Pilates exercises are a unique system of stretching and strengthening the body developed by its founder, Joseph Pilates. Originally, Pilates called it Contrology where a complete coordination of mind, body and spirit is achieved.
The Pilates method consists of a repertoire of over 500 exercises to be done on either a mat or one of the many pieces of equipment invented by Joseph Pilates. The four main Pilates equipment are the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Barrel and the Wunda Chair. Since then, there have been many innovation of Pilates equipment but all strictly following the Pilates principles. Among them are the Malibu Pilates Chair, the Pilates Balls, the Resistance Workout Bar, the Toning Tube and the Pilates Ring.
Pilates exercises are usually done in a series of organized levels from beginning, intermediate to advanced. The exercises develop strong abdominal, arms, legs, back, bottom and deep postural muscles to support the skeletal system or the "powerhouse" of the body. The Pilates method is also an excellent rehabilitation system for back, knee, hip, shoulder and stress injuries. Pilates exercises are widely used as prenatal exercise for pregnant mothers.
The 6 core principles behind the Pilates method are:
- Flowing Movements
Concentration focuses on aligning the body with the mind to create the mind-body connection. Your mind will be relaxed as it is solely concentrating on your body movements. Control places emphasis on controlling your movements which will enable each exercise to be executed properly.
Centering is the powerhouse of the body and Pilates exercises advocate developing a stable powerhouse before moving on to arms and legs movements. The correct Breathing techniques are important to cleanse the blood stream and energize the body. Joseph Pilates believed that each exercise must be done in precision otherwise the results will not be achieved. The final principle, Flowing Movements, states that each Pilates exercise is done in a fluid manner in order to uniformly develop the muscles and give the body a long and lean look.