What are Pilates?

German-born Joseph Pilates, gave his name to these exercises, and designed a series of movements to be achieved with regular practice and using alignment and movement procedures.

It is a series of exercise principles which are gentle, subtle, very effective, but needs commitment and patience to require long-term Pilates benefits. The exercises are performed in a similar manner to some martial-arts or dance forms, where the movements are graceful and controlled but also strength is built up in the various muscle parts of the body to obtain perfect results years down the line. It works on a mind and balanced body. The floor exercises were developed to give the body a fully combined work-out programme, with strengthening, stretching and with ease of control. The overall aim of Pilates is to give ultimate movement and individual control over the torso and limbs.

Joseph Pilates was an expert on the fusion of dance and movement. His belief was that whatever your job or whatever the body needed to undertake to provide the daily work, the body could be trained to be ideal to deal with anything.

The Pilate exercises are practised on the floor and sometimes with a large rubber band, Pilates band or towel to give some resistance. Pilates does not take up much room, unlike other forms of exercise, and this makes Pilates at home an ideal exercise for stay-at-home-mums. The exercise is done quietly, so it can be suited for when little ones are napping. It is also an inexpensive exercise once you have brought the basics such as a DVD and a Pilates band, which is all that you will require, and if you like you can do it in the comfort of your own home, whenever you want. The Pilates DVD’s are available from Pilates for beginners, right up to an advanced level and you can learn Pilates at your own pace when it is right for you.

Pilates is becoming a very popular exercise and tends to be opening at many of the gym’s and dance studios around the country. Unfortunately, sometimes when it is practised in classes a lot of the mind part of the Pilates is forgotten and everybody watches each other instead of concentrating on postures. If you can stay focused in a class that is not too big it will work for you.

All ages and abilities can perform Pilates, but Pilates is very much an individual and personal programme that you follow according to your own time and energy. That doesn’t mean to say that you do different exercises to anyone else. It’s like yoga or tai chi, you do your own exercise your own way, and no two people will do it the same way. If you have ever watched a film of several people doing tai chi, the difference from one person to another can be quite amazing, they are all doing the same form, but with different ages, different sizes, different health and of course different bodies. It is a mind exercise as well, so most of the time, especially in large groups, people do not notice what the person next to them are doing, or what they are wearing. Pilates is not a competitive exercise, and comparisons are not required or needed.

The Pilates benefits will naturally vary from person to person because of the different body types, strengths and weaknesses. Generally Pilates will help the physical re-alignment and strength of the skeletal frame. It will improve overall fitness and wellbeing, help with pain management, prevention of any injury and tones the whole body.

Pilates was first introduced in the early part of the 1900’s and the founder Joseph Pilate himself practised it daily until his death in 1960. His amazing exercise of combining concentration, breathing, precision, centring or core work, control and fluidity all in the one exercise was in its self a symbol of the perfection that he was trying to attain for his own body, and this knowledge is being passed on to you for your own enjoyment, happiness and enlightenment.

If you decide to give Pilates a try, it can be fun but also hard work. I have given you a brief outline of what are Pilates and the Pilates benefits. Like anything you only get out what you put in.