The Pilates method, which was first devised in the mid-1920s, was one of the first exercise systems in the west to take a holistic approach to fitness and well-being. The current trend for health and fitness an ever-growing awareness of the importance of looking after ourselves on all levels-body, mind, and spirit-may explain the growing popularity of Pilates over recent years.
The Pilates technique offers a unique method of body control and conditioning-stretching and strengthening the muscles, while improving flexibility and balance. Pilates system works in conjunction with other exercise program, strengthening, realigning, and rebalancing the body, improving body awareness, and reducing risk of injury or strain. To fully benefit from the Pilates system, it is essential to not only master the movements and to commit to a regular practice routine, but also to examine your current lifestyle and be prepared to make changes where necessary. On a practical level, this involves making sure you get enough rest and eat a healthy diet, as well as maintaining your level of fitness and well being, reducing stress, and keeping a positive outlook on life.
The Pilates technique help you learn to recognize your strengths and your weaknesses and work toward rebalancing your body. The moves themselves function differently from many other forms of exercise. Here the focus is primarily on strengthening the central core and using the abdominal muscle to control the movements, whereas many other forms of strengthening exercise concentrate purely on developing the limbs themselves. Pilates works to stretch and lengthen the muscles, allowing the body to become stronger and firmer, without building bulk. It teaches you to focus the mind as you exercise the body, gradually improving your coordination, body awareness, flexibility, and overall alignment.
Some people are drawn to Pilates because of its proven body – shaping effects – the gentle stretching and lengthening movements draw the muscles into longer, leaner shapes. Others are drawn to it because they want a challenging whole-body workout that strengthens and increases stamina, but do not wish to lift weights. Still others are referred to Pilates by their chiropractor, osteopath, physical therapist, or medical practitioner.
Many people who have sustained a back or neck injury are drawn to Pilates, discovering it to be an excellent method of strengthening the body and preventing it from sustaining further injury.
Pilates is a subtle technique that works at supporting and protecting the body as you exercise. However, if you have any specific complaint, suffer chronic pain or discomfort, or any sustained any injuries, particularly to the spine or neck, then you should seek medical advice before embarking on any exercise program.
Safety while exercising is an important aspect of any fitness regimen. However, many injuries occur in everyday life, for example, pulling muscles while lifting shopping bags or small children. The Pilates system retains the body, increasing strength and flexibility and improving balance, posture, alignment, and muscle control. Consequently we become better able to manage our daily activities efficiently and effectively with little or no risk of strain or injury. Under the Pilates system, the body is worked as a whole, ensuring that stability, balance, correct alignment, good muscle control, and correct breathing are maintained while the various muscle groups are being exercised.
The Pilates system increases our self – awareness, making us more aware of what we unconsciously do with our bodies and enabling us to indentify and alter bad habits. It also provides us with the opportunity to develop areas that need attention, allowing us to build up strength in our weak areas.
The key benefits of the Pilates method are as follows:
Joseph Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1880. He was a sickly child, suffering from a variety of ailments, including asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Determined to overcome his physical weakness, he dedicated himself to becoming physically fit and strong. He studied and became proficient at various activities, including bodybuilding, diving, skiing, and gymnastics. By the time he was fourteen years old he had become so physically fit that he was able to work as a model for anatomical charts.
In 1912, Pilates moved to the U.K., where he worked as a boxer, circus performer, and a self –defense trainer to detectives. During World War I, he was taken prisoner of war because of his nationality. Initially placed in a camp in Lancaster, as the war progressed, Pilates was moved to another camp on the Isle of Man. Here he became a hospital nurse and the developed a fitness routine for the other internees. He began constructing equipment, removing bed springs and attaching them to the walls so that inmates could use the springs to exercise while lying on their beds. After a flu epidemic that killed thousand, Joseph Pilates’ fitness regimen was given credit for the fact that none of these succumbed to the virus. After the war, Pilates returned to Germany, settling in Hamburg where he continued with his fitness program, working with the local police force until he was drafted into the army. In 1926, disenchanted with Germany, he decided to set sail for the U.S. On board ship, he met a young nurse, Clara, who later became his wife.
Arriving in New York, he set up his first exercise studio at 939 Eighth Avenue. Little is known about the early years of the studio, but by the 1940s, he had achieved great popularity in the dance world. By the 1960s, the Pilates method has continued to grow in popularity. In recent years, many more people have discovered the benefits of Pilates and this technique is becoming one of the most popular fitness systems.
The original exercises, devised by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, consisted of thirty four moves. Pilates’ influence came from his studies of various sports and exercise routines from both Eastern and Western disciplines. His routine was not simply a set of physical movements separate from every other aspect of life, but part of a program of health care designed to improve an individual’s overall fitness and well – being. Pilates never formalized his routine, instead adapting the moves to the needs of each individual. Consequently, many of his followers have developed their own version of the Pilates technique. The result of this is that, although the basic principles of Pilates are unchanging, the actual teachings now vary slightly in style and emphasis.