Fifth Graders Learn to Love Pilates

A group of school children at St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, New Jersey, got the chance to experience and share a newfound love for Pilates thanks to Pilates Day, created by the Pilates Method Alliance™ (PMA). This special occasion brought awareness to the benefits that Pilates provides to every age group, while promoting healthy living. Pilates Day 2008 also featured the PMA’s exercise initiative Pilates In The Schools™ (PITS).

According to a Reuter’s news release, PITS creates an opportunity for children to experience the mental, physical, intellectual and emotional fitness benefits inherent to Pilates. The program’s goal is to bring Pilates to children, teachers and parents by providing affordable and accessible Pilates education programs to schools. The children learn a special kid-specific protocol of exercises developed after extensive research. In addition to St. Philip’s Academy, PITS Pilot Programs are taking place in a number of cities around the United States, including Del Mar Elementary School, Santa Cruz, California, and in the Torrance Unified School District in Los Angeles.

Participants experienced numerous benefits, including increased lung capacity, improved circulation and increased strength and flexibility. Additional benefits included muscular and mental coordination, improved posture, balance and core strength. Bone density and joint health also improved, and many experienced positive body awareness for the first time. The program also had a very strong active learning aspect.

St. Philip’s Academy is an independent, inner city K-8 school that provides a rigorous moral and academic curriculum for capable students in the greater Newark area regardless of their family’s ability to pay tuition. “We were delighted to be invited to participate in this initiative,” said St. Philip’s Academy’s Head of School, Miguel Brito. “Health and wellness is central to our holistic teaching philosophy, and this is a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

Marggi Vangeli, a PMA-certified Pilates teacher and local New Jersey studio owner led the classes at St. Philip's. The program ran for 12 weeks, culminating in the celebration of Pilates Day 2008 on Saturday, May 3. The children demonstrated an abbreviated Pilates mat class to community members, parents and invited guests and dignitaries.

“I love Pilates! Some of the moves are difficult at first, but then you adapt and become stronger and stronger,” said Damon McCasker, fifth grader, adding he loved learning a different kind of exercise outside of the typical sports that are usually taught.

For more information about Pilates In The Schools, please visit www.pilatesday.com/pits.html.

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