Pilates is a holistic exercise system designed to elongate, strengthen and restore the body to balance.
Founded in Germany by Joseph Pilates and introduced to the UK in 1970 by Alan Herdman, Pilates has been steadily increasing in popularity and credibility, initially among professional dancers, then within the field of injury rehabilitation and more recently among the general public. The emphasis of Pilates is on the quality of movement rather than quantity or load, ensuring that the right muscles are engaged at the right time for efficient movement and rapid results.
The original core principles of Pilates, still very much adhered to in todays practice are Breathing , Concentration, Control, Centering, Precision and Flow. Various interpretations and adaptations of the original style have now come to include other important principles such as pelvic/scapula stability and mobility, alignment, neutral spine and coordination.
Although very much based on the physical tuning of the body, the focus required for Pilates can be very good for nurturing mind-body connection and awareness and therefore a by-product of this discipline is that it can be very relaxing whilst simultaneously working your body in a surprisingly powerful way!
One of the beautiful aspects of Pilates is how inclusive it is for all ages and abilities…..regardless of flexibility, stamina etc. There are many adaptations for each exercise to bring it to an appropriate level and a number of progressions for those who wish to challenge themselves and have managed to develop good core strength. Clear and detailed explanations of the exercises are important for helping you to understand your body and how it moves so Pilates classes can often involve a lot of talking and tweaking of ‘the finer details’.
The advantages of connecting to, and strengthening the core are vast. Many people report a noticeably improved posture as their core stabilising muscles now allow them to stand tall and be supported. A strengthened core will help to support the muscles of the back which often come under undue strain due to a weak and unsupportive core. Gentle movement of the joints maintains good movement and lubrication: more flexible muscles can ease many of life’s daily aches and pains and learning the correct ways to engage your muscles and limbs can be a great help both in injury rehabilitation and also life’s daily activities that we often do without thinking or in a hurry. Pilates brings awareness to these functional movements. Balance can also be improved which becomes very important later in life or after injury.
All in all, Pilates is a very well spent hour! And for anybody who feels that it might be a bit too slow….don’t be fooled….done correctly Pilates will certainly get you sweating and help your on way to stronger, leaner and more toned body.