About Pilates

Joseph Pilates on the Universal Reformer. Image via Angela Routledge.

What is Pilates?

Is Pilates a Method of exercise done on a mat or on equipment? The answer is BOTH! Also it is not the same as Yoga. What can make Pilates seem similar to Yoga is that the Pilates Matwork is done on a floor or flat surface and uses one’s own body weight for resistance.

The principles and breathing are different than those of Yoga. Pilates Matwork can also incorporate several small props like the Magic Circle, foam roller, small ball, exercise bands and hand weights to provide added resistance and additional variations to enhance the classical Matwork exercises.

Pilates on the equipment is vast in its endless options for training different bodies and various levels. Pilates on the equipment can be both easier than the Matwork and more difficult, depending on the needs of the client (and how friendly the teacher is… haha!).

Who was Joseph Pilates?

The name Pilates belonged to the founder of this incredible method of exercise: Joseph H. Pilates, a German-born man who immigrated to New York City in 1925 where he lived and taught his method of exercise until his death in 1967, when the method he called Contrology was renamed in his honor: Pilates.

What is my Pilates story?

I did not come to Pilates injured, like so many have. I also did not come to Pilates from the dance world, like so many others. I found Pilates as a former athlete and a young mother, searching for a way to reconnect to my body. I wanted to feel strong again. Fit. Healthy. Energized. Happy. Motivated. I wanted something I could do that helped me achieve all that in a short amount of time as my days were focused on my son and his needs.

When did I start Pilates?

At the time that I found Pilates I had just turned 30 years old and was living as an expat in the Zurich area of Switzerland. When I first learned to teach Pilates for a local fitness center, I learned in the German language. As my mother tongue is English, learning in German was a huge challenge for me. But I persevered. I remember what impressed me so much about the Pilates Method when I first tried it was how simple it looked but how tough it felt in my body! I kept thinking: “Why is this so difficult!”

What about now?

Now, over 20 years later, even the most advanced Pilates exercises feel easy to me. That at age 50 and mother to 3! It is incredible what the Pilates Method has achieved within my body and how I am able to function in my daily life. If I need to do quite difficult things, like hike up a mountain (or run for the train… haha!), my body cooperates and does what I need it to do. For that I thank the efficiency and efficacy of the Pilates Method.

What do I think about the Pilates Reformer?

When I first started teaching on the Pilates equipment (like the beloved Universal Reformer that Joseph Pilates is pictured on above) I remember feeling both overwhelmed by the spring resistance options and inspired by the vast possibilities which they provided my clients. Teaching men was particularly challenging because there didn’t seem to be any examples on which to base my choice of spring settings or anyone to ask for help. It was trial by error which meant lots of patience on the part of my male clients!

What about teaching Pilates to men vs. women?

My young son and my husband were both integral parts in my learning process. My son was a baseball player and always very tall for his age (he is now 24 and 6’4″194cm) and my husband has been weightlifting since his early 20s and is very muscular and heavy for his height (5’6″/168cm). It has been an ongoing passion of mine as a teacher to master the training of men and in that, honor the memory of the founder himself, who created the Method first for himself and then modified for other bodies.

Who can do Pilates?

Everyone and anyone can do Pilates! Teaching Pilates to a multitude of body types, short, tall, wide, light, heavy, inflexible, bendy, old, young, injured, athletic… is a continuous learning journey that I take each time I step into the Pilates studio. Each client is important to me. Each body that is in front of me matters. Regardless who you are: a prominent athlete or an at-home mom or dad, I am here to help Pilates guide you achieve your goals. No matter how large or small!

How is Pilates ideal for athletes?

The Pilates Method is the ideal form of cross-training for all levels of athlete. The teenage-athlete, the weekend warrior, the advanced-age athlete and even or especially the Olympian. Pilates as a form of cross-training contributes to enhanced athletic performance, helps to prevent injury through balanced muscle development and speeds recovery after competitions or athletic pursuits. It can take any athletic endeavor to another level. Pilates can make your sport feel easier!

Thank you for allowing me to take this journey with you.

~LaBriece Ochsner, founder of LB Pilates

For more on my Pilates story, you can read this article Translating Pilates into A Language for Men: https://thecore.balancedbody.com/pilates-for-men/

The Pilates Principles

  • Center
  • Control
  • Concentration
  • Breath
  • Flow
  • Precision
  • Whole Body Movement

Pilates Unfiltered Podcast: The Many Languages of Pilates

I was so honored to be be interviewed by Jenna Zaffino on the most popular Pilates podcast! It’s very direct and honest and you can hear about how I really got into Pilates… you’ll be surprised!