Pilates was developed by a man named ‘Joseph Pilates’ in the early 20th Century. Joseph was a ‘sickly’ child and as a result became obsessed with body image. He grew up in Germany and developed a strict fitness regime founded on some yoga principles and based on the ‘art of contrology *’ and mind body connection.
He spent time during the war training men in self defence as well as working very closely with ‘Rudolf von Laban’ a famous dance instructor. He later moved to New York where he set up a fitness studio shared with the New York City Ballet. It was here that he attracted elite athletes and movie stars and the ‘Pilates’ revolution began.
*Contrology is “the science & art of co-ordinated body mind spirit development through natural movements under strict control of the will”
Connection is about the mind body connection. Allowing the smaller muscles to develop a ‘brain’ the concept is that if the muscles have never been used, by sending a message with your brain, they will eventually obey your mind.
Pilates focuses on 6 basic principles (control, breathing, finding neutral, concentration, flow & Precision)
Breathing is taught to maximise abdominal control and strength. It is co-ordinated with the movement.
The basis for ALL exercise and good posture stems from Pilates principle of ‘engaging the core’ or activating the ‘powerhouse.’ Your spine is protected by a ‘corset’ of muscles that act to protect the spine. This band of muscles acts to compress the structures around the spine allowing stability. If these muscles are weak, you are much more susceptible to suffering from low back pain or any other injury for that matter.
Pilates is a holistic form of exercise focusing on creating length through stability. It is an EXCELLENT form of exercise and although needs to be done in conjunction with cardiovascular exercise, I HIGHLY recommend Pilates to all.
Pilates can be done by ANYONE and it is versatile, adaptive and fun for all ages, body types and excellent for injury prevention and rehabilitation. From my experience as a physiotherapist I have personally treated and trained numerous people who have been told by surgeons that they need back surgery, join 6 weeks of Pilates and walk away feeling pain free, stronger, taller and more flexible than before. ( Previously sedentary people.)
Article written by Sarah Ferguson