Pilates is not just exercise. Pilates is not just a random choice of particular movements. Pilates is a system of physical and mental conditioning that can enhance your physical strength, flexibility, and coordination as well as reduce stress, improve mental focus, and foster an improved sense of well-being. Pilates can be for anyone and everyone.
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by German-born Joseph Pilates. In Pilates, the specific sequencing of precise movements emphasizes the balanced development of the whole body. Pilates movements begin from the deep core, working to optimize both strength and flexibility of all muscles in order to support efficient, pain-free movement in all joints. The system emphasizes breath and optimal oxygen flow to muscles, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates movement decompresses the body from daily stresses, allowing you to participate fully in your daily life to a ripe old age. The system accommodates a wide range of abilities and body limitations, allowing for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.
Pilates uses precise movement sequences to develop stability and mobility throughout the body. The simultaneous physical and mental challenges help to improve the following:
The key to getting the maximum benefit from Pilates exercise lies in the proper execution of the exercises, under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. Consistent Pilates practice develops healthy movement habits for life, improving the quality of life through a dynamic relationship with the body and mind.
The original six principles were concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing.
Pilates demands intense focus: "You have to concentrate on what you're doing all the time. And you must concentrate on your entire body for smooth movements." This is not easy, but in Pilates the way that exercises are done is more important than the exercises themselves. In 2006 at the Parkinson Center of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, the concentration factor of the Pilates method was being studied in providing relief from the degenerative symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
In order for the practitioner to attain control of their body they must have a starting place: the center. The center is the focal point of the Pilates Method. It refers to the group of muscles in the center of the body—encompassing the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs—as the "powerhouse". According to Joseph Pilates, the powerhouse is the centre of the body and if strengthened, it offers a solid foundation for any movement. All movement in Pilates should begin from the powerhouse and flow outward to the limbs.
Pilates aims for elegant sufficiency of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina. In other words, the Pilates technique asserts that physical energy exerted from the center should coordinate movements of the extremities: Pilates is flowing movement outward from a strong core.
Precision is essential to correct Pilates: "concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value". The focus is on doing one precise and perfect movement, rather than many halfhearted ones. Pilates is here reflecting common physical culture wisdom: "You will gain more strength from a few energetic, concentrated efforts than from a thousand listless, sluggish movements". The goal is for this precision to eventually become second nature, and carry over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.
Breathing is important in the Pilates method. In Return to Life, Pilates devotes a section of his introduction specifically to breathing "bodily house-cleaning with blood circulation". He saw considerable value in increasing the intake of oxygen and the circulation of this oxygenated blood to every part of the body. This he saw as cleansing and invigorating. Studies have shown that Pilates breathing can help expand lung capacity Pilates attempts to properly coordinate this breathing practice with movement, including breathing instructions with every exercise. "Above all, learn to breathe correctly."
The repertoire of Pilates exercises includes:
Who can do Pilates? Athletes and dancers love the balance Pilates brings, along with recovery from the demands of their rigorous training. Seniors, pre and post-pregnant women, people recovering from injuries and anyone else who wants to remain able-bodied all their lives. You increase the intensity as your body responds to the effects of practice and fitness improves. Pilates has something for everyone.