Welcome to the era of Pilates. Seems as though everyone is doing it. From the expected population of former dancers and dance teachers to burly football players, Pilates has never been as popular as it is right now. As with all things fitness-minded, Denver has clearly been at the forefront of this movement with an abundance of beautiful studios and knowledgeable teachers available to mold your physique into the highly coveted “Pilates body”: long, lean, and strong.

Just ask the Green Bay Packers, Tiger Woods, Dara Torres, LeBron James, and dozens of other professional athletes as well as celebrities who owe at least some part of their physical feats to their practice of Pilates.

Joseph Pilates developed his eponymous modality over the course of his early years, originally calling his regimen “Contrology” (meaning “the science of control”). While working as a nurse/caretaker during WWI, Joseph began devising equipment to rehabilitate wounded soldiers using bed springs and straps. Pilates equipment hasn’t changed much over the years: people oftentimes ask me why the Reformer looks like a “torture device”, and I tell them that it was fashioned in the image of a wartime hospital bed. While the Reformer is the most well-known piece of Pilates equipment, there is also the Wunda Chair, the Cadillac, the Tower, and several smaller accessory pieces.

Regardless if you use the equipment or practice on the mat, Joseph’s principles remain the same:

  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Centering
  • Flow (or efficiency)
  • Precision
  • Breathing

Pilates breathing, or “posterior lateral breathing”, requires complete breath into the back and sides of your rib cage and fully expending as you exhale, resulting in more efficient use of your lung capacity. The breathing aspect tends to be one of the most intimidating for new clients, but don’t let it be. Just breathe. Proper breath will come with repetition and time.

The beauty of Pilates is that it can be practiced by anyone, at any age, with any restrictions or injuries- remember, it was designed for wounded and battered soldiers.

The Pilates Movement

If they could do it, so can you.

“We have clients ranging in age from eight to 85,” says Dana Shriberg, owner of The Pilates Movement in Denver. “We have people who are getting ready for ski season and we have clients who are recovering from back surgery. Because every client has different needs and goals, each session is tailored so that they receive the most benefits Pilates can offer.”

As I have brought up many times, the importance of developing core strength is paramount to overall health and strength.

Pilates is a great way to get the most out of your body. When done correctly, the exercises teach you how to move in the most efficient and effective way possible,” Shriberg adds.

If you’ve been thinking of trying Pilates out for the first time, what are you waiting for? This might be that missing link you’ve been seeking to alleviate that nagging pain, correcting your not-so-perfect posture, or just feeling strong all over. I’ve been teaching Pilates since 2002, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t still be doing it if it weren’t for the obvious, undeniable results. Try a mat class at your gym, join a Reformer class, or sign up for a private session at The Pilates Movement, located at 1754 Blake Street. Find what you like, and stick to it. You’ll be so glad you did.


 Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She currently contributes to 303 Magazine as a Fitness and Health writer.