Pilates is simply a unique form of body conditioning which incorporates strength with stretch and control. Joseph Pilates called his method ‘Contrology’ and described it as a mental and physical discipline. The method has been around since the 1930’s. It focuses on correct joint placement and alignment, natural muscle recruitment and balance. It is mostly performed in the recumbent position to encourage reorganisation of postural muscles, reduce strain on the heart and allow the organs to settle back into their original position within the abdominal cavity.
Pilates has certain signatures that set it apart from other exercise regimes. These include; a set breathing pattern, few repetitions, and choreographed sequences of movement rather than static poses. It uses dynamic stretching, i.e. using one muscle group to lengthen the opposite acting muscles.
Many people are looking for a quick fix but Pilates can take years to embody.
I see it like this. You start learning to write by forming the shapes of the letters in capitals. You then move on to refine those shapes into the lower case. We then move onto joined-up writing and sentences with punctuation. Finally we can write a lyrical poem with a natural rhythm and meaningful punctuation.
Pilates is an art and a science, just as a dancer will spend years at the ballet barre to acquire correct placement before moving into the unsupported exercises in the centre of the floor, we start with the science of stabilisation, correct muscle recruitment and alignment and then we build to the harder exercises where bases of support are reduced demanding better balance, and loads increased to challenge centre strength, or, to use the Pilates term, “The Powerhouse”.
Whatever level of mobility or fitness, Pilates can help your body perform to its’ maximum capabilities. With an increasing life-time span we all need to keep mobile, agile and strong for a good quality of life. You can continue to practise until the day you expire and climb gracefully into your coffin!