Joseph Pilates

About Pilates

"All in all, we do not give our bodies the care that our well-being deserves."

("Return to Life Through Contrology" by Joseph Pilates)

 

 

Pilates was  created by Joseph Pilates who was born in Germany in 1886.  His father was an award-winning gymnast of Greek descent, so it is highly likely that physical exercise would have played a major role in  the Pilates' family lifestyle.  His mother was a naturopath so natural remedies would have been a way of life for the family too.  As a child, Joseph was very sickly and it is said that he suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever.  With the influence of home life, he set about making his body strong, fit and healthy.   Probably as a result of his mother's influence, he was greatly influenced by nature and the natural laws of life.  He exercised outdoors as much as possible benefiting from natural fresh air and the absorption of vitamin D in natural sunlight.  He became accomplished at gymnastics, diving, and martial arts.  He taught combat techniques to both the German and British armed services and police forces.  During World War I he was interned on the Isle of Man and used his knowledge and physical fitness to help restore well-being and fitness to those who were frail and sickly.  After the war, he moved to New York  and set up a Pilates' fitness studio alongside his wife whom he had met on his journey to America. 

 

Pilates' Exercise

The aim of Pilates’ exercise is to improve posture and movement quality by restoring muscular balance and muscle memory. The exercise movements are performed in a precise and detailed way with the body in a specific alignment which improves spine and joint alignment.   Pilates is a technique and it can take a long time to learn and master the skills required to perform the various movements well.  The movements become easier to perform as posture improves and the body becomes more mobile, stronger, and flexible. 

Performing good movement repetitively and routinely sends the right input to the brain regarding movement and lost muscle memory is restored. Muscle firing improves and muscles become stronger over time as they learn to function once more. Joint movement increases and we start to perform more graceful and controlled movements resulting in minimal wear and tear on joints.

Pilates' exercise is mind-body exercise that  develops awareness and mindfulness. Pilates can be truly life changing if you embrace the philosophy, values and principles. Those who do are surprised and amazed by the changes they experience.

Everyone’s journey is personal and no-one can predict how long it will take to improve posture as it depends upon the severity of the posture issues, how mindful and open to change the person is, how body and spatially aware they are, the level of understanding they have, and how motivated they are. 


Modified Pilates’ Exercise

In the 1990s, during medical research into low back pain, it was proven medically that Pilates’ exercise can reduce low back pain by adapting the original Pilates’ movements and calling them modified movements (hence the name Modified Pilates). The modified movements are performed maintaining ideal spine and joint alignment, engagement of the deep postural abdominal or pelvic floor muscles and a specific breathing technique. Modified Pilates is rehabilitative and therefore inclusive. It does not exclude those who cannot or should not perform the original movements due to a history of spine or joint injury.

 

The Principles of Pilates

Joseph Pilates applied exercise principles to his movements.  The principles include  concentration, precision, control, breathing, centring, routine, flowing movement and repetition.  World renowned Pilates’ teacher Rael Isacowitz states in his book ‘Pilates - your complete guide to mat work and apparatus exercises, “Without these principles, Pilates’ exercise is meaningless”.   Those who commit and discipline themselves to the application of  the principles reap success. 

 

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is the foundation of the Pilates’technique.  All exercise movements are performed on a mat making it the most versatile style of Pilates’ exercise.

 

Apparatus

Pilates’ apparatus is unique to Pilates because Joseph Pilates designed and built each piece. Even though he died several years ago, Pilates’ apparatus is still manufactured and used in Pilates’ studios today. There are several pieces of apparatus: the Reformer, Cadillac, Stability Chair, Ped-a-Pull, Barrels and Towers. The apparatus is large using spring tension, ropes and pulleys.  Click the link to find out more about the specific pieces of apparatus.

 

Modified Pilates’ Exercise

In the 1990s, during medical research into low back pain, it was proven medically that Pilates’ exercise can reduce low back pain by adapting the original Pilates’ movements and calling them modified movements (hence the name Modified Pilates). The modified movements are performed maintaining ideal spine and joint alignment, engagement of the deep postural abdominal or pelvic floor muscles and a specific breathing technique. Modified Pilates is rehabilitative and therefore inclusive. It does not exclude those who cannot or should not perform the original movements due to a history of spine or joint injury.  It is especially beneficial for older populations and during pregnancy (click the links to find out more).

 

The Benefits of Pilates

Better Posture

Pilates’ exercise improves posture by targeting deep postural muscles that underpin ideal spine and joint alignment.

Posture deteriorates as we grow older, during pregnancy, when we are ill, when we sit for long periods, when we perform limited and repetitive movements. Improving posture offers numerous benefits helping us to improve both health and fitness. Circulatory, respiratory and lymphatic systems work more efficiently; we have more energy for daily activities as a result of increased stamina; fewer aches and pains are experienced, including headaches.

Improved Movement Quality

Pilates’ exercise improves movement quality by correcting muscle memory and improving spine and joint stability, mobility, flexibility and strength. Good movement quality will reduce joint inflammation, stiffness and tension. Improved bone density will reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis.

Increased Core Strength

A girdle of strength is created around the body to support the spine.

Improved Body Shape

Body shape changes as muscles become longer and leaner.

Stronger Pelvic Floor Muscles

Stronger pelvic floor muscles reduce the likelihood of incontinence.

Exercising the Mind & the Body

Thinking about the way we sit and stand makes us more body aware. Being more aware of our thought patterns can help us to make positive changes to our lifestyle.

Additional Benefits

Pilates’ exercise improves other aspects of fitness such as balance, control, co-ordination and concentration.

 

“He wanted to train the body so that every move you made was constructive exercise and believed that his exercise system should become a way of life: applying Pilates to everyday activities including sitting and walking.”

(Romana Kryzanowska - taken from an article on the IDEA Health and Fitness Association’s website,

‘Romana Kryzanowska: Pilates Living Legend’ by Rosalind Gray Davis.)


Client Feedback

"Pilates makes you think about your body in ways that other physical activities don't" (CB)