Joseph Pilates was unique in that he was sickly as a child and yet developed himself into a professional diver and boxer. Because of this, his technique is extremely effective for all levels of fitness. He developed a fitness conditioning technique of working the body from the inside out. His exercises target muscle strength, balance and flexibility. As the muscles balance and become stronger, many aches and pains diminish or disappear. For individuals in post rehabilitation, to the highest level of athlete, and everything in between, the Pilates method provides a new level of strengthening and conditioning.
Joseph Pilates was placed in forced internment in England at the outbreak of WWI. While in the internment Joseph Pilates began to work with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries. It was invention born of necessity that inspired him to utilize items that were available to him, like bedsprings and beer keg rings, to create resistance exercise equipment for his patients. These were the unlikely beginnings of the equipment we use today, like the reformer and the magic circle.
Unhealthy as a child, Joseph Pilates studied many kinds of self-improvement systems. He drew from Eastern practices and Zen Buddhism, and was inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of man perfected in development of body, mind and spirit. With these influences Joseph Pilates developed these 7 Principles for his work:
Mental focus, short-term and long-term memory. Pilates is a mind/body workout.
Abdominal and spinal stabilization, carriage, power. All movement comes from the center.
Muscular stabilization, flexibility, and breathing. Movement is intentional and never uses momentum. Originally called Contrology, the method emphasizes quality of movement. Use of minimum effort for maximum benefits.
Placement, articulating shape. Movements are purposeful. Some muscles stabilize to allow others to mobilize, doing so with exactness.
Energizing the body and cleansing the bloodstream. Although some exercises have specific breathing patterns, most simply require natural breath. Most often diaphragmatic (lateral) breathing is employed.
Flowing movement, rhythm, and dynamics. Focus is on creating a flow between and within exercises. Movements are smooth and continuous.
Endurance, stamina. For a normal, healthy individual without any issues, the workout is vigorous enough to achieve cardiovascular benefits.
The modern lifestyle of most people puts pressure onto the spine due to long periods of sitting, either at work, travel or watching television, leading to such conditions as lower back pain and rounded shoulders. Pilates helps to realign the spine by strengthening and lengthening specific muscles that support the spinal column.
If practiced regularly, Pilates not only improves your posture, making you stand straighter and taller, but it also works muscles in the legs, buttocks, abdominals and upper body. So in addition to the health benefits achieved from having great posture, you will also improve the muscle tone throughout your body, therefore improving your overall shape.
Realigns the pelvis, spine and neck