In our fast-paced, get-ahead society, it is generally considered a compliment to be referred to as a “mover and a shaker.” However, to those of us who practice pilates, we would much prefer the moniker of a “mover and a stabilizer!”
Unlike traditional fitness programs, which can stress isolating individual muscles, the Pilates Method of exercise always encompasses the integration of the “whole body.” In order to move (effectively) one must stabilize (from a strong center) and then move the body’s extremities. It is the very act of stabilizing that greatly aids in the precise, strong and flowing movement that we associate with pilates’ excercises—whether performed on the mat or the various pieces of equipment.
For example, take a pilates’ classic, The Hundred. Though many of us know it as “an awesome ab exercise” or a powerful “breathing exercise,” it is (in many ways) the perfect balance between moving and stabilizing.
In The Hundred, we find that the “movers” are comprised of the abdominals (to initiate flexion of the thoracic spine), the triceps, the lats and the anterior deltoid (to continue arm movement) and the deep neck flexors. Conversely, the “stabilizers” include muscles in the pelvic floor, shoulder girdle, abdominals, neck flexors, hip flexors (to support the weight of the legs), and the vasti (to keep the knees extended).
In fact, when the exercise is performed without proper attention and/or skill, we find movement where there should be none (popping abdominals, elevated shoulders, etc.) and not enough movement, for example, in the pumping arms. Thus, in practicing pilates, aim for balance between moving and stabilizing and don’t be surprised if you are not rewarded with an enhanced sense of rhythm, flow, ease and enjoyment in your next workout!