Every few years, a new exercise trend races on to the market and convinces large masses to sweat off their winter weight or firm up their frames in new and clever ways. The workout industry has been alive and kicking for decades and has brought us such memorable figures as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. For those of us who are skeptical about all things exercise, these fads can be daunting, even off-putting.
How is one to know which method is a real jewel and which is a just another panting, perspiring dud? As a physical therapist for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Jonathan Hoffman was emotionally miles away from the bikini season toxin cleanses and cabbage soup diets that were engulfing the health and weight-conscious.
He was dealing with phenomenal athletes struggling with a host of injuries and pains. Though his training had outfitted him with a deluxe set of tools for handling such matters, he found himself searching for a new way to rehabilitate the broken or bruised body.
“When someone injures their knee, for instance, in physical therapy we would first isolate that knee from the rest of the body,” Hoffman explained in a recent interview/workout session with The Jerusalem Post.
“But does the knee actually do anything by itself?” The answer, in Hoffman’s eyes, was no. An inventor at heart, Hoffman put his know-how to the test drafting versions of a machine he knew would fill the hole he had uncovered.
After much tinkering and testing, Hoffman devised the widely appreciated CoreAlign machine and technique in 2005. The method is closer to Pilates and Gyrotonics than to those techniques peddled by leotard-wearing energizer bunnies, employing core strengthening exercises in carefully plotted sequences.
In the past six years, Core- Align has become a major player in the workout world. Not long after he put the final touches on his device, Balanced Body, the largest Pilates company in the world, picked it up.
There are no twinkly lights around the machine, nor is there some overly
impressive physical presence that would indicate that Hoffman’s
invention is revolutionary. But spend five minutes on the CoreAlign, and
your stomach muscles will tell you that you’ve met your match. The
machine works on a pulley system, with colorcoded elastic bands laced
underneath two moving panels on side-by-side tracks. Unlike many of
CoreAlign’s brothers and sisters in the workout industry, almost all of
the exercises in the CoreAlign program are done in a standing position.
“We are training our body in an upright way, which is its most basic alignment,” said Hoffman.
His medical background gives CoreAlign a distinctively sophisticated and reliable edge.
This is not some passing weight-loss fad; it is a legit, well-researched
system to rebuild the areas of the body that are weak or in pain. “You
see, I’m coming from within the medical world,” he said, “not from the
Many CoreAlign practitioners are athletes and dancers. Be it skiing,
surfing or ballet, the machine is able to simulate and enhance the
muscles used during sports. “Because of the resistance the machine gives
you, you get to really focus on the right muscles, the ones you want to
be using. How many people are looking for the perfect surfing
And here it is,” exclaimed Hoffman.
He is an optimistic, inviting man, with a mind that is bubbling over with ideas about physicality and movement.
He has spent several years traveling around the world perfecting his
technique. His most recent passport stamps are from Ireland, Australia,
California and Brazil, to name a few.
Though he spends much of the year jet setting, home is in Herzliya
Pituah on a narrow street facing the Mediterranean. His studio boasts
four CoreAlign machines, a massage room and a treatment center. The
modest building is a piece of a much larger CoreAlign puzzle, one that
includes 30 international master trainers, like Hoffman, and over 500
There are already 10 studios offering CoreAlign training in Israel alone.
Hoffman’s approach breaks down into what he calls “the three Fs.” While
casually leafing through an incredibly thorough CoreAlign training
manual, Hoffman expounded, “my philosophy is after the fix, we work on
the foundation. Once the foundation is strong, we can move on to fun. If
you work the body correctly, you get to the fun. But if you don’t work
the foundation properly, you go back to needing to fix.”
One of the main elements crucial in CoreAlign’s rise to fame, and what
set it apart from other disciplines, was the holistic approach embedded
deep in Hoffman’s philosophy.
“In CoreAlign treatments, we want to stimulate that injured knee to heal
itself. The body wants to heal itself. The body is waiting to heal
itself. By retraining our movements to be more harmonious, we allow the
body to do that.” For more information about CoreAlign, visit www.pilates.com.