Pilates Basics

Pilates seemed to crawl out of the woodwork one day, just out of the blue. One minute we were swimming, running, lifting, and climbing stairs for our fitness, with yoga in the distance; the next minute there are 14,000 Pilates instructors across the country opening doors to eager individuals craving for the body sculpting of a lifetime. Ever wonder why the rave reviews pour out of people’s mouths just as often as the tabloids publish pictures of one celebrity and after the next walking out of their private Pilates session with a smile of fulfillment on their face? There is no debating that Pilates is an exercise that seems to have emerged into popularity just as quickly and unexpectedly as it seemed to arrive overnight. That should spark at least an inkling of interest as to what it is all about. So, then, what is it?

Pilates, originally called Contrology, is a form of routines that were designed by a man named Joseph Pilates and geared to aid in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers and other patients during World War I. The major aspects of this exercise focus on the core muscular and skeletal structure of what Joseph called the “powerhouse”: the large group of muscles in the center of the body-encompassing the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks. All energy in Pilates is conjured from the core and extended outwards to the limbs. Contrary to many other exercises that are executed in repetition of only a few movements, Joseph carefully designed many movements that ultimately require the refined perfection each movement; which there are many. You’ve probably seen Pilates practitioners carrying mats with them, and this is because the original set of movements that were designed to rebuild the body were done on mats. Joseph Pilates then developed a handful of apparatuses geared specifically towards different controlled movements; an expansion from his original set.

Breathing is a vital necessity to all of us, however to fully maximize the potential of breathing’s power, we must actually work at it. With an underlying concentration of fusing the mind with the body, Pilates is designed to enhance and strengthen the breathing process while paying close attention to every detail of each movement. Joseph believed in circulating the blood and breathing with precision in order to eliminate fatiguing wastes from the body while charging it with the purity of oxygen.

This exercise was designed to strengthen and tone without adding muscle bulk. It is a combinative formula of controlled movements, deep intentional breathing, mind and body connectivity, and core strengthening. Pilates will aid in developing flexibility, physiological relaxation, and an overall bodily toning. It is something that can be done at home once you have learned the proper techniques all the while offering an element of interest because there are so many routines and movements to master. Once utilized to rehabilitate the bedridden, this amazing core-oriented exercise has now, literally, reached the stars.