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Pilates is more than just an exercise discipline.  Pilates is a method that focuses on movement that works to tone and balance muscles and joints.

Dina Voigt

Andrea Curran on the Reformer

You may be familiar with Pilates as an exercise discipline to help you get in shape, develop long, lean muscles and improve your balance and flexibility.    Yes, Pilates can help you achieve all the above and MUCH MORE!   Pilates is more than just an exercise discipline.  Pilates is a method that focuses on movement that works to tone and balance muscles and joints.  Proper, consistent Pilates practice will definitely help you improve your core strength, flexibility, range of motion, circulation, breathing, body awareness and posture.   Needless to say, once these improvements are made, one of the added benefits is lessening of pain and discomfort.

Most active people experience discomfort or pain due to improper body mechanics, muscular compensation, and of course, trauma and injury.   Increasing body awareness helps you understand and identify your body’s natural alignment tendencies and unhealthy muscular recruitment patterns, such as slouching, stiffness, shrugging, misalignment of the feet, ankles, hips, etc.

Learning and performing Pilates exercises properly and consistently with conscious precision enables you to work on your misalignments and unhealthy movement patterns, not only while on the mat or Pilates equipment but all the time!  Developing core strength, teaching your body proper alignment, and increasing flexibility will help reduce chronic back and joint pain and will also help reduce possible injuries in the future.

Given all these factors (and more) it’s easy to see how Pilates can be extremely therapeutic!  Learning to “center” yourself (the very first foundational principle of the Pilates method) strengthens not only the core but the entire body.  Pilates gets deep into the pelvic floor muscles as well as the deep, core postural muscles that support the spine, and teaches the body how to stabilize and move properly during your activities of daily living.

The fact that Pilates treats the body as a “whole” or an integrated system makes it therapeutic as well.  Breathing techniques help with concentration and mindfulness which also helps lower blood pressure and stress levels.   With this increased mind-body awareness added benefits are better sleep patterns, better balance and coordination, less anxiety, and a better “all over” mindset!

The fact that Pilates helps develop, strengthen, and balance intrinsic muscles and hard-to-reach muscles makes it a very beneficial, therapeutic resource for all types of athletes. It also helps them avoid and recover from injury.

Pilates is known as a “full body conditioning method.”  Most Pilates exercises are low impact with the benefit of being weight-bearing without stress to the joints. As mentioned above, while being a fabulous way to get and stay in shape as well as acquire all the benefits above (and more!), Pilates is also a great therapeutic discipline for people of all abilities and ages.  It is an amazing way to heal and recover from injury and surgery. Most important, Pilates teaches you to change your body mechanics and gain new strength while reducing the probability of future injury.

Here are a few words from two Pilates “devotees” who sought out Pilates for different reasons and are both loving the benefits!

Andrea C.
The Gym Teacher Finds Her Core
It was four and a half years ago that I joined Fitness Incentive and there’s been no looking back! Having recently retired after 35 years of teaching Physical Education,  coaching, and raising three daughters with my husband Bob, it was ME time.

 My priority was to stay healthy and active. Although I was enjoying walking five miles, road biking, and hiking, I felt I needed more. My sister in law was a member here and had recommended Pilates, so I thought I’d try it. After taking one of Dina’s Pilates classes, I soon learned that my core needed some serious work. It was an “aha moment” for me.
Not only was the realization that I had a lot of work to do a motivating factor, but Dina’s knowledge and delivery made sense with every task she had us perform. Having taught many movement classes myself, I was in awe of her.

 I have not met anyone since college whose understanding of anatomy and physiology is conveyed so well.  Fearful that my six-foot frame could not do certain tasks and afraid of
injuring myself while trying, I decided to do a few private sessions to better understand how to navigate Pilates.

Dina’s approach began with my foundation, posture, and strength and I soon began to realize that this “core” thing was important in everything I do. Even when a few injuries arose from my outside activities, Dina would show me how to navigate many of the principles learned through Pilates to strengthen and heal. I have since switched to a small group reformer class, enjoying the challenges and hard work that continually build my strength.

It really is amazing to me that now, when I’m driving, sitting at the dinner table, biking, hiking, weeding my garden or doing anything else for that matter, I’m reminding myself to engage my core…and life is easier. One of the other pleasant surprises resulting from this new lifestyle involves my feet. As a phys ed teacher, I virtually lived in sneakers for those 35 years, and my feet never felt comfortable in shoes. The improved strength and flexibility of my feet allow me to move more easily and more comfortably, and shoes are no longer an issue. Now that my foundation is stronger my feet feel “happy” whether I’m in hiking boots on a wooded trail, traipsing around New York City in casual shoes or even wearing high heels for a formal occasion.

 In short, Pilates has changed me in many positive ways. I am so glad that I walked into that class four and a half years ago. I’m also very thankful that I met Dina Voigt.

Cherylinn S.

I started practicing Pilates with Dina about a year and a half ago.  I inherited spinal stenosis from my mother. It got so bad that I had to have back surgery.  I had a laminectomy of my L-4 and L-5 spine. It was post surgery when I started practicing Pilates. As part of my recovery and overall health maintenance for my back, my doctor advised that I had to do special core strengthening exercises every day for the rest of my life.  So as part of that direction, I decided to start practicing Pilates. I was aware that it is supposed to strengthen small muscles so I thought this would be beneficial. I didn’t realize to what extent until I met and started my journey with Dina, and for me she was a Godsend.

I found Dina by calling Fitness Incentive. I knew of the gym but wasn’t aware that they offered individualized, one on one training in Pilates. I had interviewed and tried instruction with two other instructors, they didn’t compare to Dina. They didn’t possess the knowledge she has nor did they have a watchful eye during class or individual instruction.

In addition to helping me heal from my surgery and gain range of motion, Pilates has really begun to strengthen my entire core which provides great support for my lower back.  I have also developed more strength in my arms and legs as well.  I definitely have an increased mind/body connection and am consciously aware of my posture and alignment.

While I am so grateful for the kind words these ladies have shared, I am also so very grateful that they have trusted me to be part of their journey to a strong, healthy body!

Whether you are an athlete or not, an avid exerciser or a novice to exercise, whether you have injuries or have had surgeries or are completely injury free, Pilates is for you!  Pilates is for everyone!  For gaining and maintaining fitness or for therapeutic, rehabilitative results, on and off the mat!  Try a class today!  Email me with any questions you may have!

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About the Author

Dina Voigt

Dina Voigt is the Manager of Fitness Incentives Pilates and Yoga programs.  She is a PMA-certified Pilates trainer, a certified Yoga instructor, a Personal Trainer, Group exercise instructor, and Cycle instructor.

Contact her at with any questions or for further information.

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