What is Pilates?

“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”
Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86.

Pilates is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body.  Pilates is a non-impact, non weight-bearing system of physical conditioning that focuses on body placement and increasing body awareness.  This method aids in improved alignment, breathing, and increases efficiency of movement.  Pilates slims the muscles and makes them longer, developing sleekness rather than bulk.  It turns the abdomen and lower back into a firm, central support for a strong, supple, and graceful body.

The six principles of Pilates, concentration, control, centering, breath, flow and precision, enable the practitioner to move with maximum efficiency while minimizing stress on the body.  Applying these principals to Pilates movement allows clients to access deeper levels in the body.  This creates a more complete feeling of fitness, energy and vitality that stays with you days after your workout.  The focus is on the center of the body called the “powerhouse”: the stabilizing core muscles of the torso that support the spine.

The “powerhouse”, along with deeper muscles along the spine and the muscles of the pelvic floor, actively collaborate to create a solid cylinder around the central spine.   With dedicated practice of Pilates exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, this method has proven itself invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor, but also as an important addition to professional sports training and physical rehabilitation of all kinds.

Benefits of Pilates

Pilates yields numerous benefits including strength and flexibility of the abdomen, back, and areas of the hip along with increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing.  Posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased.  Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time.  Coordination of the mind and body, muscular vs. mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program.  Pilates teaches balance and control of the body which spills over into other areas of one’s life.

Pilates has addressed the needs of dancers and super-athletes for decades, but you don’t have to be a dancer or athlete to experience the benefit of Pilates.  The beauty of this technique is that you can do it according to your own fitness level. Pilates also has tremendous application for injury prevention because it prepares the body for balanced, efficient, and graceful movement in all spheres and ranges of motion.  Pilates is also an exceptional cross-training tool. Golfers, tennis players, skiers, swimmers and runners all benefit.

Pilates exercises are gentle, progressive, and performed slowly with good postural alignment at all times; challenging enough for the super-fit, but also gentle enough for pregnant women and the elderly.