As the popularity of pilates increases ten-fold in our facilities, so does the need for a smart and fun form of fitness that keeps our kids focused.
Despite all of the opportunities for our children to “get out there”
and join a sports team, go to the school track, or simply play outside
– today’s society is bombarded with technology that is often more
appealing. Children are easily enticed by video games, television, and
MP3 players. But unfortunately these modern activities are far from
beneficial to our children’s physical development, and are being
attributed to lackluster grades and overall poor performance at
As a result, many parents have concerns regarding their children’s
physical conditioning and self-confidence – as well as the lack of
programs available at fitness facilities or schools that specifically
target core strength, coordination, balance and flexibility. Not to
mention something that’s going to keep their interest for more than
This is where Pilates comes into play, literally. Pilates is the very
form of exercise that works the entire body with emphasis on
function for overall health. And parents are taking note for
“Pilates allows youths
to learn about their
bodies and how it
works – and gives them
something to strive for.”
– Moira Merrithew
What is Pilates?
Pilates (pronounced Pi-lah-tees) was created by Joseph H. Pilates
in the 1920s. It is a system of body conditioning moves that
strengthens the core and brings the mind-body connection to the
forefront through numerous unique exercises. STOTT PILATES® is a
contemporary, anatomically-based approach to Joseph Pilates’
original exercise method which caters to people of all ages, all body
types, and all fitness abilities. Youths in particular can benefit from
this form of exercise because it helps prevent injury, and develops
flexibility, coordination, balance and endurance. Perfect for the
younger generation during their growing years.
According to the 2007 IDEA Fitness Programs and Equipment
Survey, 68 percent of facilities surveyed have Pilates as one of their
program offerings. This is a 49 percent increase compared to when
IDEA first started tracking Pilates back in 1999.
“The growth of Pilates has increased tremendously in fitness
facilities in general, and as more and more children are exposed to
Pilates through clubs, schools or other environments, the growth in
Pilates programming for children will too,” comments the Executive
Director of IDEA Health and Fitness Association, Kathie Davis.
The Inspiration of Children
Motor development has always been an integral part of how
Pilates instructors evaluate their clients’ fitness abilities – and how
they create their clients’ individual training regimens. Furthermore,
helping children become aware of their bodies from the inside-out is
crucial to their overall development – and learning how their body performs and functions is not only important from an educational perspective, but
interesting to a child as a whole.
Pilates is designed for both the non-athletic child as well as the competitive teen.
STOTT PILATES President and CEO, Lindsay G. Merrithew, says Pilates is a smart way
of getting children to participate in exercise because it caters to their various ages,
fitness levels, and athletic abilities.
“Pilates is great for teens getting into highly competitive sports. It is the ideal
complimentary activity for high school athletes who participate in hockey, rowing,
basketball and swimming among others. For younger kids, Pilates is a superb individual
activity because it enables kids to feel successful at something. And once they’re
successful in one area this generally carries over to other areas of their life.”
Benefits of Youths
Pilates helps children gain awareness of their body and its workings. Pilates
improves the way the body functions, looks and feels – and knowing one’s body inside
and out can lead to greater self-esteem. Also, most people may not be aware that
Pilates can assist with weight management issues in younger people because this form
of exercise strengthens and lengthens core muscles without adding bulk. So children
can learn to love their bodies no matter what.
Another benefit of Pilates for youngsters is that it helps prevent injury on the
playground or on the court – and is the basis for improving posture, and increasing
strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Pilates also gives children a “different” kind of physical activity to enjoy because it
can be done on everything from a ball, to a mat, to various types of equipment. So kids
find Pilates to be a fun form of fitness and that in itself will keep a child’s interest.
But perhaps one of the most important benefits for children is
increased focus. Being able to center the breath, hold various
positions for a certain amount of time, and concentrate on
mind-body fitness are cornerstones for youths to challenge their
energies into one activity. Pilates does exactly this and more. This
form of fitness provides the perfect physical and mental platform
necessary for children to excel in athletics and in school.
“The emphasis on breathing allows us to focus our minds on what
our bodies are doing. Pilates is all about using breath more
effectively so we can increase awareness and focus in our every day
lives,” explains Moira Merrithew, STOTT PILATES co-founder and
Master Instructor Trainer. “Children can learn the importance of
focus and concentration with Pilates and also gain a sense of
fulfillment or success at a level they can relate to.”
The End Result
It’s true that when you take care of your body by eating right and
exercising, you get healthier overall. This is what Pilates can do for
children and teens, no matter what their fitness level or athleticism.
Regular exercise makes your body strong and flexible, helps you think
more clearly and makes you feel more confident. Pilates helps children
develop a general grasp on the importance of connecting the
mind and body with fitness – and such benefits are clearly in the
interest of building a solid foundation for an active, healthy life.
Pilates isn’t just about the exercise – it’s about the experience with
oneself and what one gets out of it. At any age.
The STOTT PILATES DVD entitled Fitness Fun: Pilates for Kids is the
perfect tool for children to be introduced to Pilates. It’s a fun and
original routine of gentle stretching and strengthening moves that is a
great way to set kids up for a lifetime of health and well-being.
Another workout that is appropriate for teens is the new
Mini Flex-Ball™ DVD. For more information on these fine titles, visit