Pilates is a form of exercise which emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility, and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement. Joseph Pilates developed this popular exercise program.
Why should I be aware of this?
- The Pilates method works extremely well for a wide range of people, including athletes, seniors, women rebounding from pregnancy, and people who at various stages of physical rehabilitation.
- Pilates teaches an integrative approach. Core strength and torso stability, along with the six Pilates principles, set the Pilates method apart from many other types of exercise.
- The success of Pilates exercise lies on its ability of “modifications” that can make it a workout safe and challenging for a person at any level.
All about Pilates
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Developing the core muscles - the deep, internal muscles of the abdomen and back - is the foundation of Pilates exercise. Once these muscles are strengthened they work in tandem with the more superficial muscles of the trunk to support the spine and movement. Developing core strength brings stability throughout the entire torso. This relieves back pain and the body is able to move freely and efficiently.
The six Pilates principles
The six Pilates principles - Centering, Control, Flow, Breath, Precision, and Concentration - are essential ingredients in a high quality Pilates workout. Pilates exercises do not include a lot of repetitive movements as this method emphasizes quality over quantity. Instead, doing each exercise fully, with precision, yields significant results in a shorter time than one would ever imagine.
- Centering: Pilates exercises are sourced from center of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone.
- Concentration: With full concentration maximum value will be obtained from each movement.
- Control: Complete muscular control leaves no body part to its own devices.
- Precision: In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.
- Breath: Joseph Pilates advocated using lungs strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body. Using the breath properly is an integral part of Pilates exercise.
- Flow: Pilates exercise applies fluidity, grace, and ease to all exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way.
Mat work and equipment
Pilates exercises are done on either on a mat on the floor, Pilates Mat Work, or on exercise equipment developed by Joseph Pilates. The workout equipment utilizes pulleys and resistance from the participants own body weight on the machine and graduated levels of springs. The reformer is probably the best-known piece of resistance equipment at a Pilates studio.
Pilates yields numerous benefits.
- Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing.
- Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination-both muscular and mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program.
- Improved posture, balance, and core strength.
- Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time.
- Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of one's life.
Pilates and yoga
Both Pilates and yoga usually share the same technology and aim towards developing and strengthening of the muscles. Both the forms of exercises focus on the muscles of the arms, legs, abdomen and back.
There are, however, some basic differences.
- While yoga dates back to almost five thousand years, Pilates is not an ancient practice. It is just eighty years old.
- Although the Pilates method is inspired by certain yoga poses, it is a complicated system. It works towards conditioning the entire body.
- Yoga, however is explained as a lifestyle, instead of just an exercise. It works towards offering a path to physical and mental well-being.
- Pilates focus on developing the core strength inside the body and elongating the spine, which enhances strength and spreads awareness on proper posture.
- Yoga basically emphasizes on the union of body with mind and spirit and works on the whole body. Yoga helps in relieving stress.
- While both Pilates and yoga focus on breathing and concentration, yoga focuses on employing breathing process on a deeper level. Pilates includes inhaling via nose and exhaling through the mouth and yoga concentrates on utilizing the nose for both inhaling and exhaling.
- Pilates does not require any sort of extra props such as blocks, straps and blankets whereas yoga does.
- It is not just the fitness trainers who vouch for Pilates. Even medical professionals and physiotherapists are endorsing this technique for its rehabilitative value. Postural imbalances, back strain, recovery from specific injuries can be aided by core strengthening exercises like Pilates. After an injury the body adjusts and compensates by altering posture and balance. These exercises help restore the body alignment. 
- Pilates during pregnancy can be a highly valuable and beneficial form of exercise, but the use of Pilates in pregnancy should only be undertaken under guidance of a fully trained expert. 
- Pilates was formed by Joseph Pilates during the First World War with the proposal to improve the rehabilitation program for the many returning veterans. 
- Pilates claimed his method has a philosophical and theoretical foundation. It claims not merely to be a collection of exercises but a method developed and refined over more than eighty years of use and observation. 
- Pilates called his method Contrology, because he believed his method uses the mind to control the muscles. 
- Joseph Pilates believed in circulating the blood so that it could awaken all the cells in the body and carry away the wastes related to fatigue. 
More on Pilates
What can I do to help
- What is the Pilates Method of Exercise?
- Six Pilates Principles
- An Exercise in Balance: The Pilates Phenomenon