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What is Pilates?

You may have heard people talking about Pilates as it is a popular type of exercise for a very good reason. If you have never tried it before you probably have the idea that it is similar to yoga. It does have similarities to yoga and some stretches and exercises are similar. However, yoga was first practiced thousands of years ago in India, and Pilates was invented by a German named Joseph Pilates around 1910-1920.

Probably due to ill-health as a youngster and then working with World War 1 veterans, Joseph spent his life trying to improve both his health and body condition and those with war injuries and amputations. During his youth, he tried gymnastics, boxing, yoga, and martial arts to become physically stronger and healthier.

Later in life, he met his wife who was a dancer, and used his health and fitness knowledge to help dancers with body conditioning and rehabilitation from injury.

The exercise and processes he developed have become known as the ‘Pilates Method’. Pilates classes can now be found worldwide but aren’t just for people with injuries. All adults benefit from doing Pilates exercises to keep their bodies flexible, strong, and injury-free.

Fundamentals of the Pilates Method

The 8 fundamental principles of Pilates are relaxation, alignment, centring, breathing, flowing movements, concentration, stamina, and coordination.

Benefits of Pilates

There are many common ailments that by taking a regular Pilates class can either reduce the pain, relieve the pain, or even cure you completely. These ailments include back pain, neck pain, headaches including migraine, knee pain, sciatica, repetitive sprains, and many more. Basically, if you are a person that sits at a desk all day, does a job with very repetitive movement, or someone who takes part in a lot of sport, then Pilates will help reduce body stresses and strains caused by these actions or inactions.

The Pilates exercises done regularly will provide many benefits including:

  • Strengthen and stretch the muscles evenly on both sides of the body.

  • Increase muscle and joint flexibility and mobility

  • Provide stress relief

  • Reduce pain

  • Improve your body alignment and posture

  • Improve your core strength.

Taking part in a Pilates class

With the popularity of Pilates increasing hugely in the past 10 years, you can now find Pilates classes in every local gym and online. This means there is no excuse for you not to try a class. Although you can follow free YouTube classes, it is always better to have a fully qualified and experienced Pilates teacher instructing you to ensure you do not damage yourself more. There are online classes that do offer 1:1 or small group glasses over Zoom so that the teacher can watch what you are doing.