Pilates celebs: Ali MacGraw

Ali MacGraw starred alongside Ryan O’Neal in Love Story, a classic, oscar-winning film made in 1970.

She was married to Steve McQueen for five years, during which time she didn’t work as an actress. She has devoted much of her later life to animal welfare causes.

Now 80 years old, living in a cottage in Santa Fe, she is looking great! She says that her perfect day starts early, “when she’s awakened by her animals, and might include a Pilates or yoga class in town, followed by an evening at home. “

She started Pilates with Ron Fletcher, one of the Pilates elders, in the late 1970s and featured in his book ‘Every Body is Beautiful’. The book has recently been remade digitally.

Read more about Ali’s life story here.

The Pilates Elders

The Pilates elders are those who trained with Joseph Pilates in his studio in New York in the first part of the 20th century. They went on to found their own studios from where they taught the Pilates Method.

  • Clara Pilates – His wife, who taught alongside him and continued to run the studio after his death
  • Mary Bowen – A student who developed her Pilates teaching in conjunction with her work as a Jungian analyst
  • Robert Fitzgerald – A student and dancer who opened his own studio in New York catering to other dancers
  • Ron Fletcher – A dancer with the Martha Graham company, who opened a studio in Los Angeles where he developed his own style
  • Eve Gentry – Another dancer who developed her own Pilates approach
  • Kathy Grant – One of only two students who was certified to teach by Joseph Pilates himself
  • Jay Grimes – A dancer who studied with Joseph, Clara and later Romana, teaching alongside her
  • Bruce King – A member of the Merce Cunningham dance company who opened his own studio
  • Romana Kryzanowska – A student who later took over his studio focusing on the classical Pilates tradition
  • Lolita San Miguel – The second of the two students who were certified to teach by Joseph Pilates himself
  • Carola Trier – The first person to open her own studio with Joseph Pilates’ personal blessing

I am privileged to have attended training workshops with both Mary Bowen (b. 1930) and Lolita San Miguel (b. 1934), who continue to teach Pilates today.

Strong, Steady and Straight

The Royal Osteoporosis revised their exercises guidelines in spring 2019 for those with low bone density along the principles of:

Strong           weight bearing/impact and muscle resistance exercises to promote bone strength

Steady          balance and muscle strength exercises to prevent falls

Straight        back muscle strength exercises to improve posture and relieve pain

Whilst the strong, steady and straight exercises are helpful for all those with osteoporosis, the priority for exercises within each category differs by individual.

If you have told me that you have posteriors, I will ask you for some additional enrolment information, including your T-score (if you have had a DXA scan).

Pilates offers exercises within each of the above categories and we will work to ensure that you do those exercises that are safe and appropriate for you. There are some exercises that you should avoid, so if you come to mat classes, this means that sometimes you will be doing something different to the rest of the group.

For osteoporosis information and support contact the Royal Osteoporosis Society helpline 0808 800 0035 or visit their website theros.org.uk.

Quote: Physical fitness is…

I mentioned the first part of this quote in an earlier post. Here’s the whole thing:

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.

Joseph Pilates

Breast Cancer and Pilates

I recently attended two days of training about Breast Cancer.

In the UK, 1 in 2 people will get cancer some time in their lives; and 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Risk factors are:

  • age – 80% of breast cancers are in women over the age of 50
  • lifestyle – about 40% of cancers can be prevented by lifestyle choices
  • genetics – 5% are genetic, e.g. BRCA mutation

The number of cancer survivors is growing. By 2030, England will have over 3 million people living with or beyond cancer.

Post-surgery, physiotherapy can help recover maximum movement and function. Beyond any subsequent treatment, exercise can: help improve physical and psychological well-being; improve, function; manage the consequences of treatment; and reduce the risk of other diseases. To resume exercise, start little and often with regard to feeling unwell any discomfort or symptoms that may worry you. The Macmillan website has a Move More Guide.

Once you have moved from patent to survivor, Pilates offers:

  • gradual progression and return to normality
  • regain control of your movements
  • neutral rather than medical environment
  • focus on your whole body
  • regular routine
  • physical confidence
  • social group
  • long term support

Physically, Pilates can help build your muscle mass, improve your strength and endurance, increase your range of movement and energy levels.

If you have had breast cancer, I will ask you to complete a supplementary enrolment form, so I can better understand your treatment and any special considerations that might apply for the exercises that you should do.

Young at Heart

Improvements in public health, education and medicine mean that we are living much longer. By 2035, people aged over 65 living in the UK are expected to exceed 17 million. That will be almost one in four people.

As we age, can we still maintain good health and keep our independence? This is the aim of the Government’s ‘Ageing Society’ Grand Challenge.

One approach to achieving this goal is to encourage us to adopt healthier lifestyles – better diet, more exercise, keeping active in old age – to reduce our risk of disease. A second approach is to identify those who are at most risk of disease or have undiagnosed conditions and to intervene.

Thanks to studies of volunteers from the eastern region, we may be able to spend our extra years living independently and in good health.

Read more in this report from Cambridge University.