What comes to mind when you read the word PILATES?
It would be foreseeable that an image of Joseph, the man, might arise ... a number of exercises ... some specific equipment maybe ... or even the feeling of toned abs, or long and lean muscles. How about if you read the word CONTROLOGY? We've found the results to be different - possibly more philosophical.
Because words matter, changing the name of something changes its interpretation. In our history when we edited the name CONTROLOGY to read PILATES, we may have done ourselves a huge disservice. It might sound like semantics, and maybe it is because semantics is all about connotative meaning. Connotation is the implied meaning of something, while denotation is the "dictionary" or actual agreed upon meaning of something. As an industry (much less outside the industry) we still have a very difficult time agreeing upon "what is" Pilates, and so we're left with a lot of connotative meanings around what it means/is to individual people, lineages, and fractions like Classical & Contemporary.
We think that when history exchanged Contrology to read Pilates we made the man more important than his mission. The archives became the rules, and we left behind the aliveness of the philosophy of CONTROLOGY. It’s easy to get emotional and sentimental about a person, a proverbial Father figure, and religionize his work. It’s easy to make the priority the stories of what it was like to work with Mr. Pilates rather than what he was trying to accomplish as a mission. It’s acceptable to prioritize how so-and-so used to DO it. It’s even logical to prioritize the specific gestures someone else chose to depict Movement Potentials, rather than prioritizing movement in general, when it’s about a man not his message. As a culture we’ve exalted the form of Pilates to the detriment of the philosophy. Consequently it’s expected that today Pilates looks just like it did then, even though our environments and lifestyles (and hence bodies) have changed. We don’t know that that’s Contrology though!?
Take a look a the following videos ... what do you see?
We see a man exploring and facilitating movement in a number of environments, rather than someone dictating exercises to be done right or wrong. We see a philosophy in motion ... a way to live.
We've adopted the term Modern Pilates less as a sign of separatism from Classical and Contemporary, but as a way of discussing Contrology / Pilates / and the application of the ideas in modern studios and lives. The Classical VS. Contemporary debate is an emotionally charged appeal to the right/wrong argument, and it's distinctly something that is no longer serving our industry as it grows and gains traction in the public eye. The creation of a new category, Modern Pilates, allows us the opportunity to platonically discuss the philosophy of Contrology, the form of Pilates, and the application of The Method, without getting into which is better/authentic/more valid - Contemporary or Classical.
To listen to a conversation on Modern Pilates skip to minute 50:08
So, what is Modern Pilates? Modern Pilates holds a deep reverence for Contrology (the study of how to control your body when exploring Movement Potentials), while utilizing rich and broad methods of priming and prepping the body for the Pilates exercises, in the way many Pilates Elders discovered were necessary and beneficial. Modern Pilates turns to science rather than rhetoric in deciding variations and explorations for individual bodies, while still honoring that body's experience with the movement. Modern Pilates makes room for dialoguing with our students rather than dictating their experience. Modern Pilates emphasizes that individual Pilates exercises are not isolated moments of strength and flexibility prowess, but belong to a Method (a system) that is cyclical and challenges greater expressions of movement skills that will repeat / progress / and emphasize throughout The Method. Each exercise is designed to prepare and prime you for greater iterations of Movement Potential in a number of different environments. Modern Pilates understands that our exercises exist on a larger movement spectrum and asks its students to explore outside of what might commonly be thought of as "Pilates" in order to create an even richer movement vocabulary. Pilates was never meant to be a stand alone system, but a preparation for life, its challenges, and PLAY. Modern Pilates is a way of looking back to the original philosophy of Contrology, honoring The Method and its form, exploring individuality and variability to affect each students needs directly, while creating a Pilates and movement practice for them that is useful, inviting, fun, and life-changing. We're strong in the opinion that Pilates is NOT magic; it IS movement ... but done well it is magical in its ability to invite people to experience and embody the practice of moving (and aliveness) in a way they may never have before.
Lastly Modern Pilates is about viewing Contrology as a vessel for you, the teacher, to fill with the things that interest you most in the endeavor of staying obsessed and in love with your profession for the long haul ... be it anatomy / tradition / natural movements / or other. Our dedication to an intelligent thoughtful movement practice is what connects us all. Our fascination with diversity and curiosity is what keeps us each uniquely relevant.
- If you consider yourself a Classical Instructor, on a single work day, try teaching one or two exercise/s out of order to every student. How did that affect your students' overall experience?
- If you consider yourself a Contemporary Instructor, on a single work day, try teaching the exercises in "order." How did that affect your students' overall experience?
- If there is an exercise, or a few, that you routinely cue in a specific way or style ... try researching how other lineages/schools teach THAT exercise, and cue it that way for a week. What new thing/s did you learn about the exercise?
- Pick an exercise that is NOT contained in the Pilates Method ... something not commonly thought of as "Pilates" (e.g. Lunges / Deep Squats / Bear Crawls / Deadlifts / etc.) ... and for one work day try to teach some students that movement from the lens of Pilates, using whatever cues you are most comfortable with. How did that make you feel? What was your students' experience with it?