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What is Standing Pilates?

Standing Exercises Promote Core Strength and Balance

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Updated June 23, 2014

woman doing pilates with trainer
Stephanie Hager - HagerPhoto/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When a question about standing Pilates was asked in the About.com Pilates Forum, I realized that while I had some ideas about standing Pilates, I didn't really know the full story. I did, however, know that standing Pilates comes to us through the PhysicalMind Institute. So I got on the phone with Marta Hernandez of the PhysicalMind Institute of Canada to learn more.

Marta Hernandez is a teacher trainer for The MethodTM Pilates, the Pilates teacher certification program of the Institute. She is also the founder of The Space Pilates studio in Vancouver, BC. Marta gave me a nice introduction to the basics of standing Pilates. She also gave me the directions for a standing Pilates exercise and some photos of herself performing some of the exercises, all of which I share with you here.

What is Standing Pilates?

Standing Pilates adapts many of the classic Pilates matwork exercises to take them into the vertical plane. One of the first things Marta pointed out to me about standing Pilates is that it provides a link between the Pilates mat work and everyday movement -- an enhancement of the Pilates functional fitness approach to exercise.

Benefits of Standing Pilates

Doing Pilates exercises while standing adds the challenge of keeping ones balance as various moves shift weight and body placement over one or both legs. It also teaches the body/mind to re-pattern movement habits toward better alignment and efficiency; this is then reflected in performing daily tasks with greater ease. Learning to keep a neutral spine while standing, walking, or bending is an example of taking Pilates alignment training into everyday life.

The muscles of the pelvic floor play a key role in maintaining balance, so anyone who needs to strengthen and stabilize that area (basically all of us) will benefit from standing Pilates. Those with pelvic floor integrity issues, such as people experiencing incontinence or postpartum moms, will be especially interested. Marta suggests that other populations for whom standing Pilates is well suited include those who need to develop their balance or counter the loss of it, such as seniors and people with Parkinson's disease.

An interesting potential benefit of standing Pilates that Marta pointed out, which I hadn't thought of before, is that standing on one leg creates a greater weight bearing challenge for the hip and leg bones of the standing side of the body, thereby increasing the bone building potential for those seeking to prevent osteoporosis.

Not only does standing Pilates help people transition off the mat and into daily movement, but it also works the other way around. Marta says that many people who have difficulty with the mat exercises, those who are less flexible or have trouble getting up and down, use standing Pilates as a transition to the mat.

Learn Standing Pilates

Joan Breibart, founder of the PhysicalMind Institute, developed standing Pilates. It is a standard part of PhysicalMinds' The MethodTM Pilates teacher training, so finding a Pilates instructor certified in The Method is a sure way to get standing Pilates training. Other Pilates instructors may have the standing Pilates training as well, so look around. In addition, Joan Breibart wrote a book, Standing Pilates: Strengthen and Tone Your Body Wherever You Are, which is widely available. There is also a DVD called Standing Pilates from the PhysicalMind Institute. This DVD is a fairly advanced set of standing Pilates exercises that seems to be directed toward instructors and people who already know Pilates. There is another standing Pilates DVD, unrelated to PhysicalMind, called The Method - Standing Pilates Blend, which I have not seen yet.

A Standing Pilates Exercise

As part of filling me in on standing Pilates, Marta was kind enough to give us exercise instructions for the standing Pilates version of the exercise, rolling like a ball. This is a great example of how standing Pilates has adapted a classic Pilates mat exercise to the vertical position.
Get the instructions for standing Pilates rolling like a ball

Teach Standing Pilates

As mentioned, standing Pilates training is part of The MethodTM Pilates teacher program through The PhysicalMind Institute. It is also available as an individual module for those who already have at their Pilates mat instructor certification.
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