About


Pilates is a method of exercise developed by the legendary trainer, Joseph H. Pilates (1880 – 1967) at the turn of the century. He brought his unique method of conditioning to the United States in 1923. He studied Eastern and Western disciplines, creating a fusion of the best qualities of both. Pilates exercises require fewer repetitions but concentrate on very precise movements with proper control and form.

 

Best known for its deep abdominal and back (core) work, Pilates is a complete total-body-conditioning workout emphasizing the natural curves of the spine. Pilates increases lean muscle tissue and bone density, but it does more than conventional weightlifting. Instead of isolating muscle groups, the whole body is trained with every exercise, integrating the upper and lower extremities with the trunk, precisely aligning your muscle tone with the natural curves of the spine so that your everyday movements support a healthy back. Pilates exercises increase the range of motion of the joints which in turn give you a more flexible body.

 

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure. To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability. This very rapidly progressing world with its ever-increasing faster tempo of living, demands that we be physically fit and alert in order that we may succeed in the unceasing race with keen competition and which rewards the “go-getter” but bypasses the “no-getter”. Physical fitness can neither be acquired by wishful thinking nor by outright purchase. However, it can be gained through performing the daily exercises conceived for this purpose by the founder of Contrology whose unique methods accomplish the desirable result by successfully counteracting the harmful inherent conditions associated with modern civilization.”

 

Joseph Pilates, 1945

 

Why Pilates?

One of my long time Pilates clients went in to see her physician for a routine check-up. She is in good health and is fit and looks great. After she informed her doctor that she does Pilates exercises on the equipment weekly he mentioned to her that she should be getting some resistance exercise as well. I had to ask myself why this doctor doesn’t know that Pilates IS resistance training. And why is there still so much confusion about what Pilates is? Pilates has been in the United States since the 1940’s and has been increasing in popularity since the early 1990s because of the profound results people have been receiving One of my missions since bringing Pilates to Pensacola over ten years ago was education. I see that I still have work to do.

One of the reasons I believe that there is so much confusion about Pilates is because of its depth of understanding. Try telling someone what you do in Pilates and you’ll see it is hard to explain in simple terms. There is a lot of misinformation out there and I believe that misinformation is worse than no information. .

Secondly, confusion reigns due to the varied states of Pilates schools in the industry. To understand this I will try to cover a century of Pilates history as briefly as possible. Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. He was frail with asthma and rickets and was bullied and beat up to such an extent that he lost an eye at a very young age. He studied martial arts, boxing and gymnastics. He started developing his exercises at the age of 14 to strengthen his own body. During his early adulthood he work on injured war victims during World War I. Later he emigrated to the United States with the then famous boxer, Max Schmelling and opened his studio in New York City on Fifth Ave. Due to the close proximity to the entertainment world, dancers such as Martha Grahm and Geoge Ballentine soon discovered Joseph Pilates. At the time he called his work “Contrology” Word spread to other dancers as he could help them to recover from injuries. There was no physical therapy back then to speak of. Joseph continued his work until he died at the age of 83.

There are still three known people who Joe personally trained that are still alive and working! They are referred to as the “elders.” He trained each one differently according to their individual needs, therefore, each elder passed on his or her own style. In the 1990’s, one second generation student began suing Pilates studios nationwide saying that Pilates had given him sole permission to teach his technique. After being challenged in court 2000, the word Pilates became a generic term. This was good and bad news. Of course the good news was that people could freely practice and teach Pilates without fear of being sued.

The bad news was that fly-by-night schools popped up overnight offering weekend certifications, internet certifications, etc. Pilates historically is taught by a Pilates teacher who has at least 10 years experience. The education comprises classroom hours and apprentice work. True Pilates teachers have a thorough understanding of all the equipment as well as the mat exercises and can work with all types of body conditions. This is still true today. It takes about a year to complete a course and like any other skill takes a few more years to become highly skilled. So, from the not-so-well-taught instructors and the students they teach emminates the mis-information.

In 2005, the Pilates Method Alliance was formed and a National Level Certification Test was created. Today, only the PMA can issue certifications and Pilates schools can issue diplomas. Certifications are only issued to a Comprehensively trained instructor. It is still not mandatory but soon will be. So consumer beware is still the best course of action.

Pilates is NOT:

         Just stretching
Just good core work
Simple
Just for dancers
Just for women
Just some choreographed callistenics performed on a mat at your gym
Something one learns in a weekend or – or six months for that matter
Learned from a book , over the Internet, or from a video

Pilates IS:

  • Exercise that increases strength, flexibility, range of motion, coordination, balance and proprioception of the entire body.
  • Exercise that emphasizes perfect skeletal alignment to place the joints (vertebra included) in the most stress-free position possible.
  • Exercise that teaches movement strategy to create pain-free and fluid ranges of motion
  • Exercise that creates a more efficient gait – this means playing tennis with less fatigue and risk of injuries (ever pull a calf muscles on the court?).
  • Exercise where all moves are core initiated, so that your legs and arms are strengthened to support the natural curves of the spine rather than    trained in isolation which puts unbalanced   stress on the muscles of the spine, pelvis or shoulder girdle pulling them out of alighnment.
  • Exercise that addresses the full kinetic chain linkages.
  • Where a trained instructor watches the micro moves of your body to uncover compensatory movement patterns and makes adjustments. This is what creates a balanced musculo-skeletal system.
  • Exercise gives you a flat belly and lifted backside (becuase it is anatomically correct!).
  • Exercise that when done properly is safe for those with injuries, osteoporosis, stenosis, and other issues.
  • Exercise that greatly improves your sports performance
  • Exercise that leads to unified whole body health – the perfect trinity of body, mind and spirit.

Most of the equipment utilizes springs as resistance. The benefit of this is that as the springs recoil there is an increased benefit of eccentric load on the muscles (otherwise known as negatives.) This is where the muscle elongates as an increased load is placed on it and it highly effective in strengthening muscle. The springs create a control and coordination unmatched by standard weight lifting



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