What is Pilates?

Pilates is a unique exercise technique that tones, strengthens and lengthens muscles to give improved flexibility and mobility and a leaner more streamlined body. It targets the deep postural muscles, building strength from the inside out, rebalancing the body and bringing it in to correct alignment. It improves posture and is a great way to releive unwanted stress and tension. Ideal for athletes looking to improve their performance or those new to exercise, Pilates is suitable for everyone. It’s controlled approach means that it gives much longer lasting results and is also recommended by medical specialists for those with back problems.

Once the secret of dancers, top athletes and many celebrates including Madona, Cortney Cox, Pat Cash and the England Cricket Team, Piates can be benefical for and praticed by anyone.

Stott Pilates

Stott Pilates is a contemprary, anatomically based approach to the original method incorperating modern exercise principles and knowledge about spinal rehabilitation and performance enhancement. The exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints.

Benefits of Pilates

1. Flatten, Tone and Strengthen Abs – Instead of doing endless sit ups, lower reps of exercises like the classic ‘Hundreds’ are performed with more control. This combined with a constant focus on the torso stability throughout the workout is what makes Pilates exercises famous for yeilding strong, flat abdominal muscles.

2. Longer, Leaner Muscles – Because of its aesthetic streamlining effects, magazines like Elle & Vogue have been hot on the trail of this mehtod of exercise. Balancing strength with flexibility not only allows you to achieve a long lean look, it also allows the body to move with ease.

3. Improve Posture – The exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and restore its important shock absorbing features.

4. Prevent Injury – In addition to increasing flexibility , Pilates exercises strengthen muscles concentrically and eccentrically (resistance on both the in and out movement). This in turn, improves muscular control, which prevents injuries that commonly occur upon impact, such as landing when jogging or doing aerobics.

5. Increase Circulation, Relieve Tension – A continual emphasis on the breathing not only oxygenates the blood and replenishes cells throughout the body, it also increases blood flow to the brain, whch helps with focus and has a revitalizing effect.

6. Enhance Body Awareness – By identifying and strenthening the body’s deeper support system (the muscles of the torso) you learn how to move efficiently so that walking, running and even putting on our shoes becomes easier.

7. Balance Strength with Flexibility – Most of us have overtrained our muscles by doing way too much forwad bending and not nearly enough stretching and strengthening of the back. Even athletes tend to overuse certain muscles and neglect others. Pilates works on rebalancing the muscles around the joints to work effectively and reduce the chance of injury.

8. Heighten Concentration – By being conscious of your muscles and how to control them, you gradually strengthen the powerful mind-body connection. This heigtened awareness and focus carries over into every day life.

9. Enhance Athletic Performance – Dancers have sworn by Pilates based exercises for years because of the precision, performance, focus and injury prevention they achieve. More recently, professional and amateur golfers, cricketers, footballers and the like have noticed a marked difference in their games.

10. Improve Self Esteem – Because the method of exercise feels so good to do and yields noticeable results, you’ll feel great about yourself.

HISTORY OF PILATES

Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in 1883. He was a sickly child, determined to overcome his various afflictions. He studied yoga, zen meditation and rigorous exercise regimes of the ancient greeks and romans and by the age of 14 he had gained enough strength to become a skin diver, skier and gymnast. He went to England in 1912 and became a boxer, worked as a circus performer and trained detectives in self defense.

During the first world war he was interned along with other Germans where he taught fellow prisoners a series of exercises combining physical fitness with breath control and mental acuity to increase strength and flexibility. In the later part of the war he worked as a hospital orderly helping to rehabilitate patients with a series of resistance exercises using equipment fashioned from bedsprings and other items available.

After the war, he returned to Germany, where he continued to pioneer his unique approach to fitness. When the government insisted that he train the German army he immigrated to the US and established the very first Pilates studio with his wife Clara in New York.

He designed a series of more than 500 mind-body movements or exercises to develop strong, flexible muscles, without adding bulk. His emphasis was on breathing and torso strength ensuring improved posture, reduced risk of injury and stress relief.
Early devotes of Pilates include legendary dancers such as, George Balanchine, Hanya Holm and Martha Graham. Today Pilates is the choice of dancers, athletes, physiotherapists, fitness trainers, elite athletes, health care professionals and those interested in optimal health and fitness.

Joseph Pilates died in 1967.

‘We are as old as our spines’
Joseph Pilates

The original Pilates Principles

1. Breathing – Strong emphasis on continuous breath

2. Centering – working from the centre of the body ‘The Powerhouse’

3. Control – Every movement is controlled from beginning to end

4. Precision – performing less repetitions but with more concentration to ensure the correct muscles are utilised during the exercise

5. Fluidity – Maintaining a smooth movement pattern, not jerking or jarring and never holding a position

6. Concentration – Connecting the mind and body