“Is it better to be flexible or strong?”
I am often asked this. The answer is that we are asking the wrong question. Let’s ask instead,” When is it appropriate to be strong and stable and when do we need to be supple and mobile?”
It may seem that a weight lifter needs to be strong and a dancer needs mobility. However, the truth is that all bodies must be able to become rigid and safe in a static position and be safe as they move through movements.
The weight lifter requires a complex range of motion in the hips and shoulder girdle, while simultaneously having extraordinary stability of the core and spinal column. The dancer needs to be fluid through movements. The planes of fascia need to work harmoniously to create seamless flow, while maintaining a tensile strength to defy gravity in aesthetically pleasing ways.
There are endless examples of physical endeavours where stability, strength and integrity in posture are combined with mobility and movement within an integrally safe range.
Pilates uses safe positions through which we can learn and progress our skill in deciding between mobility and stability. While athletes and dancers will have a conditioning program to suit their activities, most of us must discover our skills on our own. So, while in our Pilates classes, try the different positions and identify where you are asking your body to be fluid (e.g. rolling like a ball or roll downs) and where you are asking it to be ridged and stable (e.g. planks or bird dog). Simply identifying the goal of each position as you train will increase your body awareness and significantly improve your learning.