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article imageWhy Pilates belongs at the forefront of American fitness Special

By Michael Essany     Nov 4, 2013 in Health
Against a backdrop of myriad studies showing the rapidly deteriorating state of mental and physical health experienced by a majority of Americans, the quest for easy answers and quick fixes to these complex issues has accelerated in recent years.
But only once you've distanced yourself from these ineffective - and possibly even dangerous - fads and flash-in-the-pan solutions can you find meaningful answers to the question many are perpetually asking: what can I do to become healthier in mind and body?
For millions of people around the world, Pilates - a powerful core-strengthening workout - has emerged as a proven provider of the physical and mental strength the masses are desperately seeking. And for this reason, Pilates has demonstrated major staying power and now deserves a place at the forefront of American fitness.
Developed by Joseph Pilates nearly one century ago, it is believed that by 2005, more than 11 million people were practicing the discipline regularly in the United States alone. As Pilates finally earns the recognition and respect it deserves, these numbers are poised to grow exponentially over the remainder of the decade.
Helping both Pilates and its practitioners achieve the heights they're capable of is Jessica Dumanch, a PMA certified Pilates Instructor and proprietor of Phoenix, Arizona-based PR Pilates.
Dumanch recently shared with Digital Journal her valuable insight about the power and increasing popularity of this discipline.
"After the death of Joseph Pilates in 1967 and up until the 1990s, there were only several studios throughout the country," explains the veteran Pilates instructor. "For the longest time, if you wanted to study Pilates, you needed to travel to 939 8th Ave NYC to study with Joe and his wife Clara."
"Pilates is definitely not a method of exercise that an individual can take a weekend certification course, pass and then open up a studio the next day," Dumanch says. "This is a very intricate and unique way of moving the body and requires years of dedicated practice and study. Pilates has been popular in certain circles for several decades, but it became more mainstream when my lovely mentor Jennifer Kries filmed a series of VHS tapes in the late 1990s highlighting the matwork, and shortly after that Mari Winsor followed suit and suddenly Pilates was everywhere."
Since the 196os, an expansive host of professional athletes and celebrities have effectively used Pilates to achieve optimal fitness. These high-profile practitioners frequented Mr. Pilates original studio in New York. And many of these original students grew so passionate about the practice that they continued to teach Mr. Pilates' life's work long after his passing.
In short, that is how Pilates has survived. But why is beginning to thrive now?
"I wholeheartedly believe that Pilates will continue to grow in popularity not only here but all over the world," Dumanch says. "It's the most effective method of exercise and breath work for all people, of all ages, shapes, and various stages of health. It's low impact for the body's joints. It helps build muscle and bone density, and it works every muscle of the body because it's a whole body movement system without over stretching the tendons and ligaments. Most importantly, Mr. Pilates' method reconnects the student with learning how to properly breathe. Pilates can even be practiced up until delivery during pregnancy under the careful supervision of a qualified instructor. It's that effective."
"Pilates is for everyone's body."
"Right now, the biggest push within our community is bringing Pilates to the schools in the U.S. to supplement PE classes and bringing the method to Physical Therapists to adapt and utilize as a form of physical rehabilitation for the mind and body," Dumanch adds. "In fact, Phoenix, Arizona hosts the annual Balanced Body Pilates Rehabilitation Conference, a forum for PTs and Pilates instructors to get together. We bring the Method and they apply the science behind it. It's absolutely brilliant!"
Notwithstanding the life-changing success that a massive number of Pilates practitioners have experienced, there remain obstacles to adoption in response to the stubborn search for quick fixes that still dominates the collective American consciousness when it comes to health.
"Most clients come to Pilates without a clear understanding of what the method truly is and how it can benefit them," asserts Dumanch, who has been practicing mind body movement for over fifteen years. "After all, so many exercise fads and gimmicks over-promise and under-deliver. So how is Pilates any different? I meet this obstacle all the time. I teach my clients the method, I focus on how to incorporate the principles and lessons that are learned in each session and how it needs to be applied to life outside of the studio walls. The novice client will begin to see results within the first month of study.”
I don't like to deduce Pilates to some fad exercise craze like 'Buns of Steel' or anything like that, because it's much greater than a form of exercise - it's a lifestyle. With over five hundred exercises, and several large and small apparatus, the possibilities are infinite. Pilates is definitely a method of exercise where the results continue as your practice deepens. I liken it to peeling an onion, with each layer another challenge is met and more positive changes occur within the mind/body/spirit. I can still fit into clothes that I wore when I begin my Pilates journey in 2000. And I don't starve myself, nor do I subject myself to rigid or excessive hours of practice. An hour a day keeps the aging at bay! At 31 years old, I still have the zest, vigor, and body of my 18 year old self!"
Recently, Dumanch opened her own fully equipped Pilates and Barre studio called PR Pilates.
The studio, which is based in Phoenix, Arizona, offers private, semi-private, and small group classes on Garuda, Balanced Body, and Gratz apparatus.
PR Pilates exclusively uses Hale Barre Systems and Ther-a-Band band systems for PRbarre Progressions classes.
Not surprisingly, Dumanch's clients are finding immense inspiration and enjoying monumental results.
I think my clients appreciate the results after their 'investment' hour in the studio. I, like my mentors, expect my clients to 100% devote themselves to the hour I spent exploring the method with them in the studio. Pilates is both extremely grueling and infinitely rewarding WORK and I think that my clients enjoy conquering each challenge, learning to embrace their own uniqueness and learning to be true to themselves (as outlined in Joseph Pilates book 'Return to Life'). And it's completely addictive!
"PR stands for Phoenix Rising and holds a special meaning for me," Dumanch tells Digital Journal. "In Ancient Egyptian mythology the Phoenix is an immortal bird that, when it dies, bursts into flames, and is reborn from its own ashes. To rise from the ashes like a phoenix means to make a miraculous comeback."
"On February 10, 2012," she continues, "I experienced an unimaginable betrayal and unspeakable hurt that shook my practice and my study of Pilates. I wanted to step away from Pilates, teaching, the community and the whole nine yards. I committed to my end date and then a client of mine that took almost a year off called me. I don't know what came over me that day, but I agreed to teach her and her husband with no intention of taking in more clients. Needless to say, I worked through the pain and the darkness of that dreadful day and like a phoenix rising from the ashes it turned into the best day of my life. I wanted to create more than a studio for my clients because they saved me. PR Pilates is about a second chance to improve your life. It's about empowerment and encouragement. It's about seeing opportunity in adversity. It's about transforming into the best version of your own unique self. After all, hope is a Phoenix spreading wings to fly."
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