Pilates is a method of body training that requires mental and physical control of the muscles which, over time, improves our skeletal alignment.
It was created by Joseph Hubertus Pilates (1880-1967) over 100 years ago. He developed and crystallised his concepts into a fully integrated system over the course of his life. We now have an exercise programme that allows us to develop our entire muscular system, from the major groups – abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms – to our hands and feet.
The practice of Pilates gives you a complete knowledge of how your body functions in terms of both muscles and, more importantly, the skeleton. As the tone of your entire muscular system improves, the new changes in skeletal alignment can be felt and seen. You can tone your muscular system to absolute firmness while simultaneously reforming virtually any conceivable skeletal problem.
After a suitable amount of training you will be rewarded with long, lean, hard muscles which wrap around a flexible and supple skeleton from head to toe. Ongoing practice will produce a completely rehabilitated muscular and skeletal system, which happens within several months. Achieving a “perfect” body can occur within a year, but it must always be maintained through regular and focused practice.
“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”
Benefits of Pilates
Absolutely everyone can benefit from Pilates. If you learn the ability to use mental focus in order to control your muscles then Pilates will work for you. Even if you are limited from the results of a previous injury, the exercises can all be modified to ensure safety.
Scoliosis, arthritis, hyper-extension, herniated or disintegrating discs (for example) can be worked around and made less intrusive. It is also useful for weight loss. Start now and improve the quality of your life!
In short, Pilates offers:
increased flexibility, muscular strength, and muscle tone.
reduced risk of injury.
improved posture, co-ordination, and balance.
improved core strength.
creates body awareness.
strengthens core muscle groups
helps to increase flexibility and fluidity in the fascia.
“Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all vital benefits.”
Principles of Pilates
A large component of Pilates, working the body out of alignment causes muscular and postural problems. When working in alignment, it allows the muscles to recruit cocrrectly without compensation.
Lateral breathing, or expanding the ribs sideways is the fundamental way to breathe in Pilates in order to maintain core support. Breathing also brings balance, centering, focus and a calming affect into Pilates exercises.
Balancing on one leg and being aware of where your body is in space is an important part of what Pilates teaches about our bodies. Balancing however is also a balance we need between our mind and body. Balance also refers to the muscular balance around a joint in order to lessen injuries, postural problems and misalignment.
Precision in movement allows the body to isolate into the correct muscle being worked.
Identifying and engaging the core muscles in order to provide stability for the body to perform the exercises correctly.
Mental presence and focus is needed to perform Pilates exercises correctly.
A smooth transition from one exercise to the next, where every movement flows into the next. Rigid or jerky movements are not recommended in Pilates exercises.
Being able to control movments can take practice. The working muscle is producing the movement while the opposing muscle is working with resistance in order to hold the movement.