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Exercise trends, just like fashions and hairstyles, come and go.

High impact aerobics seem to be out these days, while yoga is fashionably in.

Thigh masters and ab crunchers are out, and exercise balls are in.

And, just like fashions and hairstyles, exercise trends tend to make comebacks, too. Such is the case with Pilates. Pronounced "Pil-ah-teez" after its founder, Joseph Pilates, these 80-year-old stretching and strengthening exercises have resurfaced in gyms and dance studios all over the world in the last several years — including two locations right here in the Quad-Cities.

Founded in 1920 by Joseph Pilates, a physical trainer, the Pilates Method of exercise is a full-body exercise program that uses the abdomen, lower back and buttocks as the body's "power center."

Long revered by dancers (who, incidentally, never stopped doing Pilates over the years), Pilates promises longer, leaner looking muscles.

Basically, there are two ways to perform Pilates: using mat exercises, or using Joseph Pilates' specially designed exercise apparatus (he designed a total of 18 apparatuses.) To date, only the mat classes are available in the Quad-Cities.

Certainly, I was curious about these very interesting looking pieces of equipment, but according to the instructors I spoke with, the Pilates mat workouts are beneficial as well, and help "build strength and flexibility, increase coordination and emphasize and improve body alignment and posture."

Granted, this description doesn't sound like an aggressive form of exercise, but students and instructors alike say the results over time are definitely noticeable.

But before I get into the nitty gritty of the classes I attended, let me first admit how I became interested in Pilates to begin with. For starters, there were the before and after Pilates pictures in a recent issue of Self magazine. Wow! A real woman with a real gut that looked a lot better after 30 sessions.

And there was the knowledge that Hollywood supermodels and dancers partake in this discipline. So began my quest to find a Pilates class in the Quad-Cities.

Luckily, through some fellow sports enthusiasts, I was led to two Quad-City classes taught by two well-qualified women, Gail Diehl, who is certified in the Pilates, Inc./Pilates Studio method, and who teaches out of a physical therapy office in Bettendorf, and Margaret Carton who is certified in the Stott method of Pilates, and teaches at Rock Island's City Center School of the Arts.

Now, figuring out which Pilates method is which, can be confusing. But whatever method you choose, the most important thing is to find instructors who are well qualified, like the two I met. Pilates, Inc./Pilates Studio strictly adheres to the original Joseph Pilates teachings. The Stott method is similar, but calls itself "the contemporary approach to the original works of Joseph Pilates." Both instructor certifications require many hours of class, hands-on teaching time and some very involved testing.

Most of the exercises in each class were the same, with slightly different twists in execution. I tried "the hundred," focusing mostly on abs, "the single straight-leg stretch," focusing on hamstrings, gluteals and abs, and a variety of other exercises with names like, "the hot potato," "the mermaid," and "the boomerang."

Diehl's class also incorporated the use of a resistance ring mostly for leg, hip and arm toning called "the magic circle," which I found to be a challenge in coordination.

I walked away from both classes feeling like I accomplished something. If you think those hundred crunches you've been doing every morning are beneficial, then you'll get a wake up call in Pilates. The ab work will rock your world, but definitely in a good way, starting out slowly and working into more challenging movements once you get the hang of it.

Both Diehl and Carton were athletes to begin with before turning to Pilates. And although they say it's not a substitute for vigorous cardiovascular training, they both have personally benefited from it.

According to Diehl, "It really can change the shape of your body. I had to buy new clothes after I began doing Pilates regularly." She says she lost inches in her hips, thighs and abs.

For Carton, who is also a physical therapist, she says Pilates helps her feel more energized. "For me, it's about posture and stress control," she says. And as a runner, she says that focusing on her ab and back strength has helped her overall performance.

I really liked Pilates, and would recommend it to people of all fitness levels. It reminds me of, as Diehl put it, "a more physical form of yoga."

It's low impact, and once learned correctly, can be done at home — a real plus. And it focuses on most people's "trouble spots."

But the one question that sticks in my mind is, will it survive the test of time, or is it just another fashionable exercise? According to Diehl, Pilates never really went away. "It's survived for 80 years so far, I believe it will continue to have a long life span," she says.

IF YOU GO

Diehl will be winding up her classes this summer, but hopes to offer both beginner and intermediate classes two times per week in the fall. The location is yet to be determined. Call (563) 332-8625 for more information. Cost is $10 per class.

Carton offers beginner classes once per week at the City Center School of the Arts. 617-17th St., Rock Island. Cost is $80 per eight-week session. Class size will be limited to 10. Call (309) 786-2677 for more information.Anne KirkpatrickFitness WitnessExercise trends, just like fashions and hairstyles, come and go.

High impact aerobics seem to be out these days, while yoga is fashionably in.

Thigh masters and ab crunchers are out, and exercise balls are in.

And, just like fashions and hairstyles, exercise trends tend to make comebacks, too. Such is the case with Pilates. Pronounced "Pil-ah-teez" after its founder, Joseph Pilates, these 80-year-old stretching and strengthening exercises have resurfaced in gyms and dance studios all over the world in the last several years — including two locations right here in the Quad-Cities.

Founded in 1920 by Joseph Pilates, a physical trainer, the Pilates Method of exercise is a full-body exercise program that uses the abdomen, lower back and buttocks as the body's "power center."

Long revered by dancers (who, incidentally, never stopped doing Pilates over the years), Pilates promises longer, leaner looking muscles.

Basically, there are two ways to perform Pilates: using mat exercises, or using Joseph Pilates' specially designed exercise apparatus (he designed a total of 18 apparatuses.) To date, only the mat classes are available in the Quad-Cities.

Certainly, I was curious about these very interesting looking pieces of equipment, but according to the instructors I spoke with, the Pilates mat workouts are beneficial as well, and help "build strength and flexibility, increase coordination and emphasize and improve body alignment and posture."

Granted, this description doesn't sound like an aggressive form of exercise, but students and instructors alike say the results over time are definitely noticeable.

But before I get into the nitty gritty of the classes I attended, let me first admit how I became interested in Pilates to begin with. For starters, there were the before and after Pilates pictures in a recent issue of Self magazine. Wow! A real woman with a real gut that looked a lot better after 30 sessions.

And there was the knowledge that Hollywood supermodels and dancers partake in this discipline. So began my quest to find a Pilates class in the Quad-Cities.

Luckily, through some fellow sports enthusiasts, I was led to two Quad-City classes taught by two well-qualified women, Gail Diehl, who is certified in the Pilates, Inc./Pilates Studio method, and who teaches out of a physical therapy office in Bettendorf, and Margaret Carton who is certified in the Stott method of Pilates, and teaches at Rock Island's City Center School of the Arts.

Now, figuring out which Pilates method is which, can be confusing. But whatever method you choose, the most important thing is to find instructors who are well qualified, like the two I met. Pilates, Inc./Pilates Studio strictly adheres to the original Joseph Pilates teachings. The Stott method is similar, but calls itself "the contemporary approach to the original works of Joseph Pilates." Both instructor certifications require many hours of class, hands-on teaching time and some very involved testing.

Most of the exercises in each class were the same, with slightly different twists in execution. I tried "the hundred," focusing mostly on abs, "the single straight-leg stretch," focusing on hamstrings, gluteals and abs, and a variety of other exercises with names like, "the hot potato," "the mermaid," and "the boomerang."

Diehl's class also incorporated the use of a resistance ring mostly for leg, hip and arm toning called "the magic circle," which I found to be a challenge in coordination.

I walked away from both classes feeling like I accomplished something. If you think those hundred crunches you've been doing every morning are beneficial, then you'll get a wake up call in Pilates. The ab work will rock your world, but definitely in a good way, starting out slowly and working into more challenging movements once you get the hang of it.

Both Diehl and Carton were athletes to begin with before turning to Pilates. And although they say it's not a substitute for vigorous cardiovascular training, they both have personally benefited from it.

According to Diehl, "It really can change the shape of your body. I had to buy new clothes after I began doing Pilates regularly." She says she lost inches in her hips, thighs and abs.

For Carton, who is also a physical therapist, she says Pilates helps her feel more energized. "For me, it's about posture and stress control," she says. And as a runner, she says that focusing on her ab and back strength has helped her overall performance.

I really liked Pilates, and would recommend it to people of all fitness levels. It reminds me of, as Diehl put it, "a more physical form of yoga."

It's low impact, and once learned correctly, can be done at home — a real plus. And it focuses on most people's "trouble spots."

But the one question that sticks in my mind is, will it survive the test of time, or is it just another fashionable exercise? According to Diehl, Pilates never really went away. "It's survived for 80 years so far, I believe it will continue to have a long life span," she says.

IF YOU GO

Diehl will be winding up her classes this summer, but hopes to offer both beginner and intermediate classes two times per week in the fall. The location is yet to be determined. Call (563) 332-8625 for more information. Cost is $10 per class.

Carton offers beginner classes once per week at the City Center School of the Arts. 617-17th St., Rock Island. Cost is $80 per eight-week session. Class size will be limited to 10. Call (309) 786-2677 for more information.

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