From Rose Alcantara:
One of the hottest pitchers in Major League Baseball today was nearly a wash-up after his disastrous 2013 season.
When Jake Arrieta was traded by Baltimore to the Chicago Cubs in July 2013 his ERA (earned run average) was a ghastly 7.23. Batters were pounding everything he threw at them.
Fast forward to last season and the current one.
According to Associated Press, “The Cubs have won Arrieta’s last 17 starts, tying a franchise record. He’ll face the Brewers on Wednesday night (April 27, 2016) trying improve on a 24-game stretch in which he’s 20-1 with an 0.86 ERA, 33 walks and 173 strikeouts.”
After the mid-season All-Star break last year, Arrieta won 12 games and lost one with a 0.75 ERA over 103 1/3 innings in 15 starts. He went on to receive the coveted Cy Young Award as outstanding pitcher of the year.
What changed for the 30-year-old pitcher from those Baltimore days?
Many things. But, one of the biggest: Arrieta and his wife, Brittany, discovered Pilates.
“One day after the 2013 season Brittany and Jake were leaving a French bakery in their hometown of Austin when he noticed a Pilates studio next door. Arrieta has always been a workout omnivore, devouring any discipline that will make him better: yoga, Olympic weight training, visualization, sports psychology. … Pilates? Sounded interesting. Arrieta figured he would take one or two classes a week. He walked into the studio and signed up for a class with an instructor named Liza Edebor.”
After one session with Edebor, Arrieta’s reaction was concise: “life-changing.”
He signed up for three sessions a week. Then he turned his garage into a Pilates studio in the off-season. Edebor trained the couple six days a week, for 90 minutes each day.
Arrieta told Sports Illustrated, “It’s an incredible experience. Pilates has been around a long time but maybe was taboo in this sport. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see a reformer in every big league clubhouse.”
When he returned to the Cubs last season, he dragged a reformer into a crowded storage/media room and turned it into a small Pilates studio.
The Cubs must like what they are seeing in Arrieta — and Pilates. In the past off-season, SI says, they remodeled their exercise facilities into the second largest in baseball, including one room devoted to Pilates, with more reformers on the way. They call it the Arrieta Room!
Arrieta’s description of the imapact of Pilates is going to sound familiar to those who practice the exercise program:
“What I noticed from Pilates last year was that I have much better control of my body,” he told Sports Illustrated. “I repeat my delivery consistently. My balance is much improved. And the mental and physical toughness Pilates requires to complete movements the correct way have directly helped me on the mound.”
Two hour before a game in which he is pitching, Arrieta “climbs on his reformer. He runs through a progression of movements designed to awaken and stress parts of his body for competition: obliques, lats, shoulders. … This goes on for about 20 minutes. When he is done, he pulls on his uniform and headphones.”
Since embracing Pilates, Arietta has thrown two no-hitters for the Cubs, most recently on April 21 against Cincinnati, and last August against Los Angeles.
It isn’t just Pilates for the pitcher.
Arrieta also stretches two hours a day; he practices yoga and meditation, too. His diet is strictly controlled. And the music in his headphones? He has switched from Heavy Metal to pump up the adrenaline to a more meditative sound to help with focus and control.
Check out the Sports Illustrated story. It takes the writer Verducci a long time to get to the impact of Pilates on Arrieta’s life — but then, it took Arrieta a long time to discover Pilates.
All in all, this is a wonderful testimonial to the creation of Joseph Pilates.
As a Pilates instructor, I am so proud to be associated with this discipline and proud to see the way it affects my own clients. You don’t need to become a Cy Young Award winner to see how it can improve the quality of life!
What I like about Arrieta’s transformation is that he has been able to adjust his life to stay a winner — incorporating yoga, meditation and even a change-up in music!
As of today, the Cubs are in first place in their division with a dominating 15-5 record. Every year, for decades, loyal Cubs fans start out saying “this could be the year.” With the help of Pilates, this might just be the one!