WI: What are the principal points of Pilates?
Iga Majewska: Pilates is a low-impact workout method that doesn’t just strengthen and tone the body, but also forces you to slow down and focus. Details are of great importance, that’s why you can forget the whole world while practicing Pilates. Pilates exercises focus on a strong core, i.e. your abdominals, back and glutes. We tone what is weak, and stretch what is tense. Correct posture and technique is everything.
There’s something of a pre-conceived idea that Pilates is ‘for women’. Is there any truth in this?
Pilates takes care of small stabilizing muscles and goes really deep with corrections and small adjustments; we re-learn how to move our bodies properly, therefore, sometimes, a client has to expose his or her weaknesses and then work on them slowly and step-by-step. I think women are more liable to ‘dive into themselves’ and make ‘small improvements’, whilst men prefer to work the muscles hard and fast and then go home. Pilates is not competitive – you compete only against yourself – so that’s another reason men might feel less engaged. But it’s important to remember that Joseph Pilates, the founder, was a boxer and one of the world’s first bodybuilders. More and more men are following his steps, and once they realize that Pilates is about more than just stretching, and that it can transform the body and movement patterns, then they become devoted Pilates practitioners.
What has Pilates given you?
I’m in my 30s, and my biggest Pilates win has been ending my lower back pain! At first, Pilates gave me a moment of peace after work, then it toned my abs and changed my posture, and now it also gives me endless opportunities to develop and grow body-wise, but also as a Pilates business owner and a creative type. The benefits for those who practice Pilates regularly, preferably two or two times a week, manifest themselves in a better understanding of movement and better control of their bodies. It teaches how to use your deep muscles and engage your abdominals. You start to use your body wisely, you become stronger, more flexible and less prone to injuries. And for those looking for purely visual effects, Pilates creates lean muscles without bulk.
What’s the story behind Warsaw Pilates?
Pilates was my PE class when I studied at the University of Warsaw. I was nineteen and it was the first movement method I truly enjoyed. Ever. After ten-years of practice, I became a certified teacher and started to spread my passion for Pilates. At the same time, I didn’t want to quit my job in marketing, so holding occasional Pilates pop-up classes mixed with a regular online offer was the perfect choice.
You’re known for organizing classes in very non-standard spaces – any favorites?
I enjoy the whole concept so I don’t have a ‘favorite child’, so to speak. But I can tell by how quickly tickets have sold what my clients have looked forward to the most and that’s been the 18th century palace in the Łazienki Museum; the 46th floor Skyfall Warsaw observation deck, and then anything outdoors – such as rooftops or boats – as people want to make the most of our summers in Warsaw.
What do you think such locations add to the experience?
I love the summer here and the precious moments of sun and warmth outside which is why, in 2019, I started holding rooftop classes with stunning skylines and sunset views. But when Autumn came I began looking for other awesome venues that could replace these rooftops in the colder months – as it turned out, Warsaw had loads of these! I’m not much of a party girl, but I love being part of a beautiful event, which I guess is why I created them on my own terms.
What challenges have you faced?
I’ve received many rejections –
the challenge lies in convincing an institution that we’re low-maintenance and can provide really good PR. I’m usually fine with hearing ‘no’ though – Warsaw Pilates is a passion project, not a life or death game. To make negotiations easier, I’ve partnered with Elle magazine and Projekt Selflove and have found that the more co-organizers there are, then the more ideas, possibilities and network connections you have. Along with Stefania Chiarelli from Nashe Studio, I talked for many months with the National Museum in Warsaw before finally getting the green light. But these are unique and unforgettable places, so they’re worth every minute of paperwork.
What inspired you to look for these unconventional spaces?
The amphitheater in the Royal Łazienki Park. It’s everything that I love in that it’s a noble, calm outdoor space situated on the water and flanked by old trees. It served Poland’s royalty for years and exercising underneath blue skies amid its classicist architectures would be something magical.