Understanding Pilates and Its Benefits

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Interviewer: Tonka, can you explain what Pilates [SP] are and how you have studied them for a long time and taught them and how you've put a little twist on that practice. 

Tonka Cascais: Yes. Pilates was actually originally developed by Joseph Pilates [SP] in the early 1900's and it was a [??] tailored to help the body gain strength and flexibility. Joseph Pilates actually had an extensive background from a medical perspective he was actually a nurse. And he worked with a lot of the injured soldiers before he came to the United States. During World War 1 Pilates as a concept is actually very, very interesting. The body is constantly put through exercises that provide strengthening and flexibility at the same time. I studied Pilates for a really long time I actually started in 1997 with Pilates. and I studied in New York with Romana Cruzenofska [SP] who was Joseph Pilates right hand for 50 years. And really enjoyed the work in Pilates until I reached a point where I started to notice that Pilates works for some people but completely did not work for some people. And usually the people that had the more dysfunction in the body. Pilates did not really help them that much. And this is where I kind of started to gear towards, trying to understand why. And this is actually where I created my own method of teaching Pilates which I call the Propilates Method [SP]. Where the [??] valued it really in detail to find out what is functioning and what is not functioning. And based on that evaluation I'm able to create a strengthening regiment based on Pilates where we use springs as a resistance to help that body achieve that balance before it's challenged further. What's interesting about spring resistance is that with elastimers there is no inertia. Inertia is present while you use free weights or when you use your own body weight. But with spring resistance we actually can achieve really great results with strengthening without the dangers that inertia actually brings to the exercise modality. 

Interviewer: You know a lot of doctors will tell us in order to get healthier diet is big and exercise is big. Lot of people don't know where to start. 

Tonka Cascais: Sure.

Interviewer: You must see that, how do you get people started down the right path. 

Tonka Cascais: I always address nutrition first. When I work with clients, nutrition is number one priority. Food can be very inflammatory for the body. And a lot of times when clients come to me, you know, they experience certain symptoms. Like, maybe pain, tightness, a limitation in range of motion. So my number one priority is to make sure that food is not sabotaging my work. So this is where we kind of like do a quick overview of how they eat. There are certain foods that we take out of their diet immediately and then we proceed from there. The next step, you know, obviously is the physical aspect. And my opinion is that nutrition is 90 percent and that exercise is the missing 10. But here is the thing. Even though it's 10 percent of the overall, you know, health continuum. Exercise is a very, very important part. Which we cannot achieve the benefits that exercise give us. We cannot achieve without having that component and just doing everything through nutrition. So that's how I usually start. Nutrition first, very detailed evaluation next before we proceed to strengthen the body.


Pilates expert Tonka Cascais discusses some history and benefits of pilates. She also touches on some new methods that she's developed as well as her thoughts on how nutrition factors in to pilates and overall health.

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