Learn More About Pilates

What is Pilates?

Pilates, invented by Joseph Pilates (1883-1960) is a form of exercise practiced either on a mat or on an apparatus called a “reformer.” Mat Pilates consists of 34 specific exercises designed to correct body alignment and enhance mobility, strength and flexibility. Mat Pilates can easily be performed at home, although it is best to first learn proper form from a certified Pilates instructor.

"Pilates is not a fatiguing system of dull, boring, abhorred exercises repeated daily 'ad-nauseam.' Neither does it demand your joining a gymnasium, nor the purchasing of expensive apparatus. You may derive all the benefits of Pilates in your own home."
-Joseph H. Pilates, 1934 Return to Life Through Contrology

Allegro 2 Pilates Reformer from Balanced BodyA Pilates reformer (usually found in Pilates studios) consists of an apparatus with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs. In a studio setting, a Pilates instructor guides students through various slow and controlled movements on the reformer(s).

Pilates is a precise and systematic form of exercise based on an effective philosophy called “Contrology.” Developing a disciplined mind to control one’s muscles, the focus is on slow and controlled exercises that strengthen the core postural and abdominal muscles. These strong core muscles provide important support for the spine.

What Kind of People Do Pilates?

Pilates exercises range from gentle and therapeutic to very challenging, depending on the student’s needs. For that reason, Pilates is an excellent exercise for athletes, the elderly and anybody in between. Often, Pilates is practiced simply for the body shaping and toning benefits it provides.

"In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body." 
-Joseph Pilates

I Do Yoga. Why Should I Do Pilates?

One of the best attributes of Pilates is that the exercises strengthen and stretch the muscles simultaneously. Resistance exercise is a key component of the strength-building benefits of Pilates. On the mat, Pilates requires simple bodyweight resistance; on the Pilates reformer, adjustable springs provide low-impact external resistance.

See our article on the differences between Pilates and yoga here.

What are Some Other Benefits of Pilates?

Most experienced, certified Pilates instructors have had extensive training in anatomy and/or fitness and tend to have a deep interest in body mechanics. Many have worked in therapeutic settings or have healed their own injuries through a Pilates practice. This kind of knowledge and passion is important in the prevention of injury, customizing results and maintaining the integrity of the Pilates Method.

Pilates underlines the established benefits of “core fitness.” The deep-core body strength developed through Pilates contributes to a stronger—some might say more powerful—body that is aligned and balanced. The benefits of a Pilates body include better posture, spinal support and flexibility. For this reason, many people with back issues or injuries report marked improvement in pain and mobility after practicing Pilates regularly. Pilates can also shape and tone the body beautifully in conjunction with proper diet and nutrition. Additionally, a Pilates practice complements the body strains of any cardiovascular exercise by restoring proper body alignment combined with stretching.

The Pilates Powerhouse

In summary, Pilates focuses on a strong body core, called the “Pilates Powerhouse,” and is often used either therapeutically or to create a fit and toned physique. But Pilates is not only for the athlete or physically active; Pilates is excellent for the senior population. Pilates builds not only a strong core, but also a disciplined mind. Pilates lovers report a greater sense of personal power and confidence, clarity, and centeredness in addition to a more fluid body, and improved balance, strength and stamina. Pilates can benefit anybody and is an excellent complement to any form of cardiovascular-focused physical exercise.