Why I Prefer Pilates Over Yoga—Plus The Hardcore Lowdown By Pro-Instructors Ana Caban And Cassey Ho
Pilates is a physical practice or way of exercise invented by Joseph Pilates that involves doing a flow of bodyweight training moves on a mat or with pilates machines. It effectively strengthens the core or “powerhouse”, corrects posture, and tones up and stretches major muscle groups as well as deeper, hard to reach smaller muscle groups. While not quite as popular as yoga worldwide which involves a meditative lifestyle transformation as well as physical fitness, many performers, athletes, and even dancers practice pilates for therapy and maintenance. Even ballerina Lisa Macuja has mentioned in her Ballet Manila classes that pilates as a form of exercise for maintaining strength and flexibility was considered complementary for practice and was encouraged amongst dancers.
I’m 35 and people who’ve seen me grow up know I’ve never exactly been the athletic sort. I feel now though that, even as a writer perpetually hunched over her laptop, I am not exactly a hopeless case. I’m not the most instinctively active person around, but I made a drastic shift. In 2013, I first tried doing pilates at home following professional YouTube instructors coupled with running and walking. My zero fitness lifestyle changed dramatically for at least 4-5 months that year—that is until I suddenly contracted dengue after a babysitting visit and lost all progress in 5 days. Pre-confinement I could do almost 50 pushups at good speed and could run in heels. Post-confinement I could barely do 5 pushups off the floor—that’s the crippling aftermath of a blood disease. I wasn’t able to get back in the pilates saddle immediately, but over the last couple of years I’ve found, whenever I spottily choose to get back on the fitness wagon for as long as I can, pilates always gets me rolling again. I always see and feel results within just a few weeks. Energy, balance, and overall physical power all return within a month if I commit to do it at least three times a week.
A question some people asked me before was, “Why not yoga?”. I’m no professional, my view here is purely based on personal experience. While I had a couple of inhibitions, like conflicting belief systems for my part with reservations on the meditative aspect, I also felt like I was already too relaxed a person to be “zen-ed” out even further. As a creative I’m quite the daydreamer, some need to snap me out of it as it is. Prolonged yoga tends to bore me. Holding the poses for strength does interest me but I need something that really charges and wakes me up even while stretching me. I was with Maggie Wilson for a separate shoot and she admitted (while laughing) that she’s not a very “zen” person and while she has done yoga she claims she’s not super into it either. She prefers and believes in basic circuit training coupled with running.
So many negative comments on this video saying that Kim Kardashian’s butt is fake so why would I want to glorify her plastic body??? First of all...this series is called “Cassey tries celebrity workouts” so I wanted to try the workout of the celeb who literally made butts a worldwide obsession, probably skyrocketing the butt implant industry single handedly through her Instagram photos. Whether her butt is real or not (and I think you guys know my stance on this), the workout is tough. Don’t expect to get an instant Kardashian butt out of this for a number of reasons, but mostly, because you don’t have her genetics. I will never have anything near a Kim/Kylie/J-Lo butt EVER - but this isn’t going to stop me from trying to get stronger glutes. The moves are good and I’m doing the entire routine with you, in the gym, with weights. I’m also showing modifications for my people working out at home with no equipment. (Full length workout in bio!) Anyway, if you wanna hate on me for trying something new...eh...I’m tired of explaining myself.
I need something that perks me up more while strengthening me with less of the “empty your mind” stuff—no offense to those who practice. This I found is what pilates always does for me; it charges me consciously while correcting my pathetic posture. Yoga in the long-run is merely supplementary in my workouts. I reserve some of the poses for cool down sessions.
One of the first pilates instructors that got me started in 2013 was Blogilates YouTube channel creator Cassey Ho (almost 2.5M subscribers as of publishing date), a perky pilates professional (Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan mentioned just last week that she’s followed her, too).
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Cassey’s personal pilates idol from DVD set days, other than Mari Winsor, is Ana Caban, who continues to teach pilates globally and online. Ana grossed over $25 million dollars in profit for the company that produced her DVDs back in the day.
When I came upon Cassey Ho featuring Ana in a throwback interview I learned so much more about the history and foundation of pilates as well as a couple of debunked misconceptions. Here are a couple of key excerpts and quotes from that interview:
Cassey: “Talk more about how your background—how you got started…”
Ana: “Pilates was not invented by a dancer. I know there’s this misconception that’s it’s just for dancers—it’s not. What happens is if we’ve hurt ourselves whilst dancing it’s actually helped us get better and get stronger. So what was initially therapy for me and just made me feel good was now my form of exercise and power.”
Ana: “Pilates gives you this core strength, or as Joseph Pilates called it ‘the powerhouse’ strength. When you have this strength as you’re doing pilates it kind of makes anything else you [physically] do in your life better.”
Ana: “I didn’t get certified to do pilates initially, that was something I did later on when I realized wow, this really works for me personally. I was also a school teacher and a dancer so it made sense that I was trained to move my body from plie to three. I was trained to educate people as a teacher, so I was like ‘Why not educate people [on how] to move their bodies…’”
Cassey: “What are some of the misconceptions about Pilates?
Ana: So people think ‘To do pilates don’t you need that really big, expensive, professional equipment? If you’re not using the equipment you’re not doing pilates…—no, no, no. Joseph Pilates developed a series of 34 floor exercises that he called ‘contrology’ or the art of control. It was this nice flow workout that got your whole body toned—what we call pilates now, or pilates mat.
If Cassey [for example] wasn’t strong enough to do a roll-up or her knee hurt or Suzie had this injury or that injury and couldn’t do an exercise; he started to think ‘What can I do to help them get into the exercise?—to give them the support, resistance, or give them the challenge that would make them stronger and better at this’. So he developed what now look like these big devices.”
Ana: “Pilates is not just for ‘chicks’.”
Cassey: “I hate it when they [men] say that. I’m like ‘Come in’ and they’re like ‘right, whatever…’ and within the first ten minutes they’re the ones sweating bullets and grunting.”
Fitness Blender overall fitness instructor Daniel shows that men can do it, too.
Ana: “Joseph Pilates was a man—not saying he couldn’t develop something for a woman, coz he certainly could have—but many of his clients were businessmen. They would come in on the lunch hour in New York City, they’d take off their suits, coats or whatever and jump on the apparatus or the mat and workout with him. Yes, dancers heard about it, actors in New York, and performers started doing it; people like George Balanchine and Martha Graham were big proponents of it. They said their students—when they were injured— would do it for therapy, but it was never just for women, and never just for dancers. It’s very athletic. It’s very, very challenging, and guys, we can kick your butts, too.”
Cassey: “Why do we need to suck in our belly button all the time?”
Ana: “Basically if you train your abs to stick out when you’re doing ab exercises, they’re going to stick out. The idea is if we can keep everything pulled in nice and tight—however you want to phrase it—and do the exercises nice and firm that’s how you’re going to train it.”
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Ana: Part of the beauty of pilates is we incorporate the breath so definitely when you exhale it’s definitely easier to let everything [muscles] down, because you’re pushing, pushing, expelling…using the deepest layer of your abdominals which is through forced expiration or forced exhaling. So if we exhale (Ana demonstrates)…we can really squeeze everything out and everything does tighten up. Using the breath is really a key thing to do to get that tight waist.”
Ana: “Like yesterday, the owner of this studio gave birth and her labor was in 20 minutes. In pilates, some people have felt like they’ve gotten taller. We are not standing at our true height most of us because our lifestyle has us sitting—sitting on our computer, driving our car too long, doing things while we’re rounded over and sleeping poorly while not necessarily doing exercises that will allow us to elongate and strengthen so we can actually sit up tall and train the muscles to hold us up there so that we appear taller. We are decompressing the spine in pilates which can actually give the appearance of length or height.”