Pilates is a method of physical fitness that was created over a hundred years ago by a man named Joseph Pilates. He was born in Germany and had a strong interest in physical activities from a young age. He trained in gymnastics, martial arts, and boxing, and worked in a circus and as a trainer for the British police. During World War I, he was interned in camps, but after the war he returned to Germany and worked with dance companies to improve their performance. He then moved to New York and continued to work with dancers and other performers.
Joseph Pilates’ wife, Clara Pilates, was a vital part of his life and work. She was a nurse and helped him open his first studio in New York City, where they taught together. Clara was also an accomplished dancer and was one of Joseph’s first students. She helped him develop and refine the Pilates method, and was instrumental in the growth and expansion of Pilates as a practice. Together, they wrote books and articles on the method and trained many instructors who went on to open their own studios and teach Pilates to others.
Pilates is based on six fundamentals: precision, centering, breathing, flow, control, and concentration. These fundamentals are not just exercises, but a teaching method that emphasizes the precise execution of techniques, the use of core muscles to support the spine, controlled breathing, fluid and graceful movement, and focus and concentration. These principles can be applied to any type of exercise, not just Pilates.
The six fundamentals of Pilates are the core principles that form the basis of the method. They are:
- Precision: This refers to the precise execution of techniques and movements in Pilates. Joseph Pilates believed in working with precision and accuracy to achieve the maximum benefit from each exercise.
- Centering: Pilates emphasizes the importance of working with the core muscles, specifically the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips. These muscles are often referred to as the “powerhouse” of the body and are essential for supporting and stabilizing the spine.
- Breathing: Controlled breathing is an important aspect of Pilates. Joseph Pilates believed in breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and in using the breath to control the flow and pace of movement.
- Flow: This refers to the smooth, fluid, and graceful movement that is characteristic of Pilates. It emphasizes the connection between movement and breath and the use of controlled and continuous movement.
- Control: Pilates emphasizes the importance of control in movement and encourages the use of the mind to direct and control the body. This includes the use of a “precision marker” to ensure that a specific joint or area stays still and stable while the rest of the body moves.
- Concentration: Pilates requires focus and concentration to perform the exercises correctly and to achieve the desired results. It encourages the use of the mind to direct and control the body and emphasizes the importance of attention and awareness in movement.
In summary, Pilates is a holistic method of physical fitness that was developed by Joseph Pilates with the help of his wife Clara. It is based on six fundamentals: precision, centering, breathing, flow, control, and concentration. These principles are not just exercises, but a teaching method that emphasizes the precise execution of techniques, the use of core muscles to support the spine, controlled breathing, fluid and graceful movement, and focus and concentration.
Different instructors will have their own unique approach to teaching Pilates, depending on the goals of each class. Some classes may focus on back care, while others may use traditional mat-based exercises or equipment such as Pilates balls, rings, or cushions to add strength or instability training.
Overall, Pilates is a holistic approach to physical fitness that emphasizes technique, core strength, breathing, and focus, making it a great choice for people with back pain or anyone looking to improve their overall fitness.