Open any celebrity magazine and you’ll find everyone talking about how they keep slim and fit. Their exercise regime of choice? Pilates. So what’s it all about?
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany of Greek parentage and devised his exercis
e regime in the twenties. He used his knowledge of Yoga and martial arts to put together a number of movements which would bring mind and body together. His sincere belief was that you could not improve one without the other.
When Pilates moved to the USA in 1926 and set up a studio in New York near the New York City Ballet. Dancers were attracted to the regime and that was the way it remained for many years. Although the popularity of pilates spread, it was as an exercise regime for dancers and actresses that it was known.
Pilates is not designed to increase muscle mass or reduce weight or provide a cardiac workout. Instead pilates concentrates on the perfect execution of particular movements. The result is grace and improved balance as well as improvements in strength and stamina, so it’s not surprising that dancers found it ideal.
Pilates exercises require a different type of discipline to the more usual strength exercises. No exercising while watching TV! Concentration and correct breathing are central to the system as is the careful alignment of the body.
In the 1990’s pilates suddenly took off. Baby boomers suddenly had the time to exercise, but had to find a way to do so gently. At first pilates appeared to be another exercise fad along with yoga and other ancient regimes such as tai chi, but twenty years later it is clear that pilates is likely to stand the test of time.
So how can you break into the form of exercise which holds the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Catrall, Sharon Stone and Joan Collins in thrall?
Although pilates in is original form involved 34 different movements done on a floor mat, Pilates himself developed a number of pieces of equipment designed to provide some form of resistance training. The most common of these is called the pilates reformer.
This is a great piece of apparatus which allows you to perform over 50 different exercises and the addition of a small rebounder allows you effectively to bounce while lying down, an ideal way to work your heart without straining. You’ll reach your target heart rate faster than when using something like a treadmill and the exercise itself is lower impact, putting far less strain on your hips, legs and back. And of course this particular piece of equipment comes with not one but two instructional DVD’s.
Do you have Hollywood ambitions? If so pilates may be the exercise for you. Can all those celebrities be wrong?