Unlike so many fitness fads, Pilates has been around since the 1920’s and continues to grow in popularity every day. It is backed by leading osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists and personal trainers and it has become a staple part of exercise for athletes as well as regular fitness enthusiasts.
These are just a few of the many benefits Pilates has to offer:
- Pilates treats the body as a whole, building up smooth, toned muscle.
- It is low impact
- Movements are performed in a slow and controlled way, optimising correct and efficient muscle recruitment, leading to better results, faster.
- It improves core strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.
- It helps building toned muscles that improve functional strength for everyday tasks as well as for sports.
- It creates long, lean muscles helping to create a flatter stomach and it is suitable for pregnancy and regaining fitness after birth.
- Pilates focuses on efficient breathing, improves circulation, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with endorphins, making you feel great!
In his book "RETURN TO LIFE THROUGH CONTROLOGY",
Joseph Pilates defined his work as a way to completely and thoroughly unify the body, mind and spirit. His principles, which we now call the principles of Pilates,
are the foundation for his approach to physical fitness.
Concentration promotes the mind-body connection.
As you focus and become mindful of each body movement,
Joseph Pilates states you will receive optimum physical value from each movement
as well as enhance your body awareness.
Pilates consciously brings your focus to the centre of your body.
As you focus within, you will bring calm to both your body and spirit.
Joseph Pilates called the centre of your torso the “powerhouse,” f
from which all energy for exercise is derived.
Joseph Pilates' method is based on mindfulness,
including proper, safe and complete muscle control.
With proper control, you utilise the exact and correct form,
leaving no part of your body unattended.
In your mindful awareness, you direct each and every movement.
According to Joseph Pilates' precision principle, executing one exercise
with deliberate precision is more important than completing
more repetitions with sloppier form. For this reason, good Pilates instructors provide detailed instructions to their students on all Pilates movements.
Deep, controlled, diaphragmatic breathing
activates blood circulation and awakens cells and muscles.
Breathing is the most integral part of exercise and even if one follows no other recommendation, learning to breathe correctly is the most important thing.
The Pilates routines are completed through a gentle flow.
Grace, ease and fluidity are the intention Joseph Pilates applied to all exercise. Continuous, smooth and elegant movement as you transition from one pose to another will bring strength and stamina according to this principle.
Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany on December 9, 1883.
He suffered from a range of debilitating conditions throughout his childhood including rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever. Determined to overcome his poor physical health, he devoted himself to the task of becoming as fit and strong as was humanly possible.
He was always studying various exercise regimens to expand his knowledge base
and he became enamoured by the classical Greek ideal of a man balanced in body,
mind, and spirit. This lead him to develop his own exercise system based on this concept.
Growing into adulthood, Joe was no longer the sickly child he had once been and he became an avid skier, diver, gymnast, and boxer.
In 1912 Joe went to England, where he worked as a
self-defence instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard.
At the outbreak of World War 1, Joe was interned as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.
In 1926, Joe emigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara Zeuner, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet. By the early 1960s, Joe and Clara could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine studied “at Joe’s,” as he called it, and also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet.
Joe continued to train clients at his studio until his death in 1967, at the age of 87. Little did he know much his Pilates method would continue to change the lives of so many people around the world. Endorsed by dancers, athletes, celebrities and health professionals alike, Pilates is no longer just 'another' form of exercise. It has become a part of people's every day life and it's wonderful benefits will continue to transform people's bodies and general health well into the future.