by Sasha Reddy
Dace Blaskovitz is a Wilmington-based stockbroker, a role that he continues and loves even 45 years into his career. Currently, he’s the President and majority owner of Wealth Advisors. He’s also spent 25 years on TV, primarily with PBS WHYY Channel 12, and 40 years on radio with 1450 WILM.
But his other passion is being fit. Super fit.
Dace is the instructor for our Sunday Strength & Balance Pilates class. It’s designed to be an intermediate-level challenge as the routines require a base level of strength and endurance.
“I found Strength-based Pilates twenty-five years ago, and it changed my life,” Dace recalls. It was at Pike Creek Fitness, the ancestor that would become Hockessin Athletic Club, that Dace tried the program for the first time. Since then, Dace has continued attending private Pilates lessons regularly in addition to kettlebells once a week, a regular Thursday strength-training routine, and various other avenues of fitness.
“In my opinion, Joseph Pilates was to the body what Einstein was to physics.”
Though Dace dabbles in various exercise methods, Pilates will always be where his interest and devotion lie. “In my opinion, Joseph Pilates was to the body what Einstein was to physics.”
These days, there are various off-shoots and forms of Pilates. Many professional athletes have discovered strength-based Pilates, which challenges all the major muscles, especially your core. Many names you probably know – Lebron James and Jake Arrieta, to name a few – have incorporated Pilates into their routines to aid in muscle recovery. Conversely, the ballet industry embraced barre, which combines poses and techniques from Pilates and yoga with ballet exercises. Then there’s the Gyrotonic system that takes inspiration from various practices, from yoga to swimming to t’ai chi. In the most traditional Pilates classes, participants use a Universal Reformer, the flagship apparatus of the program developed by Joseph Pilates. “I’ve done a Reformer, on average, probably once a week for 25 years, and it still kills me.” Dace laughs. “I couldn’t be more humbled.”
Dace’s class veers on the strength side of the spectrum, utilizing mats, resistance bands, Pilates rings, and other small pieces of equipment. The first 40 minutes are the same every week – same exercises, same order, with some substitutions here and there. By performing certain moves week after week, members have a chance to gauge how they’re progressing over time. The last 20 minutes of class are always different, often including new exercises or progressions of previously practiced ones.
And for the unexpecting newbie thinking they’re in for a cakewalk with this class, think again. Admittedly, the first time I attended Dace’s Sunday class was in anticipation of writing this article. Now, I’m an average joe when it comes to fitness: I try to squeeze in strength training three times a week (the key word being “try”). But when Dace says intermediate, he means it. Whoever came up with the name ‘dead bug’ must have been hinting at something; after several rounds atop a BOSU® Ball following 45-minutes of intense holds, resistance exercises, and minor balancing acts with no rests in between, I sure felt like a dead bug. Still, it was a challenge I’d gladly accept again.
So, what is the “best” type of workout according to a many decades Pilates disciple? “The one – or hopefully the ones – you’re willing to do.” Dace holds in high regard the members that he sees in class again and again. Even those that appear only once or twice a month get his praise – despite a few absences, they keep showing up, and that’s the mark of a dedicated participant. “The people that are there want to be there.” Yes, Pilates can help you tone your arms, flatten your belly, and lift your hiney, but it’s the camaraderie that keeps people coming back.
Dace’s favorite quote: “What you have to do and how you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you’re willing to do it is another matter.”Peter Drucker
In the words of Willie Nelson, “You got to pay for the day.” For Dace, that’s the level of commitment he sees from many of his regulars, and he couldn’t be prouder of them.
The story of Joseph Pilates, founder of the famous physical conditioning program, is an interesting one. Born in Germany in the 1880s, Pilates became interested in physical activity and physique from a young age, taking up boxing, gymnastics, and other practices. He became a circus performer and emigrated to England, where he and his troupe were captured and imprisoned as illegal aliens at the outset of World War I.
While in an internment camp on the Isle of Man, Pilates began training his fellow captives, using bedsprings as tools to either add resistance or lower the difficulty of the exercises in his regimen. The techniques he developed in the camp would become the famous Pilates program we know today; the bed springs were rudimentary versions of the Reformer and other modern-day Pilates equipment now in use. By 1926, Pilates had immigrated to the United States, where he and his wife opened their own gym for body conditioning and rehabilitation. The rest is history.