You’ve likely seen mat classes listed on the schedule and perhaps thought, why should I do a mat class instead of an equipment class, equipment must be a better workout, etc. That’s not necessarily the case. Let’s start with a bit of history. Joseph Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883, and his health suffered during his childhood with asthma, rheumatic fever and other ailments. To regain strength, he studied Eastern and Western forms of health and exercise, such as gymnastics, boxing, martial arts and meditation. Believing strongly in the Greek ideals of strong mind, body, and spirit, he worked to build on popular exercise systems at the time. These exercises are what we know today as Pilates traditional mat.
Even after inventing the reformer and other equipment (which, incidentally, were desgned to help support the body in its efforts to successfully complete the mat exercises), Joseph Pilates was still strong in his conviction of the benefits of mat work and in 1945 published the book, Return to Life Through Contrology. In it he describes the physical and mental ills created by poor posture and unproductive breathing, and the benefits of following his principles of health. It also details 34 mat exercises to complete daily for physical and mental mastery.
So, why should we do mat work? Having a Pilates mat practice can give the practitioner time to be attentive of his 6 principles: breath, concentration, control, centering (focus on core), precision, and flow. You can do mat work any time, any place, and for as long or as little time you have to practice. A mat practice can allow you, to just focus on you. While many mat exercises performed to their fullest can be too difficult for some, all movements can be modified and slowed, for every body to benefit. Try it, you might like it, or even love it!
Keep an eye on our social media feeds this month to see your favorite instructors demonstrating the classical 34 mat exercises!