What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise designed to elongate, strengthen and restore the body to balance, developing an understanding of how the body moves. Based upon anatomical knowledge of the body, Pilates instructors focus on specific areas individually, whilst using exercises that integrate the whole body to re-educate and restore it to optimum muscular and skeletal function.
It was developed in the early 1900’s by Joseph Pilates as a way of balancing strength with flexibility and mobility. Joseph Pilates was a frail child, suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. Determined to drastically improve his physical fitness, he trained himself to excel at boxing, swimming, gymnastics and self-defence. Pilates devised his own method of body conditioning - a series of exercises called The Art of Contrology, which later became the Pilates technique. During the first world war he was interned in England and further developed his system by teaching his exercises to fellow internees, helping them regain mobility and strength.
Pilates recognises the individual, so anyone can benefit. It keeps the body toned, fit and is an excellent form of rehabilitation. It is this holistic approach that sets Pilates apart from many other forms of exercise. Osteopaths, physiotherapists and general practitioners recommend Pilates as one of the safest forms of exercise around. Pilates can be beneficial for almost everyone, regardless of age, shape and fitness level.
Pilates is a very precise, mental and physical body conditioning system. It addresses postural imbalances by targeting the deep abdominal muscles and the surrounding muscles, helping to support the spine. It works from the inside out, rebalancing and re-aligning the body.
Practising Pilates correctly, you should eventually learn how to isolate and work individual muscle groups without putting strain elsewhere. The exercises are simple but effective and take concentration and focus. After several weeks of joining a Pilates class you should notice that your stomach is flatter, your muscles are more defined and your mobility, flexibility and posture have improved.
Who is Pilates for?
Everyone can benefit from Pilates regardless of age, size, ability and fitness level. The exercises can be modified to allow the technique to be appropriate for a variety of body types and abilities. Pilates is proven to be beneficial for many medical conditions, particularly so for:
- People suffering from back or joint pain
- Osteo or Rheumatiod arthritis and osteoporosis
- Pelvic floor problems
- Parkinson’s and MS
- Stress and anxiety
- Menopause symptoms
It is an excellent form of exercise for pregnant and postnatal women and anyone wanting to improve their overall fitness and flexibility. Many elite athletes, dancers and footballers use Pilates to complement their training. Pilates trains the individual to develop whole-body awareness, strength and flexibility, thus reducing the risk of injury.