FITNESS: To Your Morning Cup of Joe, Add a Joseph Pilates Workout

October 2, 2010
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As Pilates instructor Jill McAlpin demonstrates, Pilates can help build a foundation of fitness and happiness.

As Pilates instructor Jill McAlpin demonstrates, Pilates can help build a foundation of fitness and happiness.

Walk into Fitness Results in Upland, and you’ll be dazzled by the beauty of the gym. There are machines to work and challenge every muscle of your body under the close and careful supervision of top personal trainers.

Walk up a flight of stairs, and behind the row of treadmills, bicycles and ellipticals are also two Pilates machines (Reformers), which are becoming more popular every day with clients who want to expand their total range of fitness and flexibility.

“It’s a great way to strengthen, lengthen and sculpt your muscles,” said Jill McAlpin, who likes to incorporate Pilates and weight training to produce the ultimate fitness results for her clients. “I have yet to have a person who hasn’t benefited greatly from performing these exercises.”

Clients unfamiliar with the machines first get a crash course on Joseph Pilates, who plagued with rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever as a child growing up in Dusseldorf, Germany, sought ways to overcome his ailments through a regimen of bodybuilding, gymnastics and other athletic pursuits. After moving to England to be a circus performer, he was interned on the Isle of Man during World War I with other German nationals. While there, he practiced and shared his physical fitness program and began devising apparatus to aid in the rehabilitation of the disabled and sick. Not surprisingly, the equipment he devised resembled a hospital bed to which many of his students had been confined during their recovery. After the war and short time teaching in his native Germany, Pilates in 1926 sailed for America, where, with his wife Clara, whom he met on the voyage, set up his first Pilates studio based on his training and growing understanding of yoga, gymnastics, boxing, martial arts and Eastern and Western philosophies.

Over the course of his career, Pilates developed more than 600 exercises (naming many after animals because of his admiration of their simple, efficient and elegant movements) for the various pieces of apparatus he invented, including the reformer, cadillac and wunda chair. With the use of springs, pulleys and gravity, the equipment focused on improving the body’s positioning and alignment in order to encourage a better body, mind and spirit balance.


In his book, Return to Life Through Contrology, Pilates wrote, “Physical fitness is the first requirement to happiness.” Early on, members of the dance community began integrating his methods into their technique and training because they saw the positive effects on their rehabilitation and performance,” said Jill, who maintains a dancer’s figure. Pilates also incorporates elements of ballet and gymnastics.

As a Pilates trainer at Fitness Results, Jill helps her clients improve their posture, alignment and core strength by taking them through a modified series of positions, stretches and movements. Instead of punishing the body through a countless number of mind-numbing reps, she believes in nurturing it with controlled breathing that promotes relaxation and the release of tension. For some clients, it’s like learning to crawl and walk again, but slowly and with her insight and knowledge, they begin to gain greater balance and coordination.

Because the number of Pilates exercises is virtually limitless, an experienced instructor like Jill will take her clients through a modified series of exercise blocks that address key areas of the body, including the feet, abdominals, hips and spine. The full-body workout takes about 45 minutes.

In executing the exercises, Pilates practitioners focus on 10 movement principles:

  1. Become aware
  2. Achieve balance
  3. Breathe correctly
  4. Concentrate deeply
  5. Center yourself
  6. Gain control
  7. Be efficient
  8. Create flow
  9. Be precise
  10. Seek harmony

There’s a saying in Pilates that if you’re inflexible and stiff at 30 you’re old, and if you’re completely flexible at 60, you’re young. Jill helps her clients bridge that mobility gap.

Ideally, Jill likes to gather as much health and fitness history about her clients as possible before customizing a fitness program for them. “It never ceases to amaze me,” Jill said. “They’ll tell me about the time they broke their wrist when they were 11, but fail to tell me about their double bypass at 44.”

That’s why she also has them perform simple exercises to better determine their strength, range of motion and overall fitness level. After her consult and observations, she can then customize a program using Pilates, weights and cardio, to begin reversing the tight, aching back, rolling shoulders, and other consequences of having poor posture and being out of alignment from years of inactivity or simply spending too many years of hunched over a computer or parked in front of the big-screen TV.

To improve fitness, the body has to learn to be fit and open to new possibilities, to learn a new vocabulary, if you will, like the cat stretch, the swan, the butterfly and the climb-a-tree.

By learning the language of the body, your body will communicate an entirely new body language that others will notice and respond to.

For more information about Fitness Results and how to integrate Pilates into your health and fitness goals, call Jill McAlpin at (909) 262-7681. Also visit Fitness Results online at


Why do some people call a cup of coffee, “a cup of joe”?

It has nothing to do with Joseph Pilates and everything to do with another Joe, Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), who was appointed Secretary of the U.S. Navy by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Among his numerous reforms of the Navy was the abolition of the officers’ wine mess. From that time on, the strongest drink aboard navy ships was coffee and over the years, a cup of coffee became known as “a cup of Joe.”

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