THE BLOG

Recession or Deprivation? What Happens When You Give Up The Very Things That May Help You Thrive?

07/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What a droll city New York would be without our fancy store windows and high-priced cafes, our cosmoliscious cocktails and fitness studios on every corner (2nd floor or higher of course, but who's counting). This depressed economy has revealed a very interesting phenomenon of prioritizing our lives by dollars rather than value - health and pleasure have taken a big hit. Now I'm never going to force anyone to run out and drop a "village-saving" pile of cash on the latest season's clothing but when prioritizing luxuries I have to make my argument for Pilates.

My studio has always upheld the philosophy that health should be affordable and still excellent and to that end I have always kept class prices low and class size to a minimum. But even with the utmost integrity I have seen the economy make shadows of my former die-hard Pilates students.

It's simply hard to convince most people that Pilates isn't a luxury but a necessity when it comes to thriving in tough times.

Pilates may be known for sculpting long, lean Hollywood bodies (for which I will take my due credit or criticism) however the deeper effects are far more interesting (And please note that I am not referring to just any old Pilates -- only the really good, authentic, 1st generation Pilates that uses original design specifications for its equipment and requires years of training for its teachers -- because truly there is some bad, bad Pilates happening out there since the name went public...but more on that at another time).

A Pilates session is a conscious commitment to yourself and your health. Pilates is an anti-aging system with a proven ability to increase bone density and mobility in aging joints (just think of all the insurance money saved from eliminating broken bones and torn muscles)! Pilates stimulates both the parasympathetic nervous system (known as the "rest and digest" regulator) and sympathetic nervous system that helps keep you on your toes so you are at once de-stressing and awakening. Pilates accesses reflexology points to stimulate greater organ function (heart, lung, colon and kidney points are all stimulated in the very first exercise). Pilates teaches you to breathe and focus without needing to actually stop or meditate so you are better able to think on your feet (literally).

And by the way - could anyone pick up a book on Pilates and affordably continue practice at home? Of course! (Although without the apparatus the aforementioned effects are minimized). And they can also find quiet time to meditate, reflect, write in a journal, take a walk at lunchtime, tell their folks how thankful they are to have had them as parents, etc. But will they? Doubtful. (Why they won't is a much bigger topic that I plan to delve into the not too distant future.) For now, suffice it to say that those chances are slim.

So here are my Top 5 reasons why Pilates should make the short list of "luxuries to keep" in a recession:

5. Pilates elicits gravity defying results -- knocking out the cost of cosmetic surgery from your budget altogether.

4. Pilates keeps Crackberry junkies aware of meaningful inter-personal relationships with actual human beings.

3. Pilates creates flexibility where you are stiff and toxin-ridden and strength where you are weak and wobbly.

2. Pilates reminds you to stand up straight which fixes a wealth of stress-induced problems and just looks better across a dinner table.

And my number 1 reason to keep up with Pilates even in a recession is:

1. No one cares more about making you feel great than a Pilates teacher on the day of your session. (Not even your therapist).

The moral -- any stress caused by worrying about losing money on a "luxury" like Pilates is clearly overridden by its myriad benefits -- and for all you know taking an hour out for Pilates may be just the thing that hones you at the helm when you return to work with a clearer mind and sharper reflexes.