Knowing Pilates earlier, I would have been a more successful athlete.

I never thought that I would be a teacher who would be advising people on how to listen to their bodies, how to improve them from the outside, and how to repair and heal them using the Pilates method. It wasn’t my goal in life, especially when I was involved in performance and team sports. But the serendipity of actually coming to my first Pilates class, after the end of my career, also caused by injury, showed me a path that allowed me to stay with the sport and even get better. 

 On a team, when things go wrong, there is a system of collective blame and rarely does anyone point fingers at you. To this day, I don’t know where the energy and determination came from to step into the unknown, trade the comfort of anonymity and become a mentor to my clients in an industry I didn’t know until I was thirty, and eventually an entrepreneur who recklessly opens her studio a month after covid restrictions are loosened.

What intrigued me the most initially was how the Pilates method addresses the whole body holistically. There is a harmony and balance in the routines, it doesn’t happen that any part of the body is overloaded, the exercises build on each other and if your body is not ready, it simply won’t let you do the harder exercises. 

I didn’t know that from volleyball. Since all sports are one-sided in a way, it’s easy to overlook the nascent muscular imbalances that often mean a performance hindrance, but also the development of serious injuries that can end an athlete’s career.

Moreover, as in fashion, elite sport is influenced by changing trends in physical training over the years. At first, there was still the post-Soviet model that gaining fitness was equivalent to bringing an athlete to rock bottom during training. This was followed by a period when everything was based on ridiculously heavy strength training, which did not take into account the purpose of muscle building. Then came the trend of exercising a different muscle part of the body every day. Of course, everyone had to work the same amount, no matter what condition they were in, what their physical constitution was, and so on.

In recent years, trainers have increasingly gone back to basics. To the tried and tested walking, yoga, functional training with one’s own weight, for which Sokol became famous, or Pilates, which was also advertised by similar callanetics. After all, the body does not need more.

And this completes the circle of my journey. I sincerely regret that I did not know Pilates and its benefits when I was still a professional athlete, because I am convinced that I would have been more successful. I would have been able to use the qualities of my body to the fullest. Pilates develops fitness, strengthens the body and helps prevent injuries caused by unbalanced training. Most importantly, it does not stress the mind. It’s not about numbers, pounds or miles. On the contrary, it calms you down, slows you down and encourages you to switch off for a while and think only about yourself. And only few people can do that in today’s hectic times, when it’s the norm to constantly compare yourself to someone else.

written by Jana Ptaschinski