Journey to the Center
"Pilates brings out everything that is possible," says Siler. "It's about being able to surpass what you believe you can do in your body." Joseph Pilates, who originally called his method Contrology, felt that "ideally, our muscles should obey our will."
To that end, the method teaches you to pay attention to many details at once. At an advanced level, you're expected to keep your abs scooped, ribcage pulled in, tailbone lengthened, and shoulder blades drawn back and down as you inhale and exhale in sync with your movement. It takes practice and mental acuity to get there, but the accomplishment and sense of control is what leads to revitalization.
Some people misinterpret the concept of control. "You're not looking for a hardness or tightness in the body," says Kane. "It's more of a feeling of buoyant and malleable strength. Rigidity is not strength, flexibility is."
"I like to describe it as the difference between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee," explains Siler, who spent a lot of time on weight training before discovering Pilates. "I broke out of my Arnold body and became a Bruce Lee. My mind was attuned; my body was attuned; and the more flexible and strong I became, the more I looked for challenges I would never have been brave enough to attempt before."