What is Pilates?
Pilates is a physical fitness system that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates.
It was created during the First World War with the intention to improve the rehabilitation program for casualties. During this period, Pilates was designed to aid injured soldiers in regaining their health by strengthening, stretching, and stabilising key muscles.
Pilates prefers fewer, more precise movements, requiring control and technique over increased repetition. It perceives that mental and physical health are essential to one another, creating what is a method of total body conditioning. Pilates uses:
- correct alignment,
- breathing, and
- flowing movement (the Pilates principles) to establish a perfect working body from the inside out.
Pilates classes build strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone with an emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine, rather than on bulking and shortening the muscles.
Pilates has a focus on the core which can basically be thought of as the ‘powerhouse’ of your body. Your core is the area between your shoulders and your pelvis (without your arms and legs) and encompasses all the muscles within this area. The essential intrinsic core muscles are your Transversus Abdominus, Pelvic Floor and Multifidus muscles which we learn to train as part of the Pilates method.
Because of its core focus, Pilates is popular not only in the field of fitness, but also in rehabilitation. It can be used to progress individuals through movements that represent their day-to-day activities. The focus on strengthening the core and improving postural awareness are especially well indicated for the alleviation and prevention of back, neck and joint pain. It is especially good for pre- and post-birth, to initially aid in the birthing process, prevent incontinence and help with other post-partum complications such as rectus diastysis. Pilates also provides many more specific benefits for differing populations including improvement to pelvic floor function, bone density improvement and lung capacity/breathing technique improvement amongst many others.