The Rise And Rise Of Classical Pilates
Every day, I see this reality in action: I see people choose to exercise because for that one hour that they're in class, they focus internally on specific movements—instead of ruminating—to learn the system of Pilates.
Over time they memorise a set sequence of exercises and go deeper into their bodies, refining the details of each action. They leave the studio feeling mentally refreshed, as well as physically worked out. For the rest of the day, their bodies simply move better and mental focus improves. Over time, they walk taller, look leaner and feel less pain or stiffness in the joints.
Out of your head and into your body
Flex Studio has long been known as the centre for Classical Pilates in Hong Kong, during which time we have witnessed countless clients' evolution to becoming physically and mentally stronger people.
It’s a far cry from the "I have a gym membership, I just never go" mentality, and that's largely thanks to having such a rigorous system in place. Clients learn from long-proven basics and build on those skills; becoming part of a global ‘posse’ of people who share this passionate practice of Classical Pilates.
Whether they are runners, tennis players, golfers, swimmers, dancers, teens or adults with ADHD—or someone who simply likes working out—for that one hour or so they are solely focused on their sequences, and not ‘in their head' overrun with distractions and thoughts.
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During a choreographed Classical Pilates flow class, transitions between exercises are built in so the body never stops moving and the mind stays focused on the next movement. As a result, the body and brain work are perfectly in sync.
Going from strength to strength
Want to know what it looks like on the mat? You can watch the first sequence here. Note that often, my feet are in what we call the all-important Pilates-V, which means heels pressed together and toes slightly apart which allows your core and buttocks to engage.
In Pilates, when you do something as simple as lift your legs from the floor, you do so with what we call the 'powerhouse'–buttocks, back, abdominal and thighs—so the whole body is correctly engaged to gain true strength. Additionally, shoulders are down and open to protect the back and neck.
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As clients progress, so too does their confidence, their strength and their desire to try more challenging versions of each exercise. After a while, students come to class and know what the instructor expects; footwork, alignment and the way equipment is handled become part of the pleasure of being part of and understanding this international movement culture.
Keeping it classic
Other forms of Pilates have sprung up over the many decades since Joseph Pilates introduced his Contrology method to the world. Not all of them are Classical, yet at Flex, this adherence to Pilates’ (the man’s) original vision has proven over and over again to be the most effective, pleasurable and results-oriented.
The fundamental tenents of a Classical Pilates workout and way of life are known as: Centering. Concentration. Control. Precision. Flow. Breath. Beyond the mat, these are principles applicable to the body, mind and all things in life.
Heather Thomas Shalabi is the co-founder and Director of Flex Studio Hong Kong, with locations in Central and One Island South.