Polish Your Posture with Pilates

From Rehabilitation to a Go-to Regimen

Leanne Yoon, Grace Chae, Jodie Lee, and Jade Lee

Pilates is on the rise in Korea – walking around, you can easily encounter colorful signs that read ‘Pilates studio.’ But what exactly is this exercise? The TLDR is that it’s a low-impact exercise that strengthens your muscles, posture, and flexibility. 
This workout, slowly becoming a cult classic, is unique because every movement stems from the core. Although all workouts use different parts of the body, your abs act as the foundation. Whenever you stretch or do a bridge and lift your hips to the ceiling, you always use your core. Because of this, Pilates is just for you if you want a middle ground between yoga and fitness. 

Pilates originally hails from rehabilitation – Joseph Pilates invented it to help injured war veterans. But after choreographers and ballet dancers started frequenting it in search of a way to hone a balanced body, its benefits spread to the public. Many busy Koreans now flock to Pilates studios to burn off stress from logging 8-10 hours in front of a desk.

Students are no exception! Ms. Sakong, a Pilates instructor at Pilates 365 Esia, said, “students often have hunched shoulders nowadays, and this regimen helps students straighten their posture and recover balance in their bodies.” 

Leanne pushes her hips to the sky to build a bridge, which stretches out all the tense muscles she has on her thighs and pelvic region. Photo provided by Leanne Yoon.

Pilates has also helped students at DIS. Jules, from Grade 6, said, “I used to have bow legs, but Pilates helped me to correct this, and now I don’t have any problems putting my legs together.” She also said that the stretches relieved her core muscles and helped her feel lighter. 

Also known as, “the new personal fitness,” pilates comes with dozens of regimens that your coach personalizes just for you. Jules also mentioned, “I really like doing exercises with gym balls, because those stretches make me feel fresh and flexible.” Personally, my favorite stretch is doing a bridge on the Cadillac – and no, it’s not the car.

Leanne clenches her core to hang onto the Cadillac. Photo provided by Leanne Yoon.

Pilates uses four pieces of equipment to take you through a full-body workout. “The Cadillac and the reformer are more for beginners because they have a large surface area; so you can do exercises lying down, which is generally easier for newbies,” said Ms. Sakong. Skilled athletes frequent the chair and the Barrel, which require more strength because they have less surface area to support your body. The Barrel, in particular, is regularly used to strengthen the core and stretch your muscles. 

Selina trains her core muscles by balancing on one knee, a common pilates exercise used with the Barrel. Photo by Leanne Yoon.

Pilates and flying yoga may seem very similar to each other: indeed, these two sports have much in common, as they use equipment and focus on achieving a strengthened body. However, flying yoga and Pilates are completely different. Sixth grader Jennie, said both practices focus on flexibility, while Pilates also helps improve core strength and endurance. 

Although Pilates is best done in a studio with a professional coach, there are also simple stretches you can do from the comfort of your home! Here’s an easy stretch to alleviate stress on your neck! First, sit cross-legged on a soft surface. Then, with your right hand, gently pull your neck to the right while stretching your left arm behind your back. Repeat on each side for ten seconds. 

Do you feel better? For more simple exercises to tone your body, surf through YouTube channels and blogs about Pilates or visit a nearby Pilates studio and start polishing your posture.