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I had a funny feeling Pilates was going to be popular with Track and Field athletes one day, along with the Alexander technique. In the personal fitness industry, we’ve seen the fad go from step classes, spinning bicycles, Tae-Bo, Bikram Yoga, Kettlebells, swiss balls, bosu balls and other “core” fads.
I personally like good old-fashion circuit training workouts. In and out in 30 minutes and then hit the showers.
As far as specific training goes, my main focus for a Masters Sprinter are on 2 things: improving sprinting technique and recovery & regeneration.
Pilates may have its place in the running world.
Pilates, Yoga, and the Alexander technique are good for one thing: posture. And if that includes core training, so be it.
For sprinters, it’s all about hip height. That’s why you do endless high knees after the workout: to “stay tall” and to strengthen the hip flexors. You don’t want to collapse and have your ass touch the ground as seen in rookie (virgin?) quarter-milers during the last 100 meters. The term “staying tall” means a better vertical displacement, as well as reduced ground contact times.
Back in the 70s and 80s, Edwin Moses quoted he used Yoga to improve his flexibility. His longevity is proof: he is a 4 time Olympian with 2 Golds and 1 bronze. The USA Boycott denied him a medal in 1980, though he did get a congressional medal in 2007.
More recently, Dara Torres made Resistance Stretching world famous thanks to her amazing comeback at age 42 and winning 3 medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Now, we have Alberto Salazar and NIKE with oxygen tents and incorporating Pilates exercise into their training regimen.
In a recent article on oregonlive.com, Salazar admits to using Pilates to improve posture on his distance runners.
Salazar said the new wrinkle to his groups’ regimen:
Apparently, Galen Rupp has incorporated pilates into his routine and Salazar said it’s improving his posture.
What the heck is Pilates?
Originally called Controlology, Joseph Pilates began to teach his techniques during World War I in England. He combined Yoga and ancient Roman techniques while in an internment camp. His wife, who was a nurse, would modify his exercise program so that bed-ridden injured patients could perform the exercises.
Derived from ancient yoga “asanas” (or yoga positions, with the yoga Lotus asana being the best known position), the Pilates exercise system was formulated for more specific and limited purposes. Although Pilates is not a complete balanced or holistic exercise and health system, it has its place in health, balance and wellness. Pilates focuses mainly on core strength and lengthening the spine thus improving posture.
Pilates has been around for decades primarily by dancers and has become popular in recent years for its “aesthetic body sculpting effect” and now for posture control.
Comparisons to Yoga
Yoga is completely different than Pilates. Yoga is about strength, flexibility and inner awareness whereas Pilates is just about core, fitness, and posture. Modern day Pilates was developed as a way to keep people looking fit, and it is also essentially a marketing strategy to sell exercise videos and gym memberships. Yoga has a long history.
There are also many different types of yoga with Hatha Yoga being the most popular, and Bikram Yoga making a big surge in popularity in some cities. So in retrospect, Pilates is rather limited, and is part of a whole equation.
Like Yoga and it’s spin-offs (i.e Power Yoga, Bikram Yoga), we may see a surge of a variety of Pilates classes.