What is Pilates?
The Pilates Technique was created way back in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates. The carefully designed system of controlled exercises that engage the mind and condition the total body was originally called ‘Contrology’. Today the system has been refined and it is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, reduces stress and creates long, lean muscles without bulking up.
Pilates (pronounced “puh-lah-teez”) works several muscle groups simultaneously through smooth, continuous motion, with a particular concentration on strengthening and stabilizing the core (the abdomen, back and pelvic girdle region, sometimes referred to as the “powerhouse”).
The focus in Pilates is on quality of movement rather than quantity, which makes one feel invigorated rather than exhausted after a session. Pilates takes a balanced approach so that no muscle group is overworked and the body works as an efficient, holistic system in sport and daily activity.
Ideally, Pilates is practiced in a Pilates studio under the careful supervision of a certified Pilates instructor, these professionals are highly trained specialists who know how to tailor a Pilates program to meet individual needs and abilities, monitoring movements to ensure correct form for optimum results. The technique that has almost been kept a secret by dancers is based on six principles.
The Six Pilates Principles:
- Centering: Physically bringing the focus to the centre of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone.
- Concentration: If one brings full attention to the exercise and does it with full commitment, maximum value will be obtained from each movement.
- Control: Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices.
- Precision: In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.
- Breath: Joseph Pilates emphasized using a very full breath in his exercises. He advocated thinking of the lungs as a bellows — using them strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body. Most Pilates exercises coordinate with the breath, and using the breath properly is an integral part of Pilates exercise.
- Flow: Pilates exercise is done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way.
These six Pilates principles are essential ingredients in a high quality Pilates workout. The Pilates method has always emphasized quality over quantity, and you will find that, unlike many systems of exercise, Pilates exercises do not include a lot of repetitions for each move. Instead, doing each exercise fully, with precision, yields significant results in a shorter time than one would ever imagine.
Joseph Pilates once said “in one session you feel a difference in your body, in ten you will see the difference”.
The Pilates system is one of the few exercise regimes that is recommended by osteopaths, chiropractors and doctors, because of the sophistication and precise nature of the exercises anyone no matter age or fitness is able to achieve some level of the technique. As we age our joints start to seize up unless we keep them moving, so whatever your reason to wanting to try or start Pilates, know that you have made the right decision by just starting.