A German man named Joseph Pilates developed the Pilates exercise technique, then called ‘The Art of Contrology’ or muscle control in the early 1900’s. It is a unique exercise method of using the mind to master the muscles.
Pilates was born in Dusseldorf in 1880, and until his death in 1967, he devoted his life to the study of physical education, becoming an accomplished diver, skier, boxer, and gymnast. With these Western influences, and with Eastern philosophies such as yoga and karate, he developed an approach to movement that proves productive both mentally and physically, focusing on training the mind and body to work together toward the goal of overall fitness and health.
Pilates the technique is a unique method of mindful body conditioning that involves a system of strengthening and stretching exercises for the whole body. The floor based exercises use little or no equipment other than ourselves, which makes them so easy to practice anywhere. There are also small and large pieces of equipment. Pilates is concerned with proper breathing, relaxation, concentration, posture and body awareness, support for the spine and joints of the body, and working toward correct muscle balance and tone.
Pilates is not only a method of ‘core conditioning’ as many people perceive it to be. Although the use of the core is a central aspect to the technique, it aims to use every muscle of the body, beginning with those that support the spine and joints first, and continuing with the larger ones responsible for movement. It aims for good muscle balance throughout the whole of the body, working all the muscles as a strong team. Many traditional forms of movement are based on isolating muscles, working each area separately. However, this can often lead to muscle imbalance, if some areas are neglected over others. Pilates treats the body as an integrated whole so eliminates this possibility, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
Pilates is a way of understanding posture, of continued awareness in how we hold ourselves and in how we move, to remove unnecessary stress due to overuse of some muscles, and reawaken others to share the load, and strengthen and tone.