Youngstown State University (Youngstown Ohio) added Pilates Mat to the course catalogue in 2009. Since that time over 750 students have taken this course for college credit and the class continues to fill up each semester. I was lucky enough to be asked by the Human Performance and Exercise Science department to teach this class. I had been studying mat Pilates since 1999 and was already working on campus. The department head helped me choose the book Pilates by Rael Isacowitz when we began the class. The book serves as the class textbook and has been an invaluable source of information.
Students in the class range from a 16 year old high school student taking college courses, to an older adult who is beginning their first ever exercise program at the young age of 65. Teaching such a varied population had been challenging and extremely rewarding. A large percentage of the participants have never done Pilates before and some have never even heard the term. Watching college students progress and become strong individuals through Pilates is wonderful. Several of my students have gone on to be Pilates instructors, nurses, physical therapists, etc. and they are using Pilates in their work.
One student in my class was five months pregnant at the start of the semester. She was active, healthy and had clearance from her physician to take exercise classes. Along with Pilates, she was also enrolled in Fitness Walking through our department. One day she did not have her usual energy so she took it easy in my class and modified all her exercises. She left and went onto walking class later that day and soon after went into labor. She had the baby that evening! Mother and baby were healthy and she was able to come back to class a few weeks later to take the final exam. Needless to say she received an A!
Another student recently took the class because he has anxiety issues and his doctor recommended the class. The student loves Pilates and does great in the class. The fact that the medical profession is recognizing the value of Pilates is something that we all know would make Joseph Pilates proud.
Although exercise classes are not required at YSU, you can use this class along with another lecture class on the benefits of fitness to satisfy a General Education Requirement for graduation. As Mr. Pilates would say “physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness” and at Youngstown State University, the Human Performance and Exercise Science department is succeeding in showing our students how true that can be.