Pilates is a method of exercise that was developed by Joseph Pilates. Joseph Pilates was weak and frail as a child and suffered from various illnesses, including rickets and asthma. As a result of his health struggles, he became obsessed with the “perfect body,” and he took up several different sports in order to become healthier and stronger.
During World War I, he designed equipment and exercise methods to help rehabilitate soldiers in Britain. He based his exercise methods on ideas from around the world, including the physique ideals of the ancient Greeks along with meditation and mind-body exercises like yoga and martial arts.
After World War I, he began teaching his methods in the United States. He believed that mental and physical health are closely intertwined, and he designed his exercises around this philosophy.
Pilates exercises focus on flexibility, body awareness, and core strength, which leads to torso stability. Your core muscles, the deep muscles of your abdomen and back, along with your superficial trunk muscles, work together to support your spine.
Pilates is a versatile exercise program. All of Joseph Pilates’ exercises can be modified for different levels, so it’s an effective program for beginners, as well as for experienced athletes or dancers.
Beginners will start with basic movements and build up to more difficult positions and additional exercises. A workout can be done quickly, flowing rapidly and smoothly through the different movements, and take the form of a cardiovascular workout, or it can be paced slowly, with more of a focus on strength and flexibility.
Because Pilates can be modified for different abilities, it’s often recommended as a good program for new mothers, seniors, or people recovering from injuries or undergoing physical rehabilitation.
A typical workout will incorporate a variety of exercises. Joseph Pilates favored performing a wide variety of exercises with fewer repetitions of each movement. Quality of form and position takes precedence over the quantity of repetitions.
While he invented several pieces of special equipment to be used in conjunction with his exercise movements, including the Reformer, perhaps the best-known piece of equipment, he also devised a mat program, which can be performed without any specialized equipment.
The original mat program follows a set sequence, with each exercise following another in a natural progression. While Pilates was intended to be an exercise method sufficient by itself, fusion classes, which combine Pilates with other types of exercise, such as yoga, dancing, or swimming, are also widespread.
If you decide to try a Pilates class, dress comfortably in clothes that won’t restrict your movement. Most Pilates exercises are performed without shoes.
One of the benefits that appeals to many people is core strengthening, which not only helps to improve the appearance of your abdominal muscles, but may also help you to overcome back pain. If you’re trying Pilates for your back pain, be sure to check with your doctor first.