Joseph Pilates – born in 1883, was frail as a child and studied many different fitness disciplines to improve himself. He brought together ideas from areas such as Yoga, Zen Buddhism and acrobatics to create his own fitness method during and after World War 1. He originally decided to call his method ‘Contrology’, indicating the controlled manner in which the exercises should be executed. It was originally used as a rehabilitation program for prisoners of war and was later found to be of great benefit to anyone seeking a higher level of fitness. Pilates moved to New York in the 1920’s and began to teach and train other teachers.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise that uses one’s own bodyweight, which emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement. Exercises are usually performed on a mat or on the floor, however a wide variety of props and machines can be utilised as one progresses with the discipline.
How is it beneficial?
Pilates gives practitioners improved posture, increased lung capacity, and strong, sculpted muscles. Its emphasis on all round, complete fitness supports a variety of fitness goals, from building strength, increasing flexibility and injury rehabilitation. It is beneficial for anyone who would like to try it, and can be done anywhere.
The Pilates Principles
Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Shoulder & Scapula Stabilization, Head & Cervical Placement, Rib Cage Placement. These are the five basic principles that provide the foundation of Pilates and are key to performing the exercises safely and effectively. They show you how to breathe properly and position your body through the exercises. These principles will make you more aware of your ‘core’ and help you get better results from your workout. We incorporate these into each session.
Proper breathing ensures that enough oxygen is flowing to the muscles you are using, and helps prevent unnecessary tension. A relaxed and full breath pattern encourages focus and concentration.
The breath pattern involves an expansion of the rib cage out to the sides and back without allowing the shoulders to lift. It is also important to breathe into the lower part of your lungs, because there is more efficient gas exchange. The breath pattern involves inhaling through the nose, and out through the mouth.
The breath pattern used in Pilates will help engage your deep abdominal muscles and stabilize your torso. The tummy should remain strong throughout the sessions and one should not ‘belly breath’.