Strengthen your body’s core with Pilates

Bosnia-born Pilates instructor Vesna Jacob found herself having hit rock-bottom when, as a national-level basketball player, she injured her knee and a botched-up surgery led to the end of her sports career. Having found Pilates, a system of exercise that strengthens core, she recovered and has now been teaching it in India for 17 years.

Delhi-based Jacob takes us through the journey of what she does and how she chose Pilates against any other exercise.

Formulated earlier last century by Joseph Pilates, this fitness system is as much for healthy and athletic individuals as those on the spectrum’s other end. Pilates aims to strengthen one’s core muscles as a balanced engagement to keep one healthy and strong.

“The exercises are classically done on the floor and the focus is on the precision of the movement. The exercises must be from the core with core engagement as a central point and then you’re paying attention to the periphery,” Jacob said.

What’s so unique?

“The difference is that usually when you’re looking at any other exercise, it’s usually for the legs or thighs or arms, and then you spend the last 10 minutes doing some abs.

“Pilates is all about the core muscles — which are deep abdominal muscles, back muscles as well the muscles of the pelvic floor and shoulder girdle. Then you’re adding the peripheral muscles to it, so your entire body is supposed to be working all the time, while stabilizing the body with attention to active movement,” said Jacob.

As a physiotherapist and fitness expert, Jacob help people get fit bodies.

After 25 years into the world of fitness, she is married to an Indian and spends her days teaching Pilates as a holistic exercise.

What keeps her rooted to Pilates?

The sheer joy of having a body which is not just pain-free but also constantly getting stronger.

Although Pilates is not as popular in India as its counterparts like yoga and aerobics, why Jacob recommends this regime of fitness is because it is something “you can do your entire life, and at any stage of your life, and in any condition”.

“People in India tend to have a more comfortable lifestyle. You have someone to clean your house, sweep your floors, cook your food, so that essential movement is taken away from you,” said Jacob.

With a wide spectrum of clients — ranging from male, female, young, old to people recovering from spinal surgery, as well as professional athletes — the question is how well the instructor adjusts Pilates to each need.

“Pilates is not as popular in India as it is the West. In the West, it’s one of the must-do things, in addition to everything else you might be doing.

“It keeps you healthy, keeps recovering you, keeps strengthening your core, so you can do other things without getting injured,” said Jacob.