The Pilates Method
The Pilates Method is an exercise technique based on the philosophy and teachings of Joseph Herbertus Pilates, the legendary trainer and founder of the Pilates Studio, New York, in the early 1920's.
Joseph Pilates' set of principles, corrective exercises and specialist equipment when combined, work the entire body, co-ordinating the upper and lower musculature with the body's centre core. This complete fitness method, when performed regularly, positively changes the body, leaving you feeling more relaxed, invigorated and taller with a new sense of well-being. The Pilates Method is an extremely safe and effective form of exercise.
The promotion of a healthy self-image makes us more aware of our bodies as a whole. By tuning mind with body, with emphasis on proper breathing, correct spinal alignment, core stability and the smooth flow of movement, you become acutely aware of how your body feels, where it is in space and how to control its movement. The quality of movement is valued over quantity of repetitions. Proper breathing is essential. Correct breathing helps to execute movement with maximum power and efficiency. And of course, learning to breathe properly can reduce stress.
The programme of progressive resistance controlled yet flowing exercises helps muscles work evenly in every day activities. This is achieved through a series of performed movements designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles involved, opening the joints and releasing tension. Many of the deeper muscles are worked together, building stamina and strength.
Pilates elongates the muscles, developing elasticity and avoids the excess bulk that conventional exercise tends to build. The entire musculature becomes evenly balanced and conditioned and so is less prone to injury.
The Pilates Method is exactly that - a method, a technique. It may seem unfamiliar and difficult at first. It takes time to understand and learn, and requires a good deal of commitment. It will take about six lessons to grasp the basic principles and will (if practised regularly) give a whole lifetime of benefits, from confidence and well being to suppleness, strength and tone.
What does Pilates do?
- Builds core stability for abdominal & back strength
- Improves natural posture and spinal alignment
- Tones and elongates muscles without adding bulk
- Develops co-ordination and body awareness
- Enhances mobility, flexibility and agility
- Improves circulation and breathing
- Alleviates pain and tension
- Relieves stress and boosts energy
- Prevents and aids rehabilitation of injuries
- Enhances body / mind connection
- Promotes better sleep
"If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young."
"It is the mind itself that builds the body."
"Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit."
Joseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. He was a sickly child, plagued with rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever: all considered as life threatening at that time. His drive and determination to overcome these ailments led to the study of Eastern and Western forms of exercise and philosophies, as well as the exercise regimes of the ancient Greeks and Roman. By the time he was teens, he was an accomplished skier, skin diver and gymnast.
During the first World War, Joseph Pilates was interned on the Isle of Man and it was here that he began to devise apparatus using old hospital beds to aid the rehabilitation of disabled, sick and bed bound internees.
He moved to New York and with his wife Clara set up the first Pilates Studio in 1929. As it established, it became so well known that it was attended by the elite of New York society as well circus performers, gymnasts and dancers. It was particularly embraced by the dance world, including George Balanchine and Martha Graham, who truly recognised the value of his work, with his inherent and deep understanding of the workings of the human body, enhancing performance and rehabilitating after injury.
Over the course of his career Joe Pilates developed over 600 exercises on various pieces of apparatus he himself invented. Joseph Pilates expanded his equipment based exercise regime and adapted this format to be practiced without apparatus as mat based classes. his was especially valuable for dancers when on tour without access to studios.
His guiding philosophy in creating the apparatus and the movements, was that the body must be exercised in it's entirety to achieve good health. In 1967 Joseph Pilates died at the age of 86. He was fit and healthy. He died of smoke inhalation following a fire at his studio.