Take it to The Mat!

This month, the Pilates community celebrates March Matness – an opportunity to practice and preach on the beauty and benefits of the Pilates Mat work. Mat Pilates remains tremendously popular around the world and this month your IG and Facebook feed will be full of images of fabulously fit people doing Mat exercises in stunning studios and exotic locales.

In 1954 Joseph Pilates published his seminal treaties, Return to Life Through Contrology. Contained within its pages are 34 photographs of Pilates himself demonstrating the original Mat exercises. He was over 70 years-old at the time and still performing those exercises everyday as well as hundreds of other exercises on specialized Pilates equipment like the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair.

A lot of changes have occurred in the Pilates world since Joe published his book. New exercise science and evolving cultural norms have changed our approach to exercise and physical conditioning. The result has been both a massive adoption of Pilates’ principles in emerging exercise fields such as functional fitness and natural movement, as well as in some circles a retrofitting of some of Joe’s original exercises to make them more accessible to a broader group.

The truth is, we are much less fit and active than we were even 30 years ago. I remember when my then 80+ year-old grandmother fell off a ladder while washing her outside windows and broke her hip.  A misfortune for sure, but she was a strong, physically capable Saskatchewan farmer and she survived her broken hip without complications. She finished washing the windows before taking herself to the doctor!

Do we even allow our 80-year-old grandmothers and mothers to go up on ladders and wash their windows anymore? No! Once past a certain age we actually frown on strenuous physical activity and deem it unsafe. And yet folks still fall and fracture their hip, or wrist or rib.

Looking at those old photos of Joseph Pilates performing the Mat work, people are shocked. “How could he possibly make his spine move like that?”  they wonder. “Is that even good for me? I can barely get up and down off the floor let alone roll like a ball!” They reason, “I am not flexible enough to do Pilates. I don’t have enough balance.”

Saying you don’t have enough balance or flexibility to do Pilates is like saying your hair is too long to get a haircut.

The Pilates Mat work is accessible for everyone. For every move you believe your body can’t do, an excellent Pilates teacher will give you a variation or modification you can do.

Here are the 5 top reasons you should add Pilates Mat work to your life.

  1. Mat exercises build strength, agility, coordination, control and balance. All things necessary to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
  2. Every single Mat exercise can be adapted to every body. There are myriad variations and modifications for each exercise allowing you to get the benefit without aggravating tender spots.
  3. Mat exercises increase your mind-body connection, engender calm and improve concentration and memory.
  4. Mat exercises increase your lung capacity and improve your breathing.
  5. You can do Mat exercises anywhere, anytime. No special equipment is needed – not even a mat! You can do them on the carpet in your hotel room or on a beach towel on the dock. If your mattress is firm enough, you can even do them on your bed!

So what are you waiting for? Its as easy as rolling out your mat and getting started. Pilates will retrofit you body and change your life!