What is Pilates?

Pilates is a proven exercise technique which has been in use for over seventy years, yet, in that time, it has essentially remained a well-kept secret within the world of sport and the performing arts. This is now rapidly changing as people's requirements from, and their approach to, exercise begin to dramatically alter. The 'Mind Body' approach which is central to Pilates is totally in line with these new demands - "it is the mind which builds the body" was Joseph Pilates' favourite quote from Schiller.

History of Pilates

The Method has its origins in the work of the late Joseph Pilates. Who was born in 1880 near Düsseldorf. A frail child he turned to physical fitness programmes to improve his body image, becoming a keen sportsman, developing talents in sports as varied as diving, gymnastics and boxing. He studied many different disciplines and, drawing from each of them, formulated a system that worked for his own body.

His fitness studio in New York, set up in the 1920's, attracted the 'elite' of New York with leading ballet dancers coming to him because his exercises perfected and complemented their traditional programme. Actors and actresses, athletes, the rich and the famous were all attracted to a workout that recognized individual needs and built strength without adding bulk, balancing that strength with flexibility, and achieving the perfect harmony between mind and muscle.

Pilates is now accessible to all, partly through the best-selling book Body Control: the Pilates Way, but also through the growing number of instructors running classes around the United Kingdom.

Who is Pilates for?

Anyone wishing to improve their total fitness, posture and appearance
Professional athletes - advanced conditioning programmes can enhance performance
Performers - actors, dancers, musicians
Chronic back pain sufferers
R.S.I. sufferers
First time exercises
The elderly
Those wishing to help prevent, or treat, osteoporosis
Sufferers from stress-related illnesses
Sufferers from eating disorders, weight disorders
M.E. sufferers

Basically, for all!




What makes Pilates different?

Pilates offers both mental and physical training. It relies on strengthening the postural muscles, which stabilizes the torso. By correcting muscle imbalances, the body is realigned. Pilates avoids the muscle and ligament damage, sometimes associated with other fitness regimes, and, in fact, plays a key role in many injury rehabilitation programmes in dance, sport and general practice.

Pilates is remarkably effective - and medically approved. Based upon a well-constructed philosophical foundation, the core of the Method is 'awareness of your body' and each and every exercise is built around its eight basic principles:

Relaxation Breathing
Concentration Flowing Movements
Alignment Co-ordination
Centering Stamina

Specific problem-areas (the lower back, for example) can be targeted by an exercise, but always in relation to the rest of one's body. By bringing together body and mind, Pilates literally teaches you to be in control of your body, and allows you to handle stress more effectively and achieve relaxation more easily.

The Method can work for everyone, regardless of fitness level! Exercise can be mat or machine based, but mat-work exercises have a great attraction in that they need no special equipment, and are particularly safe for those with back problems. Its consistent success rate in solving such problems has brought it to the attention of osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists and GP's.

The Pilates Body

The 'Pilates Body' is long, lean and strong - slender, but with a hidden strength under a healthy muscle tone without bulky muscles and bulging biceps. Through the prescribed exercise routines, the body is retrained to work efficiently with minimal effort and no tension. Stamina and co-ordination are improved. The body comes into perfect balance and alignment, with the result that the immune system is stimulated and the level of general health very often rises because the internal organs can now sit and function correctly. After working with the Method for a period of time, many people see an increase in height as a direct result of improved posture.

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