(Joseph Pilates at age 57 & 82)
Top Benefits of Pilates
- A refreshing mind-body workout.
Pilates gets your mind in tune with your body. By emphasizing proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and complete concentration on smooth, flowing movement, you become acutely aware of how your body feels, where it is in space, and how to control its movement. The quality of movement is valued over quantity of repetitions. Proper breathing is essential, and helps you execute movements with maximum power and efficiency. Last but not least, learning to breathe properly can reduce stress.
"In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you'll be on your way to having a whole new body."
"Physical fitness can neither be achieved through wishful thinking nor outright purchase."
"The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power."
"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness."
"Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but to maintain it".
- Build strength without "bulking up" - gain long, lean muscles and flexibility.
Conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles - the type most prone to injury. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.
- Develop a strong core - flat abdominals and a strong back.
Building on the principles of Joseph Pilates, Pilates exercises develop a strong "core," or center of the body. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.
- Create an evenly conditioned body and prevent sports injuries.
In conventional workouts, weak muscles tend to get weaker and strong muscles tend to get stronger. The result is muscular imbalance - a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates conditions the whole body, even the ankles and feet. No muscle group is over trained or under trained. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, helping you enjoy daily activities and sports with greater ease and less chance of injury.
- Learn efficient patterns of motion.
Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, you can actually re-train your body to move in safer, more efficient patterns of motion - invaluable for injury recovery, sports performance, good posture and optimal health.
- Be confident and safe.
No other exercise system is so gentle to your body while giving it a challenging workout. Many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. Pilates is so safe, it is used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries.
- And be challenged.
Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Get the workout that best suits you now, and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves.
How Pilates Began
Joseph H. Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach, a small town near Duesseldorf, Germany, in 1880. Joseph's father was a prize-winning gymnast of Greek origin. His mother was German, a naturopath.
A family physician gave him a discarded anatomy book: "I learned every page, every part of the body; I would move each part as I memorized it. As a child, I would lie in the woods for hours, hiding and watching the animals move, how the mother taught the young." He studied both Eastern and Western forms of exercise including yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman regimens. By the time he was 14 he had developed his body to the point that he was modeling for anatomy charts!
Joe went to England in 1912, where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned as an "enemy alien" with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe's trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system. 90 years later we still see the effectiveness of his system!
In 1926, Joe immigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet. By the early 1960s, Joe and Clara could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine studied "at Joe's," as he called it, and also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet.
"Pilates" was becoming popular outside of New York as well. As the New York Herald Tribune noted in 1964, "in dance classes around the United States, hundreds of young students limber up daily with an exercise they know as a pilates, without knowing that the word has a capital P, and a living, right-breathing namesake."
The Pilates Studio on 8th Ave , NYC in 1945
What is Pilates?
The Pilates Method, or simply Pilates, ("Pih - LAH - Teez"), is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Pilates is very challenging yet extremely gentle on your joints. It creates a sleek body and a strong core and spine which can prevent injuries. It also dramatically improves your flexibility and posture.
Pilates is one of the most popular exercise systems in the country.
It seems like everyone is either doing Pilates, or interested in starting a Pilates exercise program. As of 2005 there are 11 million people who practice the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States. Indeed, one of the best things about the Pilates method is that it works so well for a wide range of people. Athletes and dancers love it, as do seniors, women rebounding from pregnancy, and people who are at various stages of physical rehabilitation.
The top benefits people report from doing Pilates exercises are that they become stronger, longer, leaner and more able to do anything with grace and ease.