Pilates is an integrated system of exercises that focuses on developing core strength and stability and improving posture and spinal alignment.
Pilates exercises coordinate breathing with both the strengthening and lengthening of muscles, particularly the deep stabiliser muscles, which are often neglected in other forms of exercise (and are essential for core stability and injury prevention). The system of exercises aims to restore the natural curves of the spine, creating better shock absorption, load bearing capacity and correct muscle length/tension relationships in the body. This restoration of the natural curves of the spine will assist to prevent and rehabilitate injury.
Pilates was originally developed by Joseph Pilates during the First World War, who used hospital bed springs to rehabilitate patients. The method was then developed further after the War and eventually Pilates started his own studio in 1926, which attracted elite dancers and athletes. Joseph Pilates called his work ‘Contrology’.
Pilates incorporates a series of key principles, which are essential to the correct execution of each Pilates exercise. Pilates exercises focus on precise movements using the correct muscles and there is less focus on ‘what’ you are doing and more focus on ‘how’ you do it. In order to execute the exercises correctly, a connection must exist between the mind and body.
Joseph Pilates’ original work exhibited what has been distilled into six principles of Pilates. These principles have been adapted and added to by various Pilates schools in recent years. The principles include:
- Flow; and
The aim of Pilates is to achieve more efficient body movement and heightened body awareness, improved posture, flexibility and strength.
Who Can do Pilates?
Pilates exercises can be modified to either increase or decrease the challenge, making it appropriate for all strength and fitness levels. Props can also be incorporated into Pilates exercises to assist individuals to work the correct muscles safely. Therefore, Pilates can be safely practiced by anyone of any age.