“It is the mind itself that shapes the body” – Joseph H Pilates
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a body conditioning method that targets the deep postural muscles. It works by building strength from the inside out, rebalancing the body and bringing it into correct alignment. Pilates helps to reshape your body, which will become longer, leaner and more toned. It will also improve your posture, achieving the perfect balance between strength and flexibility, and it is also a great way to relieve unwanted stress and tension.
Pilates is both a physical and mental body-conditioning programme, which uses exercise to restore natural, normal movement and good posture. It increases body awareness, flexibility, strength, tone, co-ordination, stamina and general health. Although all Pilates is challenging, beginner level is gentle and open to all abilities. From here you can work up to the advanced level, which challenges even the fittest and strongest athlete.
Pilates is recommended by many physiotherapists, osteopaths, GPs and chiropractors.
Who was Joseph Pilates?
Joseph Pilates, the originator of the Pilates Method, was born in Dusseldorf in the late 1800s. He was a frail and sickly child who suffered from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. He was determined to overcome his fragility; but instead of following an established fitness regime, he experimented with many different approaches and one can, in fact, recognise the different elements of these methods in his teaching. Yoga, gymnastics, skiing, self defence, dance, circus training and weight training all influenced him, and he chose aspects of each to develop his own body. By absorbing these other methods and selecting the most effective features, Pilates was able to work out a system, which had the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.
After teaching his method to inmates when he was interned during WWI, Pilates emigrated to the USA in 1926 and set up his own studio with his wife Clara. Although his original clients were boxers, his studio soon attracted top ballet dancers, gymnasts and athletes, all anxious to learn from Pilates.
Joseph and Clara worked tirelessly from the 1920s right up until his death in 1967. After Joe died, Clara managed to keep the studio going before passing it on Romana Kryzanowska, who continued teaching until 2004. Many of his early assistants went on to set up their own studios ensuring that Joseph Pilates' original and highly successful method continued to live on.
" Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits. Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing is a primary focus. Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination-both muscular and mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program. Posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased. Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time. Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of one's life. "