Those lucky enough to come across FLexercise generally remain committed to its special way of exercising and moving. They find it curious that other exercise regimes go in and out of fashion like hemlines and hairstyles.
Why is this? Is it because exercise is inherently boring and hopping from one style of class to another keeps things interesting? If so, what is the magic ingredient that keeps FLexercise class members coming back for more?
We believe the FLexercise system is sufficiently fundamental to human movement that it can absorb the essence of current trends without losing sight of its own principles. It can ‘go with the flow’, tuning in with the competition so that members feel sufficiently part of the trend.
FLexercise vs Pilates
The most popular competitor to FLexercise is Pilates. Interestingly there is little difference between the guiding principles of the two systems. Central to both methods is an emphasis on building up a strong core.
Their creators – Joseph Pilates and Mary Bagot Stack – both developed their ideas in the early 1900s; Pilates in Germany and Bagot Stack in England. Both suffered illness as children and used physical exercise regimes to improve their health. Their passionate belief in the value of physical fitness carried them through difficult times in the First World War and shaped their future development.
Both knew that what had worked for them would work for others. But the ways in which they chose to promote their work sowed seeds of difference between the two systems.
Exercise for the elite
In the 1920s Pilates left Germany for New York. He set up a fitness studio that attracted professional dancers, actors, sportspeople, and the rich and famous who came for his personalised workouts.
Pilates remained an exclusive, usually studio-based activity until the 1990s when some of his ‘disciples’ added variations to the core philosophy and exercises, including the now popular mat-work classes.
Fitness for all
Mary Bagot Stack started training teachers in the 1920s before launching her great social movement, the ‘Women’s League of Health & Beauty’, in 1930. Her vision was to reach as many women as possible, making her exercise classes available and accessible to all regardless of background or income.
Here lies the greatest difference between Pilates as it is taught today and FLexercise classes.
Fusing exercise and dance
Bagot Stack believed that her exercise for health system should be the foundation on which to build expressive forms of movement and dance.
Over the years this has led to a fusion which is best expressed as ‘movement’ – somewhere between exercise and dance. Teachers establish ‘central control’ early in the class, then develop whole and harmonious body movement, travelling, and interaction with others.
Music is so important that it merits a place in the list of Principles. Not only does it measure the tempo, music also helps to create the quality of the physical movement and adds enjoyment to the experience.
In Pilates the emphasis is on building an efficient ‘central core’, then progressively challenging it by introducing graduated arm and leg movements and stretches. The activity is concentrated and specific with each person working at their own pace and level. Music is in the background providing atmosphere, not accompaniment.
Best of both
Many FLexercise members see Pilates classes as a chance to ‘go back to the basics’ and perhaps, to enjoy being well ahead of their fellow participants in managing the exercises. That never does anyone any harm!
Those who have built up their physical strength and control with Pilates should come and discover what a pleasure it can be to translate this achievement into action – moving to music, stretching their bodies to the fullest, and enjoying the company of others in a FLexercise class.