First Educate the Child

When I first set out to write this piece, my intention was to compile a list of personal reasons why I hoped my daughter would practice Pilates one day.

My most honest answer is that I believe in it. I believe Pilates adds to the quality of my life and as my commitment to my practice strengthens, I have started to wonder how Pilates would add to the quality of her life.

My sweet Bee is a ball of energy. At two years old, I can already tell she is going to be an athlete. She thrives on adrenalin (unlike her mother who usually equates adrenalin with life-threatening fear). She is always in search of ways to test her limits. There is never a “too fast” or a “too high” for Bee. She even runs out of her room each morning screaming and laughing, ready to take on the adventure of her day.

My kid is fearless. And it is for that exact reason she needs Pilates.

Determined to provide accurate information, I turned to the book, “Pilates for Children and Adolescents: Manual of Guidelines and Curriculum” by Celeste Corey-Zopich, Brett Howard and Dawn-Marie Ickes.

In my readings, I learned that the goal of a balanced life is actually referred to in the Pilates community as “Whole Body Health.”

Whole Body Health is one of Joe Pilates’ three guiding principles and is achieved through living a balanced life of work, recreation and relaxation.

I cannot speak for all of you but that right there sums up almost all of my teaching goals as a parent.

The title of this post, “First Educate the Child” was a belief of Joe’s. He felt that “In childhood, habits are easily formed – good and bad. Why not then concentrate on the formation of only good habits and thus avoid the necessity later on in life of attempting to correct bad habits in life and substituting for them good habits.”

Now that I have read this book, I realize there are many reasons why my daughter should practice Pilates. Here are my top 10:

  1. Demanding exercises have the potential to be harmful on the developing skeleton. Pilates is a safe and gentle method of strength training.
  2. As core strength is developed, posture and spinal alignment improves.
  3. Pilates enhances flexibility.
  4. Because it is a mind/body discipline, Pilates encourages a more relaxed state of mind as well as strengthens concentration skills.
  5. Pilates educates children about body awareness, which creates a mindfulness that fosters self-confidence.
  6. Pilates exposes children to the execution of goal setting by encouraging small steps and recognizing small achievements.
  7. Pilates establishes the correct principles of movement that will follow children into adulthood.
  8. Pilates creates a balanced musculature that alleviates pain, reduces potential injury and promotes correct muscle firing patterns.
  9. Keeps muscles strong and limber as children move into adulthood.
  10. Develops the understanding that our bodies are amazingly complex and require maintenance to keep them functioning at their best.

As my little Bee grows, I hope we are successful in equipping her with the skills she needs to live a life of whole body health. And though I suspect she will gravitate toward activities such as sky diving and mountain climbing, I hope she will understand that taking the time to slow her mind and check in with her body will only complement her attempts to continually conquer the world.

After all, as her mother, my ultimate wish for her is to have:

mens sana in corpora sana – a sound mind in a healthy body