My appreciation for the power of Pilates has only grown over the years. First, I experienced my own body change and improve. I went from chronic pain to mostly pain free, increased my strength and endurance, and toned every muscle. When I became an instructor I witnessed my clients achieving similar benefits. Now I am beginning to understand and emphasize three qualities that make Pilates a particularly valuable tool as we age.
Pilates promotes fitness both in the studio and outside of it. A well-rounded Pilates practice can help older adults keep doing the things they love and even take on new physical challenges. One client, age 58, reported she was able to hike farther while carrying a heavy backpack during her vacation this summer. She attributes this change to practicing Pilates for the past year.
Pilates adapts to fit every body. Pilates trains us to use all of our muscles, distributing effort and avoiding the wear-and-tear caused by recruiting the wrong muscle for the job. Older bodies—which are often slower to recover from intense physical activity—benefit from working smarter, not necessarily harder.
Pilates encourages independence. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see my clients when they come in for their workouts. But many are now free from work and parenting roles and they like to travel. Once they know how to do them correctly, Pilates practitioners can perform many mat exercises in a minimum of space with little more than a mat or towel. This means they can maintain hard-earned strength and flexibility even when away from home.