Pilates: Tried And True, Not A Trend

Written by Kristen Matthews

My introduction to Pilates was in the late 1990s, when it was featured in one of the major fashion magazines. I remember looking at the photos and being wowed by these tastefully naked models doing poses on what I now know was a Cadillac. I apparently was more enamored by the photos than by what the article was about, as I don’t remember a thing it said. It wasn’t until I saw the article up on a wall in a Pilates studio some time later that I put two and two together.

I blindly jumped into becoming a Pilates instructor, choosing a career that in some ways found me. But honestly, I’m not sure I could have done any better with my eyes wide open. I was meant to be doing what I do. And I’m quick to stand up for Pilates when people refer to it as an easy workout, or brush it aside before even giving it a chance. I’ll politely correct people when they ask me how yoga is going. With a smile I’ll answer, “Pilates is going great.” Inside, though, I’m wondering how it is that people still don’t know I teach Pilates.

Not surprisingly, while scrolling through Facebook a few months ago, my interest was piqued when I noticed a post that said, “Are you over Pilates? A survey predicts 2013’s top fitness trends.” Upon further research I found out that Pilates once again has dropped from the top 20 fitness trends. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, "back-to-basics" workouts are in, and fancy workouts are out. They also came to the conclusion that because Pilates has fallen off the list of trends, it must have been a fad.

After a moment of feeling sad for the Pilates world, I quickly realized I’m not really upset that Pilates dropped off the trend list. I was more bothered by it being referred to as a fad. It’s true, Pilates was definitely trending for a while. Everywhere I turned another studio was opening, and if people weren’t doing it, they wanted to be doing it.

A fad, however, is a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time. This is the point at which I have to disagree. It’s hard to comprehend how something that has been around since 1926 can be considered a fad. Like everything in life, it had its time to shine, and during its rise to popularity, I believe it was able to imbed itself into the exercise world. Which leads me to the point that Pilates has proven it has staying power. It's transcended being a trend, and is far from being a fad.

It's interesting to note that while Pilates itself may not be in the top 20 ACSM trend list, their research shows that many aspects of Pilates, are. Programs for older adults, functional fitness, strength training, body weight training, and core training (with a “very, very important” next to it), all made the top 10. If keeping up with the trends is important to you, then a Pilates workout will knock out a whole bunch in one hour.

At this point in my teaching career, I’ve seen too many people benefit from a regular Pilates practice to have any doubts of its ability to create positive changes in people’s bodies. When I’m asked why I love it so much (as I often am), there are no lack of reasons why. It eases my aches and pains, and teaches me how to effectively move through life, especially during activities like skiing, hiking, running, yoga, and barre. I believe all of them have improved because of what Pilates has given me.

I can appreciate that Pilates is not for everyone. But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever give up trying to make it something everyone wants to do. One of my favorite characteristics of Pilates is the variety it offers in exercises and levels of toughness. If you don’t like one teacher, try another. Your body will thank you when you’re standing tall at 90 and someone comments on how great your posture is.

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