Pilates & Soap

As it turns out, Joseph Pilates wasn’t the biggest fan of soap. Not that he thought you should never use it mind you. He just thought you should only use it when you stink or perspire. I don’t know how his body worked, but I tend to perspire every day, usually be the end of my first class.

That being the case, I decided to test Pilates’ theory about washing for one month. I didn’t use soap for a month. Instead, I followed his recommendation of scrubbing down with a bristled brush. Pilates’ theory being that the brush removes dead skin cells and exfoliates while soap leaves a residue that clogs pores and keeps your skin from breathing. Sounded interesting or a least amusing. I was willing to try it.

I have pretty sensitive skin, so it took a few days to get used to scrubbing down with a brush. It’s rough, and there was no recommendation on how hard to scrub. I didn’t scrub very hard–gentle strokes that hurt less under water. (I opted not to run the experiment on my face.) At about week two my skin felt incredibly soft. It was wonderful, but the sensation didn’t last long. By the end of the month my skin felt terribly dry as if I’d not only whisked away the dead skin cells but also the soft living ones resting comfortably beneath their dead counterparts.

Even though none of my clients complained of any foul odors wafting by as I passed them in a class cueing them to pull their belly button to their spine, I couldn’t wait to get back to using soap. Mostly out of habit. I love the spell of soap. It makes me feel clean. And while I will admit, I felt pretty clean after a full brush scrub, I didn’t feel revitalized the way a fresh scented soap can wake you up or the way soap with little pieces of oatmeal in it can tingle your skin.

Perhaps I took Pilates’ tip too far–going completely without soap. Either way, it was an interesting experiment, and now (along with a new appreciation for soap) I have my linen closest loaded with new, locally made soaps. That was my treat. I even have an anise-scented soap.


About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.


  1. Karen May 6, 2008 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Maggie- I’ll make a point of sniffing in your direction when you pass by- and I think I speak for all your students when I say “Thanks for using soap Maggie”

  2. Courtney May 8, 2008 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I love soap, too. You might enjoy this site: http://www.indigowild.com/

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