Introduction to Pilates
Beginner's guide to Pilates exercise
If you want to be more flexible and develop your core body strength, Pilates is the perfect activity to get involved in. Check out this introduction to Pilates to get a taste of the activity and the benefits of Pilates exercises.
Pilates is ‘A thinking way of moving’
Also known as the ‘Body Control Method’, Pilates is a system of slow, flowing, and precise movements developed in the 1920s and onwards by the German-born Joseph Pilates, (born 1880). Described as ‘a thinking way of moving’, Pilates works by developing and integrating our awareness of our bodies, our core strength and our mobility. This combination enables us to achieve ‘functional fitness’: to know and be able to use our own true strength and flexibility effectively.
Pilates develops long, lean muscles and core strength
Pilates builds strength from the inside out and can have a visibly powerful effect on the shape and even height of our bodies. It is like the complete opposite of ‘body-building’: instead of building ‘big’, short, bulky muscles by isolated weight-lifting exercises, Pilates continually works to stretch and strengthen our muscles, using carefully controlled movements to build a longer, leaner, stronger and more flexible body. Pilates teaches that our power lies in a central column of complex muscles in the torso and pelvis, and that our strength comes from proper alignment, awareness and breathing rather than brute force.
Pilates works as a reliable partner with other forms of exercise
Pilates teacher Michael King calls Pilates not an ‘instead of’ but an ‘as well as’ form of exercise; it works in a way which is extremely effective in complimenting other exercise programs, sports or performance arts. For example, Pilates can help the golfer rebalance their body after always building up one side of muscles through their ‘swing’, and it can assist in building stamina, concentration and relaxation for performers including dancers, singers and actors.
Pilates is a ‘physical intelligence’ for everyday life
Pilates is a non-competitive physical conditioning program which can help people of all walks of life to take care of their bodies. It can help us to live our everyday lives more enjoyably and effectively. For example, teaching us ways to avoid back pain by protecting and strengthening our backs if we do a lot of desk work or driving, or training our bodies so that we are less likely to injure ourselves in ordinary tasks like lifting a child.
"The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power," Joseph Pilates (1939)