Fads, in fitness or fashion, come and go. But Pilates and its myriad forms of movements and various contortions, is here to stay. It’s a little like the saying “lovers may come and go, but friends stick around.” That being said, we Baby Boomers have been bombarded by every different exercise fad since the early 1970s, from Jane Fonda to Calinetics to Lottie Berk. We recall the popular Gilda Marx (loved those leotards). Of course, there was the exercise pioneer and guru, Jack La Lanne, who I had the pleasure of working with; the very vivacious, flamboyant Richard Simmons, who is still found in his signature shorts and kinky hair. I had the great fortune of working with Richard, and traveling on a fitness glasnost to the Soviet Union, now Russia, before the fall of the Communist Regime. Who can forget the Thigh Master, Suzanne Somers, who I taught Pilates to at the Ron Fletcher Studio. Then there was the Pineapple Diet, Body Wrapping, body detoxing—to name a few more! And the trends are still trending. Some are crazy, some not so crazy.
But one thing remains, and continues to grow in popularity. Pilates! Why? For one thing, many of us Boomers are experiencing, dare I say, frailties in our bodies. Frailties that we never thought we would experience. Weak backs, knobby knees, frozen shoulders, big stomachs, and oh—stiffness, stiffness, stiffness!
What exactly does Pilates do for us? For one important thing, it keeps us going and going and going—sort of like the Energizer Bunny! And we won’t hurt ourselves in the process. If instructed properly, we can still do Pilates into our very old age, despite whatever is going on with our bodies. Bunny Mellon, the widow of billionaire Andrew Mellon and more than 100 years old, told Vanity Fair that she still does her Pilates regimen every day. She was fortunate enough to have studied with the master himself, Joseph Pilates, back in the 1940s!
Why has Pilates remained popular? Because, out of all the old trends and other exercise fads, all they have ever claimed to offer is already neatly packaged in the Pilates repertoire. You could say it’s one-stop shopping. Remember the aerobics craze from the ’80s? You can achieve the same benefits from doing the Jumpboard—and you can even wear a sweatband! If you can find one, that is.
Want to lift your booty? Any number of exercises will lift your booty, from Leg Lifts to the Cadillac Leg Series. That Thigh Master in the attic? Try the Magic Circle, and let it tone your legs as well as your upper body—all while you sit at your desk!
Yes, Pilates is here to stay. Whether you are a weekend warrior, an athlete, or a stay-at-home… well… grandmother, keep your mind and body in tip-top shape.
Yes, we thought we could have it all—the career, the family, the youth. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” was the theme of the Boomers, as well as “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees. Is that John Travolta with grey hair? Ali MacGraw past 70? Whatever did happen to Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross as they rode off in the bus in The Graduate?
The fact is there are always seasons and trends, fads and flavors of the month. But, for us Boomers, Pilates is a rock solid health and fitness regimen we can use, follow, and abide by—knowing its benefits are longevity, happiness and vitality.
Joseph Pilates knew this back in the 1920s. We are just now starting to reap its rewards and take notice of its solidarity. Keep flexible in mind, body and spirit. Stay strong in mind, body and spirit, and, as Pilates himself said, “Health is the prerequisite of happiness.” And, for a man who lived well into his ’80s, and who looked and felt like he was 35, I’ll take his opinion over anything.