Pilates health benefits discovered at YMCA

Published 6:49 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

Recently I caught up with Lisa Hart, Pilates instructor at the Greystone YMCA, as she prepared for class.

Clients arrived. Lisa selected music and began stretching. I pummeled her with questions.

“Lisa, tell me how Pilates differs from other forms of exercise.”

“Pilates develops necessary core strength, firms muscles that protect and support the spine and pelvic organs. This aids in healing or preventing injuries, and can help a person avoid certain surgeries,” she said.

I considered how expensive and risky surgery is, not to mention pain and suffering.

More ladies entered the room, spreading mats and stretching muscles.

“But couldn’t a person get a video and follow it at home?” I asked Lisa.

“On a video, it’s difficult to see needed posture and moves. Also a live instructor can remind clients to tighten stomach muscles and breathe right. Doing an exercise the correct way is how a person gets results. This can only be ensured when performed under an instructor’s observation.”

I watched as Lisa flexed and limbered for class. “You’ve been practicing and teaching Pilates for a few years now. What inspires you?”

“I believe in its health benefits. This form of exercise brings mental and emotional relaxation, improves core physical strength, increases circulation and flexibility. By the end of class, I feel as relaxed as if I’d had a massage,” she said with a smiled.

Sept. 20-27 is “America on the Move Week” sponsored by the YMCA.

On average, Americans gain one to two pounds a year.

More than 60 percent also fail to get the recommended 30 minutes daily physical activity. This YMCA initiative suggests two ways to balance the energy we burn with the calories we consume: take 2,000 more steps and eat 100 fewer calories daily.

You can track yourself online by signing up at www.ymca.net (group code 0013).

Gladys Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at gsherrer@gmail.com.