Created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s, Pilates is a full-body exercise method that emphasizes proper alignment, good technique and correct breathing. It aims to increase flexibility and strength as well as integrate body and mind and induce a sense of relaxation and well being. Poor posture, weak muscles and habitual patterns of misuse due to injury or poor posture make the body inefficient and out of balance creating problems with alignment and good movement patterns. Pilates helps to restore the body’s natural alignment, helping to bring it into balance so that it can move more efficiently with grace and ease and with minimal effort. The method may be taught without equipment on a mat or may employ the use of the Pilates machines developed by Joseph Pilates himself such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Ladder Barrel.
There are up to eight basic principles within the method. It is often described as a mixture of Alexander Technique – to help improve posture: Body Conditioning – to strengthen and tone the body and Yoga – to help increase flexibility. It builds strength without excess bulk, creating a slender but toned body. It is now recognized by many leading physiotherapists, osteopaths and other health professionals to help in the role of injury prevention and rehabilitation. Aside from the aesthetic benefits, Pilates is now widely used by major sports stars from varying different areas who are attracted to the benefits gained from increasing core their strength. It teaches body awareness resulting in controlled, graceful but precise movements. Anybody can do Pilates regardless of age, fitness level or gender. It is suitable for a variety of health problems and medical conditions since many of the exercises can be adapted, modified or changed to cater for individual needs.