The program, which has generated a fair amount of buzz, also serves as a feeder into V Pilates' traditional training services, which has brightened Jensen’s bottom line. “It sparks an interest,” she says.
A hemisphere away, another innovator, Tamara Di Tella, has married Pilates and Argentina’s national dance, the tango, to create Tangolates. Pilates first made a name for itself when it was embraced by professional dancers, and Di Tella seems to be resurrecting history. Tangolates is offered at her five Pilates studios in Buenos Aires and elsewhere in Argentina, and is licensed for use at some 50 clubs in 12 other countries worldwide.
Tangolates makes use of a special piece of equipment, the T-DiTella apparatus, a platform with four upright bars that accommodates two users at a time, which introduces a formerly missing exercise element. “Pilates is excellent for flexibility and strength, but Tangolates adds cardio to the equation,” Di Tella explains. “Many clients are looking for weight loss, but not finding it, in traditional Pilates. Tangolates, on the other hand, burns calories.”
Each of Di Tella’s studios caters to approximately 200 clients, and her Tangolates classes average about 10 people in size.
Another clever individual, Joan Breibart, the president and cofounder of the PhysicalMind Institute (PMI), based in New York City, which certifies instructors in the Pilates Method, has also developed some promising permutations: Standing Pilates and Circular Pilates. “We’ve done what we think Joe (Pilates) would have done if he were still alive,” says Breibart.
As the name implies, Standing Pilates is performed in a standing position. One of the primary goals of the class is to teach clients how to apply the neutral spine of Pilates to everyday tasks, such as bending and walking. Circular Pilates, a 20-minute routine, was developed in association with Kristin Hapke, an instructor for the Institute, and Marika Molnar, a clinical advisor to the PMI. This class includes standing, sitting, kneeling, supine, and prone movements, all of which are designed to build strength during rotation.
Interestingly, injury-prevention and rehabilitation is now one of the fastestgrowing segments of the Pilates industry — a natural development, perhaps, given the fact that Pilates was originally devised for wounded, bed-bound soldiers during World War I. “People came to Joe with an injury, and he found a way to help them,” explains Ken Endelman, the founder, owner, and CEO of Balanced Body, a Pilates equipment manufacturer based in Sacramento, California. “He was essentially one of the first physical therapists.”
Attuned to the trend, STOTT PILATES intends to introduce a continuing-education series focused on post-rehab training, as well as on different medical disorders. “Specialty tracks will give instructors the expertise to specialize a little more and help them hone their skills,” explains Moira Merrithew, the cofounder and executive director of education for STOTT PILATES, the Toronto-based subsidiary of the Merrithew Corporation, a leading provider of Pilates products and services.
“Post-rehabilitation is a huge new trend,” attests O’Clair, of Club Xcel, who specializes in post-rehab and athletic performance. “I'm getting a lot of referrals from doctors—more than I've ever had.” Approximately 50% of her clients are postrehab, she says, and athletes constitute 20% of her private-training business.
“Many pro athletes are incorporating Pilates into their training regimens, and the majority of them are men,” points out Lindsay Merrithew, the cofounder, president, and CEO of STOTT PILATES. “Perhaps they're introduced to it while on the mend from injury, but most are sticking with it. I think that, in the future, we're going to see a lot more men taking advantage of the benefits of Pilates.”
Of special note, and indicative of a new direction that Pilates seems to be taking, is O’Clair's Pilat-ease offering, developed to provide cancer patients with “a gentler approach” to Pilates exercise; 10 people are currently enrolled in the pilot program.
Bettina Blank, a Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Gold Certified Pilates teacher at the Circle Studio in Portland, Oregon, has also done some groundbreaking work, helping individuals suffering with Parkinson's disease. The author of Pilates for Parkinson's Disease: An Instructional Handbook, Blank is convinced that Pilates can alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinson's — e.g., tremors and a shuffling gait — and has witnessed such improvements firsthand. The participants in her classes, she reports, “feel better, feel more energized, and their posture improves.”
For more information, visit www.merrithew.com.