Like all pilates professionals (and students), I am greatly saddened by the recent passing of 1st generation pilates master, Ron Fletcher. Those familiar with Mr. Fletcher know that he studied directly with Joe and Clara Pilates at their studio on 939 Eighth Avenue in New York City and, in the 1960s, spread the practice of pilates to the west coast. In the 1980s, he helped set-up the first medical-based Pilates program in St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, California. He is also well known for his unique system of increasing the flexibility and stability of the spine through the use of his “Towelwork.”
In addition, Ron is credited with providing us with many memorable quotes (from Joe) regarding the importance of simply breathing. These quotes include:
Moreover, in Pilates’ book, Return to Life Through Contrology, he states on page 13: “To breathe correctly you must completely exhale, always trying very hard to “squeeze” every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth.”
In the Pilates Method, the breath is one of the keys to overall body functioning—acting to increase lung capacity, blood oxygenation, and to ultimately cleanse the body of metabolic waste. This bodily house-cleaning (increased blood circulation via the breath), is what Pilates’ referred to as the “internal shower.”
Not surprisingly, many clients often comment on feeling “deeply refreshed” after doing a pilates session. They may attribute this feeling to the exercises themselves, the positive camaraderie of other exercisers, the teacher (☺), etc. However, they may be responding to the body’s own “internal shower” and the amazing power of the breath! (Thank-you, Ron Fletcher, for reminding us of this well-spring of power within us all).