Women's Health

The Power of Pilates

by Laurie Wertich 10/21/2018

Pilates is more than a popular fitness trend with a hard-to-pronounce name (puh-LAH-tees). It will strengthen your core, but it will do more than that—it will leave you feeling centered from the inside out.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a unique system of exercises designed to strengthen and lengthen the muscles. The series consists of floor exercises (matwork) and exercises on specialized Pilates equipment. The rhythmic movements of the Pilates method promote elongated and toned muscles of the core or “powerhouse”, which include the deep abdominals and low back muscles, as well as muscles of the shoulder and pelvic girdles.

Pilates requires students to work “from the inside out”, using the deep muscles of the body’s core to initiate movement and stabilize the body.

A Little History

The Pilates method evolved after Joseph Pilates, a nurse in World War I, developed a conditioning program he called “contrology.” The method consisted of 34 movements performed on the floor and designed to strengthen the body’s core. (These movements are now referred to as the Pilates matwork.) Later, he supplemented this work by rigging up the springs on hospital beds and assisting patients with rehabilitation. These spring-based exercises led to the development of his specialized Pilates equipment, which would supplement his original matwork.

Joseph Pilates regarded his method as a way of life and a path to total health rather than merely a series of exercises. He believed that the whole body must be exercised to achieve good health.

More than Exercise

Pilates is based on six principles: breath, concentration, control, centering, precision, and flow. While students learn to move from the body’s core, they also learn to quiet the mind and tune in to the specific needs of the body.

Pilates conditions the body as a whole, training several muscles at once so that no muscle group is over or under-trained. In Pilates, the emphasis is on proper breathing, correct body alignment, and purposeful movement patterns; the result is an increased awareness of how your body moves and feels in space.

Many students of Pilates report that they feel calmer and stand taller as a result of the practice.

Getting Started

Pilates is a fairly gentle, low-impact form of exercise that can be practiced on the floor or on the specialized equipment. The best way to get started is to find a local class or professional who provides private lessons on the equipment.

Once you learn the matwork, Pilates is a fun, simple way to practice core strengthening at home. Your core muscles will thank you and so will your centered spirit.