A Guide to Pilates
"Pilates is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace and skill that will be reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play and in the way you work." Joseph Pilates
Pilates is a form of exercise pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates and taught today in a variety of forms, from matwork to equipment -based.
Initially Pilates was strongly associated with ballet - Joseph Pilates shared a studio with New York City Ballet, and many elite dancers came there, but it soon became the favoured form of exercise amongst sportspeople, actors and actresses and a wide range of people with back problems or previous injuries.
Pilates works on strengthening the stabilising muscles which are close to, and support, the spine, and from which our body's posture and alignment are determined. If these muscles are strengthened and used regularly, not only will your general posture be improved but also you are less likely to suffer stress injuries throughout your body which may be caused by other forms of exercise. This is one of the reasons that Pilates is widely recommended for many professional athletes and why so many osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists advocate it.
On starting Pilates you will learn how to 'find' and use correctly the key stabilising muscles before embarking upon a range of exercises which are gentle, progressive and performed slowly with good postural alignment at all times. Don't be fooled into thinking that Pilates is easy - it requires great concentration and you will be surprised at how quickly you will build strength and stamina. Pilates is designed to produce long, lean muscles rather than building big, bulky ones, and is also fantastic at getting your pelvic floor back into shape after having children.
Pilates is a holistic form of exercise where mind and body work in close harmony. Eight principles underpin each and every movement: relaxation, concentration, alignment, breathing, centring, co-ordination, flowing movements and stamina. It is both a great form of physical exercise and fantastic way of relieving stress and unwinding. However, it must be taught by a qualified teacher as doing the exercises incorrectly could be harmful, especially if you have old injuries or back problems.