Words of Wisdom From Pilates and the Elders

Joseph Pilates did not simply create a method of body conditioning. He developed a philosophy of health, movement and lifestyle. Joe the philosopher wrote many passages of wisdom about his belief system. Many of these quotes have been passed down from generation to generation. After his death, some of his original students, now called the Pilates Elders, opened their own studios. Like their mentor, they share their philosophy with their own series of quotes. Read through these. Many will resonate.

The Quotable Joe
Many of these quotes come from Pilates’ books, titled Your Health, and Return to Life with Contrology. Contrology was what Joe called his technique.  Read what Joe had to say:

  • Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles.
  • If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.
  • A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.
  • A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.
  • Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce only bulging muscles. … Nor does Contrology err either by over-developed a few muscles at the expense of all others with resulting loss of grace and suppleness, or a a sacrifice of the heart or lungs. Rather, it was conceived to limber and stretch muscles and ligaments so that your body will be as supple as that of a cat and not muscular like that of the body of a brewery-truck horse, or the muscle-bound body of the professional weight lifter you so much admire at the circus.
  • This is the equivalent of an “internal shower”. As the spring freshness born of the heavy rains and vast masses of melting snows on mountains in the hinterlands cause rivers to swell and rush turbulently onward to the sea, so too will your blood flow with renewed vigor as the direct result of your faithfully performing the Contrology exercises.


The Pilates Elders Speak

Famous Pilates instructor Jillian Hessel trained with some of the Pilates elders. In an article featured in Pilates Style Magazine, she reveals their quotes and movement cues.

Pilates elder Kathy Grant had a clear understanding of why students found it difficult to perform The Hundred. She used these, which she refers to as her song, as warm-ups for the hundred:
Zip tight jeans (imagine).
Belly button to the lowest part of the waistline.
Put a belt on (imagine).
Put a vest on (imagine).
Tape measure (imagine a dressmaker taking measurements right under your breastbone).

Hessel also studied with Pilates elder Carola Trier. These were her favorite cues:

Cue for Posture Check: “If your body is a building, the feet are the foundation.”
Cue for Long Stretch (which she called Straight Stretch) on the Reformer: “From the head to the heel, you’re a piece of steel.”
Cue for body placement performing Knee Stretches on the Reformer: “If your belly button fell off, it would fall between your knees.”
Cue for Backstroke Swimming on the Reformer Box: “Curl up tight like a baby.”
Cue for less talk and more work: “Now get going!”

Make a note of your favorite quotes, and read them to yourself before every Pilates session. You need not think about all of them at once. Instead, target one quote for each individual session, and use it as a goal for that workout. Call us at Happy Physio on 9272 7359 and seek the advice of our expert Pilates Instructors.