The pilates body

A look at the real stories behind the shapes. And no, there's not a dancer in the bunch.

For most people, the words Pilates Bodyhave a very specific connotation: Dancer. Lithe. Woman. And yet the faces of the practice couldn't be more diverse. "It's not just dancers," Susan Mario, Director of Pilates for Equinox, explains emphatically. "Men do Pilates, athletes do Pilates. It's a full-body, vigorous workout."

As the practice evolves from misunderstood niche to mainstream workout, Pilates is earning a well-deserved reputation for guaranteed results. How? Through resistance training that stretches and strengthens simultaneously. "All bodies need strength and flexibility work, and Pilates does both at the same time, teaching you how to engage your core deeply," says Mario. "No muscle is ever over-trained or under-trained, which creates balance in the body and lets you achieve what you want to achieve."

What attracts many devotees to Pilates is that it's the opposite of a one-size-fits-all workout. Equinox's private clientele ranges from athletes to those in their 80s — each able to practice at their own level, push themselves to their individual limits, and get benefits that no other workout can provide. "It’s not impactful," explains Mario. "It’s gentle yet challenging. And I think for our busy members or for athletes, you already do things that sort of beat up your body, so Pilates is a nice balance to that. It's like a sneaky hard workout."

Click through the slideshow above to read the stories behind some real and remarkable Pilates bodies. Man, woman, athlete, professional, they all share one thing: Results.

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