Dance Club hosts pilates

Nicole Martinez, Staff Writer
April 6, 2011

A method of body work, Pilates offers students mindfulness and physical control.

   Students and staff members learned firsthand the powerful benefits of low impact movements pilates can offer during a three-week introductory course sponsored by the HCC Dance Club. “I have definitely seen a change in my body. Losing weight, gaining muscle, it really really helped me out,” said dance student Jasmine Lebron.

   Pilates is a method of body work developed by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. It was first used to rehabilitate wounded WWI soldiers. Pilates emphasizes complete mental and physical control and mindfulness of the body.

   According to the Pilates philosophy, when one’s mind was controlled, they were able to control their muscles, particularly those within the torso and abdominal core, in ways that improved flexibility, muscle strength, endurance and overall health. Pilates is now widely practiced in the U.S. by over 10 million people, and is widely favored by seniors, pregnant women and those who cannot engage in high impact exercise.

   “It brings together the breath, it integrates the whole body… he [Joseph Pilates] believed that once the core is strengthen, moving outward, we integrate the body and breath,” said pilates instructor Elsa Valbuena.

   On a sunny afternoon at the HCC Collaboration studio, located at 1602 N 15th St., across from the Centro Ybor Parking Garage, Valbuena coached her students through breathing and movement exercises that called for awareness to the body and its rhythms, clicking her tongue to help her class keep time. The exercises are light and contain little vigorous movement, yet some students were still left winded.

   “Breathing into the movements help you do the movements better… you have to be very aware of what you’re doing, or else you could hurt yourself,” said Alyssa Pagan, HCC dance student.

   Elsa Valbuena, a local dancer and choreographer who has worked at HCC and USF as an adjunct dance instructor, became certified to instruct pilates in January. Valbuena said she and HCC Dance Department director Christina Acosta developed the concept for the class in order to discover methods that would enhance dance student’s training. It is also part of research Acosta is conducting on Structional Energetic Therapy, which seeks alignment of the body and its possible benefits to dance students. Dancers Jasmine Lebron and Ellis Rosa agree they have already noticed major improvements in their work.

   “We dance every day, and in class we notice that we are able to balance better, stretch better, hold movements better,” said Lebron. “It has helped us get into our movements better.”


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