What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-impact exercise method that promotes flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. In addition, Pilates workouts result in proper postural alignment, core strength, and muscle balance. There are two kinds of Pilates, both entailing controlled movements and resistance exercises. Mat Pilates is performed on the floor, mainly using your own body weight. Pilates Equipment uses specially designed exercise apparatus, including the Reformer, Cadillac, Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrel, and the Wunda Chair.
Pilates was created in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), a physical trainer specialising in rehabilitation. The first practitioners of Pilates were soldiers returning from war and dancers who wanted to heal their injuries and strengthen their bodies, including George Balanchine and Martha Graham. Although the practice of Pilates has gone through some modifications over the years, Joseph Pilates’ basic principles and intended meaning of Pilates still hold true to this day.
In many circles, Pilates is also called the “Body Control Method,” a system of slow-flowing and precise movements or a highly conscious way of moving. Pilates works by developing strength and mobility and, at the same time, our awareness of our own bodies, so we can be fit and optimally functional.
Joseph Pilates became interested in developing the full physical potential because he suffered from debilitating health conditions as a child, including asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. Having tested his methods on himself and proven them effective, Joseph thought it only wise to share with the world. Thus, when Joseph Pilates settled in New York in the mid-1920s, he became popular among the city’s dance and sports communities in no time.
Core muscle strength and spinal alignment are critical elements in Pilates. The body’s core comprises the spine, abdomen, pelvis, hips, and other muscles supporting these areas. These muscles are the erector spinae along the spine; internal and external obliques on the sides of the abdomen; transverse abdominis deep in the gut; rectus abdominis or the “six-pack”; and hip flexors in the pelvis and upper leg.
As such, your Pilates instructor will continuously prompt you to concentrate intensely on the contraction of your muscles, moving your body correctly, and breathing the right way. The objective of every Pilates session is to achieve coordination of mind, body, and spirit—which Joseph Pilates called “Contrology.” The 34 original exercises that Pilates taught his students were published in 1945 in his first book Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology.
The more you do Pilates exercises, whether Mat or Equipment Pilates, the more you develop strength, stability, muscle control, and endurance. Likewise, Pilates exercises promote proper posture, correct movement patterns, and balanced flexibility. Unlike bodybuilding or weight training, Pilates exercises will not bulk up the body or make you look buff. Instead, you’ll develop a lean, longer-looking physique, with graceful arms and legs much like a dancer’s.
No wonder many people think Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. Another common misconception is that Pilates can only be done using special apparatus like the Reformer and Cadillac. Usually found in Pilates studios, the Reformer and Caddilac resemble a bed frame with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs or a kind of trapeze table.
The equipment may look intimidating, but they’re actually easy to use with the guidance of an instructor. And what’s more, Pilates workouts can also be done on the floor with just a mat, simple weights, or resistance bands.
Pilates is an ideal fitness programme for beginners as it can be adapted to a person’s physical capabilities. The exercises can be for gradual strength training and stability building. Still, they can also be modified to give seasoned athletes a more challenging workout.
At Pilates Plus Singapore, we recommend that you take private classes if it’s your first time, so our instructors can teach you the movements at your own pace. This is also a good idea if you’re more advanced in age or haven’t exercised in many years. While Pilates is suitable for physical therapy and injury rehabilitation, it is always best to consult your doctor first before signing up for any exercise programme.
There are indeed thousands of free online videos on Pilates. But without proper guidance from a trained instructor, it would be very challenging to reach your goals, and you could get frustrated with the lack of progress. Aside from taking private classes, you may also opt for the more affordable group packages or try out virtual/online sessions facilitated by our instructors.
Regardless of your lifestyle, sedentary or active lifestyle, you will benefit from Pilates no matter if you spend most of the day indoors or outdoors. Pilates is an ideal full-body workout that can make you fit and healthy in both mind and body.