Running Head: The Benefits And Development Of The Fletcher Pilates Method
In a modern world where technology constrains people’s work lifestyles to sitting all day in front of a computer, the practice of Pilates emphasizes movement. As Ron Fletcher states, “Movement should be approached like life – with enthusiasm, joy and gratitude – for movement is life, and life is movement, and we get out of it what we put into it” (Fletcher & Ebert, 1978). In the 1920’s, Joseph and Clara Pilates founded Pilates as a form of physical conditioning focused on Body Contrology (Pilates & Miller, 1960). Contrology involves “a complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit” in order to gain rhythm and control of one’s own body, a process only accomplished with both patience and persistence (Pilates & Miller, 1960). After Joseph Pilates founded his work, Pilates branched and was revolutionized by first-generation Pilates master teachers such as Romana Kryzanowska, Kathy Grant, and Ron Fletcher (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.). Ron Fletcher revolutionized Pilates through his legacy of evolving the Pilates method and establishing an expansive educational program impacting many countries around the world today (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.).
The Fletcher lineage of the Pilates method evolved into a prominent emphasis on breathing while maintaining attention on the alignment of the body. Ron Fletcher was born in 1921 and was as an exceptional choreographer and dancer until he experienced a chronic injury to his knee (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.). To treat the injury, he met the founders of Pilates who taught him the fundamentals of Body Contrology and eventually continued the Pilates movement to the next generations (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.). Fletcher reformed Pilates by developing Floorwork and Towelwork – machine-less forms of Pilates that incorporated elements of dance and movement (Fletcher & Ebert, 1978). Fletcher’s work made Pilates more accessible to the general public; according to a reporter, “If Fletcher hadn’t come up with a way for people to practice the method without needing the equipment, [people] probably wouldn’t have heard of Pilates at all” (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.). Due to this crucial evolvement of Pilates, Pilates is now internationally recognized as a popular form of physical conditioning.
Pilates is a unique method of physical conditioning that yields a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Kyria Sabin, recognized as a Master Pilates Teacher taught directly by Ron Fletcher himself, asserts that “anyone – from elite athletes to those bound to a wheelchair can practice Pilates” (Sabin, 2018). This vast versatility comes from “a great appreciation for the discipline it takes to achieve of a sense of freedom of movement,” which is possible through a consistent practice of Pilates (Sabin, 2018). Some of the benefits of Pilates includes a greater control of the physical body movements, higher self-esteem, positive body image, and improved abilities to concentrate and limit distractions (Pilates & Miller, 1960). Students of Ron Fletcher discuss the freedom they gained, replacing the restraints from body weight and measurements with the concepts of rising and body awareness (Fletcher & Ebert, 1978). Fletcher taught his classes in a “precise, bio-mechanically correct and aesthetically focused” manner that allowed his students to realize that indeed, every body is beautiful in its own ways (Sabin, 2018). The benefits that one may acquire from learning Pilates extend beyond just the physical health benefits and truly challenges the mind and spirit to achieve both strength and grace.
Ron Fletcher’s further development of Pilates throughout his career stressed the importance of breathing. He taught the principles of good breathing, which stemmed from percussive breathing. Fletcher proclaimed that breathing was vital for three main reasons: breathing is a mechanism for replenishing the body’s blood with fresh oxygen, breathing strengthens the core, and breathing restores posture (Fletcher & Ebert, 1978). In addition to breathing, Fletcher further developed Pilates in his career by founding Fletcher Pilates and endorsing an international educational program for it (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.). The Fletcher Pilates Program of Study is approved by the PSAP, Pilates School Approval Program, and is licensed as a Private Postsecondary School in the state of Arizona (Fletcher Pilates, n.d.). The program provides new teacher training and continuing education for specific courses in Fletcher Pilates.
In conclusion, Pilates is a practice of physical conditioning that targets more than just the physical body but all parts of an individual’s health and wellness in life. Ron Fletcher’s contribution to the modern Pilates revolution has greatly impacted people’s willingness to try out Pilates. Removing the necessity of machines, Fletcher’s version of Pilates makes it accessible for everyone while still highlighting the significant principles of Contrology. Fletcher Pilates remains true to its origins by grounding itself on the Pilates principles: awareness, balance, breath, centering, concentration, control, flowing motion, oppositional energy, precision, rhythm, endurance, and spirit (Pilates & Miller, 1960). Percussive breathing keeps the movement flowing and synchronized, allowing individuals to delve further into the exercises. Furthermore, the development of Pilates by Fletcher since Joseph and Clara Pilates has been progressive and has moved forward though the investments in future teachers and studios. As the practice of Pilates advances and spreads, Ron Fletcher’s vision that people will acquire improved breathing, body awareness, girdles-of-strength, body alignment, and eating will also extend throughout the world (Fletcher & Ebert, 1978). As Ron Fletcher has said, “Every body can be improved, inside and outside, because the body potential is hardly ever realized” (Fletcher & Ebert, 1978).
Fletcher Pilates. (n.d.). Pilates Education. Retrieved from https://fletcher-pilates.worldsecuresystems.com/
Fletcher, R. A., & Ebert, A. (1978). Every Body is Beautiful. Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Pilates, J. H., & Miller, W. J. (1960). Return to Life Through Contrology. Boston: Christopher Pub. House.
Sabin, Kyria. (2018, November 20). Email interview.