WHAT IS PILATES?
Pilates is a system of exercises, based on the original method of body conditioning designed by Joseph Pilates.
Initially he introduced 34 exercises performed on the mat and named his system Contrology. It was based on his studies of Eastern and Westerns forms of exercise and philosophies, which is why there are some similarities between Pilates and Yoga.
His exploration of body movement evolved into designing exercise equipment, which he called apparatus and which you can find in modern Pilates studios all over the world, reformer being one of the most recognised. Over the course of his life, Joseph Pilates developed over 600 exercises.
His guiding philosophy was that whole body should be conditioned to achieve good health, correct body alignment and balance. In Pilates, there is a strong focus on strengthening the core muscles, responsible for holding the spine and pelvis in optimal position, as well as the use of the stabilising muscles to maintain optimal body alignment.
For Joseph Pilates his life's work was not merely a system of exercises. His work is underpinned by a number of principles, which should be prevalent at all times, during the execution of the movements and during the teaching, guiding both, teacher and client, on the path to mind body connection, body awareness and wellbeing.
The Pilates Reformer is one of the most recognizable and popular pieces of equipment. It is also the most user-friendly apparatus and great for rehabilitation from injuries, as a lot of exercises can be performed in a non-weight-bearing position, facilitating stability and balanced muscle recruitment. Reformer's design helps your body to find length and space and build strength whilst working under spring tension. The reformer readily accommodates full ranges of motion, with a wide range of body positions and resistance options to provide a workout perfectly tailored to your needs.
Wunda Chair is another piece of equipment with adjustable spring resistance designed by Joseph Pilates. It is much more compact and therefore provides only a narrow base of support which increases the physical and technical challenge of exercises. The Chair challenges your stability, balance and control in many positions: standing, kneeling and lying, and requires considerable mind-body focus and concentration.
The Pilates Springboard is the simplest of Pilates apparatus, yet extremely versatile, as it brings the functionality and allows for modifications to exercises performed on other large equipment, like Reformer and Cadillac. It was not designed by Joseph Pilates himself, but by a contemporary teacher Ellie Hardman.
It is essentially a plywood board attached to the wall, with a vertical row of metal loops running down both sides. Attached to the loops are the springs, which can go up and down, depending on a person's dimensions and exercise focus. While the springs may appear similar to those on the Reformer, the workout is very different.
First, each limb works independently, carrying its own weight. Think about the difference between lifting a barbell vs. two dumbells. Most of us are stronger on one side so we feel that difference and any imbalances immediately. Second, the position of springs is completely different than in reformer, which affects the pull of the springs significantly. The combination of the added instability of working independently in each limb, and the stronger pull of the springs makes the springboard experience pretty special. You will have to work harder to stabilize, challenging the core, whilst strengthening the hip and shoulder girdle.
With today’s hectic lifestyle and often being seated for long periods of time, Pilates is a great option both in terms of your physical wellbeing and your mental health.
It really is the ultimate workout for your body and mind.
PRINCIPLES OF PILATES
Use Breath to Connect Muscles with Movement
Between Strength and Flexibility, Between the Muscle Groups, Between Mind and Body
Fully immerse yourself in the exercise and connecting breath with movement
Your core. This is where the exercise starts and core stability is to be maintained throughout exercise
Control over Movement. Stability before Mobility.
Fluid and graceful movement. Fluid order of exercises