Pilates focuses on improving core strength and muscular imbalances, which in turn has a positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing.
Just like Yoga, the benefits include improved flexibility, posture and balance and in comparison to other more traditional and strenuous forms of exercise and significantly reduces the chance of injury.
Pilates workouts are mostly mat based, so they can be tailored to your personal fitness levels and are therefore suitable for both beginners and those that feel ready to try out more advanced moves.
Originally called ‘Contrology’, Pilates was named after its creator, the carpenter and gymnast, Joseph Pilates. The programme was developed to help injured soldiers and dancers while he was living in the UK. He later opened the first Pilates studio in New York in 1926.
Initially, Joseph Pilates created and devised 34 fundamental exercises that aimed the complete coordination of the mind, body and spirit. These exercises have been developed over the years, but regardless of different approaches taken by some instructors the six key principles have remained and are followed by all certified instructors. They encompass, control, concentration, powerhouse-centring, breathing, precision and flow.
Pilates was initially known as ‘Contrology’ as it is imperative that each movement of the body is carried out with complete control. To achieve perfect control, you need to be fully aware of the movements of your neuro-muscular junctions.
This element looks at the importance of the connection and cooperation between the body and the mind. When taking the starting position in each exercise, careful focus must be applied onto which muscles will be used and how they will be aligned.
The centre of power production in Pilates derives from what’s known as The Powerhouse, in other words the core of the body, which is sometimes mistaken as only the abdominal muscles. It is, however, much more than that, encompassing the abdominal, lower back muscles, pelvic floor, glutes and muscles around the hips. Generally, Pilates movements are sourced from the centre.
Breathing is known as the first and last human function, we constantly breathe in and out; so we often assume we don’t need instructions to perform this activity correctly. Joseph Pilates insisted it was vital to “learn to breathe properly”, he envisioned the lungs as a bellows and we should use them to circulate air powerfully around the body.
You can only ensure you derive the maximum benefits from the classes if you make sure each movement is carried out precisely and in perfect alignment. Missing even what appears to be a tiny detail implies a deviation of the essential meaning of the exercise.
Each Pilates motion should be smooth, balanced and graceful. Emphasis must always be placed on harmony of motion, rather than speed. There is no specific end to each exercise and the transition between them is fluid, keeping the body in constant motion.
To find out more about Pilates classes offered at your local centre, click here.