Pilates the Movie

Amy demonstrating a Pilates exerciseMargaret and David (aka Paul & Amy) review ‘A Movement of Movement’ – a documentary about Pilates.  See the video here. Pilates the Movie: Review by Margaret and David


A Movement about Movement is a documentary by filmmaker Mark Pedri about Pilates.  The film focuses on the origins of Pilates, its founder Joseph Pilates, and what the essence of Pilates really is. During the film we hear from one of the elders – an original student of Joseph Pilates – and other highly experienced instructors about their views of what Pilates is and should be.

Throughout the film we hear about the amazing Joseph Pilates, a man who overcame illness as a child to transform himself into a supremely physically fit man by undertaking a range of exercises.  Many exercises were his own original ideas and some were inspired by a host of other exercise regimes including yoga. What is clear is that Joseph Pilates was not really recognised during his lifetime. It was not until Pilates became a worldwide exercise hit – over three decades after Joe’s death – that he became recognised for his work and ingenuity.

The law suit of 2000 was instrumental in allowing trainers to use the word Pilates to market what they taught.  The US court decision followed an attempt by a Pilates studio owner to restrict the use of the word Pilates via Trademark. The suit failed and now any Pilates teacher can use the word to describe what they do. Whilst this was a good outcome in that it allowed for the spread of this fabulous exercise system, the film emphasises that teachers have an obligation to really understand what Pilates is and teach its true method and spirit.

The film talks about earlier years of Pilates where dancers took to it, but the emphasis for them was on perfecting the movements like it was a competition which is not surprising given they were used to being evaluated and critiqued. But Pilates is not about perfecting the technique like gymnastics.  Instead its about understanding how the movement makes you feel and how it strengthens your body. It’s far more important that you become good at understanding how to activate core muscles when moving than it is perfecting a move like its an Olympic routine.  It is a good idea to encourage clients to translate what they have learned in the studio to the rest of their life. That may include posture, breathing and generally moving day to day.

Translating Pilates to other activities in life is one of its greatest benefits.  Seeing the NBA players using it was a very useful addition to this film because it showed that Pilates can really assist  athletic performance and improve flexibility.  We know Chris Judd, Carlton captain, used it to help his injuries and subsequently his sporting career.

A Movement about Movement showcases Pilates in a way that we haven’t seen before.  Whilst some may have looked at the advanced moves demonstrated in the movie and been intimidated, on balance the film underlines the point that Pilates is a highly accessible exercise regime for almost anyone and can benefit us way beyond the mat.

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