs a risk of being lost, if not recognized for its benefits and recognizing the inherent safety issues. Huge topic here. The different strength training requirements you mention, SK3000, and the oppositional forces that Vivian mentions, imo, are at the heart of a conversation that could really change how we describe pilates to the public--for the better. : )

Thanks, SK!

PilatesHB, thanks, also, and Deborah, thanks for joining in...: )

Edit to ADD the Following:
Here I'd like to point readers the last page of "Your Health" where Joe describes how mattress/bed advertisers used his words, but did not change their product. He states, "What folly!"
This reminds me of how many websites are now popping up claiming to know and promote the "classical" method. Call me crazy, but I still think that we need to come to consensus before we market to the public and/or compete with each other. But...as I also said on Pilates Pro, those were marketing river rapids that could not be stopped!

Edited by Tom Floyd, 08 December 2010 - 12:53 PM.

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#20 taowave

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:39 PM

Hi V,

When you speak of strength training,be it Pilates,Olympic type lifting,kettlebells or Gymnastic type movements,there is one common element;RESISTANCE..It may come in the form of weights,a kettlebell,an isometric contraction or ones body weight,but in the end,resistance is resistance,and to get stronger it MUST be progressive.

The strength training aspect of Pilates is no different than any other form of exercise.You must work against some type of resistance,and it must increase over time,other wise you will hit the proverbial wall and see diminishing increases(after 16 weeks or so).FYI,in the initial phase of any strength training regime,most of the strength gains are from neural adaption(motor unit recruitment,firing rates,synchronisation) followed by hypertrophy(greater cross section of muscle) of the muscle fibers.The nueral adaption phase typicaly last for 8 weeks.

Strength training as it relates to Pilates is very similar to Gymnastic training.I would make the analogy to weight training,but by and large the springs do not offer enough resistance(especially for strong men) on the concentric movement,and by the very definition of a tension spring,they can not offer sufficient eccentric resistance for superior strength gains.(Keep in mind I am talking strength training!)

With that said,the most effective way to build strength from Pilates,Gymnastics or any other bodyweight conditioning is to alter joint angles,moment arms,and decrease leverage.Altering a moment arm would be holding a weight close to the body vs extending the arms straight out with the same weight.An example of decreasing leverage would be doing straight arm leg lifts with the legs bent vs straightening the legs and then lifting.Same weight of the leg,but significantly different leverage.Last but not least,as one gets stronger,springs can be reduced or eliminated in addition to utilising one leg/arm vs 2.An example would be the pull up on 2 springs (1 top,1 bottom) vs zero springs.One may work up to one arm pushups as opposed to 2,or similarly one leg squats vs 2.

The point I am attempting to get across is if you want to get "strong" from Pilates,at some point you will have to make adjustments and train in the same manner/priciples as a gymnast.If you dont,you will have to look to another form of strength training/progressive resistance such as weight training or kettlebells.As much as we may hope,Pilates does not defy the laws of Physics:)

T










MYTH 1.

I have known Pilates as strength development through resistance training. Of course when one is on the reformer the persons weight plays a factor in the exercise (still i'm not considering the exercises as weight training exercise). From the outside looking in the concept of Pilates, it reminds me of Newtons law of gravity, " for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction". For me Pilates training sits on "....an opposite and equal reaction"
When a person lifts weight, the person is absorbing a downward force that needs to be countered by an equal or greater force going up to prevent the weight equipment falling to the body thus getting injury. And thats where i thought Pilates training is all about, as resistance training. Resistance training that prepares the body to counter
any oppositonal factor that defies law of gravity in human body. I consider weight training either in parallel or the second level training after resistance in strength development. To counter an oppositional force is learning
where the opposition is coming from, positioning body's alignment, center of gravity, establishing tripod of support, then the exertion. Of its the same concept as weight training. The extent of Pilates doesnt stop in supporting body during the oppositional exertion. It teaches exercises how to bring back body into its normal gravitational pull after the exertion.

In Pilates there are exercises that use light dumbells and weighted bar, but my the learning is they are not for weight training (this could constitute different discussion, pls open one if anyone wants to get more discussion on this topic to avoid getting off track)

The first sentence of Myth 1 just didnt sit right with me. I just need a peoples' opinion whether Pilates is considered weight training. I consider Pilates as Resistance training, am i the only one? Why did it came out to weight training thus a "myth"? Who/Where he got the idea or information leading the understanding of Pilates as weight training, does Pilates really has 2000 weight training exercises? Pls name one.

The second sentence is partly right and wrong too. There's also discussions about this topic so i wont dwell too much on that. If anyone interested to put more details, help me find it, either continue with that post or create a new one.

I have to go back to work, so grammatical edit is welcome!






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