On this episode I speak with pilates expert Tracey Katona. She shares with use the history of pilates, her background as a professional ballerina, and how some of the best athletes in the world like Lebron James and Antonio Brown use pilates to make them better athletes.
Tracey started ballet at the age of 5. She knew that she wanted to be a professional ballerina so she told her mother that she needed lessons at a performing arts school. After a 12 year career as a professional ballerina, Tracey retired and began her career as a pilates instructor at the Nike world headquarters.
I asked Tracey if she ever had negative pressures during her ballet days to look a certain way or to make unhealthy choices. She said she saw some of it, but also some of that has to do with people who just don’t have the genetic makeup to make a career out of it. She said she loves basketball but no matter how much she wants to be in the NBA she just won’t because she doesn’t have the physical assets that make it possible. Tracey doesn’t deny there are pressures to look a certain way but she feels that is present in many sports. Tracey feels that people with bad eating disorders probably would have had them if they didn’t do ballet and those with a serious eating disorder wouldn’t be able to keep up with the physical demands of the sport either. Tracey says that the ballet industry is much more educated now on the subject of fitness and nutrition and they do a much better job of keeping such issues in check than they have in the past.
I asked Tracey to give us a background of where pilates came from. She tells us Joseph Pilates born in 1883 created his methods to help himself be more fit. He also used his methods to help prisoners of WWI develop their fitness. After the war he came to New York and opened up a studio. He made friends with higher ups of the New York City Ballet and dancers would come to him for rehab.
Pilates is intended to teach you how to acquire complete control of your own body through proper repetitions of the pilates exercises. You progressively acquire natural rhythm and coordination. Pilates supplements your sport by enhancing movement, power and endurance.
As Tracey describes how a typical session with her is set up I note that the similarities of other philosophies. The focus on the feet, addressing asymmetries, importance of the core, and breathing. Tracey focuses on good human movements and teaches her students to be more efficient movers. This work translates into everyday life and most certainly will help improve performance in any sport her students compete in.