Cindy Crawford: Pilates and self-image

Cindy Crawford Chris Hunt Pilates

Cindy Crawford: Pilates and self-image

An article about Pilates, one of the most famous models to ever walk the planet and self-image. Surely this is a contradiction?

It’s Friday so I have that Celebrity feeling again, my compromise after a week of serious blogs. I was very pleased by the response to my blog ealier this week about Pilates for men. But it’s Friday now….

I have explained before that I am not obsessed with celebrity. I have never bought Hello Magazine. What I am obsessed with is Pilates. And whilst not every one agrees, it’s my opinion that if someone starts Pilates because their friend, neighbour, sporting hero or favourite celebrity does Pilates, then why not?

I’ve had comments about glamorising Pilates, about how privileged celebrities are, about creating false hope, even about living on a different planet… But I am sure that I live on planet Earth (most of the time) and so whilst I always respect everyone’s opinion, it is my humble opinion that these people are missing the point of my posts and they are taking everything a little too seriously. All I am doing is raising the awareness of Pilates. If you do not or can not understand that, then I am sorry for wasting your time and please do not read my blog today! 🙂

So back to Cindy.  She recently said her age-defying beauty secrets include getting enough sleep, a sensible low carb diet and regular workouts that include yoga and Pilates. She also said not smoking, taking good care of her skin and being happy have kept her young-looking at 48 years old.

“I eat right and I exercise and I drink water. I try to get enough sleep. True beauty is the energy you give out, and that comes through being happy.”

Crawford is a long-time fitness fanatic and works out three to four days a week, combining cardio exercise, weight lifting, yoga, hiking, biking and of course Pilates. She mixes up her exercise routine to keep from getting bored and to make sure she works her entire body.

Despite being hailed for her stunning beauty, Crawford admits she has struggled with body image because she was always bigger than other models during her heyday. As she approaches her 50th birthday, Cindy said she hopes to come to terms with her body.

Unlike many celebrities, Cindy admits to having undergone a few cosmetic procedures (including Botox), but she says that said consistent exercise, eating well and having a positive attitude are critical for successful aging and true happiness. “If you’re happy in your life and you’re doing work that you like, that comes across.” she said.

Many might find it surprising that she struggles with self-image. But of course everything is relative. Whilst many might envy her beauty and see only their own faults, Cindy is no different. Many of my clients who come to Barcelona for fitness or sport holidays struggle with their self-esteem when to the outside world they “look” super confident.

So what exactly is self-image? Well, it’s the personal view (or mental picture), that we have of ourselves. Self-image is an internal dictionary that describes the characteristics of the self, including intelligent, beautiful, ugly, talented, selfish, kind, etc. These characteristics form a collective representation of our assets and liabilities as we see them.

Our self-image is a product of learning. Early childhood influences, such as parents and teachers can significantly influence our self-image. They are mirrors (ask Justin Timberlake) reflecting back to us an image of ourselves. Our experiences with others such as teachers, friends, and family add to the image in the mirror. Relationships reinforce what we think and feel about ourselves. The image we see in the mirror may be a real or distorted view of who we really are. Based on this view, we develop either a positive or a negative self-image. The strengths and weaknesses we have internalized affect how we act today. We continually take in information and evaluate ourselves in multiple domains such as physical appearance (How do I look?), performance (How am I doing?), and relationships (How important am I?). With a positive self-image, we recognize and own our assets and potentials while being realistic about our liabilities and limitations. With a negative self-image, we focus on our faults and weaknesses, distorting failure and imperfections.

Self-image is important because how we think about ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with others and the world around us. . A positive self-image can enhance our physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Conversely, a negative self-image can decrease our satisfaction and ability to function in these areas.

So how can we create a positive self-image? The good news is that self-image is not permanently fixed (but it not always easy to change). Part of our self-image is dynamic and changing. We can learn to develop a healthier and more accurate view of ourselves, thus challenging the distortions in the mirror. Self-image change is a process occurring over a lifetime. A healthy self-image starts with learning to accept and love ourselves. It also means being accepted and loved by others.

Body-image is part of self-image. Our body-image includes more than what we look like or how others see us. It also refers to how we think, feel, and react to our own self-perceived physical attributes. Body-image development is affected by cultural images and the influence of family, peers, and others. A positive body-image contributes to enhanced psychological adjustment (less depression, positive self worth, life satisfaction, less interpersonal anxiety, fewer eating disorders).

Distortions in our thinking contribute to a negative body-image. Again, body image is not fixed. Our body experiences change as we grow older, and each stage in our life is associated with body-image markers. Maintaining a positive body-image is a lifelong process. Changing negative body-image means more than changing our body. It means changing how we think, feel, and react to our body.

So back to Pilates. As teachers, we all know what an amazing physical and psychological effect Pilates can have on our clients and their own self-image. As much of the evidence to support the claims we make as Pilates professionals is anecdotal, I like a good scientific study. In May 2008 a study in Portugal tried to prove this. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of Pilates-based mat exercises on life satisfaction, perception of appreciation by other people, perception of physical appearance, perception of functionality, total physical self-concept, and perception of health status in healthy women. A trial was conducted in Evora, Portugal, in which 62 healthy adult women were randomized to a Pilates-based experimental mat group or a control group. Experimental group participants performed mat Pilates twice per week, 60-minutes per session. The study concluded that life satisfaction, perception of appreciation by other people, perception of physical appearance, perception of functionality, total physical self-concept and perception of health status may improve after 6 months of Pilates-based mat exercise.

But we knew that already. Today I am asking you to please share your stories of clients whose lives were improved by Pilates, not so much physically, but mentally.

Chris is an international Pilates and functional training presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises retreats, fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.

Chris pays all profits made from this BLOG to his charity partners. More details can be found by clicking on and selecting the “charity partners” tab.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *