Originally called “Contrology,” Pilates is a method of whole body exercise and movement designed to increase strength, flexibility, and balance. It integrates breath and movement within proper body mechanics to increase awareness, and use all of the muscles of the body as they were designed.
Though there is an emphasis on core work, core strength alone is not the end goal. Rather, using that core strength to develop functional and sustainable movement patterns throughout the body is the goal. The exercises work the smaller and deeper stabilising muscles of the body as much as your prime movers creating optimal strength through muscle balance and fine-tuning neuromuscular patterns. Pilates aligns your entire body’s overall structure and supports its joints.
It can be practiced on a Mat using your own body and sometimes small props, or on specialised Pilates Apparatus. Pilates is for all bodies. Part of the beauty of the method is that it can be modified to fit the needs and abilities of each individual who practices it. What appears to look simple can be deceptively challenging and incredibly effective when done correctly with good form.
Read More: Pilates Apparatus, More than just a Mat
The Benefits of Pilates
Pilates is a challenging exercise method that balances strength with flexibility, aligns your body, fine-tunes movement patterns, creates balanced muscles on each side of your body, improves posture, enhances coordination and balance, increases lung capacity, enhances concentration, increases body awareness, reduces stress, and prevents injuries and strengthens the deeper muscles of your core.
The optimal strength gained from a consistent Pilates practice helps you move through your daily activities with more freedom and power and less pain.
A Brief History of the Pilates Method.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates. He was born in Germany in 1883. Although stories vary, it is known that he had asthma and other ailments as a child. He studied a wide range of exercises and movement, including the Greek philosophy of mind, body, and spirit, and developed his system to strengthen his own body.
In his early years, he worked as a circus performer and boxer. He spent time in an internment camp in England during World War I, and after that began training others in the system he called The Art of Contrology.
In 1926 he immigrated to the US, where he met his wife Clara. Together, they opened a studio in New York City, where they taught until his death in 1967. Six of his former students were given Clara’s blessing to teach what then became known worldwide as Pilates.
Pilates and yoga: What’s the difference?
Sure, Pilates and yoga seem similar at first glance. They’re both popular forms of exercise that use stretching and breathing techniques to improve your overall health. But they also have some notable differences.
Yoga focuses on mindfulness and deep breathing as you flow through a series of poses. It’s often used to deepen meditation practices, boost flexibility, and improve balance.
How can you get started with Pilates?
If you think Pilates would be helpful for your body, you can join me in two ways. At my home studio in Dundalk to work on the apparatus or online from anywhere with my live Zoom matwork classes or my do anytime On Demand library.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Pilates and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.
Here to help,