What is Pilates?
Pilates, in definition, is an exercise regimen that is typically performed on a floor mat or with the use of specialized apparatus and aims to improve flexibility and stability by strengthening the muscles and especially the torso-stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and lower back. It is based on 6 defining principles:
In combination, these 6 principles allow the body to gain strength and stability while stimulating balanced muscle development. The principles of breath and flow specifically allow the mind and body to connect so that one can feel centered and relaxed even while performing vigorous exercise.
So, Who Can Benefit from Pilates?
The answer? Everybody! One of the amazing things about Pilates is that it can benefit a wide range of people. Athletes and dancers love it, as do seniors, women who are pregnant or post-partum, and people who are at various stages of physical rehabilitation. Exercise modification is the key to Pilates success with a variety of populations. All exercises are developed with modifications that can make a workout safe and challenge a person at any level.
Some of the benefits that can be achieved by beginning a regular Pilates practice include:
- Improved strength
- Improved flexibility
- Core strength and stability
- Better posture
- Efficient movement through activities of daily living
- Deeper breathing
- A more relaxed overall state
Flat abs, better posture, and balanced muscularity are a natural result of delving deeply into the principles that Joseph Pilates based his exercise philosophy. He worked with the body as a whole, healing himself and his clients through movement.
Core strength is the foundation of Pilates exercise. As you develop your core strength you will develop stability throughout your entire trunk. For those suffering from back pain, this is a Godsend. As the trunk is properly stabilized, pressure on the back is relieved and the body is able to move freely and efficiently. Pilates exercises are designed to make sure the spine is well-supported by the core and works to improve alignment of all the bones in the body.
Pilates is efficient. In a one-hour session you will target every muscle group. Every session is designed to work on flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation so you leave your workout with a balanced and centered feeling. The abs are strengthened, but they are also trained to work together in the context of an integrated body.
The Pilates method has always emphasized quality over quantity of exercise. Joseph Pilates felt that doing each exercise fully, with precision, yields significant results in a shorter time than one would ever imagine or could achieve doing an exercise sloppily over and over again.
Core strength and torso stability, along with the six Pilates principles, set the Pilates method apart from many other types of exercise. How a body moves, not just in the studio or gym, but in daily life, is one of the most important and unique aspects of Pilates training. For Joseph Pilates, the goal was to provide a method of training that would allow the body to do what is asked of it with grace, ease, and efficiency while supporting activities of daily life. Such a body must be both strong and flexible, centered and balanced. A uniformly developed, Pilates body is a beautiful thing to behold
The Pilates Method of exercise was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. While being held in an internment camp during the war, Pilates used his exercises to rehabilitate other prisoners of war being held there. Later, after he travelled to the United States, he increasingly used his Method to work with a wider range of clients including dancers and others looking to increase their level of fitness or rehabilitate from injury. His work has been kept alive over the years by a small group of his devoted students. Over the more recent decades, Pilates has gained popularity and its true genius has been exposed to an even larger population. Today we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the classical exercises that Joseph Pilates created in a world where being balanced, centered and living with grace and ease is as important as ever before.