Pilates is one of those ‘buzz’ words that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, but how many of those using the word, actually know what it means? As an experienced Pilates instructor, I hope the following explanation will clarify what Pilates is all about.
Pilates (pronounced Pill-ah-teez) is the surname of Joseph Pilates. He was born a sickly child in Germany in 1880, and as a result devoted his life to developing ways of becoming physically stronger. He moved to England pre-W.W.II, before moving on to New York where he set up his exercise studio. He worked mainly with dancers, including George Balanchine and followers of Martha Graham. Since then, Pilates has come and gone with exercise fashions, but is now firmly established and here to stay.
Pilates is a type of ‘functional training’. In other words, it is a method of training designed to condition the body for ‘real life’ movement patterns. It is a whole-body approach to exercise, linking all parts of the body together as one functional organism. Pilates works the muscles responsible for posture, thereby developing what is known as ‘core stability’. It also develops concentration, good breathing, centring and control. In Pilates, the whole of the body is used the whole of the time. It involves strong but gentle, fluent movements and no hi-impact.
Some people may ask: Is Pilates is a Quick Fix? No, Pilates is not a quick fix. The technique has to be learned over a number of weeks. Learning to control your muscles and your breathing takes a little time. However, I can give you exercises to practice at home and your strength and confidence will increase. You should feel a noticeable overall benefit within just a few weeks.
One Pilates class can embrace all different levels of ability. In my studio classes I am able to teach retired 60 year old office workers in the same class as dance-trained 20 year olds. I have taught classes where the ages have ranged from 15 years old to over 80 years old. Pilates is suitable for both men and women. Pilates is all embracing, not exclusive. Each exercise has a variety of levels of difficulty and each participant works at the level which suits them. Classes work with soft soothing music playing in the background to set the mood of tranquillity.