At its most basic level, Pilates (puh-LAH-teez) is a form of body conditioning that, using a combination of specialized apparatus and mat work, develops strength and flexibility through controlled movements.
Developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates in the 1920s, the work specifically strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles known as the “Powerhouse.” In every Pilates exercise the muscles of the powerhouse are recruited first. Then that muscular engagement must be sustained while the body is worked as a whole, integrated unit throughout the exercise.
Originally called “Contrology,” the art of controlling the body, Pilates incorporates six basic principles. These include concentration, control, centering, precision, flow and breath. Yet Pilates is more than just a workout. Joseph Pilates considered his work to be a philosophy of exercise and of ultimate health. He encouraged people to make the connection between the exercises and their daily lives. He maintained, “never do ten pounds of weight for five pounds of movement” and stressed quality over quantity.
The Pilates method creates balanced bodies, restoring the natural harmony, which enables people to move freely and joyously within their bodies throughout their lives.
Although Pilates is nothing new, it has been receiving a lot of press recently. Its rise in popularity can be attributed to celebrities such as Madonna, Kate Hudson and even Oprah who reveal it as the secret to their long, lean bodies and to the medical community, which embraces it as a way to further the progress of physical therapy patients. Even the fitness industry has jumped on the Pilates bandwagon equating the work with their newly coined phrase “core strength.”
However not all Pilates is the same. The Pilates industry has been deregulated since 2000. That means there is currently no standard of education or excellence to which Pilates instructors must adhere. In this era of exercise videos, infomercials selling home equipment, mat classes at health clubs and Internet Pilates certifications it behooves the consumer to be informed.
The terms “Authentic,” “Pure,” and “Classical” Pilates refer to the system of corrective exercises that was originally created and advocated by Joseph Pilates. “Authentic” Pilates has stood the test of time and delivered amazing results. This system includes over 500 exercises and uses a combination of both the apparatus and the mat work. Specific exercises are chosen based on the unique needs of the individual client and work the mind and body together to achieve the goal of overall health and fitness. At Power Within Pilates we maintain the integrity of Joseph Pilates’ work and in so doing, our clients benefit with results they can both see and feel.