HARLINGEN — For Harlingen native Tanya Miller, the practicing of pilates is a call.
“I think that in this digital world that we’re in and this demanding, crazy chaotic life, it’s a good thing to slow down for 55 minutes and really focus on yourself and what’s going on in your body, the things that are balanced, the things that are not balanced, and just working on those and reprogramming those habitual patterns that you’ve developed,” she said.
As the 30-year-old Miller will tell you, one of the best ways to accomplish that is through the exercise regimen called pilates.
Miller opened My Body Pilates at 202 W. Monroe Ave. three years ago.
Since then, the techniques she’s been able to impart to her students has grown pilates here just as they have worldwide.
“Joseph Pilates created the equipment, the system and the exercises,” she said. “He was 50 years ahead of his time and he knew it. He talked about it and on his death bed he said, ‘I’m so mad that the world will not get to see my method,’ and he passed away.
“Now it’s an international phenomenon,” Miller sad.
Miller was not old enough to study under the master, but she has had the rare privilege to study pilates under one of the students who was directly taught by Joseph Pilates in Germany.
“There are only two still alive and she’s 82,” Miller said. “I’m probably one of her last groups that she’ll have. I’m one in 12 in the entire world right now who are working with her for the next two years.”
Miller said she was unsure whether she would qualify for the classes.
“I did have to audition, and I had to send in an extensive application and a video of myself, myself teaching,” she said. “I really did not think I was going to get in because you have to have some experience and I’m fairly new.”
Miller says she now has about 75 students at her studio in downtown Harlingen.
“Back in the day Joe would not let you come to his studio unless you could commit to three to four times a week,” she said. “He would say, my method won’t work unless you come and you’re consistent. I’m pretty much the same way. I require at least two to three times a week.”
Miller says a misconception is that pilates is similar to yoga.
“It’s quite the opposite from yoga,” she said “And I think that anyone who comes and practices pilates will find that out quickly. It is mind-body integration where you are focusing on every movement that you’re making from the head all the way down to the foot.”
As pilates becomes mainstream, Miller says many people use it to enhance their performance in other endeavors, like golf, tennis or dance.
She also says an increasing number of references are coming from the medical community.
“It’s one of the oldest tried-and-true formulas of exercise but with the testimonies of people actually practicing it and word of mouth getting out there and physical therapists and doctors now referring their patients, whether post-rehab or as a supplement for something like that, it’s on the rise,” she said.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates of Monchengladbach, Germany.
During the first half of the 20th Century, he developed a system of exercises which were intended to strengthen the human mind and body. Pilates believed that mental and physical health are interrelated.
Pilates is practiced worldwide, especially in Western countries such as Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
WHAT: Mat or barre group sessions or private or semi-private apparatus sessions
WHERE: 202 W. Monroe Ave., Harlingen