Pilates Center of Austin: Structural Integration & Pilates

Dr. Ida Rolf (1896-1979), the creator of Structural Integration Bodywork (SI, sometimes referred to as "Rolfing"), would often say: "Gravity is the Therapist."

At the Pilates Center of Austin, this is one of the most salient guiding principles of our work. Developing the awareness of using gravity as a partner, rather than fighting it, we cultivate a fertile environment for discovering a powerful way of being in our bodies as self-organizing, self-healing organisms.

In this way, SI bodywork and Pilates are perfect partners. By integrating these two powerful modalities, we bring movement alive through enhanced awareness, body and mind.

Like Ida Rolf, Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) was a visionary who shared much of the same vision as his contemporary–to "heal the world," one person at a time, by awakening the body's self-healing potential. In our fast-paced world, his brilliant method is, I believe, often misconstrued as a mechanical progression of exercises, resulting in the body being treated as a machine to be trained or fixed. Nothing could be further from his vision. The work we do with Pilates, much like Structural Integration, addresses the entire body as one integrated system, focusing on the body matrix, the fascial connective tissue, rather than pieces and parts.

My vision is to create a new space for both Structural Integration bodywork and Pilates to work together synergistically to create an even more profound opening to the wonders of the body to self-heal–in essence, a paradigm shift from the bio-mechanical approach of the body as a machine to be trained and fixed, to a bio-intelligent approach that honors the body as a self-organizing, deeply intuitive organism.

How is SI different from massage?

Often misunderstood as just another form of massage, Structural Integration can effect far greater changes. Unlike massage, which offers a one-stop "fix" for sore muscles, Structural Integration is a process—one (in contrast to massage therapy, where the client passively receives treatment) in which the SI practitioner is also a guide in body awareness re-education, and the client is an active participant—creating a much more dynamic and interactive partnership. This opens the gateway to a profound transformation of your body's structure, along with awakening new possibilities of how you use your body with everyday activities.

How do SI and Pilates work hand in hand?
What does an integrated Pilates and Structural Integration session look like?

Through the coupling of SI bodywork, as a means to access new ways to release tension, and Pilates, utilizing the brilliant apparatus that Joseph Pilates designed, the body is "set up" in an optimal relationship with gravity, where we cultivate an environment for positive change. In this way, we create the potential to awaken and cultivate novel and self-corrective patterns of movement that nourish brain and overall body function.

In a traditional SI session, the client wears underwear and lies on a traditional SI table for bodywork. In an integrated SI/Pilates session, the client would wear shorts (men and women) and a looser fitting tank top (women).

Following an initial evaluation, we would proceed to the Pilates Reformer, Cadillac, Chair or Barrel to allow your body to be supported in relationship with gravity. In this setup, your whole body architecture is supported by the apparatus, which allows me to work with you, supporting your movement function, releasing fascial restrictions, while you build new awareness-based patterns of moving.

What does the Classic 10-session series look like?

We also offer the Classic 10 series, which is designed to balance your body in segments, with each session addressing a different aspect of your structure and movement. Each session builds upon the last, addressing layers of tissue throughout the process. Sessions 1 through 3 focus on unwrapping the surface layers of fascia while addressing breathing and inspiration, grounding and balance. Sessions 4 through 7 are the core sessions, where deeper layers of fascia are released and rotations in the joints that have been compensating for physical imbalances are addressed, allowing the body to lengthen. In sessions 8, 9 and 10, we integrate the seven previous sessions, supporting your sense of freedom of movement in any activity.

Do I have to commit to the whole 10-session series?

Structural Integration is a process that is experienced within the context of the series of sessions (Ida Rolf's "Recipe"). If you want to achieve the optimal results possible with the process of Structural Integration, then yes, you should commit to the complete series. However, a 10 session series commitment is not mandatory. My first priority is to support you with your goals, so I am available for supportive sessions on an as-needed basis, if you so wish.

If you have undertaken the SI process in previous years, and are ready to again move forward in your personal development, then a basic series may or may not be appropriate. Wendy will work in partnership with you to create an advanced program which best supports your goals.

Who can benefit from SI/Pilates?

For a moment, can you imagine how it would feel to have a fluid, light, balanced body, free of pain, stiffness, chronic stress, at ease with itself? If you can, you will have a clearer picture of the profound journey that awaits you with this approach to bodywork and movement. Here's what we overwhelming hear from people who undertake this journey:

Yes, TRANSFORMATION can happen!

How does Structural Integration feel – does it hurt?

If you ask ten different people who have undertaken SI you will get ten different answers to this question. Everyone's threshold for pain is different, so I work with each client as to what's appropriate for them–remember, no pain, no gain!

While one may occasionally experience discomfort–particularly if we're working through scar tissue, or if chronic holding patterns are released–my work will NEVER create damage or harm. I will always be mindful of the comfort range of the client to ensure the process is a nurturing one. And, be assured, sensations experienced while receiving the work are momentary and changing.

And, finally, does it last?

The changes catalyzed by Structural Integration are not only permanent; they are ongoing and progressively cumulative. The body continues to integrate the work long after the series is complete. Keep in mind however, as life changes, bodies change in response. Any new injuries, accidents, lengthy illnesses or emotional stress may necessitate additional work. The desire to acquire greater levels of personal growth may also stimulate the client to seek further work.


In addition to instruction in Structural Integration (Rolfing), we offer specialized programs in:
General Fitness, Weight Loss, Post-Rehabilitation and Pain Management, Sports Performance, Prenatal & Postnatal Programs, Workplace, SeniorFit™ and Therapeutic Breathwork (Buteyko Method Asthma Relief).