25 Jan Joe Pilates, reincarnated
From 11th to 15th February, Benjamin Degenhardt will be in Hong Kong to lead Classical Pilates teacher training, Trio classes and the Happy Feet, Floating Pelvis workshop on the final Monday. Who is Benjamin? He’s no ordinary Pilates teacher. As scientific, rigorous and passionate as Joe Pilates, he has dedicated his Pilates trainings to recreating the original, fundamental teachings in a modern context. The bottom line is, today this is as close as you’ll get to learning Pilates from the master himself.
Pilates has come a long way since Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) created the art and science of Contrology. However, for Benjamin the original teachings are absolutely key. He has exhaustively researched Joe Pilates’ life and trainings in order to bring to the method, which was described by Joe Pilates as “rigorously scientific, in accord with the dictates of human anatomy and physiology,” as purely as possible into the modern understanding of movement and fitness. Former dancer and dance trainer, a historian, a scientist and an entrepreneur, he developed 360° Pilates and it is hailed around the world as truly inspirational.
Benjamin firmly believes that Joe Pilates was ahead of his time in having created a repertoire of exercises that are so holistic. That is to say, Pilates is not only a physical practice that works every part of the body, but the method includes a strong emphasis on mental discipline and what Joe Pilates called “zest”.
“Yes, you get strong and flexible and all, but it’s that spring in your step, the glow on your skin, and the smile on your face that a good movement practice is all about – “spontaneous zest and pleasure”, as Joe said,” replied Benjamin in an interview with US Pilates instructor Andrea Maida.
Focusing in on alignment and correct movement really does require as much mental as physical concentration during a Pilates class, and the Happy Feet, Floating Pelvis workshop will be exploring the importance these two play in optimising performance. You may be surprised at how effectively working on the mechanics of the feet can improve the function of the knee and allow the pelvis and spine to self-correct and therefore work optimally.
That slow, focused movement is key to Joe Pilates’ teachings. Benjamin keeps that philosophy alive in his training, writing in one of his blogs, “…Stay focused, and embrace the magic of slow and what it can teach you about yourself.”
Benjamin is in awe of The Hundred and Joe Pilates’ belief that if an exercise is impossible it is proof of its benefit. Benjamin states that The Hundred is not only great for warming up, coordination, abdominal work and breathing, but also priming the body and mind for exercises like The Roll Up, The Roll Over, The Teaser.
He said, again in Maida’s interview, that, “If done right, The Hundred is near impossible! If done right, it turns on all of your body’s systems in less than a heartbeat. If done right, it might be all you need to do that day because it’s a full-body workout. If done right, it sets you up for more success in all the other exercises, and in your life—because being able to unweight the body off the ground against gravity with central axis and breath control is at the heart of almost every movement we make in everyday life.
“It is one of the best full-bodied movement, power, and strength assessments, all the while being a complete warm-up that activates all of the body’s systems in 30 seconds.
“It’s everything a good exercise should be – simple, but not easy.”
And isn’t that Pilates in a nutshell?
The Happy Feet, Floating Pelvis workshop runs from 11.45am to 1pm on Monday 15th February. To learn more about this workshop and find out how to sign up read here.
Join one of Benjamin’s Trio classes (reformer classes for three people) at One Island South at the following times:
Thursday 11th, 10am
Friday 12th, 1pm
Monday 15th, 8.30am
Or additional times can be added on demand.