Friday, July 27, 2012

Pilates as an Olympic Sport

I love the Olympics!  Summer, Winter, I love them both.  I get so excited for the opening ceremonies.  I watch as many events as I can.  I remember during the Barcelona Olympics nearly crying when they came to a close.  I used to fantasize about being an Olympic gymnast, figure skater or swimmer.  Now with the start of the London Olympics and my involvement in Pilates, it got me thinking: could Pilates be an Olympic sport?

At first it sounds silly.  But then, think about it.  True Pilates follows a specific order.  You have Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Mat Work, Tower Work and Reformer Work.  In order to obtain a Pilates certification you need to pass a practical exam, where you follow the specific order, reps, rhythm and form.  So, couldn't that be an event?  The competing athletes would have to perform the various orders on mat, equipment, etc.  Points would be given and deducted based on performance, just like in the test out to become certified.

Arabesque II - I give myself the Bronze :)

I mentioned this idea to my students during class the last couple of weeks.  At first they laughed, but once I explained it like I did above, they started to get really excited about the idea.  One class brought up that there could be the more strict competition of following specific orders and then also a more "freestyle" competition where the Pilates athletes could add a little modern flair.  It would be several days of competition, just like with gymnastics.

It is also very exciting to think about the fact that so many Pilates practitioners are older, especially in Olympic years.  In my opinion, men and women in their thirties, forties, all the way through their sixties (or nineties!) are much more advanced in Pilates work than their younger counterparts.  How inspiring that a Pilates Olympian could potentially be someone in middle to senior age!

I could really go on and on about the potential of Pilates being an Olympic sport.  True, REAL, Pilates would also be shown to the masses, clearing up so much of the misinformation about what Pilates is, and once again showing the genius of the work that Joe and friends cultivated.  I love watching people do Pilates.  It's beautiful and has such a nice flow to it.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your ideas on what Pilates as an Olympic event should look like.  Would you watch?  Would you train to compete or coach?  Do you think it would help or hinder Pilates practice as a whole?


  1. Pilates is one of the most difficult things to master, and you need a ton of mental power to be able to get through it all! I would say that that takes as much gusto as some of the other Olympic sports out there! I have been training with different Pilates in NYC, and each has their own flair and expertise, and that would make a great competition!

    1. Hi Eliza,
      I see the master trainers performing the work at a competition-level would be amazing! It would definitely keep it exciting and fun.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I'm so glad I saw this. I was just reading in my Pilates Style Magazine about the Olympic Athletes who use Pilates in their training, and the opening sentence in the article stated, "Pilates is not an official Olympic sport (at lest not yet),..." and that got me thinking, it totally COULD and SHOULD be an Olympic sport! I envision it just as you said. Different events depending on equipment just like in gymnastics. I also agree that it would clear up any misunderstandings about what Pilates is. Whenever I start teaching a new group outside of a studio (in, say, a gym or corporate setting), I'm met with a lot of comments like "but I need something that is going to help my bones" or "this is too easy" because they don't yet understand it is a journey and it gets harder as you gain experience. Anyway, here's hoping we someday see this happen!

    1. Hi Becca!
      Thanks for stopping by. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see Pilates in the Olympics? About the comments from new groups--I get that quite a bit, too--but it's also so rewarding when they stick with it and months or years down the line they tell ME how challenging the work is, how it has helped their entire body, etc. And I am like "yep...remember when I told you that when you first started?" Hahaha...I love it!
      See you at the Olympics! ;)


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