Nowadays, most gyms and fitness centres offer Pilates classes. Such classes can be found not just in big cities, but also in small towns across the country, which goes to show how popular a form of exercise Pilates has become. People who have never attended a Pilates class may not know what Pilates is, with many people thinking it’s much like yoga or Tai Chi, but Pilates was created far more recently than these ancient far eastern exercise methods.
The History of Pilates
It was a German man by the name of Joseph Pilates who devised and lent his name to this new form of exercise at the beginning of the twentieth century. Joseph suffered from poor health as child, which spurred him on to become interested in the perfection of the body and he studied both yoga and Tai Chi before coming up with his own form of exercise, which he called ‘contrology’, but which has since come to be known as ‘Pilates’. Initially he used this new form of exercise to help rehabilitate wounded English prisoners of war during the First World War, but he began to teach it to others once he moved to America in 1926. Some of his first students became disciples of the method and taught it to their students. Since then, Pilates has become very popular and there are now over 15,000 Pilates instructors in the U.S. alone.
So What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise that uses stretches and other conditioning exercises to improve posture and the body’s core strength. It improves the body’s flexibility, strength and endurance over time and can be used by everyone, from athletes to people in physical rehabilitation.
Joseph Pilates’ exercise method has been distilled into six main principles by subsequent practitioners and these are centring, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. Pilates’ stretches and exercises come from the body’s centre, they require complete concentration, all body muscles are put to use, each movement requires precision and awareness, the importance of breathing is stressed and each movement in a Pilates workout should be flowing and graceful.
The adaptability of Pilates might be one of the reasons why it has become such a popular form of exercise for people of all ages and abilities. A Pilates workout session can be tailored for a person’s needs so that a workout can be both safe and a good workout, without being too challenging.
This article was written by June Davis who has been taking Pilates classes Dublin for 3 years now.