Pilates and Olympics? A Win!

Who doesn’t love the Olympics? The Winter Olympics are unique in that we get the opportunity to look on as the greatest athletes in the world compete in snowy, icy sports--many of which are obscure (curling, anyone?)--and fight for a spot on the podium, bringing pride to their nations.

Every four years, we get to see balls of muscles barrel down the luge at 90 miles per hour, or figure skaters deliver inspirational routines of strength and precision that most people couldn’t even accomplish on their living room floors. As we root for our country to bring home the gold, we at Emerald City Pilates tend to view the Olympics from a slightly different vantage point—through the eyes of Pilates instructors—so we’d like to coach you up on how the practice can have a direct effect on the superheroes who compete on the world’s biggest stage.

 Figure Skating

We’ll start with a crowd favorite, figure skating. Johnny Weir, decorated American figure skater and Olympic commentator, said, “I start every day with Pilates. In my sport, your body has to be small up top and larger on the bottom, to maintain your center of gravity when you’re jumping or rotating. Pilates helps me do that. Plus, it doesn’t bore me,” according to lambdalegal.org. Center of gravity is everything in figure skating. If a skater loses control, even for a moment, it could mean sacrificing a few tenths of a point that might cost them a medal, or a nasty fall onto the ice that could transform an otherwise beautiful routine into a disaster. Pilates offers proprioceptive awareness that allows for skaters to make quick adjustments in mid-air, improve their balance, and learn to apply their core strength to each movement, which is more than enough reason for all ice queens and kings to sign up at their local studios.

Luge

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What do you know about Alex Ferlazzo, the highest-finishing Australian luge athlete in history? Well, he started his career because his mom took a Pilates class. That’s right—she met the Australian luge team recruiter at Pilates one day, and soon after, her son was trying out for the team. However, talking about luging in the Pilates studio isn’t enough. It’s a dangerous sport, flying down an ice slide at 90 miles per hour on a sled with nothing to protect them, so these athletes better make sure their training is on point. Their powerhouses must be in tip-top condition, in order to help them stay on the sled and navigate the twists and turns of the course. Then, once the competition is over and the competitors’ necks are stiff from all that luging, Pilates can help relieve any pain and tension that might come with the territory.

Hockey

The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team just took the gold in Korea! We’re proud of their accomplishment, and excited about what the future might hold for those ladies. When it comes to Pilates, all hockey players could benefit from the practice, especially with the array of training opportunities the Reformer has to offer. Since total body strength is a must for hockey athletes, Pilates on the ball, on the mat, or on the Reformer are all beneficial practices, but the Reformer offers sport-specific exercises to improve dribbling, scoring, and stability on the ice.

The next time you sit down to watch an Olympic event, see if you can point out how a Pilates practice can help improve the athletes’ performances!