Julie Gagnon-Erickson Explains What Most People Don’t Know About Pilates

Julie Gagnon-Erickson
Mar 15 · 4 min read

You may have heard of all the health benefits Pilates can bestow on those who practice on a regular basis. There are also many other lesser-known facts about this decade’s old method of exercise. Julie Gagnon-Erickson is a certified instructor and Founder of Endurance Pilates and Yoga in Boston and New York City. Below, Julie reveals what most people may not know about Pilates.

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a method of exercise that teaches its practitioners how to move better — more efficiently, with greater grace, control and balance. Pilates can be described as a regimen that “builds a suit of armor from within”. Julie Gagnon-Erickson says that she regards Pilates as a safe yet challenging exercise form. Utilizing both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems during a session, Pilates requires precise movements in particular postures in order to move the body in the most efficient, safe and functional manner. A study found that using Pilates as a form of exercise regularly can offer improvements in pain and functional ability over other traditional methods. They also found that its positive effects are similar to those of massage therapy.

Pilates Has Day-Long Effects on Your Body

A single one hour class of Pilates can help you burn calories all day long. It contributes to developing lean muscle which, in turn, will rev up your metabolism, sculpt your physique and perfect your posture.
Julie Gagnon-Erickson also teaches her students to eventually become unconsciously competent at stabilizing their entire body at all times after engaging in a regular Pilates practice. She explains that this can be done all day long, outside the studio: “I’m not doing a mat class every day. But I’m engaging my abs the entire time I’m working with somebody or walking down the street. Getting those muscles to engage while I’m doing “nothing,” is constantly creating better muscle tone and making me an overall stronger person.”

Pilates Descends From 34 Mat Exercise Sequences

According to Julie Gagnon-Erickson, today’s modern Pilates class formats originally came from a sequence of 34 mat exercises developed by Joseph Pilates. These same mat-based sequences are still used today in studios across the world.
You may recognize some of the following moves from your Pilates class or video:

● The Hundred
● The Spine Stretch
● The Roll up
● The Single Leg Stretch

All of these are part of the Authentic Classical method of Pilates as prescribed by Joseph Pilates himself, handed down via an apprenticeship learning system passed along through teachers handpicked to share and continue the original Pilates method and are still as beneficial for the body today.

Pilates Does Wonders for Your Body

All Pilates exercises were carefully crafted to include the entire body. Practicing with an experienced instructor is the best way to ensure you are using your body efficiently and safely in all Pilates exercises, according to Julie Gagnon-Erickson.
The regular practice of Pilates can dramatically improve your posture as well. As Pilates requires very specific motions, it takes a great deal of concentration. As a student masters the Basic Pilates moves, he or she will see a noticeable improvement in posture. It is a good idea to practice Pilates using clothing with visible seams instead of baggy clothing. The seams running across the side of your formatting top or leggings can be used as markers to ensure your body is in proper alignment throughout the practice. This will help to prevent injury and maximize the benefits of your workout.

Moving is Key to Pilates

Maintaining focus while practicing Pilates is key, but Julie Gagnon-Erickson states that moving your body is just as important. Joseph Pilates instructed his students to breathe “like they were walking down the street” ensuring that the breath keeps moving to fuel the muscles for movement and doesn’t become so cumbersome that students forget that Pilates is exercise for the body and the mind.

Pilates Can Improve Concentration

Of course, while Pilates has many physical benefits, it can also be beneficial for your mind. Pilates is essentially an exercise in concentration throughout an entire session — linking body movement, control and breath together. Students need to concentrate on what matters during the workout- there is no place for thinking about to-do lists, work problems or the pile of laundry on the floor that needs to be folded. In fact, Pilates was originally called Contrology, as a reference to the control and concentration required to achieve physical health. Not only is this great concentration practice, but Julie Gagnon-Erickson states that it can help ease stress as well.
Pilates and Yoga Work Well Together
Both Pilates and Yoga go far beyond just the physical practice of exercises and poses and simple execution of choreography. Both are also mind body practices that incorporate techniques to connect, control and flow perfectly and properly executed movement.

Final Thoughts

According to Julie Gagnon-Erickson, Pilates is an exercise technique that has a whole host of benefits. If you are in the Boston area, be sure to check out Endurance Pilates and Yoga.

For more information on Julie: https://twitter.com/jg_erickson

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