What Is Pilates?

Pilates has gained a lot of media attention recently for its benefits. However, many people still don’t understand what it is. In attempts to educate, I came up with this brief list to describe Pilates.

– It was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century.

Pilates was originally called Contrology, which means the study of controlling muscles.

– The principals of Pilates are centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flow.

Pilates is a series of flowing exercises that start on the ground and progressively transition to seated exercises and finish with standing.

– Breathing in Pilates should coordinate with the movements, full inhalations and complete exhalations are thought to circulate the blood to renew the cells and refresh the body.

Pilates uses apparatus like balls, thera-bands, and even machines to help assist in movements or to challenge your strength.

– While the “powerhouse” (the abdominal core) is the main focus in every Pilates exercises, active engagement of the muscles and concentration are need as well.

– The benefits of Pilates are: improved strength, flexibility, balance, toning, long muscles, body awareness, and improve circulation.


Photo by Andrew Grant

On a personal note:

As a dancer, injuries are something I dreaded. Every time I found myself at the physical therapist it was the same thing, “do this exercises, for this long, and this many times.” Can I say boring!? After spending weeks on workers compensation for a bum back, I decided no more injuries and Pilates became my cross-training method. Not only was it valuable for my career but it improved my endurance, accuracy, and my overall technique. Today I’m a certified Pilates instructor and wholeheartedly believe in its teachings. In fact, it has been just over five years that I started practicing and I’m still injury free!