What Exactly IS Pilates?
STRENGTH, MOVEMENT, HEALTH: A Pilates Approach to Wellness
What exactly IS Pilates?
When I tell people that I am a Pilates teacher, the most common follow up question I hear is, “Pilates…is that like yoga?” Although there are certainly several similarities to yoga, Pilates is unique unto itself as a form of exercise.
Pilates is a series of precise, controlled movements done either on a mat or specially designed equipment. German-born fitness enthusiast, Joseph Pilates, created this system of exercise during World War I while in an internment camp in England. Mr. Pilates originally developed his exercises for injury rehabilitation and the basis for today’s modern Pilates equipment originated in that camp when Mr. Pilates first thought to rig mattress springs to the wall. These springs were designed to mimic the muscles of the body and, thus, help people heal. He called his fitness program “Contrology,” and he continued to perfect and innovate his methodology until his death.
In Pilates, an emphasis is placed on developing deep core strength as the basis for movement and exercise. With a focus on timing breath to movement, Pilates combines powerful exercises and stretches to strengthen the body while also lengthening the muscles. Perhaps one of the most vital components of Pilates is the importance of moving in alignment. Many people turn to Pilates to enhance their sport or activity level. Whether you are a professional athlete or just a weekend golfer, Pilates will improve flexibility and range of motion. An important element of any sport or activity is body control and awareness, both of which are improved with Pilates.
Overall, Pilates exercises and equipment are designed to uniformly develop the body, which leads to improved balance and posture. In today’s technological society, people spend an extensive amount of time sitting, whether it’s sitting in front of a computer or commuting to work. As a result, our posture is compromised, as our shoulders are pulled forward and our backs and necks become tight and stiff. Even though Pilates has come a long way from its original inception as a rehab tool, it continues to stay true to its roots and is used extensively for injury rehabilitation and prevention.
Regardless of the specific reason people may choose to come to Pilates classes, they will reap all of the benefits. This makes Pilates an ideal form of fitness for everyone, regardless of age, experience or fitness level. Stay tuned for our next blog, which will highlight the different types of Pilates equipment and how they can help you in different and unique ways!