As a student, my study of Pilates was an attempt at the mastery of exercises called Contrology. I was an avid runner, skier, dancer, gymnastics coach, and hiked the 14,000 feet mountain peaks in Colorado.
As my teaching experience expanded I spent more time traveling, studying and teaching. Life offers continuous change and new opportunities. In 2005, I opened my studio, Pat Guyton Pilates, Inc. This decision allowed me to be home with my family and to become more active in my own community. These circumstances also encouraged me to revisit Joseph H. Pilates’ books, Return to Life and Your Health. I wanted to become more credible with the history and rationale of the progenitor.
Pilates is more than just a good workout for the body. It is a philosophy of living that has relevance today. The practice of healthy living in a contemporary world seems anachronistic. Technology has created greater opportunity for communication and this has also added stress to the daily rigor of work and home. My new goal is to live my life as a Pilates practice and to inspire others to understand that Pilates includes every aspect of healthy living. This requires more than a Roll-Up or an Elephant.
Mary Bowen tells us that Joe had a shower in his gym. He taught Whole Body Health. Archival Pilates’ film has footage where Joe demonstrates the techniques of the shower, nasal irrigation and dental health routines. It was an expected part of the experience at Joe’s gym that the student would shower before leaving. John Steel, Joe’s attorney, who was also a student of Contrology, entertained the audience the PMA conference in Orlando. Mr. Steel related that Joe would walk into the shower regardless of the sex of the student and demonstrate the proper way to brush the skin and how to shower properly. At Pat Guyton Pilates, Inc. our staff does not adhere to that practice. I have begun to think of my daily shower not as routine maintenance for acceptability in public, but as a practice of health. I do not use the floor brush that some describe at Joe’s gym, but I do use a shower brush and a pumice stone with consciousness and gratitude for my skin and my health. My skin is softer and I am not in such a rush.
Joe taught his students to breath fresh air. JUST BREATHE! I still like to run. There is a running machine in my basement gymnasium, but I prefer to be outside. Running through the seasons in the rain, snow, or sunshine keeps me in touch with the changing environment. Studio life can be invigorating but the indoor space is artificial, if comfortable. I try to run outside whenever I visit a new environment.
Joe and Clara ate well. Their diet was not a rigid discipline, but a pleasure of food that was typical of their German culture. Joe enjoyed a good cigar and a beer. I do not intend to take up the cigar. I may have a glass of wine. But I am insistent on good, wholesome food. My business schedule evokes the comment that the expense of the deli containers at Whole Foods “is the cost of doing business”.
Joe admonished his students to learn to balance work and play. We can see this in the outdoor wrestling at Jacob’s Pillow and the photos of Joe and Clara on skis. This practice has been very elusive for me. I like my work! I am most happy when teaching or when involved in creative process. It is good bet if you a Pilates teacher, that you will be working on how to play. You may not be aware that you need to play because you never stop working. Pilates practice demands focus and concentration. These are characteristics of people who understand the need to set goals, who work hard and diligently to attain goals, and who are relentless in demanding more from themselves.
Omphaloskepsis will not be a distraction if you are a workaholic. But the practice might help with insight regarding the balance of work and recreation. It would seem reasonable that another activity would be a good break from work. Unfortunately the characteristics that make me love Pilates, also cause me to become obsessed with other activities. I must work – to not work too hard – which is very hard work. This propensity is a continual challenge with new activities. I do not need another skill to assume professional status in the constellation of my world. Another activity that is joyful and is a vacation from my vocation would help me begin to feel the balance and to model this to other students and teachers. I am “working” on this.
Joe taught us that we should learn to master the physical body and the mind. He admonished us to start one exercise at a time. Have patience, practice, and expect to attain results over time. This is Whole Body Commitment. It is important to remember that the purpose of the practice of Pilates is the expanded joy and satisfaction that manifests in all of life. I am learning to look for the little pleasures that will complement the passion and devotion to my Pilates practice. When the body and mind are healthy, then the spirit is present in all activity.