Pilates

Pilates is a physical conditioning system which involves stretching and low impact exercises.  Its objective is to lengthen, strengthen and define muscles and its main focus is on body core stability.  The word ‘pilates’ is taken from the name Joseph Pilates who was the founder of this exercise method.

Joseph Pilates, born in 1888, suffered as a child from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. Sickly and physically underdeveloped, he was often bullied at school.   Motivated to improve his physique and thereby build up his self-esteem, Joseph began studying martial arts, yoga and became increasingly active in gymnastics, bodybuilding and various recreational sports.    During World War 1 he was interned on the Isle of Man where he began to teach fitness exercises to fellow inmates.  Then he developed specific exercises for those who were bedridden.  He used the springs from the camp beds to serve as resistance devices for strength training.   All of this would form the basis of what would become the Pilates system.   He went on to train police officers in Germany and later in 1925 started up a gym in the U.S.   His methods quickly caught on and soon he was sought out by many celebrated dancers, actors and performers , George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Katherine Hepburn, to name a few.

Pilates is based on 6 basic principles:

  • Centering:  bring focus to center of the body
  • Concentration:  bring complete attention to the exercise for full benefit
  • Control:  exercise is done with full control of muscles
  • Precision:  each exercise is done precisely, correctly, otherwise value is lost
  • Flow:  movement is flowing evenly from the core; exercises are fluid, flowing
  • Breath:  breathing is coordinated with movement; full breath is essential

Pilates can be done using a mat on the floor and also adding in weights and specialized equipment.

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Specific Techniques

Practitioners

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