What is Pilates?
The Pilates Method is a mind-body system of exercises performed on a mat or using special equipment, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility and posture, and enhance mental awareness.
“Pilates is a method of exercise, which aims to encourage the use of the mind to develop core postural muscle strength, stability and flexibility resulting in more efficient and graceful movement.” – Joseph Pilates
The Australian Physiotherapy & Pilates Institute (APPI) developed Modified Pilates in response to the demand for rehabilitation-based Pilates training. The approach has been designed specifically for those working in the field of rehabilitation, using evidence-based scientific research in the clinical setting. The traditional Pilates repertoire is broken down into clearly defined levels to ensure a standard, gradual progression towards normal functional movement.
“Change happens through movement, and movement heals” – Joseph Pilates
The Pilates Method consists of two categories, mat-work and machine exercises. The mat -based exercises consist of the original 34 pilates exercises, designed to promote core stability, flexibility, endurance, postural and body awareness and to correct muscle imbalances. Machine work utilises various apparatus originally designed by Joseph Pilates, including the Reformer, which is used in the studio.
Joseph Humbertus was born in Germany in 1880. He had to fight a physical weakness, he spent his childhood determined to overcome his ailments of rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. Instead of following an established fitness regime, he experimented with many different approaches; studying yoga, gymnastics, skiing, self-defence, dance, circus training and weight training, which all influenced him and he chose aspects of each to develop his own body.
By absorbing these methods and selecting the most effective, Joseph was able to work out a system which had the perfect balance of strength and flexibility. Having proven on his own body, he then began to apply these techniques to others.
When living in the U.K. at the time of the First World War, he was interned as a POW and while in the Isle of Man, working as an orderly in the hospital, he was appalled to see so many frail people in bed doing no exercise and devised a gentle exercise regime for these patients. He had amazing success and with the endorsement of the doctors, he progressed the exercises by adding spring resistance to the old hospital beds.
This provided progressive resistance and bear weight at the same time to enable only partial loading forces on muscles, tendons, and ligaments and thus improve healing. The devised physical fitness regime is said to have prevented him and thousands of POW’S from contracting the deadly influenza virus.
After the war Joseph returned to Germany where he continued to develop his exercise regime within the dance world. He then moved to America in the 1920s and with his wife, Clara, they opened “The Pilates Studio” in New York. By the 1960s they had trained countless top ballet dancers.
Joseph died in 1967 and today his legacy continues. Pilates continues to evolve and benefit thousands of people around the world today.
Retraining correct movement patterns – following injury, post-operative rehabilitation or changing poor habitual habits
Improve postural awareness – reducing pain and preventing recurrences
Correct poor muscle control – learn how to balance your deeper muscle system with the outer, more superficial muscles to help protect and support joints, tendons and ligaments
Strengthen core – learn how to activate your “true” inner core offering protection and support to your lower back
Stretch for flexibility – lengthen muscles and the fascial system reducing tightness and improving adaptive “fixed” postures
Improve overall muscle strength – total body strength and conditioning
Improve general fitness and Performance Pilates with specific focus on your chosen sport
Improve balance – recommended for individuals who are frequent fallers or for those who have mobility problems, also adding a dynamic challenge to your repertoire of exercises
Reduce stress / anxiety – learn how to release tension in the body, to quieten the mind and improve your mental focus. The breath creates a physiological response in the body that naturally decreases our stress and anxiety.
Pilates is based on the following eight principles:
Breathing, Concentration, Control, Centering, Precision, Flow, Integrated isolation and Routine.
Chartered Physiotherapist MCSP HCPC
APPI Pilates Instructor