Origins

Pilates is a unique system of body conditioning devised 100 years ago by Joseph Pilates while he was interned on the Isle of Man. After World War I, he took the technique to America.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a method of exercise and physical conditioning designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. Pilates strengthens all the muscle groups, but particularly the deep “core muscles” which are crucial to both our posture and our overall health and wellbeing.

Pilates yields numerous benefits including strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles. Both muscular and mental coordination are key components in an effective Pilates program, dramatically improving posture, balance, and core strength. Bone density and joint health are enhanced and many experience positive body awareness for the first time in their lives.

Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity often spills over into other areas of your life.

Underlying all the exercises are 8 principles:

 

  • CONCENTRATION
  • BREATHING
  • ALIGNMENT
  • CENTRING
  • CONTROL
  • FLOWING
  • RELAXATION
  • STAMINA

The idea is to approach the exercises in a relaxed way but with control, breathing, and aligning your body in its neutral position. This creates a girdle around your centre, which protects your lower back before you move. With work and commitment you will move with more grace, balance and experience a feeling of wellbeing.

Pilates is suitable for all, regardless of age or level of physical fitness. It has been popular among dancers, gymnasts and professional actors for several decades, but Pilates has now been discovered and made available to a wider public. From those who want a stronger back or flatter stomach to those with specific injuries or medical problems that Pilates can help, or those who simply want to improve their fitness or de-stress.

Physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and doctors now recommend Pilates as one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise available, when it is practised correctly. As with any physical movement, there are safe ways to practice Pilates, but if it is not taught correctly, the full benefits will not be experienced. Also, in a worst-case scenario, if practised incorrectly, injury may occur.


For this reason, it is very important to at least begin your practice under a qualified instructor.


What are the benefits of Pilates?

The results you see from Pilates will not just remain in your classes. You will learn to incorporate what you learn in your Pilates sessions into your daily life – how you stand and walk, how you sit at the computer, as well as more physical activities such as football, skiing, tennis, running, cycling, hiking, dancing or swimming.

Pilates is for everyone interested in improving the way they look, feel and move. My clients range in age from 12-77 and vary from those whose work demands too much sitting to those who sit too little. I have worked with athletes, busy mothers, stressed out executives with bad backs, people with acute injuries and chronic pain, and expectant mothers. Pilates brings benefits to those who have never exercised before as well as to those who always have and always will.


Improved posture - Pilates is a method of physical and mental conditioning which develops the body uniformly and corrects poor posture. It also improves muscle strength, tone and flexibility and develops quality of movement which is essential for good posture. It trains the deep structural muscles which support our skeletal system and reduces overloading on our feet, hips, spine, shoulder and neck. Pilates will help you look and feel much better and reduce pain associated with dysfunctional posture.

Improved sport - specific training can overwork certain muscle groups and develop muscle imbalance, distorting the entire body and decreasing the ability to produce good technique. Pilates helps to lengthen, strengthen and align the body, bringing balance to prepare for any sport. It can also improve concentration, co-ordination, endurance, breath control and can help prevent sport injuries. 

 

©zwpilatesandalexander.com 2015

In one word, Pilates is “exercises”. In two words, Pilates is “corrective exercises” - there is a corrective loop in the effort which is technique and instruction. The instructor feedback is what makes the work-out so efficient and effective.