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The workout, originally created for dancers, trains athletes to develop their core to hold up the body and avoid muscle stress
AFTER A KNEE operation, triathlon coach Peter Gonzalez took up Stott Pilates, and got results. ?I got back my old form in a shorter time,? he says.

Gonzalez explains that in a triathlon, the large muscle groups in the back, legs and buttocks get worked out, while the core (abdominals and lower back) tends to be neglected.

Through Stott Pilates, he realized that the core muscles hold up the body and protect it from weight-bearing stress. He could sustain his runs at a fast and even pace. In cycling, his lower back no longer hurts even if he takes four-hour rides.

Gonzalez?s team, Bike Kings, is girding for the CamSur Ironman 70.3 in August. For cross-training, they do Stott Pilates at the new Options Studio, which specializes in movement-based exercises.

Sought-after trainer

Pilates is about releasing contracted muscles, and securing, priming and articulating the spine and joints. The classical Pilates is based on the exercises of the founder Joseph Pilates. Stott Pilates is based on classical Pilates, with modifications customized to the client?s body and objectives. It is closer to physical therapy, although the program can be designed for an elite athlete?s cross training.

Options? senior instructor Jerald Jocson began teaching Pilates at 18, making him the youngest to be accredited in Stott history. At 23, he is sought after because of his thoroughness and exacting standards. He explains that Stott Pilates is based on the principles of proper breathing, which are deep and expansive, correct placement of the pelvis, rib cage, shoulders and neck.

The emphasis is on keeping the spine in its natural curve and the pelvis in a neutral position to avoid injuries or pain. Getting a toned body is a byproduct.

In the first session, clients are given a detailed postural analysis. The instructors are trained to look at bones or muscles that are out of place and weak, or tight areas. ?There?s no such thing as a typical workout here,? says Jocson. While other fitness systems tend to follow a standard routine, Stott Pilates at Options devises the workout according to how the client looks, or their activities previous to their session.

Most exercises work on the larger and more superficial muscles, usually to create a sculpted look or to add bulk. Stott Pilates, on the other hand, concentrates on simultaneously recruiting the local stabilizing muscles, the outer core muscles that control the range of motion, and the big muscles that make the body move.

Most of Jocson?s clients are people with chronic pain or who are undergoing rehabilitation in the spine or joints. The workout is gentler, less weight bearing, with focus on control and stability. He cites a former nurse who complained of back pain due to carrying heavy loads. After several sessions, the client?s back got stronger, and she now engages in ballroom dancing.

Quick recovery

Since January, Jocson has been working with the Bike King group. ?The program can also be designed to prepare the body for a functional activity,? says Jocson. ?Stronger bodies can take more load and do a wider range of movements. Since these athletes have strong muscles, I focus on firing the smaller muscles,? says Jocson.

Stabilizer muscles aren?t directly included in carrying a weight, but instead hold certain parts of the body steadfast so that the major working muscles can perform efficiently.

Jocson examined their posture in their sport and checked their alignment. The triathletes? workout also addresses their injuries. Strengthening the stabilizer muscles minimizes harmful joint problems and builds a solid body framework, says Jocson.

Young businessman Fritz Martinez already notes the difference after his initial session. When he complained of his knee pain, Jocson explained the connection of the muscles and bones around the pelvis and thighs and how they affect the knee. Taking his trainer?s advice, he tried not to rotate his knee. ?The nagging pain disappeared,? he says.

Portfolio manager Sandra Gonzalez says she?s cycling faster and smoother with less effort. ?I don?t need to double my time and energy to bike as fast as I want,? she says. ?Pilates makes up for the times I can?t bike or swim.?

A former national athlete, Sandra suffered from broken collar bones and shoulder injuries from bike accidents. The exercises made her more conscious of proper placement and alignment. ?Pilates has helped me restore my balance,? she adds.

Banker Roselina Joson has tried Stott Pilates with other trainers, and is very happy with Jocson. ?Jerald asks what you?ve done earlier. He knows which muscles are tired and which we can use some more.?

In the past, she would do a 10-km run off the bike in one hour. ?For the first time, I did 58 minutes in the 10-km run off the bike. I can last longer. I don?t get tired so easily because a strong core keeps you in running form.?

She also bounced back quickly from a stress fracture on her foot after doing Pilates? rehab exercise. It also helps that Pilates improves muscle tone. ?You can wear a bikini after the race,? says Joson.

Options and We International Philippines (WEIP) are holding anusara yoga master classes with Pimrat Swatewacharkul on April 19 and 20. Registration fee is P1,200 per session. Proceeds go to WEIP..

Options is located at 15f, Tower 2 RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati, tel. nos. 585-1404, 553-3314 and 0917-874-6888.