The New Pilates “Perfect”

Somewhere along the line, Pilates became synonymous with the “perfect” body. Maybe it’s because the method has been a mainstay in the training regimens of über-toned celebs, ballerinas and professional athletes for decades. Maybe it’s because of Joseph Pilates himself, whose own book references “mortal perfection” and “bodily perfection” in the very first sentence of the intro written by Frederick Rand Rogers. Plus, it’s no secret that Joe was tough on his students and demanded a level of precision most of us could never dream of fulfilling. Maybe it’s because, put simply, a regular Pilates practice will undeniably help you sculpt beautiful, strong muscles.

Whatever the reason for this obsession with perfection, I’m over it. What is a “Pilates-perfect body” anyway? My take: There’s no such thing.

This whole conversation had been going on for years in our editorial office. Although we’ve always featured certified Pilates teachers or serious students on our covers, we really wanted to take a stand against the media’s perpetuation of what a body should and shouldn’t look like, and the notion of a “Pilates body,” but it wasn’t so simple. The harsh reality is that analytics of newsstand sales—which are especially important to niche publications like PS that rely on newsstand support—have shown time and time again that magazines showcasing “thin” (and blond) cover models sell the best. And sometimes, we feel like we can’t win: We get just as much flack from readers for featuring a model with chiseled abs (she can’t be healthy!) as we do for one who’s softer around the middle (she must not really do Pilates if there’s no abdominal definition, right?).

ABOVE: Our two male covers, the first in 2014 featuring Chris Robinson (left), and the second in 2015 featuring Eduard Botha (right).

Against the advice of our newsstand reps, and for the first time ever, in January of 2014, we put a male Pilates teacher on our cover. We did it again in 2015. Were they our best-selling magazines? Nope, not even close, but showing our readers that Pilates is an equal-opportunity system of exercise was more than worth it. (And by the way, we pride ourselves on highlighting a wide range of people, schools of thought, body types, etc., in every issue.)

This issue’s group cover (shown above)—featuring Madeline Black (front), Brett Howard (back), Anula Maiberg (left) and a pregnant Andrea Speir (right)—has been years in the making and a labor of love. All four of these awe-inspiring individuals live and breathe the work of Joseph Pilates, yet they couldn’t be (or look) more different. The message we want you to hear, to internalize, is that the Pilates method does not discriminate. It will change your life for the better, no matter how old you are, whether you’re green or blue, a size two or 22, injured or in tip-top shape. Pilates is for all bodies, none of which will ever be “perfect.” Perfect is impossible, but feeling amazing on the inside and out? That’s at your fingertips, thanks to Pilates.

See ya on the mat,



Bambi Abernathy

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