More Than 50 Shades of Gray

“In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”

Joseph Pilates

How many times have we heard this quote, probably the most well-known, by Joseph Pilates? If you’ve never done Pilates before, I’m sure you’re thinking it’s too good to be true – an advertising gimmick – body transformation after 30 sessions? doubtful.

What most people don’t know, is that Joseph Pilates was a cigar smoking, whiskey drinking boxer, acrobat, and gymnast. He started developing his method at an internment camp in England during World War I, attaching springs to the beds of the bedridden to rehabilitate them. He had no hidden agenda in mind, just a plan for men to think, feel and live better.

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The truth is, Pilates is for everyone: men, women, teens and children, the athlete, the sedentary and de-conditioned, the injured, the flexible and inflexible, the coordinated and the uncoordinated, the survivor, and the elder. Pilates is ageless, colorless, and genderless. Pilates is not black or white, but shades of grey.

Pilates complements every movement and activity we do, whether it’s sitting behind a desk, climbing stairs, picking up a bag of groceries, running in the park, swinging a golf club or bat, or dribbling a ball across the court. It will heighten coordination, and improve balance, flexibility, and posture. It’s an intelligent workout that will sharpen focus and increase the ability to concentrate. If you’re looking for an auto-pilot type of workout you should consider something else. Pilates will re-educate your body on how to move with more efficient movement patterns, initiating from the powerhouse (center of the body), and develop core strength in the deep muscles of the back to stabilize and protect the back.

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Of course, the more often you do Pilates, the more quickly and intensely you’ll see and feel a difference in your body. The more you do anything, the more you learn and change. That’s how change happens, through repetition, and not repeating just once a month, but often. When we study anything, if we practice at least three times a week, we learn and reinforce. Between the actual doing of Pilates, you’re still processing and adjusting subconsciously and even consciously between sessions. Then the next day you practice again. It’s the same way we study a language, a musical instrument, a form of dance, etc…same thing with exercise and Pilates.

So, Joseph didn’t mean 30 sessions over 4 months. He was talking 12 sessions, at least, a month…that’s just over 2 months of sessions…and changes will happen. 10 sessions with 3 per week means that in just over 3 weeks you’ll start to feel better…and feeling is where it all begins. We feel results before we see them. 3 weeks at 3 times a week of continuous focused and strong movement for 55 minutes to feel a difference. Then 20 sessions with 3 per week means that in just over 6 weeks you’ll start to see a difference and look better. That’s a month and a half of sincere commitment. Then we’ve got 30 sessions with 3 per week. That’s 10 weeks. 10 weeks is 2 and a half months. That’s a serious commitment to have a completely new body.

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Now, does that mean that you can’t benefit with less than 3 times a week for months and hopefully always? Of course not! People can achieve a lot with 1 or 2 times a week if they apply the actions they learn in Pilates (not the exercises, but the actions for stability and opposition) to their other activities, workouts and life. Joseph Pilates meant for this system to enhance your other activities. If you still like to weight train, go for it! Your form will probably be better. I work like a dog in my Pilates class because I think it’s a great complement to the running that I do 5 days a week.  The more you do…the better you’ll feel.

What you will most likely find, is that Pilates will become a way of life and not just a workout fad. Pilates requires full concentration in order to do it effectively. During class, you will be so focused on your body and muscles, that your mind will become free from the clutter that you walked in with. Within your 55 minutes,  you’ll be working out all the muscle groups so nothing is left untouched. The body will be worked and stretched out as a whole. Out of class, you’ll find that you’re still ‘practicing the Pilates method’ in everything you do – you’ll breath differently, you’ll pull in your core, your concentration will be more acute. You will find that….’you have a completely new body’…..hmmmm…where have we heard that before?


The goal of Controlology (Pilates Method) ….. “the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind and the ability to perform life’s daily activities with zest and ease.”



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