Every once in awhile I get something coming across my Facebook feed that stirs an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Or maybe in my bowels. Whatever. It’s uncomfortable.
Today was such a day. Someone shared a page from a Pilates teacher who is bemoaning the “combo” or hybrid-type of Pilates classes that combines Pilates and yoga or barre or boxing or cycling or trapeze or …….fill in the blank.
The post hit home with me as I have been teaching Pilates for twenty-five years and have seen a lot of things happen to it.
I was just about to post a comment to the effect that I have been preaching against this type of crap for fifteen years – just about the time the Pilates trademark was obliterated. The moment that trademark was tossed out everyone and everything “pilates” came out, including weekend and online certifications.
It wasn’t long before “yoga-lates” or “piyoga” came out. Anybody remember those? Argh….
Fast forward to today and classic Pilates certainly hasn’t been helped by the proliferation of online and streaming Pilates “classes” some of which seem to use old moves from body sculpting classes mixed in with Pilates exercises.
As a Certified-by-Romana teacher, I felt confident that the public wouldn’t fall for these cheap combo imitations. I was confident in my own training, my kinesiology degree, and the physical therapy classes I took that confirmed that the classic-style of Pilates was first and foremost one of the most intelligent ways of training the body. I asked myself who in their right mind would fall for some cheap hybrid-combo Pilates knock-off?
But I overestimated the public and underestimated the power of marketing. Sure, there are some people who get it but sad to say that’s probably only about 10% of the population. Sad to say, the public is comprised mostly of sheep only too happy to jump onto the latest trend that promises quick results with little functional value and even less mental involvement.
Let’s face it: classic-style Pilates is hard and most people do not want to work that hard. They want to swing around kettlebells, jump on tires; they want it cheap and fast. Some of them think it actually makes sense to do wreck their bodies in a bootcamp class and go to a chiropractor once a week to fix the damage they’ve done.
I read about a class in L.A. (surprise) that uses “amped-up” Pilates reformers plus bodybuilding moves. Why, you ask? The participants of this method say it’s to give a tougher workout. If I could, I’d ask if any one of them did a high level intermediate or advanced classic Pilates class and I’d bet the answer is no. If they had, they’d see there’s no reason to add anything to Pilates. It’s all there already.
Oftentimes these hybrid classes are developed because people do not want to do what is required: to think, to go within and to challenge themselves to work on things they are not perfect at. To be patient, to stick with it, to practice requires a very special mindset. It’s the mindset of an athlete.
Easier to add a kettlebell, a couple of weights, a ballet barre or a yoga pose. That way, you can pretend you’re working like an athlete.
I’d rather be an athlete in the real sense – mentally and physically.
Anyway, at this point in my career, I am off of the preaching wagon. People are going to do what they want to do and most times it has nothing to do with you or the classic-style Pilates that you teach. It’s hard to convince people to work hard when they believe in the fantasy of getting results with very little effort or that the body must essentially be beaten up to qualify for a “good workout.”
To the newer generation of classic-style Pilates teachers who are being thrown into the mess that is Pilates today, I say take solace. Take solace in the fact that you are carrying on Joseph Pilates’ work and staying true to his ideals. Read his writings and learn what he believed in. His creation is classic and will withstand the test of time.
These hybrids and combos will pass because they are just trends. Don’t get exasperated, distraught or lose yourself in frustration.
Do Pilates first and foremost for yourself so that you become a walking advertisement of what pure, classic-style Pilates training can do for the body.
Then there will be no need to say anything.