Pilates is a form of body conditioning that was developed by the late Joseph Pilates. His method, which he called "contrology", focuses on strengthening the core muscles or "powerhouse". Pilates teaches that the core muscles need to be strong and stable before working other parts of the body. His exercises incorporates strengthening and stretching simultaneously with a mind/body connection.
6 Principles of Pilates
- Concentration: Pilates requires intense focus on what your body is doing. This is very important because good form is required in order to perform Pilates exercises properly.
- Centering: This is the focal point of the Pilates Method. All movements in Pilates flow outward from the central muscles of the body or the "powerhouse". These muscles include the abdominals, hips, buttocks, pelvic floor and upper/lower back.
- Control: Each exercise is performed with control allowing the muscles time to respond to the artistry of the movement.
- Precision: Performing the exercises four times perfectly is more efficient then 20 times with poor form. It is not about how many reps it is about the quality of the movement.
- Flow: Allowing the exercises to have a continuous flow from one another creates the stamina and endurance which gives the movements a purpose. Pilates is flowing movement outward form a strong core.
- Breathing: Learning to breath correctly creates a deeper connection to your movements. The lateral breath used in Pilates will leave you feeling energized and invigorated. Adding the engagment of the abdominals and pelvic floor to the breath while performing the exercises helps facilitate your movements with power.
History of Pilates
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He was a frail and sickly child. He became interested in the human body with the encouragement of his physician and became and expert in anatomy. Joseph practiced many different forms of activity including gymnastics, acrobatics, boxing, yoga and Zen meditation. He believed that mental and physical health are inter-related.
He was in England when WWI began and was placed in a camp for German nationals. Using the knowledge that he gained from his studies of various exercise methods he began to develop his own method of movement he later called "Contrology". He began training other men in the camp and ended up creating an exercise and resistance training apparatus for rehabilitation. The men that Joseph trained were the strongest and healthiest in the camp.
He returned to Germany after the war but soon decided to move to the US in 1925. He met his wife Clara on the trip there and they opened their own studio upon arrival to New York City. He situated his studio amongst dance studios and soon his method of contrology became a staple of strengthening, balance and rehabilitation for the dance community. Contrology has carefully been passed on to generations of instructors who study and adapt Joseph's ingenious original work and in honor of it's originator the method is now known as - Pilates.