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Pilates in the Schools

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Pilates in the SchoolsThe stats are jaw-dropping. In the past 20 years in the U.S., childhood obesity rates have doubled, and adolescent obesity rates have tripled. Obesity is the fastest-growing cause of disease and death. In short, our kids are suffering. They’re eating more and they’re moving less.

The Pilates Method Alliance is calling on its membership to invoke the spirit of Joe Pilates by launching “Pilates in the Schools,” a program to teach children healthy habits they can use for a lifetime. The program, which is led by Dawn-Marie Ickes, a PMA board member and co-owner of Core Conditioning studios in Calif., has a goal of producing a 15-minute daily physical activity curriculum that can complement any school’s physical education or health programs.

We teach children how to read and write, said Ickes at the PMA conference earlier this month, “but why aren’t we teaching them how to sit, how to manage their anxiety?”

Ickes conducted a pilot program with a fifth grade class in the Los Angeles area to test the idea of Pilates in the classroom and to collect data about its benefits. She led a 45-minutes class once a week for 12 weeks and tested the kids for core strength, hamstring length and balance before and after the program. Not surprisingly, the children made significant improvements. Additionally, they also reported they were able to manage stress better and improve their sports performance.

In order to develop a program that can be implemented across the country, the PMA first needs to collect much more data. Pilates teachers can help by volunteering to administer a pilot program in their area schools. Volunteers must be PMA certified and able to dedicate at least 10 to 12 weeks to the program. If you can’t volunteer, the program also needs help in the form of donations (which are tax-deductible). The PMA is also interested to hear about the experiences of instructors who are already working with children.

For more information about Pilates in the Schools, email Jessica Groper at jessicag@pilatesmethodalliance.org.

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